Last Sunday I began a series of gratitude postings. This week I want to share with you my Thanksgiving journey to Idaho.
Traveling has become increasingly worrisome for me. I can no longer read the terminal monitors or readily see the gate designations. Moreover, because of Meniere’s, my balance is askew. Couple this with the severe arthritis in my lower back and right hip and I walk slower than I used to and more cautiously. So airports test my resolve to travel. Given all this, I now request wheelchairs to take me between gates. This is a real “perk” of being disabled or elderly.
For this trip, I flew to Salt Lake City and then switched planes and flew to a regional airport in Idaho that serves several nearby small towns. All went well. The SLC wheelchair operator waited for me on the ramp and breezily wheeled me to a far gate for my flight to the regional airport.
The friends I visited have become my second family. I met the mother when I began to blog in 2011. She and her husband have four young children who call me “Grandma Dee.” I’ve never had children. So the six have become a blessing of my final years. I so enjoyed my visit with them and the many things we did together from playing cribbage to sitting in the hot springs of a local resort town. Lots of love and leisure.
The return journey brought stress with it. I always have to be careful because stress exacerbates Meniere’s. That is, I experience acute rotational vertigo episodes. So it behooves me to stay calm at all times.
Here’s what happened: I had only 30 minutes between when the regional airport plane landed in SLC and when the plane for Kansas City departed. I had to get from the Gate-E-area runway where we disembarked by steps to the Gate D area for departure . . . AND . . . the regional plane was 10 minutes late. So when we landed I had only 20 minutes before the Kansas City plane flew off into the wild blue yonder.
Moreover, the wheelchair wasn’t there. My stomach tightened. Stress.
An employee called for a wheelchair. By the time the operator got to me, we had only about 12 minutes left before the KC plane departed. Remembering our journey today, all I can say is that he must be an Indie 500 enthusiast. Gripping the wheelchair handles, he zoomed me down numerous halls and lengthy passageways, bobbing and weaving between passengers with their carry-on luggage trailing behind them. He was, truly, a marvel of speed. He got me to the door of the plane with three minutes to spare.
The steward checked my name, directed me to my seat, gave the pilot the go-ahead, and within those three minutes the door closed and we began to wheel down the runway. One of my Minnesota friends calls this my “Christmas miracle.”
I still had another event for which to be deeply grateful. When I told a stewardess about the symptoms of Meniere’s—I always do this so as not to frighten anyone should I suddenly pitch forward and start to vomit—she told the head steward. After the plane had leveled off at its cruising altitude, he came to sit by me. “What will we see if you have an episode?” he asked. “Is there anything we can do to make this flight comfortable for you? What can we do to help if an episode happens?” His face. His eyes. His demeanor. All expressed real concern.
You see, don’t you, just how much there is for me to be grateful? The loving family. The mastery of the wheelchair operators. The solicitous steward.
And, finally, the generosity of my brother who drove me to the airport at the beginning of the trip and the friends who picked me back up eight days later. Life is good.
Peace to you now and ever and always.