Posted on Thursday September 3, 2020
We’d like to introduce all of our Friendly Wheels readers to Amigo’s new Marketing Manager, Arielle Roth. She has been writing the Friendly Wheels articles for us since January of 2020. In July we welcomed her to Team Amigo permanently. She’s been a great fit and came with more than just talent. Arielle grew up with a special connection to Amigo, and here’s her story of what our company means to her:
Mike “Papa” Roth
My aunt Cheryl was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1974.
“I wish I could take this disease from you,” my Papa said to her.
10 years later, in 1984 he was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS at age 45. Shortly after he would be diagnosed with Colon Cancer.
I have no memory of my Papa ever being able to walk. In my younger years I do remember him having control of his upper body and hands. Which meant he could still utilize his Amigo. That Amigo was more than just his friend, it was my friend. Thanks to that friend I was able to enjoy so much with him. I grew up not seeing disabilities, just living life normally. A few distinct memories always stay with me.
It may not be a specific memory, but his positive outlook on life is one of my favorites. It sums up what Amigo means to me. I can’t think of a single day I ever heard him complain or be negative. He lost not only his ability to walk. But he was a husband, a parent, a grandparent, a brother, a business owner, an unbelievable golfer. He lost his normal way of being those things. But he never complained. I remember his smile. His laugh. The wink he gave. I remember positivity anytime I was around him until the end, but never once a complaint.
The transition to get to an Amigo was not easy for him from what I’ve been told. He struggled with giving up what he viewed as his freedom at the time. I have to believe he is where I get my stubbornness, hard-headed, and bold personality from. Eventually he would get one. He adjusted and found the positives with the personal independence Amigo gave him.
I was born on October 15th, 1991. My due date was November 15th, 1991. He never let me forget it. So much about MS was unknown at the time of his diagnosis and he participated in many trials. My grandparents planned a trip to Mexico during that week of October for testing and trials. Which meant they missed my birth and he never let me forget it. Somehow I believe it strengthened our bond. Or maybe it was that I was not only the first grandchild but also the first girl.
We had such a close relationship. I have never loved a person in the way I loved him. Nor have I experienced that love and pride that he had for me with anyone else. I firmly believe that the independence Amigo gave him helped with the positive outlook. I also believe that positive outlook kept him with us until 2006, when he passed 22 years after his diagnosis. Amigo let me experience that love and time with my Papa.
Blueberry pancakes are my favorite food. My nana and I would pick blueberries together in the summer months. Always enough that she could freeze them for the whole year. Those blueberry picking trips meant blueberry pancakes the next morning. I would wake up to the distinct smell of their house, mixed with the smell of pancakes cooking and smile. I’d run up and see Nana helping Papa out of bed. With the sly wink he always gave me, I’d hear “Well good morning Newt.” With that I’d giggle, kiss him on the cheek and return the comment with “Papppaaaa, it’s Arielle.”
“Oh sorry, Oreo, how could I get that wrong?”
I was the only grandkid that had nicknames. I craved those moments with him, the nicknames, watching him make his way to the table for breakfast. Waiting for him those mornings were some of my favorites. Even with control of his hands, he was unable to fully feed himself. Breakfast meant my chance to help him. Again, I never saw the disability. Holding up the fork or straw for him was the best part. All that mattered was that I got to be there with my favorite person eating blueberry pancakes.
I’m a lover of roller coasters. Sometimes I think it’s because of riding the chair lift into their van as a kid. I didn’t understand then that the van had to be big enough to fit an Amigo, wheelchair, and everything else. I just knew if we were going somewhere I would get to ride the lift.
To us grandkids the lift in the van was simply cool. The things adults viewed as negatives because of the MS, were the reason for our favorite memories.
I remember my papa consistently always having something in his mouth. The combination of medications he took dried his mouth out so it was usually hard candies (Werther’s were his favorite, and to this day one of mine) . We loved getting the chance to help with the candies, or his glass of water so he could use the straw. But, my absolute favorite was toothpicks. On the end table next to his chair was a vintage, wooden woodpecker toothpick holder. We all could have just picked one up to give to him. But that woodpecker had two prongs on his beak that would grab the toothpick when you pushed it down.
I remember being amazed by it, looking back I don’t know why, it was the simplest thing. And while it has nothing to do with Amigo specifically, it’s a memory that a positive outlook let me experience. A memory that most look upon sadly. Whereas for me, it’s one of the happiest. I still look for a woodpecker toothpick holder at every antique store I visit in hopes of finding one.
What Amigo means to me
While it’s probably fairly obvious, Amigo meant my version of normal growing up. So, it allowed me to grow up not seeing mobility challenges as a disability, just a different way of life. It meant that I got to enjoy 15 years with my person. 15 years full of love, blueberry pancakes, chair lift rides, love and positivity.
I am regularly told that my positive personality is contagious. I believe that Amigo is part of the reason I have it. Things can always be bad, there will always be a negative, but there will always be positive aspects as well. You can always look past the road bumps for the smooth ride in the situation, and Amigo was part of my learning of that.