Saturday the 10th was my first day spent with a wheelchair. I tried to imagine the day beforehand, to anticipate the drawbacks and plan for every single troubleshooting scenario. I’m surprised I nailed most of them, but it was still a learning experience full of ups and downs. The day could have been much more painful and full of recriminations, had I not been blessed with a very patient, very grateful passenger.
One of the highlights each year for my wife’s grandmother is when the three of us spend a November Saturday together at the Indianapolis Christmas Gift and Hobby Show, a cavalcade of Christmas arts, Christmas crafts, Christmas edibles, and non-Christmas small businesses and hucksters held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in one of their cavernous pavilions. It usually takes us a few hours to traverse the length of the pavilion several times to see all the booths, marvel at the decorations, overspend on a few choice items, and — always number one on Mamaw’s to-do list — have her watch batteries replaced at a specific jeweler’s booth. No one in all Creation is allowed to change her watch batteries except that one jeweler. Everyone else ever born will do it wrong.
Last summer, this once-hyperkinetic eightysomething dynamo took a nasty spill that left her wounded for a good while and reset her normal energy levels at a much lower bar. She’s having much more trouble getting around than she used to, and takes a little longer to perform her chores the way she wants them. Though she weighs under one hundred pounds, she still doesn’t have quite the endurance for supporting that frame around extensive distances. Excessive walking now leaves her winded and ready to call it a day. As her beloved Christmas Gift and Hobby Show drew near, she seriously doubted she could manage the day-long stroll that would entail, and had resigned herself to skipping the show, despite how many she’s attended, despite how much she looks forward to it every year. She feared attempting such a feat now would be the death of her.
Enter: the wheelchair.