A friend and I had been planning for many weeks to enjoy a day at the beach. My friend has been restricted by medical issues for a couple of months. The last time we were nearly set our plans were thwarted by a less than 24 hour notice by his doctor that the expected time for his next surgery, weeks away, just got moved up to tomorrow. I don’t know if you can hear the screeching brakes on our beach day. We both certainly could.
He had already undergrone an eight hour surgery implanting copioius amounts of titanium in his foot. Not to mention the triple haloes of steel around his foot, ankle, and heel. Thus, saving his foot and lower leg.
He had been cooped up in the nursing rehabilitation center for nearly two months. Now this. His leg had become infected as a reaction to the steel pins and armature. So, we waited another couple if weeks for him to heal to an acceptable level.
The morning of our Beach Day finally arrived. Not a moment too soon. We had been enduring high reps for a couple of weeks. So, I checked the Weather Channel. The meteorologists upset me. They told me the beach would be in fog the whole day. This did not make me happy. I chose not to believe the experts. I knew how important this day would be to my friend. He was truly experiencing the loss of his autonomy because of his world having suddenly closed in upon him. He needed serious relief from cabin fever. I was determined to do this for him. I think it was as important to me as it was to him.
So, that morning. I received a callvinforming me that one of the pieces of identification required for me to drive the rehab facilities wheelchair lift van was missing. This was going put a HUGE crimp in our day.
But, determined as I am this was not going to stop me. Thinking that it didn’t matter if he had to fold his 6′ 3″ LARGE frame and monster cast into my itty, bitty VW Jetta TDI. Luckily I know he has a Jeep Cherokee waiting in his driveway at his real home. And he has a friend who lives right next driveway (Not door. Really, in the driveway of an uninhabited neighbours home.) to him. It took a few emails and text messages to arrange it. Logistics do take a lot of work to get right. The friend delivered the Jeep to the assisted living facility in time for us to make our trip. He drove my car back to the house for me to pick up later. Phew, that part is done.
Now we can start our trip. Long as I can get nice folk to lift his 60+ pound wheelchair in and out of the car. My friend assures me there are always “nice people” around when you need ’em. I am clearly NOT the optimist in this car.
You know he was right.
The sun shone the entire day. We found a really good restaurant, the Wayfarer in Cannon Beach, with superb staff. We wanted a window on the beach. We could not get that table. Inside the restaurant all window seating is booths. Booths are not allowed to have a wheelchair at the end of a table. Fire codes require clear walkways of so many feet. There WAS, however, an outside patio. Yay! There was a table with a perfect, partially shaded, unobstructed view of the beach, and the 12-18 foot waves crashing upon it. The food was very good. Very not Kosher. This was our trafe all the way day. We ate very slowly. Both of us wanting to extend our enjoyment as long as possible. We started with fried calamari. Yum. Clam chowder. Slurp. Fried razr clams and beer battered huge shrimp. Crunch. Ending with creme bruleeé. O.M.G. SATIATED!
This really was the perfect place to eat. Beach access abutted the end of the restaurants property line. Not too steep,not too long. I got my dog out of the car. She loves the beach. Only place I have ever seen her run. And I take her to a dog park every day!
We get to the sand. My friend has this satisfied smile on his face. First time I have ever seen him like this. EVER. He sits in his chair with the wheels just barely into the sand, smiling. I walk away and let Jewel run. Away from me. Toward the water. Yet, not in the water. She stops and looks back at me. Asif asking me, “Are you still there?” I call her and she runs flat out back to me. Out in all directions away from me. Stopping to see if I am there. Running back for a belly rub and out again as fast as she can.
I am having a great time. I walk back to my friend alone in his chair watching the sand fly across itself as the wind blows. The seagulls edging closer to him wondering if this new creature is safe and needing each other for courage to continue moving forward. Getting spooked by the wind and retreating in a winged beat of noisy screams teasing each other for being so afraid.
He was ready to leave the beach. He wanted to take a different route home to see the elk in the refuge. He said he will look at them from the car and consider which one he would like to hunt. Though, he has admitted he doesn’t often take an animal down when he and his friends go hunting even when he has the opportunity. We may not even see them. We drive for a while talking about life experiences and politics,colors and how the trees reach across the road above our heads like they are trying to hold each other. We turn into the first pull out. I get out and let Jewel out. The windows down and doors open. We wait a while. Someone forgot to tell the elk we wanted to see them here at this time.
So, we drive to the next pull out and there they are. Their secretary must be dyslexic about times and places. But, we all met up at last. Though they were far away we could easily make out the very tall rack of the alpha bull. No one challenging him. He just pranced around his herd nuzzling one cow here and rubbing against that cow over there, talking to this one and that. We watched for a ling while. Then it was time to go.
The smile never left his face. Long after the beach was behind us and the elk on to other appointments. That smile was still on his face.
He does not know it but, it was one of the best days I have had in months. I know he feels I did him a great favor. Really, he did me one.