Helen's Story

“Grandma, you have arthritis, don’t you?” my 5-year-old granddaughter questioned me with a statement. Children have little tact and diplomacy. It was much easier to talk with her than with adults about my arthritis.

“Yes, I do have arthritis.” Like most children, I expected to have only a few moments of her attention on the subject.

“How come you have it?”

“Something that we don’t know, I guess. Even though my hands don’t look good, I don’t hurt anymore.” That was it. Her thoughts were on to something else.

My six-year-old niece would simply stare at my hands, then at me. She had silent thoughts, and I could only guess what they were.

When my mother, a former grade school teacher, introduced me to her friends, she usually explained that I had arthritis and then called their attention to my hands as if to emphasize the correctness of her statement. My role in the introduction was defined. I could say noth­ing. I smiled to the pitying looks of my mother’s friends. It hurt my mother to see that I had arthritis.

I have been with the ladies of my Homemaker’s Club for 30 years. These friends have been absolutely wonderful. They look past my hands and my hurts. Their support through my most difficult times has meant more to me than any of them realize. All through my pain, surgeries, and restricted social activities, these ladies always had the time to send me get well cards, encourage my recovery from operations, visit me in the hospital, and do many other things that bond friends together.