Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

A collection of stories from individuals with disabilities, families, friends, and disability service providers in Tennessee

Eddie (73), Cerebral Palsy, Knox County

"Eddie’s life has been full and filled with rich relationships. "

  • A Student interview of self-advocate's Perspective
  • Posted on 8/21/2013

At 74-years-old, Eddie retains a love of life and for the people around him.  He comments, “Even when I don’t feel like it, I try to stay upbeat and make it.”  His positive attitude has been honed throughout a life with cerebral palsy.  Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills.  It affects coordination, making simple movements difficult.  Vital functions, such as vision, breathing, bladder and bowel control, and eating, can be affected, as well. Although there is no cure, it is one of the most common congenital disorders of childhood.  The symptoms do not worsen over time but are simply sustained over the course of one’s life.

Eddie’s life has been full and filled with rich relationships.  He grew up with two siblings, a brother and a sister, and later married a wonderful woman. Unfortunately, she has since passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, and he has been living alone for the last 12 years.  He has no desire to marry again; remarking, “When you’ve had the best, how could you ask for more?”  He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in education in 1981 and proceeded to work in a computer room at a hospital in Knoxville for 15 years.   At the age of 67, Eddie decided that he had “had enough of that” and retired.  Currently, he lives in an apartment in a retirement complex in Knoxville.

Now, on a typical day Eddie prides himself in being able to wake up whenever he chooses.  Most days, he enjoys listening to music.  Eddie’s voice grew excited as he described his love for country, bluegrass, and classical music.  Church is also a large part of Eddie’s life.  He remarked that he is lucky to be part of a strong church community with friends who help him by driving him to appointments and places such as a movie theater or grocery store.  Finally, Eddie is an active volunteer and donates blood whenever he can.  He constantly looks for ways to help other people, showing his propensity for giving.

As for his mobility, Eddie chooses to use a wheelchair.  At one point, he was able to hop around on crutches but disliked this mode of transport and has used a wheelchair for the past 20 years.  In his words, the wheelchair “lets you do what you need to do.”  At one point, Eddie attempted twice to learn to drive, but his poor eyesight made it almost impossible.  For fear of accidentally hurting himself or someone else, he decided that driving was not the safest activity.

Certainly, cerebral palsy limits Eddie in a number of ways.  Eddie’s disability prevents him from always being able to spend his time in an enjoyable way.  Sometimes he needs someone to help him watch TV or engage in other activities he enjoys.  Eddie is always looking for someone who can drive him places and someone who could be his caregiver. Above all, he says that he just needs prayer so that he can continue living a healthy and long life.

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