I feel like it was only yesterday that I had my pink argyle sweater on rolling to the Frick Center finding out I had received a bid from Phi Mu. It has made such an impact on me as a woman to be surrounded by women who have the same values and have surprisingly had bad life experiences but go through life with a smile on their faces. Oftentimes, I think Phi Mu gets overlooked throughout the blog because I take it for granted and the truth is I should not take anything for granted.
I remember our recruitment process. It was an interview and two parties. I became emotionally attached to the women as I participated in each event. I felt like this could be home. Well, they felt that way too! On February 13th, 2009, I was offered a bid and of course I accepted the bid. I remember feeling welcomed by my peers for the first time in my entire life.
As a member, I go to the sisterhood retreats, the spring formal, and now, I can honestly say I have girlfriends.
At the sisterhood retreat, you have to understand that the house we stay at is not wheelchair accessible. You would think I do not feel accepted, welcomed, or decide just not to go. No. That is not what happens at all. See, my sister’s help walk me in the house, sit me down on the couch, and help me throughout the night. I do take my assistant with me and I remember one assistant saying, my job sure is easy when your sisters are there. I thought to myself, boy, something is amazing about what she just said. Anyway, I am not in my wheelchair when I am at the retreat. You must be asking how does she participate in the activities. Well, first off everything they can bring to me, they do. I was able to see the little sisters open their gifts from their big sisters, be a part of the candle pass, and I am definitely included in everything. I remember Dana a close friend, made me squeal so loud at the most recent retreat that everybody stopped with what they were doing all thinking to themselves, what the heck is up with Hannah? Then everybody realized Dana had just made me excited and they understand that when I get excited that is how I react. They think it’s cute and the fact that they think part of my disability is cute is a validation that they truly love me for who I am which is the greatest feeling in the world. I feel incredibly accepted and welcomed by my sisters on those special nights. Also, as a proud and active member, I have the privilege of going to the annual spring formal.
I am such a girly girl if you haven’t noticed. Since am a girly girl, put me in an evening gown and I am happy. Put me in an evening gown and with women I love, its pure bliss. The girls wholeheartedly expect me to dance the whole night and I of course do! But I remember at my prom, nobody really wanted to dance with the kid in the wheelchair and it was heartbreaking. I would come home from dances and be satisfied with my experience but something was always missing. The thing that was missing was friends. I didn’t have anyone to enjoy the dances with. Now that I joined Phi Mu that has changed drastically. I have girls who want to take a picture with me and will proudly display it on their Facebook page the next day. These girls also genuinely want to dance with me. They do not dance with the girl in the wheelchair because it looks charitable. They dance with me because they love my spirit on the dance floor. I love these girls because they not only dance with me for the fun of it; they also value me as a girlfriend.
When we have sisterhood nights, I feel so normal which is not a familiar feeling to me. When we have nights of bonding, it usually involves going to the movies, going to dinner, or just renting a room in the Frick Center and making crafts. My sisters talk to me like everyone else; I don’t get talked down to based on my physical appearance. One sister in particular comes to mind when I say sisterhood. That sister is Samantha. She was there from the beginning. Samantha led our chapter for the first semester. Samantha took the time to get to know every girl in the chapter and she did not leave me out. She came to my dorm room frequently, had lunch with me frequently, she gave me someone who I wanted to be like. This was really the first woman in Phi Mu that I truly connected with. Although she moved back to Alabama we still are incredibly close. She actually visited me this summer.
Speaking of moments, I will never forget a moment that occurred at one of the many sisterhood retreats we had. I asked my assistant to stand me up and we happened to be by the banister in the house. Since I have done physical therapy since I was six months old and learned how to stand at a grab bar, my hands naturally grabbed the banister in the house and I was standing pretty much on my own. That was such a proud moment for me. I wanted to capture the moment by taking a photo. I communicated to my assistant to grab a few of my sisters and have them stand with me as I held on to the banister. They were behind me and I was standing with my sisters. One sister did put her hand on my back because I was moving a lot because of how excited I was. I thought to myself, I can celebrate my physical accomplishments with these girls which has not happened before. Usually, it’s my family I celebrate with but that night I celebrated with my sisters.
This past Sunday, we had our meeting like usual but it was pouring down rain and I thought to myself, I don't want to walk in the rain. I have a neighbor who is a Phi Mu and I asked her to walk with me so I could have an umbrella and we ended up having so much fun. The umbrella kept flying out of Jackie's hands and I was laughing so hard. On the way out, a sister caught up with us and I suddenly have two umbrellas over me and it was the greatest feeling in the world.
My Phi Mu sisters have been such a blessing. They don’t have to help me walk into the house where the sisterhood retreat is, they don’t have to bring everything possible to me at the retreats, they don’t have to dance with me at the formals, but they do. That is why I love them with all my heart. The one thing they fail to do is, see me as the girl in the wheelchair. I’m just Hannah to the amazing women of Phi Mu, and I can tell that it is always going to be that way, no matter what.
With this being said, I'm done talking and reflecting about how high school and how bad it was. A dear, dear friend who recently reentered my life made me realize this. This change is not going to happen overnight but this post is reflective of a changed mindset which is focused on sisterhood.
Before I move on, I want to thank each and every sister for being a cause for distraction from the difficult parts of life. Life has simply been better because I have you in it. I love how you are always watching out in some way for me on campus.
Before I end this post, I have two accomplishments I have to share. I did make the Dean's List and my parents were incredibly proud. When I make my parents proud, I know I have done something truly great. Also, I found out that Gamma Sigma Alpha, a national Greek academic society has accepted me. You had to have a 3.75 GPA or get a 4.0 GPA for one of your junior or senior semesters which happened last semester for me. I had both requirements! I don't usually like to put "tangible" accomplishments in my blog however, I want to inspire my readers to as cheesy as it sounds go for the gold and succeed in their own ways.
A True Phi Mu,