Thursday, November 29, 2012


Oh, how I hate this word! I hear it tossed around haphazardly all the time. Somebody laughs and points to their friend who is using crutches because of a temporary injury, and says, "Be nice to the cripple," or, "Hey cripple, can I try out your crutches?" And the person on crutches laughs.

Because to them, it's funny. To them, "cripple" is a temporary, transitory label, one that they'll only have to endure for a few weeks at the most. But to me,"cripple" is a label that people will forever be able to apply to me, because my disability isn't going to go away, and it suggests that people who have difficulty walking are somehow inferior to others, like we're damaged goods. So this word catches my breath for a moment as if I have jumped into a pool of ice water.

I remember one afternoon in particular in seventh grade. . .one girl was jealous that I got to ride the elevator, a "privilege" afforded to just a few individuals. One day as we passed each other, she murmured something just loud enough for me to hear: "Cripple."

Whoever said that sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you was sorely mistaken.

That one word, barely perceived by my ears, sliced me like a knife and embedded itself in my mind, echoing over and over and over, "cripple, cripple, cripple." That one word made me feel worthless. Later, in the privacy of my room, that one word sent me to my knees. That one word buried my face in my pillow, left me sobbing and asking God over and over that age-old question, "Why me?"

Words are power. Use them wisely. 

Stumbo Family Story


  1. You're writing is so beautiful x it is a horrible word along with a few otheres that also make me catch my breathe and try not to throttle the person who said it. Some people are just so ignorant it astounds me. Resilience is often learnt the hard way but you are so much better than that person that uttered that to you xxx

  2. Thank you!! YES, there are definitely some more words that also take my breath away...sometimes I just wish people would think about who they might be hurting before they speak. Once again, I really appreciate your words of support!

  3. Hi, I just found your blog today (from Love that Max). You're so right. Words REALLY hurt. Once, I overheard a parent say that my son is "weird" and it about killed me. He's developmentally delayed. He has problems speaking. He doesn't understand things that other three-year old boys do. But he's not "weird." I still wish I never heard her.
    Congratulations on a very wonderful blog. I enjoy your writing a lot.

  4. Kristi,
    Thank you so much for your comment!! After reading it, I checked out your blog, too...your story brought tears to my eyes; I love your writing! Tucker seems like such an awesome little guy with an adorable smile! I can't wait to read more of your posts. :)

  5. I am with you. That word cuts deep, and especially so if we hear it from family or friends :(


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