Story Time

i am in a reminiscing mood, and long time ago I promised to write about a vacation that I made my dad take. Oh, it is a great story!

My youngest sister and I felt cheated out of family vacations, not that our older siblings enjoyed many vacations, either.  Back when it was just the three siblings and a hitchhiker [Not me.} in mom’s womb, they went to Disneyland. I can only remember one family beach trip, including mom’s entire side of family. I was in seventh heaven being surrounded by all those people who loved me, in a new place!

My dad was a farmer, and a certified home-body. At family functions held in other relatives homes, after we had the meal, mom was lucky  she had a hour to enjoy relaxing with family before he started asking to go home. As soon as she consented, dad would whisk me, the easily to catch one, and we would wait a good half hour in the car before all of my immediate family would trickle out . I would sit fuming in the car until at least three out of the other five of the family unit showed up.

I wrote my dad a letter stating how my sister and I felt we were being deprived of family vacations!  I most likely used quips,  such as;  everyone needs a break from their daily life once in a great while. Seeing new scenery is good for the soul. The fact that it would probably be the last time my sister would be marriage free, and able to take a family vacation with us. And, I probably threw in the fact that only by leaving home for a certain amount of time; can a person really appreciate the joy of coming. Home again!

He agreed to something like a three or four day trip. I was happy for anything he gave us as long as we were away from home, and seeing new sites for at a couple of days!  Our destinations were Crater Lake, Lava Beds National Monument, The Oregon Wildlife Safari, and The Oregon Caves. All of this lead in stuff is really about The Oregon Caves!

At  the Oregon caves, which is a natural wonder;and not wheelchair accessible. Mom made special arrangements with the tour guide, to have my sister help me walk through the first three caves, then walk me out, settle me back in my power chair, then dash back to join the rest of the tour. I was left to entertain myself for an hour.

I was happy with the arrangement. My plan was to find a spot to read the book I was engrossed in. Just as I got my book open to where I left off, which wasn’t easy for me to do, one handed, and with my left arm being the paper weight.  Suddenly I was surrounded by yellow jackets. I was terrified, of getting stung!  I had to move!  I can’t believe I didn’t drop the book during the whole process, of which i had a 50 percent chance of doing.

Against my better judgement, I decided to go meet my family where they exited the cave. Which took me up a hilly path that had no railings. I specifically remember this because as I was driving up the path, I thought very calmly, that if a belt that helped turned the wheels of my power chair slipped off, I would be a goner! {Once when I was wheeling down the street in a kiddie parade; I suddenly lost all control of my power chair, and went careening into a ditch. At first, I was accused of horsing around until it was discovered that a belt had slipped off it’s track.}  Then just as calmly, I thought, I have had a good life up til now, if I die today, I have led a happy, rich life!  But life wasn’t done with me yet!

I drove on the inside, closest to the cave side and not the outer edge of the path. I was doing fine, but when other people came along I startled and that meant my hand came off of the power wheelchair driving control. When that happened my wheelchair would roll backwards a bit. There was this couple who decided that after seeing me startle and roll backwards, that I was not safe to be on the trail.  I did not have my communication device with me and only had my voice to communicate with. When I am with total strangers, I feel my tongue swells triple its size, making communication impossible.

I seem to remember, this couple spoke French, I knew they were upset with me.  They scolded me, and would not leave me alone, they hovered and talked about how unsafe I was.  It felt like I was being held hostage. My sister knew that I would be waiting, so hurried ahead of my parents to meet up with me. She came across the couple and attempted to defend me.  She said she trusted my judgement and driving skills and that if I felt I could do the trail, then she felt I could do the trail. She told them the chair would only roll a little bit if my hand came off the control. The couple had to tell her that I should not be left alone. My sister and I split when our parents came on to the scene, and the couple started in on them. I was steaming mad!  .

My sister and I had to pick up my manual wheelchair from the main lodge of the Oregon Caves.  To get me into a better frame of mind, my sister got into my manual wheelchair and wanted to race me to our van.  We took off in a frenzy, just as our parents and the french couple reached the bottom of the trail.  I’m sure the couple shook their heads, and thought, those out of control American kids!

Author’s note:  I used the Oregon cave story in a recent presentation.  I used my sister’s version, which was less wordy, and less effort to finish my presentation without getting stressed out.

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