We are an excellent team. I've never seen footage of myself walking with my cane, but I feel like I move smoothly and freely. I don't even notice my cane anymore as I walk. It just feels like an extension of my arm, helping to make walking a bit easier for me. It feels to me like a beautiful friendship.
If my cane were a person, however, you could make an argument that I'm not much of a friend.
When I was in outpatient rehabilitation from my stroke and getting mobile enough to spend more of my time out of my wheelchair, I used my cane all the time, inside and outside. Now I don't use a wheelchair at all and I only use my cane when I'm outside, for added speed and balance. If I'm going to be in a building for any length of time, I hook it over a chair or set it against something, and don't think it about it until I'm ready to go outside again.
Friends don't just associate with friends when they need them for something and then set them aside until the next they need something. My poor cane. Despite the fact that it gets me where I'm going so much more easily when I'm outside, that it does increase my balance and speed, and that it's stopped me from falling more than a few times, it basically gets ignored when I'm indoors (except when my father plays with it, which just annoys me). In my last job, one of the individuals that I supported always took note of where I put it down when I came into the office, because he knew that I'd forget where I put it when I went to leave. As I left, he'd bring it to me and I'd thank him, embarrassed. I've left my cane hooked on grocery carts, on chairs in food courts, on clothing racks in stores, and on windowsills, ledges, counters or tables in just about any other building that you can imagine. All with no apology.
If my cane were a person, maybe someone would say to it, "It doesn't sound like Sarah is much of a friend. Maybe you should just cut her loose."
But if my cane was a person, I think that it would understand that me forgetting it is really a good thing. If I can walk away from it more and more easily, that means that I'm needing less and less. That means that after over a decade of being a stroke survivor, I'm still getting better. And a friend would celebrate that for me, plus look forward to the prospect of eventually totally retiring.
It's not like I'll ever forget how fortunate I am to live in a country where my mobility aid was affordable and easy to get. It's not like I'll ever forget a dozen years of walking with the extension of my arm.
My friend has offered to dress up my cane a bit - put some colour over that generic grey and silver that I've left untouched for so long. Perhaps it's something to consider. Something nice to do for my friend.