The Wheelchair with the Red Tire

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young differently abled woman discovers a surprising link behind a vintage wheelchair.

Submitted: September 02, 2012

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Submitted: September 02, 2012



The Wheelchair with The Red Tire


It was 1969.  A young woman by the name of Firen Waxman was cruising along the streets of the arts district in San Francisco.  Firen stopped dead in her tracks at the corner of Ashbury and Haight.  She saw a vintage wheelchair in a thrift store window.  It was from the 1940's much like the model FDR would have used during his presidency.  Firen was a differently abled artist who collected period wheelchairs.  Firen was wheelchair bound herself.  She became differently abled assisting soldiers during her military service as a nurse in a MASH unit when a piece a shrapnel became embedded in her legs rendering her unable to walk.  But this wooden wheelchair from the forties had one tire  that was painted red.

She bought it from the secondhand store for five dollars.  It came with some clues that were puzzling; a diary and a note that was wedged in between the spokes of the red tire.  The  note read, " Continue to roll on in my chair and you will find your inner strength."  The diary revealed some jaw dropping secrets.  The final entry of the was dated June 1945.  It stated: " More wounded today.  I am severely injured myself.  An anonymous donor gifted me this wheelchair and I am healing well.  My ankle is limber and I will soon walk again.  I have painted the left tire red, so my descendants will find it and pass the ride on."  With affection, Jade Firen Waxman."

Firen smiled.  This was her grandma W's chair.  Now it was back in the living family tree where it belonged.  Firen was very familiar with the history of the wheelchair from its first recorded mention in the form of a kid's bed on a frieze from a Greek vase to a Chinese stone slab both associated with the sixth century B.C.  The noted scholar Confucius whom Firen often quoted in her oratory classes was pictured in a seat with wheels from a painting in 1780 AD.  But Firen's personal heroes were Everett and Jennings who invented the prototype of the modern wheelchair in 1933.  Henry Jennings invented the chair for his friend Herbert  Everett, who broke his back in a mining accident that same year.

Now this wooden wheelchair had aided Firen's grandmother and namesake in her mission to heal shattered troops in continuing to preserve and secure America's freedom.  Firen trransferred into her grandma's chair and felt her namesake's essence enter her edifice.  Firen now comprended what Jade had meant when she had written, " Continue to roll in my chair and you will find your inner strength."  Firen parked the wooden chair in the living room of her Painted Victorian home.  She placed her grandma Jade's dress MASH uniform and Purple Heart in the chair; along with the diary, note and a photo,  In the upheval of the sixties, this wheelchair with the red tire was an artifact of a simple but humble heroine who sought no prestige other than making a difference.


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