The children and I traveled to London on Good Friday to spend spring break with my husband’s sister Auntie Allison and our brother in law Uncle Brian; Geoff joined us on Easter Sunday. He took a plane from Bozeman, Montana, to Denver, Colorado, to Boston, Massachusetts, and finally to London, England where he then took a long, long nap. Allison and Brian coordinated a perfect week of sightseeing, memory making, and “gardening.” By gardening, I mean time spent in their garden searching for eggs, playing badminton, and chatting on the patio.
There is a lot about staying in inaccessible places that is challenging. But of course, the challenge is worth the experience, at least at this stage of life. For example, all Geoff wanted to do, after napping, was have a proper bathroom session. After traveling for days, the poor guy transferred from his chair to his travel commode and separated the pedestal sink from the wall. Oops. A little paint damage. A little sealant problem. Fortunately, they have taken all of us — including home damage — in stride.
This followed with a trek up the stairs to the shower, where his sister had lovingly purchased the best shower chair. However, it took two of us — Allison at his feet and me bumping him up with our “new system” Geoff developed. Their stairs are carpeted thankfully, but even carpet presents a different kind of risk, so we wanted to make sure there was no sliding of his butt to avoid rug burn, etc. When he had successfully showered, shaved, and brushed his teeth, he really was quite handsome again after two days of travel with little sleep. Then it was time to play Easter badminton with the children.
Our kids are great skiers and bikers, but sports with rackets are relatively new, and we’ve opted out of baseball and softball until they are older with greater interest. Their lack of hand-eye coordination was evident and, quite frankly, really painful to watch. However, Allison had a garden and by God, we were going to play badminton in it while Uncle Brian prepped the Easter meal inside. Geoff and Greta paired up to play against Carver and Grandpa. Not too many seconds passed when we realized the daddy-daughter pair were at a distinct disadvantage. Geoff devised a better plan for serving and had Greta drop the shuttlecock down onto his racket. She was pumped to help and he could actually send it over the net.
His ability to adapt to any situation made for a memory our children won’t ever forget in their Auntie’s English Garden over spring break when they were “little.” So much transportation is accessible from double-decker buses to most every tube station. There are some moments, I’m sure, he would like to forget. Cobblestones for instance. We find them to be historically inconvenient, mostly because we can’t hold hands while passing over them.
One beauty of having incredible siblings and spouses is that they generally go above and beyond to make sure whatever adventure we pursue as a family can include Geoff too. We’ve walked miles and kilometers and stood in an hour-long cue for the crown jewels and traveled through busy markets and taken the road less traveled. We sat in shade on blankets in parks and played footie because they purchased a new ball strictly for our arrival. Another beauty is the understanding that comes between siblings. My kids are too young for it yet, but I can see glimmers ahead in their future. That even though we spend so much time just trying to keep them alive and from killing one another — that one day, they will visit one another in the places that they’ve chosen to live, maybe solo, maybe with a partner or maybe even (when they have lived alone long enough) with their families. They will be present for one another in the same way Geoff and I are lucky enough to have Allison, Brian, Greg, and Holly present for us.
When Allison and I were dragging Geoff up the stairs, I told Carver and Greta this would be their job when they got a little stronger. They smiled at each other, co-conspirators in each other’s big kid responsibilities. Then a few minutes later during badminton, they are screaming, “Mom, mom” because Geoff has almost tipped over in his wheelchair; the little wheels are dug in the grass. They are sort of holding him up but not really able to push him all the way back in his chair. I want to tell them to freeze so I can grab my camera first, but then I think better of it. Until then, we will risk cobblestones and badminton in gardens for spring break with our family.
Heather Ehrman 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 9 and 7. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.