Wednesday, January 18, 2023


48 Years

What does a man think about his 48th anniversary?

This man woke up thinking about his wedding day. Lots of little details. Superbowl IX—Steelers vs. Vikings. Asking the guests not to smoke at the dinner reception (for family and out of towners). Being fascinated by the temple sound system behind the bima, and my brother pushing me past that as we walked out to the chuppah. Deciding not to have a receiving line, and people lining up to congratulate us anyhow when we were momentarily talking to each other at the champagne reception (right after the chuppah). My unforgivably brusque response when someone complained that they couldn’t quite hear me when we traded vows (I wasn’t talking to you). My bride being walked down the aisle to the chuppah by her beaming parents.

But most of all, I was thinking about two twenty one year old kids with delusions of adulthood getting married. What were we thinking. Well, we were in love; we had good role models in the marriages both sets of parents; we weren’t looking elsewhere; we would figure it out or make it up as we went along.

We have been very lucky and blessed. We started out without much of a plan and ended up with fairly successful careers, three lovely menschlic children with equally fine upstanding spouses, and five grandchildren who melt our hearts. As my father z”l said to my mother when he first held Sarah (his first grandchild), “Ah Carol, having Aaron’s finally begun to pay off.”,

As I look behind me I see 48 years of marriage rolled up by my heels. Gazing forward, and we must always continue to keep our eyes looking forward, I see a path that, while necessarily shorter, still holds many potential and tantalizing possibilities.

While I suffer the depredations of advancing age and chronic disease, I bask in the love of my family and Laura’s ferocious support. I keep moving forward one step at a time. We all have our could haves and should haves, but they are only distractions from the past—certainly to be learned from, but not dwelled upon.   I may fret sometimes about myself with introspection of dubious value, but I truly believe that the only healthy course is to constantly evaluate where I am, where I want to be, and how can I plan to move in that direction. As we learn in Pirkei Avot 2:16 “He [Rabbi Tarfon] used to say: It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” Equally, I will try to keep in mind Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

As I begin my 49th year of marriage (and roughly 56th year of knowing Laura), I will continue to treasure her as a true partner, trusting her judgement, relishing her love, and endeavoring to treat her as the true goddess she is. I will enjoy to the extent possible the exploits of my six children and their families and enjoy more than they can imagine watching them wrestling with their careers and joy and angst of being parents. As for my grandchildren, like my father (my personal source of Pirkei Avot) I see them as my immortality and revel in their every achievement.

“A good woman, who can find?” Well, I seem to have stumbled into it and have had the rare good sense to hang on for a joyous and blessed ride.

Aaron Cohen

Garwood, NJ

12 January 2023


Sunday, October 2, 2022

Blame—Yom Kippur Musings

 Blame—Yom Kippur Musings

It’s hard to believe it’s not your fault. No one else thinks it was your fault. Not your family. Not your friends. Not your colleagues. But you were there at the beginning. You were the adult in the room when everything devolved into a malevolent, maelstrom of malodorous manure—a steaming, hot, burning pile of fecal matter.

There must be something you could have done differently. You obsess over every decision made. You reexamine every step Where did you give in too quickly? Where did you delay too long? What if you had . . .?

You close your eyes to sleep at night, and your thoughts go right back to the replay reel. Depending upon your age you might even hear Warner Wolf say, “Let’s go to the videotape.” As you try to relax your mind races through every possible scenario—every decision—every path not taken. Do you read yourself to sleep to focus your meandering mind away from disturbing, sleep—blocking thoughts?  At some point you must have fallen asleep because you wake up still reliving every minute and second-guessing everybody involved. You consulted with all the experts. You listened to wise counsel. You did your own research, and not just on the internet. You became somewhat knowledgeable in a wide variety of technology, philosophy, medicine, and industry best practices.

Of course, so long as you’re trying to fall asleep and banish these painful self-incriminations, your thoughts uselessly turn to every mistake you’ve ever made (or thought you made). Cross words with a classmate in 5th grade. A bullying incident in third grade—you didn’t even know the word back then. Regret over things said and not said. Actions taken and not taken. People you have disappointed, people who have disappointed you. Opportunities you have missed because you procrastinated. Mistakes you have made even though you knew better. Gross immaturity in the face of reasonable expectations and responsibilities. The illness, the accident, the failed project, the narrow escape, career misstep. The list goes on, but no one remembers any of this except you.


Why do this to yourself? What is the value of extended guilt, self-flagellation, and repeated communing with ghosts from your past? “Nobody goes through life undefeated” (Mike Lupica).

Humans seem to need atonement and forgiveness. The Catholic Church has confession. Jews have Yom Kippur which features a stylized group confessional as part of a long day of fasting and self-deprivation. Twelve-step programs all have steps eight and nine, but even after you have apologized to everyone who would care, remember, or have the ability to forgive you, this doesn’t seem to close the books. Why do you have so much trouble forgiving yourself, counting your blessings, and moving on? If God can forgive you, surely you can eventually forgive yourself.

It is football dogma that quarterbacks must nurture a short memory. They must be able to pass the football effectively, immediately following a devastating interception. This goes for players in other sports, too, and others such as soldiers and surgeons. The trick is to retain what can be learned from a mistake without dragging along the associated negative baggage to distract you from your goals, your life, and your solid night’s sleep.

Are there good reasons to continue to blame yourself? Reasons—certainly. Good reasons—only you can decide. For some people, taking the blame is more comfortable than the idea that ‘shit happens.’ If you’re to blame, you can deceive yourself into thinking that you maintain some modicum of control over your life. If the natural entropy and randomness of the universe just happened to take a dump on your doorstep, then the rollercoaster of your life leaves you no alternative but to just hold on tight. That’s too scary for many.

Guilt also plays a major role in political and social progress and activism. Whether the blame causing that guilt is well placed is a discussion well beyond the scope of these musings.

The solution? Easier said than done, of course. Instead of wallowing in negative thoughts of your own lifelong inadequacies, failures, and mistakes. Instead of alternatively being blinded by your dazzling successes and brilliance. Take a cold, clear, hard look at where you are today. Determine what your goals are. Plot a course from where you are to where you want to be and begin working toward the next intermediate step. The past informs this path only so far as the wisdom you have gathered about what works and doesn’t work for you. Your motivation is strictly rooted in your acceptance that you have only one life, and there is no value in dwelling on the past. Regardless of how you got here, placing credit or blame is irrelevant. There is no place to go but forward.

On this Yom Kippur, acknowledge responsibility for your own actions (or inactions), extract what wisdom you can from past events, apologize and atone as appropriate, and move forward. Grasp for the wisdom the accept that you are human and imperfect. Believe that God grants us forgiveness. As the gates close at the end of the Neilah service, have the grace to accept God’s forgiveness and sincerely forgive yourself as well.

As we learn in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) 2:21 “He [Rabbi Tarfon] used to say: It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet you are not free to desist from it.”

May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.



2 October 2022



Monday, September 2, 2019

Grandma Madeline Stories

To: My children, nephews, and children of my cousins

I have often thought of how interesting it would be to introduce my Grandma Madeline to her great grandchildren. As a group you are a bright, creative diverse generation and tribute to her genetic legacy. Individually you are 14 wildly different individuals, and each someone I would be proud to present to Grandma, and she had some pretty high standards.

But since I cannot tell her about each of you, perhaps you would enjoy some stories about her.

Grandma Madeline was born October 27, 1900 in White Plains, NY. She was the second of seven girls (Pearl, Madeline, Gladys, Flora, Sylvia, Ruth and Cynthia) born to Max and Lena Greenwald. She was quite tall for her generation, and solidly built. She did not appear to be overweight, but neither was she small and delicate. I remember the older sisters being tall also, but the younger ones were shorter, sort of like Lena was running out of material. Friends and family had advised Max not to move to the wilds of Westchester County. How could he possibly find husbands for seven (or as he put it one and a half dozen) daughters. The eligible husbands seemed to find them.

I mostly remember Grandma as a widow, and a working woman. Grandpa Ben died when I was not yet four. I have some vivid memories of him, as well as stories I have been told, but those will wait for now. Grandma worked as a bookkeeper for an accountant in the Northcourt Building on Main Street in White Plains (in the days before spreadsheets added the numbers for you). She got up every day and walked to work (she was an inveterate and enthusiastic walker). She had a driver’s license, but no car. She never drove after Grandpa Ben taught her to drive, and she passed her road test. Grandpa didn’t encourage her to drive, and was nervous about that and many other things. The license was just a document of identification an adult required.

She went to work rain or shine. I distinctly remember eating breakfast one morning when school had been cancelled due to the snow. Grandma called to tell my mom how bad it was out, and to admonish her to stay home with the children. “Mom, where are you calling from,” asked Carol. “Why, I’m at work, of course,” replied Grandma. She had walked of course.

One of my first memories of Grandma was visiting my grandparents at their home in Hartsdale. Grandma stopped me as I was about to run over to Grandpa sitting in his easy chair. “Don’t disturb grandpa, he’s taking a snooze.” Upset, I ran over to Mom—I had no idea what a “snooze” was.

Grandma was fastidious and a bit fussy. She was always well put together and liked a tidy home. She was an avid reader and, in many ways, quite worldly. In other ways she was very conventional, and aware of what others thought.

Some illustrative stories:

When Beth was in High School, and Larry in college, Beth planned a trip to spend a weekend with Larry (I believe she was looking at schools). Grandma asked Beth where she was going to stay while visiting, and Beth told her that she would stay in Larry’s dorm room. After some thought Grandma allowed that these arrangements were perfectly OK, but perhaps Beth shouldn’t tell a lot of people “who might not understand.”

She went with Carol and Mel to visit Larry at Tufts. Larry remembers her having a good time and being happy to be there, but she was a nervous wreck the whole time.

My father used to tease Grandma about her housekeeping by insisting that when he was courting my mother Grandma would empty the ashtray every time he put out a cigarette.

My mom and dad were also never without a book in progress. Books in the 1950s did adhered to strict standards of what was permissible to print. In one book, which they both read, one character called another a c_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _r, and neither of them could figure out the omitted word. After his years in the navy during WWII this was quite frustrating to my dad. One night when Grandma was visiting (well after I had gone to bed), Dad, on a whim, presented this conundrum to Grandma. “Mom, you’re widely read, do you know what this word is?” She reportedly turned beet read, exclaimed “I don’t use language like that!”, and refused to tell them. It took much begging and cajoling before she finally agreed to write it down for them. You figure it out, I don’t use language like that either.

Grandma also knew the power of networking. When Carol was young, and certainly before she went away to college at age 16, Grandma pointedly told her: “No matter where you go, and what you do, someone I know will see.”

I’m sure Grandma knew how to cook, and probably quite well. Grandpa Ben, however, was well known for his prowess in the kitchen. Once Grandma was making pea soup in the pressure cooker. She must have done something wrong because the rocker or safety valve blew spewing pea soup all over the ceiling. Grandma reportedly just stood in the middle of the kitchen screaming: BEN!

I remember Grandma and Grandpa living in a small house in Hartsdale. Greatpa (Max) also lived there with them for a while before he moved to The Jewish Home for the Aged in Riverdale. Carol and Zelda grew up in a prior home on Grandview Avenue a block from the White Plains High School, now Highlands Middle School. After Grandpa died, I remember Grandma living in apartments, first on North Broadway (one or two different ones), and then on Old Mamaroneck Road near the intersection with Mamaroneck Avenue where her sister Ruth had had an apartment for years. Aunt Ruth’s apartment was up the elevator off the lobby to the left, and Grandma’s up the mirror image elevator off the lobby on the right.

Taking Grandma home after a visit involved some small ritual. Larry or I (or both) would accompany a parent (usually Dad) to drive Grandma home. While Dad waited in the car, we were charged with walking Grandma to her door. She regularly insisted that this was not necessary, but we had our orders from the highest authority. At the Old Mamaroneck Road apartment that discussion was repeated at the front door, but the elevator was around a blind corner and we always saw her safely into the elevator. After someone was attacked in the building, the escort extended to her apartment door.

I don’t recall ever visiting Grandma’s apartment for a meal, but there was the occasional excitement of an overnight stay. Grandma’s apartment was furnished with grandma furniture, oriental area rugs, and twin beds. I didn’t understand why my grandparents slept in twin beds when my parents seemed so cozy in their double bed (extra-long). Mom and Dad never gave me a good answer for this, but now my assumptions are that was a combination of a generational difference along with long-standing tradition based on Jewish family purity practices.

Grandma’s BFF was Phoebe Marks. Aunt Phoebe was not really related, but the Marks and Golden families had been friends for at least two generations. My mother remembers holiday dinners at the Marks’ home, and being terrified by Phoebe’s mother, the forbidding Grandma Marks. Aunt Phoebe was a short, rotund, friendly, funny single lady (spinster in the parlance of the day) who was very often included in family get-togethers and events. She was a heavy smoker and not a big fan of physical activity. When Grandma suggested taking a walk or even sitting out on the deck, Phoebe would accuse her of trying to inflict fresh air poisoning.

Grandma’s birth certificate did not list her name as Madeline, but Matilda. She was already a grandma multiple times, and this came as a complete surprise when she needed to apply for a passport. She needed to get affidavits from family and friends attesting that she had always been known as Madeline and had never used the name Matilda. Maybe it had been transcribed wrong at the hospital, or someone just liked Madeline better.

Grandma loved to swim, and would usually do a few laps when she visited at the club. She wasn’t a big fan of getting her hair wet or immersing her face. She always wore a bathing cap, and did a mean sidestroke.

Grandma never went to the bathroom; she went to "powder my nose."

When we all got together for a big family meal (eating in the dining room!), and the children had been excused, she would sometimes smoke a cigarette with the other adults. I remember being confused by this. She wasn’t a very convincing smoker, but it was more mainstream, I guess. I’m still confused by some of the things adults do.

Grandma never insisted on being the center of attention, and often took a back seat to more outgoing adults when we were little. As we got older we all found Grandma to be interesting, a good listener, and worth taking the time to engage in thoughtful conversation.

Beth remembers asking Grandma how babies were born one evening when she was babysitting. She wouldn’t say. The next day she got the copy of the family book used to relate the facts of life. Lisa has the book in a closet if any of you need a refresher.

Larry relates seeing the movie Young Frankenstein with Mom and Grandma at the Pix movie theater.  There was a scene where Marty Feldman is driving Gene Wilder and Teri Garr up to the castle on a rainy night.  There are huge door knockers on the front door and Marty Feldman knocks on the front door with them.  Gene Wilder is lifting Teri Garr out of the carriage and exclaims, “What knockers” and Teri Garr says “Why thank you doctor.”  Whereupon Grandma Madeline turns to Mom and in a voice they could probably hear at the Showcase Delicatessen down the street, “I don’t understand what that means.”  Mom was very embarrassed but explained it to her.

Speaking of the Showcase, Lisa remembers meeting her there for dinner after work. Ben remembers that she had bunions, but he (and others) does not thank her for that particular genetic legacy.

Grandma died in May 29, 1976. She had a heart attack, characterized at the time as a heart attack more typical of a younger man than an older woman. They transferred her to Lenox Hill hospital for better specialists—White Plains Hospital was not yet the regional medical center it has become. She survived for a few days, then died of either complications or a second heart attack. Fifty-seven months later the first of you was born.

Thanks to Zelda, Stanley, Larry, Lisa , Beth and Ben for helping me with these memories.

September 2, 2019

Monday, June 25, 2018

Hiding My Blanket

Our air conditioning broke, and I spent a couple of nights sleeping in my recliner in the family room. My version of MS includes severe heat sensitivity. This means that exposure to high temperatures or even a slight fever reduce me quickly to wheelchair only movement, even around the house. The family room is easily 10 degrees cooler than the bedroom, and cross ventilation plus ceiling fan make it tolerable except on the hottest nights.

When I arose after the first night, I put the pillow I had been using, and the fleece throw that I had retrieved in the middle of the night on the floor next to my chair; the throw crumpled up compactly on top of the pillow. In the middle of the second high-heat night, it had cooled down enough to again require the fleece throw; it was gone. My dear wife, who daily helps me in all ways deal with the both the obvious and the insidious depredations of MS, cannot abide the appearance of a blanket neatly crumpled on the floor, and hid it from me when I wasn’t looking. Looking around a dark room for a small dark green blanket in the middle of the night is frustrating. It involves using the flashlight on my phone, while muttering under my breath things about said darling helpmate that would never be said aloud during the light of day. It is then doubly frustrating to discover that she has diabolically hidden the blanket folded neatly in the last place I would think of looking for it—almost directly under my head on the back of my chair.

She claims that the inability to find things in plain sight is all part and parcel of Y-chromosome syndrome. I think she must take some secret pleasure in frustrating me. Come to think of it, she has successfully frustrated me by hiding my blanket on the back of my chair several times in the past. She’s an extremely bright person; you’d think she’d get it by now.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Book of Ruth

I was one of the presenters at last night's Tikkun Leil Shavuot at TBEMC:

On Shavuot we read the Book of Ruth. It is an interesting read as it gives us a window into our ancestors’ culture and society, social mores very different from ours, our essential attitude towards converts, and color on the life of King David’s great grandmother. My main takeaway from this story is as a parable of how we are to deal with the curve balls that life throws at us all.

My father, of blessed memory, was fond of quoting to me, much to my annoyance, a contracts professor he had in law school. When a student in his class complained about the tremendous amount of material he had to understand for an upcoming exam, the professor sympathetically admonished, “Young man, as you go through life you will meet with many vicissitudes, this is merely one of them.” In retrospect, none of the hardships I was complaining about when I elicited this quote from my dad were of any real consequence.

My dad, on the other hand, early in his marriage was taking law school classes at night, and wrestling with the family furniture store, which he despised, to support his wife and mother. Briefly, during college he enlisted in the Navy, graduated as a “90-day wonder ensign” from a WWII officer training program at Union College, was assigned to an LCT, replaced his commanding officer three days before D-day when his superior went down with an emergency appendectomy, ferried tanks to Omaha beach in the first wave ashore on D-day, and was sent home early (but after the fighting ended) on compassionate leave to say goodbye to his father who quickly died of an aggressive cancer. Thus, the furniture store. Long story short, my parents struggled a bit to have children; dad was sworn in as a lawyer the day I was born. The judge swore him in first and sent him home.

The more perspicacious of you may have noticed that I too have challenges, although I have never had to uncover someone’s feet on the pitch dark threshing floor. But, I can tell you all that what you see is very different from what I perceive. I have MS, as do a surprising number of other members of TBEMC. Every case of MS is different. I have a developed a few obvious disabilities, but do not suffer from many of the more hidden symptoms that afflict others—you can never assume that what you can see tells the whole story. Also, note that I have disabilities—I am NOT disabled.

My journey with MS started with a transient case of optic neuritis late in my junior year of college. Under today’s protocols I would be immediately referred to a neurologist. In 1974 even doctors spoke of MS only in hushed voices. Late the following year I developed some tingling in my left arm. They sent me for a spinal tap and discovered white blood cells in my spinal fluid. Since there was no treatment and no definitive prognosis, my doctor in consultation with my parents elected not to mention the probability of MS. Shocking by today’s standards, as perhaps is some of what we read in the Book of Ruth. About five years later I developed a pronounced limp and was appropriately diagnosed and informed. The limp disappeared.

At the time, all I could learn on my own about MS was that it was a progressive, incurable disease with no possible treatment. While progressive, there was no way to predict the course of the disease over time. The only medical advice I got was to cut down on my activities and get my rest. The best intelligence I got from my own research was that it was essential to keep my employer in the dark about the MS, as it would surely both affect my career advancement, and make it impossible for them to continue my health insurance. The only person I knew who had had MS was a good friend of my parents who died paralyzed in a VA hospital. My father had once opined that if Sy Zinderman had foreseen the last few years of his life, he would have ended it while he was still physically able.

In 1982, when Sarah was about a year old a beloved colleague with MS died of a heart attack in his car in the Bell Labs parking lot. I remember praying that I would live long enough to see Sarah’s bat mitzvah. It’s not that the MS was noticeably progressing, but the combination of uncertainty and ignorance really weighed at times. However, I never really embraced the advice about cutting back my activities.

In 1996, 22 years after my first symptom appeared the first treatment to slow the progression of MS made it to the market. I injected myself with betaseron every other day until 3 weeks ago. That’s almost 4,000 times. We now have almost a dozen treatments for different forms of MS, and I started a new one on May 1. I thought I might miss the injection ritual practiced religiously for almost 22 years. Not even a little bit.

I have a promising new treatment. I have new mobility assistance toys. I have reared (with lots of help) three children through bar/bat mitzvah to productive adulthood. I have participated in three lovely weddings to partners I truly like and—bonus—machatunim I like as well. I have the four sweetest, smartest grandchildren in the world.

Back to Ruth, our original story.

Ruth’s husband died, and to make matters worse her brother-in-law also dies. Ruth is, using the ancient language of our people, auf tsuris. She has no source of support. Her backup husband is gone, and she decides that her best course of action is to make common cause with her mother-in-law. She travels with Naomi back to her, now their people, which was probably an arduous and possibly dangerous journey. Naomi gives Ruth some, shall we say, dating advice based on her wisdom, experience, and understanding of the character qualities of Boaz. Ruth puts her faith in Naomi and follows through on the plan Naomi laid out. It’s a successful plan, and a happily ever after story.

Is this the story of an extraordinary person doing extraordinary things? Not really. To me this is the story of an ordinary person facing common life vicissitudes. She decides what is important to her, who is important to her, who she is going to trust, and places one foot in front of the other. She does what is necessary. She faces the future with faith, optimism, and hope; she knows the only direction to go is forward.

It was difficult to get my father to talk about the war; he had to be in the right mood. The stories he told were exciting, and to me he was exceptional. But, as a member of the greatest generation his trajectory through life was not unique. Hundreds of thousands of men and women interrupted their lives for war, then picked up their lives again. While many were damaged by the war, most who came home eventually resumed normal, successful, productive lives and faced the normal vagaries of building careers, families, and communities. They did what was required of them. One step at a time forward, into the future with faith, optimism, and determination.

Earlier I told you that with me what you see is very different from what I perceive. Some people see me as unstoppable. I stop. Some people only see me as a four to ten-minute delay as the bus driver wrestles with the wheelchair lift at 6:30 in the morning twice a week. Tough, deal with it. Some people see me as inspirational. That’s a little embarrassing, but in fact probably reveals more about them, than about me.

Every morning I wake up, sit on the side of my bed and grab my walker. I exclaim to myself, “This is ridiculous” as I make my way to the bathroom to start my day. I have only one life, and I’d rather live it happy than sad or angry. There is only one path forward, and I have an excellent partner to rub my back or kick my butt if I forget that. There are always changes that are necessary, or decisions that need to be made. These vicissitudes of life yield to knowing what is important, who is important, who to trust, and putting one foot in front of the other one day at a time. Just like my father. Just like millions of other people.

 Just like Ruth.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Nobody Cried Today

And now for something completely different. I haven't written a poem in 40 years, but this idea had to be expressed as a poem. I reached out for some editing help from my friend Nancy Lubarsky--a real poet. Her encouragement has empowered me to publish it here. I let this lay fallow for a couple of months, but there is another nascent poem rattling around in my head, so I had to clear the decks.

Inspired, of course, by my children and grandchildren.

Nobody Cried Today

The kids are in bed
Lunches made
Tomorrow’s presentation done
I sit with a glass of wine
Nobody cried today

It was off to work and school
Soccer, karate, homework, piano
Bumps, bruises, frustration
Siblings vex, bedevil and shout, but
Nobody cried today

No ball of tears
Curled up in my lap.
No stroking hair as I
Whisper “it will be OK.” Because
Nobody cried today

It is only one day
But something has changed
Parenting continues
It’s somehow different as I consider
Nobody cried today

Thursday, June 8, 2017

I am an A.D.A.

I am an A.D.A. You may have heard of the practice of nouning a verb (gerunds—e.g., learning, serving—very common). You may have been subjected to verbing nouns (denominalization—e.g., task you with a job, calendar an event--Benjamin Franklin said in a letter to Noah Webster that denominalization is “awkward and abominable.”). But now we are nouning the abbreviations of acts of Congress.

Language matters. It matters more than most people realize. The way we think is inextricably tied to words, and each word carries with it more than just its simple definition. Words and phrases drag along emotional baggage, innuendo, and an encoding of societal norms. That doesn’t even begin to factor in the tone of voice used, or the ethnic, class and social background of both the speaker and the hearer.

We invent new words all the time, often inadvertently. Sometimes we repurpose old words (e.g., gay), and sometimes a new word is an artifact of some other evolving societal change.

The world of disability has its own language issues. For example, having a disability is not the same as being disabled. In the first case one is describing perhaps a single malady, while in the second case you are classifying the state of the entire person. What may seem like a nuance to you may make a big difference in the way you think about the person being described; and let’s not even bring up the negative connotations of handicapped. A handicap is for golf games and horse races.
This is not original thinking on my part, nor is it conveyed in the name of political correctness. I’m not interested in participating in the new I’m Offended craze. I’m just trying to point out that the language that you use not only reflects how you think, but actually affects how you think.

This brings me to my morning commute. The Americans with Disabilities Act (A.D.A., fttps://, prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. I catch a regular NJ Transit bus into the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC twice a week. The bus driver (referred to by NJT as the bus operator), takes about eight minutes to load me into the bus using a wheelchair lift. That is if the seats slide easily, the equipment works, and the operator has some facility using the equipment. Once the seats are moved to make room, my travel scooter and I occupy the space of six seats.

Every NJ Transit bus has this equipment, and there are very strict rules about how to handle the cases where this accommodation under the A.D.A. does not work right. After the operator picks me up and continues on their route, they call the pickup into their control center. When conveying this information they do not refer to me as handicapped, disabled, or a wheelchair (hey, there is a person controlling that wheelchair!). Instead they tell their dispatcher, “I have picked up an A.D.A. at Chestnut Street in Garwood.” How’s that for an invented word that carries no excessive baggage?

I find this creative and amusing. As I stated before, I’m not a willing member of the I’m Offended club, especially when the goal appears to be accuracy without giving offense.