I read this story in horror and have been reading some of the responses in equal horror. As the adult daughter of a handicapped parent (who has now passed on) it never once occurred to me to think "Too Bad, so sad, Mom, you will have to meet us when you meet us."
I have been disabled myself (two leg braces and a cane for a knee injury) and the friends I attended a play with in New York matched their speed to mine. We planned accordingly so that we would be to the restaurant and play on time, but there was no sense that we had to rush along or that I was inconveniencing any one. Of course, my friends and I were going to the play together because we enjoy each other's company and not because they were hoping to get a good holiday gift from me.
I think that is why some of the responses threw me. When I go to dinner with Susan who has MS and is in a wheelchair, I might meet her downtown after work. She is usually able to traverse the distance from where she is to the restaurant, but if the chair malfunctions, I stay with her until her husband can get there to pick her up since the chair won't fit in my car. If we were going to a movie afterward, if she can't go, I probably won't go because socializing with Susan was the main point of going out. Yes, we are watching a movie, but the point was for us to be able to discuss it afterward. Not much point in going by myself if there's no one to discuss it with later.
Jacie is mobile, but has serious health issues that preclude her walking quickly. She doesn't ask me to slow down, but I do since we are at the museum/historical monument/fair to enjoy it together as friends. Walking off and leaving her (except on a prearranged schedule where we meet back up later) is not on the menu. Why would I abandon the person I was planning to spend time with?
Marta has had a traumatic brain injury. She is all better now, but there was a whole year where carrying on conversations with her was a trial. Her short term memory had been temporarily impaired and she thought I was her best friend from kindergarten. She could not remember certain words and always substituted the word "spoon" no matter what the topic was. I still called her every week, visited her twice a month and helped to clean her house and cook for her because it's what friends DO for each other. I didn't need to be asked...I just did it.
Both Jacie and Marta rearranged their work schedules for me when I had major surgery and wasn't able to get up and down stairs. They shopped for me and cleaned my house, not because I asked them to, but because it's what we were taught in our families. Another friend drove me to and from appointments and I have returned the favor over the years. It's what you DO for the people who mean the most in your life.
Even my most casual work acquaintances and I make sure that we get to our cars and are safely settled in, that lights turn on and engines turn over before we leave each other. It's what we were taught as kids. You don't leave anyone alone, you don't leave anyone behind and you make certain of their safety.
It isn't coddling and it isn't treating someone like a child...it is just what you DO because these are your friends and you look out for each other. And you do it without being asked, especially if you know the person in question is sick or has mobility issues. I guess I am very old fashioned and silly.
This brave new world where you abandon someone because they can't walk fast enough, forget to get them drinks because they can't get up and down stairs, and then...expect them to give you gifts is a pretty ugly one. I don't think I will visit in any time soon.