I knew better. The last time I gave Tim a direct command his leg and his cane were launching out into thin air from a curb to a parking lot. Jerry, ahead of him, caught the brunt of the fall before Tim “face-planted” in the hood of an SUV.
At the same time, from behind, I grabbed Tim’s arm and snapped, “Okay, back up on the curb! Let’s do that again!” He had just had a session with the physical therapist on how to stop at a curb, assess the situation, look where you are about to step, put the cane down on the pavement ahead of your foot, place weight on it–
The glare and the slap were like the strike of a cobra. My arm was turning red before I realized his had swung.
Once or twice, before he was willing to use a cane, when I tried to keep from insulting him by herding him over uneven ground without quite taking his arm, he had hit me with arms flailing as he lost his balance, knocking my glasses off and almost my nose with them.
This was different.
Later he told me “Sorry I swatted you this afternoon. I felt threatened. I don’t like to be grabbed.”
“I understand,” I said. “If you’re more careful you won’t have to be grabbed.”
He thanked Jerry “for not punching me in the nose when I swatted at J.”
Swatted, I thought. Such a trivializing word.
Still, you swat a fly, you kill it.