A group of people, a family I supposed, emerged from the restaurant next door to where I was sitting outside the art gallery wherein my wife was hosting an exhibit of western art. She had recruited some excellent artwork by local artists. I was outside the gallery as a decoration in my cowboy hat. I was playing a character — me. As people passed by me on the sidewalk, I would invite them in to see the western art exhibit. I solicited the group mentioned above.
A young man, college age, was pushing an older gentleman in a wheelchair. There was a middle-aged couple, an older lady, and a younger woman. The man in the wheelchair stared blankly ahead and did not participate in the conversations of his companions.
I smiled my award-winning smile and initiated eye contact with some of them. The man in the wheel chair did not smile back. Nevertheless, the group went inside the gallery. Sugar took over the public relations. I went in too, to see her in action.
The young man pushing the wheelchair kindly placed it in front of one of the walls adorned with paintings of Old West scenes, such as Remington or Russell created, scenes with cowboys, buffalo, cattle, Indians, locomotives, mountain scenes, running horses. He waited patiently for the man in the wheelchair to take it in before moving to another wall. The man in the wheelchair was not staring blankly. He was intent, studying the images.
As I watched him, a lady came up behind me and explained that she and the man in the wheelchair had been professors at the university. She added that he, Dr. _____, used to teach a course on The Philosophy of Art. No wonder he seemed to be enjoying the art exhibit.
I introduced the doctor to Sugar. She had a table of treats and beverages. She asked whether he would like lemonade, coffee or wine. He spoke. He told Sugar he would prefer wine, using one word — “Wine.” So Sugar brought the professor a little bit. The young man, who we learned was his caregiver, pointed out to his charge, “This is not juice like you drink at home.” The young man seemed surprised that the professor was partying at the gallery. The professor smiled at Sugar and indicated that he would like more wine. She gave him a little bit more. He smiled again. He was enjoying the gallery scene.
I am glad that the professor visited us. I watched him studying the art and saw him in a new light. At first, I just saw him as a person who seemed very limited in his abilities. Now I saw him in the light of his history and accomplishments. I could imagine him back when he was teaching college students. He must have been knowledgeable and bright to engage them. He must have been respected.
He was not always like this. And his present condition was not exactly as it appeared. He still could enjoy a night out on the town. He still could enjoy art. And he still could choose whether to have lemonade, coffee, or wine.
And he can still be respected, and loved. And he is.