Jessica Winowich and Rebekah Tucker

Recorded October 22, 2021 Archived October 22, 2021 40:10 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby021167


Friends Jessica Winowich (38) and Rebekah Tucker (39) talk about the first time they met, issues around accessibility, Jessica's fashion, and the challenges that come with managing autonomy while living with a physical disability.

Subject Log / Time Code

JW asks RT if she remembers the first time they met.
JW talks about the way they dress and how people in other churches have commented negatively on their fashion.
JW talks about working with children at the church and how it boosted their confidence.
RT talks about JW's confidence and their style. She shares that JW is a great model for her children.
JW talks about an experience she had at the hospital when she was 34 years old and the nurse asked her where her parents were.
JW remembers a friend who would go out of their way to spend time with her.
JW talks about closing herself off from people because she has been laughed at before.
JW reflects on how she has been told to be nice and understanding when people are rude or don't understand.
RT talks about apologies and self-reflection.
JW talks about the media portraying people with disabilities as villains.
JW and RT talk about marginalized groups and how they get grouped together. JW tells RT she is really glad she found her church. She talks about their honest friendship.
RT talks about her relationship with JW.


  • Jessica Winowich
  • Rebekah Tucker

Recording Location

Mildred L. Terry Public Library


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00:02 Hi, I'm just going to wait on 38th for a couple more weeks of here in Columbus, Georgia, and I'm with my friends and church, family Rebecca. Hi, I'm Rebecca Tucker. I am 39 and I am here with my friend. Jess, who is also church family.

00:26 So Rebecca, what is your first memory of me?

00:33 So,

00:34 My first memory of you, it just stays in my mind. I love it.

00:40 I was visiting churches and came to your church. You were already a member.

00:47 And the first thing I noticed was your absolutely spectacular outfit. I felt like Jackie Kennedy was across the hall from me and I really feel like a fan girl for a little bit. It was great and I was excited because you

01:08 You loved your clothes. And I wasn't used to seeing someone.

01:14 Love what they were in and I was excited about that and then I watched.

01:21 How people interacted with you.

01:24 Because I realized,

01:28 Okay, when you stood up, I realized that.

01:33 You had a physical disability and that you were walking the same as everyone else. And then I really started paying attention to whether people

01:44 We're talking to you.

01:46 Or talking at you or around you or like you were in a Cesery.

01:55 And I watched you and how people interacted you off and on for several more weeks.

02:02 And every time it was again, another epic outfit. Great shoes.

02:10 Just classy classy. I loved it, but I loved even more that.

02:19 You weren't a project to the people around you. The conversations were genuine.

02:27 I didn't hear people providing answers for you.

02:32 I,

02:34 I heard people including you.

02:37 Intentionally. Instead of as an afterthought.

02:41 And I also heard people making decisions.

02:46 With your disability in mind, not as a hindrance, but as

02:53 As a need that, they would have done for anyone else.

02:57 And I was touched by that because it meant that this church was considering.

03:05 Inclusion and diversity.

03:09 In the very nature of how they existed.

03:17 And I I do, I remember at least the first three times that I met you.

03:25 And then my kids met you.

03:28 And I distinctly remember my youngest hopping into the car and paint like she had the coolest shoes. Mommy. I want some shoes and a great. I could talk about it forever, but I loved meeting you and I loved seeing that, there might be a place where a person with a disability would be talk to you as a person first, and not seen.

04:00 With their disability upfront. And instead just a part of who they were.

04:06 That really matter to me. So that's my, that's my first memory of you.

04:12 Do you have one of me? I do. I do I remember if we were.

04:19 In Sunday school and we were discussing things that I heard your take on the topic. And I was like, oh,

04:30 She's smart.

04:33 Ms. She has all the same feelings. I do this, we can be friends and then

04:40 We have been going for some time away and transition to the new building and I saw you with your husband and boys.

04:50 I don't want to just hug her King stuffed animal with him cuz I thought there's no open to things. These are people so I could love cuz I look like they love like they're capable of that kind of our cousins and kindness that I look for fans.

05:16 So those are, those are some of my

05:20 Earliest, memories of you.

05:26 I appreciate that the way I dressed and turn you off for church cuz I've had

05:33 Church has told me before that the way I test, like other people feel like they should be there. And I never meant to do that to anyone.

05:43 But, you know, I just stressed, like, I think a lot of the TV show. This is how I I didn't perceive it. That way. I just saw it as

06:02 Confidence and and I loved it because not only was I really excited about how people were talking to you.

06:12 I also was glad because I realized there was an opportunity for my kids to see other adults, interacting with a person with a disability respectfully and with dignity. And I knew that you were confident and that it would give them an opportunity.

06:36 To also,

06:39 Experience.

06:43 Listening to an adult with a disability because that person is an adult and that the disability didn't have anything to do with it.

06:53 Because I've had a lot of experiences where an older person with a disability is not interacted with as a person.

07:03 Who merits?

07:06 Being listened to.

07:09 And that's often the other adults who were modeling that and then I find that the children. It's not their fault. They're just they're falling. What they see the adults do. If the adults are talking to another person with a disability.

07:27 In a degrading way. I'm trying to be tactful, but maybe I shouldn't be. If you're being rude to a person, you're being rude.

07:36 I wanted them to see it done. Well.

07:40 And I wanted them to see that a person with a disability.

07:45 Deserves to be respected and should expect to be respected. Just as anyone else would and that has that has really come to fruition. My kids legitimately do see you as an adult figure. They know that they can ask you for advice. They know that when you say they need to stop that they should try and stop whatever they're doing.

08:14 And if they they know that you are looking out for them.

08:19 And I wanted that for them because the presence of a disability.

08:24 Doesn't mean the absence.

08:29 Of skills are purpose or the absence of ability to impact people.

08:35 And,

08:37 I wish it.

08:39 Society wasn't that way, but Society is most of the time.

08:45 Disability is what they see first. And I find that most people with a disability, especially one, that's physically present.

08:55 Are just kind of carted to the back burner and sort of treated as second-class.

09:01 Maybe even a little lower than second-class, depending on the situation.

09:08 And I wanted my kids to see something different and I wanted them to see other adults modeling that.

09:17 And so far that hasn't happened. And they've, they've gotten the opportunity to see you and I interact, which I think is huge, because if they see the adults having genuine friendships.

09:29 Actual relationships.

09:31 True conversation. The given take that comes with.

09:37 Trying to really get to know another person.

09:43 It's going to help them know that that's a good and normal thing to do that just because someone has a disability. It doesn't mean

09:53 That.

09:55 They're not friends.

09:59 Yeah, I think.

10:03 I think being able to work with the kids, that's hurts really boosted my confidence that way.

10:12 When I was able to start work clothes for the kids.

10:18 Casting was hard at first because

10:23 I know.

10:25 Oldest. Really wanted a bigger.

10:30 Poor. But he was such a little guy and I didn't want to overwhelm with you. Yeah, but I also saw what a great job he did.

10:43 I wanted there to be a balance cuz I don't want to ruin any of the kids. I want to have fun.

10:54 We're just having the opportunity to be an adult with the kids was something guy.

11:01 Don't really get to experience a lot.

11:05 I hadn't I hadn't seen it prior, which is part of what was so exciting about the way that our church was handling it because not not only were you,

11:18 Working with you, you were in charge of those place. So they the kids were literally watching other adults.

11:29 Refer to you. And it, I really think it modeled for them.

11:36 Disability does not equal ignore this person. Okay, so you just handed me Christmas Eve. What was like, it was like something that you just

12:02 Terrified of one of our members.

12:08 Ask me if I knew what I was doing.

12:12 How old is Tyga baby? As long as I'm 75%. Sure. I like the song. Yeah.

12:27 And I was so nervous about doing it after that until I found out that he was going to be up here for Christmas and I was like, oh, it's fine. We're good. He's not going to be here.

12:42 I think it's gone.

12:47 It's everything that I've hoped for like so.

12:53 I want to go back to the clothes. I know this sounds kind of weird, and I was going to try to get it out.

13:01 Why do people have told you that about your clothes? But coming from an angle where I've seen so many people with disabilities. Not be confident and they've been taught not to be. I genuinely feel like they've sort of been taught that their disability is a hindrance to everyone else. Don't do anything that gets in the way. Don't say what you need. Just going to mess, everybody else up.

13:26 And I saw your enjoyment of clothes.

13:30 As an opportunity to just feel like no, you should say what you need and you should be proud of who you are. And you should like yourself.

13:39 And my boys are getting to see that and I'm getting to see it and

13:46 I feel like it's helped me be a better friend because

13:53 It's giving me an opportunity to this is going to sound like I'm using you and I don't mean it that way at all.

14:01 You're just a great model and I can have my kids by you and

14:07 They are actively seeing someone.

14:12 Just like the things they like and end and go for it. And I really feel like that's important because if you're not comfortable in your own skin,

14:25 The world is already hard enough and I think things like liking how your dress makes a big difference and how you can handle your day. And I feel like if you feel pretty and more confidence and like you feel like yourself and what you're wearing, then the day is a little bit easier.

14:48 And,

14:53 I'm proud of you, for.

14:56 Wearing what you want to wear.

15:00 Part of the reason that I just want to do it because I feel

15:04 More respected. When I dress up nicely. I feel like people speak to me differently when I'm going to stop by sleep.

15:18 When people see me, they can't not see the school policy. I can't hide it and

15:29 I feel like at least they can see.

15:34 That I can put together an outfit. We should take some level.

15:39 Open diligence.

15:41 We could go see a little bit of the step.

15:45 Do you feel like,

15:48 I probably don't even need to ask it cuz I can tell based on how people have interacted between the two of us.

15:55 I'm sure that it's happened. More than I've even witnessed.

15:59 Is it more likely that people just?

16:09 Assume that.

16:12 I'm your caregiver or that any of your other friends are not actually friends.

16:19 So happens, that definitely happens.

16:25 Ex-husband, and we were out shopping. And I need to use the restroom and he went, we went to ask where the restroom walls.

16:36 End.

16:38 Gloria looks like we have a family restroom as a diet to

16:45 So, you can go in and help her.

16:50 Like I couldn't figure out how to use that there myself and

16:58 I did not handle that suit for my Chorley. I'll be honest.

17:02 Ayo.

17:05 I went to the restroom when I came out. I was like, look, that is I wash my hands. And why did everything cover myself? Yay.

17:16 Wishing, you know, probably not helpful, but like, I felt better if I was just

17:24 But yeah, I've had.

17:28 I have a lot of people.

17:31 Like, when I'm sick and in the hospital, there was a nurse.

17:37 Who's the first thing she said when she can't even come over and watch for your parents like 34.

17:45 And I was already cranky and they wouldn't take me, which makes me really angry.

17:54 I was like, well, my step dad is Dad. So there's that.

18:02 Cuz they told her that and my mother is at home, probably the whole time and probably lying about me fixing her a glass of water. So sorry, thanks for asking and she gave me a look. And then I went to the restroom and she was out the whole talking with the doctor and I heard her say to him.

18:33 Have you have you found so this is what I've noticed, working in different fields related to special education.

18:45 But it's really different because those those are people. I was working with I wouldn't say that those were friends. I mean we were friendly but we were working together and spending time together because it was related to my job. That's not the case with with you and me. We were legitimately hanging out because we want to and they're there isn't employment-related to it.

19:13 Have you?

19:15 Have the same experiences. I've had. Of course. I'm coming from the different angle. I've noticed that a lot of people just

19:24 Seem to expect that if you have a disability years, you're just going to be so happy and so smiley, and every day is the best day ever. Been really been really, really confused when

19:40 A person with special needs acts, like a person who might have a bad day. Have you had that happen where people and life?

19:52 Just sugar plum blossoms. That was a dog with me. And I think that's why when I do stand-up, I start cussing rap from the back.

20:04 So, you know what you're getting into here cuz I'm not that chick like a lot and I think it really angry people when they when I'm not all stylist and then

20:23 I can be very, very cranky. Sometimes I feel bad for it later. Sometimes it's like over.

20:36 But generally, I forgot if I was married to someone.

20:41 But I'm not always sunshine and

20:45 Buttercups like that sis.

20:49 It's not who I am a little bit dark. So what kind of things do people do that? Make you feel like you can't be yourself. Like are there. Things that have happened where you're like, oh, okay, so I've got to fake it with you because it's not safe.

21:08 My older sister told me that I have a really difficult personality and it would be hard for anyone to ever love me.

21:18 And growing up. I was told a lot by my mom that

21:26 People didn't really, like me. They were just being nice and just hang out with me because I felt hard for me.

21:38 It took me years to figure out the no, actually, people really do want to hang out with me, and I do like me and I think

21:47 Oral B, doing that with my best friend, who

21:52 Lives all the way of the other end of the tunnel. What kind of event in a different town today?

22:00 And she would drive 15 or 20 minutes just to hang out with me and she will pay for us to do things together cuz she knew, I couldn't afford it.

22:10 Is she is a nice person, but I feel like if she just needed a charity project, that would be someone easier.

22:17 Send.

22:21 That's a funny way of describing.

22:25 It is so easy to just help me to know. There are people who do, who do care about me. I do actually like having me around.

22:37 I enjoy having you around your hilarious.

22:41 There have been days when I've had a really bad day and there are things that I know that I don't necessarily want to talk about with other people, because I feel like it might shatter them, like, life experiences that I'm not sure that

23:00 It's on those right there, radar that those things even really exist.

23:04 And,

23:07 I know, you do know those things exist and that you don't judge me for for any of the anger. I feel or any of the grief or sadness, and I remember having a really bad day and my husband asking if I was going to be all right, and me actually telling him. It's okay. I'm going to go to Jesse's later and I know I can cry at her place and

23:32 I think people.

23:37 I think people underestimate.

23:44 The address to meet you.

23:48 I think that.

23:51 Honestly happens a lot.

23:55 I think.

23:59 I think, I

24:04 Pictures of clothes off people.

24:09 Like we got to know each other fairly well, but it did take a while before we started talking before we really in the book club. I don't think we got close.

24:21 Yeah, that's true.

24:25 Because I have people asked that just for speaking to someone before and even though I can do that.

24:34 Hotels are also afraid.

24:37 I think that's how it works like doing stuff on stage cuz that was there was a safety barrier.

24:44 Because someone in the audience if they like Huckleberry laugh to me.

24:49 The whole audience is every like it's kind of a jerk.

24:57 Feel like a picture of 101 and direction.

25:01 It's easier for somebody to just

25:05 Like I've heard people just talked to my friend and not me when they were asking questions about me.

25:13 And luckily my family's like he's sitting right here and it forever. I was why don't you ask her how to do it. It's not my face.

25:24 I noticed that happened a tiny bit. It was super subtle, and I don't, I don't know that another person would have recognized it, but I did because I had seen it before, when one of the last times, we went out to eat and then gentlemen behind the counter. He was trying so hard, but I could tell that he wasn't sure whether to ask me about what you wanted to order or whether to ask you.

25:52 And in the end I feel like he ended up handling it pretty well in comparison to how I'm sure other people have done it but

26:04 How does that feel when?

26:08 That is more likely to be the interaction that you have. Like, for me, when I go out to eat. I do have situations, like, if I'm with my husband, where he likes, I can't answer for me and I'm like, I'm right here and I know exactly what I want to eat. Excuse me. Still happens occasionally, but when he's not there and it's just me.

26:34 Most of the time servers will just say, what would you like today? And I don't get weird. Looks no one questions. My ability to read the menu know when worries that I don't have my that I don't have money to pay or that I shouldn't be ordering. Nobody asked me where my parents are.

26:54 What does it feel like when?

26:58 It's much more likely that when you go out, someone's going to talk to you, like for 12.

27:06 So I could tell he was trying and to be honest, since covid, with the face mask. It can be harder for people to understand me. And I realize that I don't want to get mad at people for just dealing with the reality of the situation cuz that's how things are. There's no reason.

27:31 But like the person who is doing my eyebrows.

27:36 She literally asked me what's wrong with your face.

27:41 A neurologist.

27:43 Like I had the response for me, instead of talking about the single pole because

27:59 I just didn't feel like going there with her. We're not that close.

28:08 134.

28:12 When people don't talk to me, like, I'm a Fool person, like, sometimes it can really hurt. That wasn't the first time that I had happened with me and my friend.

28:23 It happened at the movie theater a few weeks before.

28:28 Someone will speak to her and not me.

28:32 And I was crying by the time we got to the car because

28:39 Always always told to just be nice about it and just because you're standing don't like

28:46 It happens so much and sometimes it's more.

28:53 I have it in me to be understanding about like sometimes.

29:02 Sometimes I just want to be seen as a person and I used to think that that was tied to my intelligence like, as long as always, intelligent. I deserve it.

29:16 Did the Recently I realized it doesn't even matter. Even if I wasn't.

29:21 The smartest elephant game.

29:24 Cuz I can be a jerk about this fart.

29:30 Even if I wasn't, I still deserve to be treated as a first because I am in fact a person.

29:39 Like,

29:42 Are you getting so upset? Especially when I say other people with disabilities being treated, not like people?

29:52 When I see people talk down to people.

29:57 And,

30:00 Especially when it's 3/4 in, by All Time Low.

30:05 I've grown up with you. You've been around me for nearly 40 years. You should know better. You should do better and they don't and it's just

30:17 Like it really hard sex toy.

30:24 I believe you.

30:26 And I think that,

30:31 I think in general, we we kind of have a culture.

30:39 That dismisses people stories like

30:45 It's when someone says that really hurt me.

30:50 I find a lot of people saying, well, I'm sorry that hurt you, which is not an apology. That's putting it on that that's putting it on the person in pain like well.

31:02 It's like a lot of those who choose your feelings things, and like, and that's a cop-out for the person who is, is the one who harmed, right?

31:17 I think it's really important for people to recognize that perception is reality. And if

31:25 Someone is

31:27 Is someone has said something that is degrading or demeaning or dismisses a person's personhood?

31:37 They need to accept that they've made the other person.

31:43 Feel.

31:45 Genuinely bad, and that's not the other person's fault for being hurt.

31:52 We we don't do a very good job of taking responsibility for the things that we say and I think that we would do a whole lot better if we just sometimes or like I screwed that up. I shouldn't have said that because that would be so much easier on disability. I feel like a lot of times a video when they do a disabled person building or there was a slideshow or show every episode, there was a family member of a person with a disability, increase something illegal. Because every time someone says I won't

32:45 And it was just,

32:48 Like, we don't have to be the villain in the story. We can be like

32:53 Decent normal people to 3/4. He'll like, we don't have to clean the sunshine and

33:17 The guy from unbreakable like there is a space between their. Yeah, and there's also the other aspect that I've seen with a lot of media depictions where

33:28 It's the opposite. It's like

33:33 Helpless for

33:37 Burden on their family or a or b.

33:46 That is very accurate like for you to just turn to act with me and like

33:55 Feel sorry for every lie. Hate it when people feel sorry for me like when they're really nice today.

34:05 It's just uncomfortable cuz then I have to be super nice today, but I can't be late and they were not being home and it's just

34:15 Uncomfy. I can see that.

34:21 What would you think would be?

34:24 What would you think it would be better, but

34:27 I know my background and I grew up with a family member with a disability. So I think it's already sort of more natural to me. Then it might be to someone else. And then I've worked in the field of special education.

34:45 How?

34:47 Like I always just tell my kids will just just just ask Jess. You don't need to ask me, you can ask her, but I think that some people are afraid that that is.

34:59 Too personal or insulting, or

35:03 Drawing attention to your disability. What do you what do you prefer?

35:17 They don't want to call food. But if they want the real information to the other one, who knows the answers about me because I'm the one living in the body.

35:34 There was a whole thing about when I was in college for everyone. So I have muscular sclerosis and not sleep with Halsey because I would ask this person or that person and they would be like, well, I guess she has this, I don't like, don't go. So somebody had just asked me the cove.

35:57 Dog busy worried about how much work I was getting cuz I'm not getting worse. I'm just

36:04 It does seem to be a bit of a socialist sumption.

36:10 People with disabilities are a monolith or at least in the way that people with disabilities are talked about and treated when none of us want to be treated, like we're identical to everyone else. I think that happens has a lot of marginalized groups that they think the whole group feels this way about things, but

36:32 My favorite things, don't tell me this is there to help people who are blind, that will totally fall over every time he's on the street cuz I can't walk down to the stupid things, especially out.

36:52 And I landed every talk.

36:56 And I realize that they were to help other people because apparently, I can go to lunch. Click would be way too difficult.

37:06 You know, I've actually asked about that cuz yeah, we, we could have auditory signals. I don't know why. We don't let you know and it's it seems to be evidence of one of the things that always play their part, which is money.

37:25 Yeah, that does falling apart and taking Ricky truth about it.

37:32 I will say, I'm really glad that you found our church cuz I'm

37:39 Supercloud that got you and have that kind of Friendship with you, where I can be really honest. And

37:50 Like we have fun, but we can also talk about difficult things, too. And it's nice to have a friend. Like I'm so glad I found church too. And that that I saw you that first day I saw how people interact it because it really gave me hope.

38:07 That if I stuck it out, maybe it would be a place that I could go because I I wanted I wanted to find a place where

38:17 I felt like it might be safer for more marginalize people to come, and

38:24 Be accepted not as a charity project. Not not as someone to fix not as token.

38:32 And in the end, I ended up with an awesome friendship with you and we get to have lunch together today and we get to Snicker and laugh about all of the people who don't know what to say when they walk when I don't know what to think about. And I think that thought honestly maybe other people would think that we were being mean to each other to joke about it, but is very real. We can tell when people are like, why are they having lunch as as it's hard? Cuz I was like my phone's language and if you can't get if we can't communicate with the song.

39:10 It's not going to work. I love it because it's made it. It's so easy to talk to you cuz I can make a joke, and you think it's funny and you don't think that I'm an awful person for it and I can make jokes. And you don't look at me. Like I'm really, really freaking dog. Cuz I will make jokes about, you know, the truth and so people know, I love it and we can always joke about. We can always joke about David Bowie.

39:45 I'm so glad we got to do this today, and I'm really glad we get to have lunch together. And yeah, and then we get to keep hanging out anytime we want to.