This weekend I went to visit someone in a nursing home. Most of the staff recognize me as I have had brief conversations with them in the past, but this weekend when I was waiting for the elevator to open, the woman inside wasn’t expecting to see me when the door opened. She walked out of the elevator in shock at my height, as the receptionist was watching, and with eyes as big as silver dollars asked me how tall I was. The receptionist, whom I have talked too many times, instantly replied to her, “I bet he doesn’t get that asked to everyday.”
Her response made me smile. I replied, “This is the first time TODAY that someone has asked me how tall I am. I’m 6’9”.”
I could tell the receptionist felt that this individual’s question could be inferred as hurtful, and she stood up for me. So often people say things out of impulse without thinking that their words could really bother the person. The older I get the more aware I am becoming of a need to really educate individuals on how to communicate with people who may not fit into a perceived mold.
I think the burden stems even deeper then myself, because I know that I get tired of all the questions some days, yet my boys are going to face the same situations. They are still young, but it will be only be a matter of years until I am the only one they know who is taller. Hopefully they don’t get taller than me, but if they do, so be it. I just wish that our society would think before they speak more, especially for the sake of my family.
I love it that people in the Marfan community are creating tee shirts and business cards that give their heights, that they didn’t play basketball, and that the weather is the same as it is for you. Priceless!
I’ve always been particularly bothered by the “How’s The Weather Up There?” question. The person is standing beside you and they are looking straight up accentuating the height difference. Do you really think my head is blistering in the sun when it’s only 11 inches higher than yours? The sun’s rays provide you with a nice tan but I am blistering in anguish? It’s almost laughably absurd.
You still have to be patient and cordial regardless of people’s behavior. The older I am getting the more I am finding that I don’t have the patience that I had a few years ago. I think it’s because my body is feeling the effects of Marfan syndrome more and more. Each year things are becoming more difficult and joints are increasing in their stiffness. Oh well, that’s life.
So, when you see someone who doesn’t “look” like you don’t impulsively speak but try to engage in conversation that is uplifting. You might find out more than someone’s height or that they didn’t play basketball.