Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

To the young, the life of the elderly is as distant as another country.

To the healthy, illness happens to other people.

It takes time and change to teach us that all of us are united on the wheel of life, and that, if we live long enough, we will all enter the House of the Elderly.

When I recently became ill, it was more a shock than even the symptoms themselves, for, after almost thirty years on Death Row, sickness only touched me briefly, able to be counted on one hand with several fingers remaining. In fact, it rarely lasted longer than a day.

Then it struck like thunder, helped along by improper drugs administered by prison doctors.

The resultant effects, the systemic weakness, left me nodding in a wheelchair, for I was simply unable to ambulate. And even though I’m no longer in the chair the experience taught me more than I ever wanted to know.

I cannot pass someone in a wheelchair, without at least nodding to them. For they are me.

I know, from bitter experience, that such chairs can be painful after hours of sitting.

Who knew?

Now, I know.

Illness, like aging, is part of the life cycle of the living.

We are all on The Wheel of Time, waiting our turn to learn something anew.