What Do You Do if You Just Can’t Walk Right In?




I am the last one standing.. Me, Robin, Bernice (Bunny) and Arthur Knight- Cowansville Quebec 1958


I was going to write a funny story today but it is just not happening.  After writing about Merrywood on Rideau I felt sad for those who could not walk like everyone else.

My mother lost the use of her legs one snowy New Year’s Eve at a friends home when she was 30. My father thought she had consumed one drink too many, but after years of her fighting to get her legs back, he finally realized it had never really had been the liquour.

As a child I watched them say it was polio over and over. Then she had polio treatments, spinal surgeries and neurological tests slapped on her like a guinea pig. The specialists came one after another from all over the world to try their experiments on her at the former Montreal Rehabilitation Centre on Darlington Ave. and nothing ever worked.

For four years until she died at age 34 she wore black heavy polio leg braces and never gave up. My father even drove her to Oklahoma hoping faith healer Oral Roberts would cure her, only to be turned away as they could not afford all the pay tolls Roberts had on his property for those who visited him. I watched her sit on the hospital stairs each weekend and cry as she attempted to do something she would never do again-walk. But she never gave up and continued to play Glenn Miller tunes on the piano every afternoon in the hospital foyer for the patients– no matter how sad she felt about her future.

One day fluid began to violate her on a daily basis for a few months. Two days before she died in September of 1963 she burned her finger as she ironed my Confirmation dress. Instead of it blistering, a yellowish fluid began oozing from the burn.

She looked at my neighbour, and said calmly,

“Meg, my body is full of the poison now, I am going to die.”

All those years of fighting, all those year of frustration, she  died–just like that, at the age of 34. Years later when my sister Robin died of Lymphoma at the age of 40, the doctors confirmed my mother had actually died of Lymphoma on the spine. Lymphoma is a hard disease to detect, and information in those days was sparse.

The medical staff did not need to tell me what happened to my mother. I already had known as I had figured it out years ago. Yes, the disease with the capital ‘L’ has taken each one of my family, and I am the very last to speak.  At this every second in time I choose to speak the words of a family lost, so they might at least be remembered.

Today is the day you need to hug your family no matter how hard they irritate you. Don’t let the paralysis of anger allow you not to step into another day.  Family is family- the love is always there-embrace them.


Her Favourite Song exactly how she played it on the piano...

Video: Oral Rpberts –This particular boy was investigated by James Randi and found out it was just an act. He actually could walk.




Words by Linda Seccaspina 2013

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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