by Kay Vander Vort

Each of my four children are now in their 50-’s.  I chuckle (inwardly) when I see them squinting at photos on their I-Phones and scrambling for their “cheater” glasses.  I remember well how I delayed giving in to eye glasses convinced it was one more sign of aging.

My new sign of aging is having to use a cane.  My balance is severely compromised after a broken knee cap two years ago,  Despite  my commitment to regular physical therapy followed by regular attendance at fitness classes at my local Y as well as a personal trainer to help me with strength building machines, I still need a cane.

The cane slows me down, it prevents me from carrying much, etc. etc.  But this is my new reality. It has not been an easy adjustment.  This icy, snowy winter hasn’t helped.

On a recent morning, a young man (about 40) came up to my side as I was nearing the grocery store entrance.  “May I help you?” he said.  “It’s really icy today – I fell flat on my back coming out of my garage this morning.”  He held out his arm for me which I gratefully accepted.

Later as I got into my car, my cell phone rang.  It was Dan, a colleague at Loyola. “Kay, what time are you arriving at Loyola today? The parking lot next to our building isn’t shoveled and I’d like to help you get into the building.  Just call me when you arrive.”

Coming home that day, I parked in a handicap space to run an errand only to discover there was pile of snow next to my car door – on the driver’s side.  As I was trying to figure out how to get out, a car drove by, slowed down, rolled down the window, and a man called out “wait there until I park and I ‘ll come over and help you get out

I felt surrounded by angels looking out for me.

That night as I pulled into the parking garage in my apartment building and got out, I heard someone yelling, “YOU, WITH THE CANE, CAN YOU HELP ME!”  He was standing near his car, but his rolling walker was fast rolling down the slight grade away from him,  He was afraid he’d fall if he tried to get back to his car or go after his walker.  He was elderly and trembling.  I was able (with the help of my cane) to get his walker and stay with him a bit until he calmed down.

Later that night when I watched a TV show featuring the great classical violinist, Itzhak Perlman, who was forever disabled after being stricken with polio at age 4 and for the rest of his life had to walk with the aid of leg braces and crutches.  The moderator of the show quoted Perlman, “When speaking of disabilities it is important to separate one’s abilities from one’s disabilities.”

When I went to bed that night, I felt as if I had been showered with grace all day and a great peace came over me.


For 25 years Kay has offered the Basic Enneagram workshop.  She is passionate about the ability of the Enneagram to reveal the disability in not knowing ourselves.  Her next Basic Enneagram workshop is scheduled for Saturday, April 28th.