I prayed on the way to pick up my lunch date,
Please God, give me the emotional strength to wheel her in a wheelchair.
I arrived at her house. Lasso-ing her 40-foot in-home oxygen line, she looked beautiful as she secured herself to the portable oxygen machine. Her hair looked freshly fixed and her makeup impeccable.
She gathered her supplies.
1 portable oxygen tank
1 car power adaptor for the oxygen
1 extra battery for the oxygen tank
1 long cord for the oxygen tank
1 handicap parking placard
1 bottle of water
And her purse.
Without mentioning her newly rented wheelchair, she said, let’s go.
The captain had spoken.
I didn’t question her, and we took off – wheelchair-less.
We drove to the first restaurant, and I pulled my car up to the valet, so she’d have a short walk into the courtyard to sit. An easel holding a sign, Closed Until 4 saved us from the rigamarole of car-exiting and restaurant-entering. We discussed other lunch place options and quickly decided, Lon’s, a hotel restaurant with a patio to enjoy the day’s sunshine.
I drove a few minutes in the direction from which we’d just come and pulled into the hotel’s parking lot. The valet, busy with other customers, didn’t help us, so we sat in a holding pattern, watching and waiting. We didn’t want to exit without knowing we had an easy way to enter.
I parked and exited my car, but left the car running – we were dependent on the car to power the cord charging her portable oxygen tank. I approached the valet, questioning if they were open. He asked, hotel or restaurant?
Restaurant, but we need effortless access -the shortest distance to the outdoor seating. The valet pointed toward the valet parking lot and directed us: Go in there, park your car and take the side entrance to the restaurant.
So that’s what we did.
We gathered all of her belongings, and we walked side/side, slowly into the patio area, about 10 feet. Out of breath, she looked at me with the look I’ve become so familiar – that’s all I’ve got.
I told her to sit down in the nearest seat, and I left her to check-in. Finding the hostess, I asked if it was ok for us to sit at the table where my friend sat. The hostess said,
Of course –
The valet called ahead and told us that you were arriving.
Sit wherever you’d like.
The hostess led me out to the patio where my friend sat and gave us two menus.
The crew looked out for us.
We ate lunch while the mesquite tree overhead sprinkled its leaves on our table. She blew her nose, she coughed, and she checked her oxygen.
She requested a to-go box for her leftovers, and we sat in silence. We both surveyed the beauty that surrounded us. The sun began to shine over the top of our table’s umbrella, illuminating her face and making her eyes twinkle.
She said to me,
“Know that I plan to visit you when I’m gone, a lot.”
“I know you will. That’s why I’m creating our place where you will visit.”
An eternal gift, from the flight deck, announcing she’s at ease making her final approach,
and I need not worry.
I can rest assured, she’ll be using her wings with no need for pre-board, and most definitely, be wheelchair-less with wheels-up in the garden that I’m preparing for her landings and take-offs.