“I witness the ‘absent presence’ of disability evident in the many walkers, canes, hearing aids, caregivers, silences, missing partners, and repetitive stories that fill the hallways and dining room.”
“I am perfectly able to care for myself,” my ninety-seven-year-old mother, Huddy, says to me with a deep sigh. I hear the frustration and anger in her voice. This daily encounter occurs when I cross her threshold of intervention, having suggested a nice walk one too many times, or reminded her to eat or drink something more substantial. My endless suggestions, constant reminding, tidying, and scheduling feel like a thousand cuts to her ability and agency. “Stop snooping in my refrigerator,” she says. “Why don’t you go home to your dog and husband?” Before I leave, I note a visit from an occupational therapist who will assess the safety and accessibility of her apartment. “I don’t like people poking around my home,” she responds.