January brings with her unparalleled frigid temperatures along with some weird skin hives on Geoff’s legs caused by the unruly cold; yet she also brings New Year’s resolutions, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and, every four years, the eager anticipation of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. We set new goals for ourselves or we don’t; we eat healthier or we don’t; we exercise more or we don’t; we make a positive lifestyle change or we don’t. The key though is that most of us living here in America have that personal choice to make. No one makes those choices for us, although we may be constrained by finances or geographic location or insurance or time or any number of other challenges. We retain the power of our attitude along with our ability to hope and to dream.
At the end of the day, we want all kids, all humans, to know they have a choice in the life they build for themselves, complete with options so that settling for less than our best is not really a choice at all. With that said, we need to believe we are living in a world that creates jobs for all kinds of individuals, not just the ones who can walk, talk, or have a college degree. Our own kids are lucky that we, their parents, both love our careers; mine as a teacher I knew I would become at an early age; Geoff’s came later in life following his injury, yet clearly doing something he was born to do. Although we may struggle financially from time to time, we both love working as teachers every day, despite the overwhelming challenges which face both the world of public education and families living with and without a disability. Doubtful we will ever live beyond the world of paycheck to paycheck, but we are far more fortunate than most in many other ways, including quality of life, friendship, and impact on humanity. To know we are making a difference in the lives of others– while we are actually alive– is a gift.
But this week, Geoff had to travel to Pennsylvania for work. He is a seasoned professional when it comes to schlepping his ski gear all over the country in all kinds of weather. But after this last week, I’m not sure he will ever get on a plane again. Normally, he flies in and out of Manchester Boston airport located in Manchester, NH as they are very helpful with the fact that he is a disabled person who travels alone. When his flight was canceled in Manchester due to a snowstorm on Friday, the airline rescheduled him out of Boston.
On the way, he called the airport to see if someone would be available to assist him with his luggage. No one could really understand how he was traveling with all this gear without another person. Finally, they connected him with the Boston State Police, and the officer commented, “Call us anytime you fly in or out of Boston and we would be happy to assist.” Thank you for helping him Boston State Police! The following day his flight was late, and he missed his connecting in Newark. The airline rescheduled him again. Long story short, the only room available near the airport did not have an accessible bathroom.
When he arrived at BWI the next day, his ski bag arrived but nothing else. This was fortuitous only because his portable hand controls for his rental car were packed in the ski bag. He carried them with him on this trip because there have been times when he has had to wait hours after arriving somewhere as the hand controls were not set up properly in his rental car. This is a problem “hand control travelers” have faced since the beginning of time and not a problem we should still face today. He made it to his training and his mono ski was delivered; however, his luggage never arrived. At this writing, we believe it will be delivered to NH so that when Geoff returns here later today after his return flight was canceled yesterday, his items will be safe at home. Geoff is pretty calm at overcoming stormy weather or traveling hiccups, but this time the world seemed to conspire against him. Here’s to surviving this cold, stormy January, some nasty hives, a cold, and our calling, even when life seems to conspire against us.
Heather Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 7 and 6. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, @heatherkrill1 on Twitter, and, most recently added in the New Year, her Youtube channel “Writing from the Front.”