...with love all things are possible


Believe ...

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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Goodbye, 2014





We visit Mum as soon as I arrive (Jack and I) – that is the purpose of my trip; to see as much of Mum as I can.  Somehow I feel it’s her last Christmas… she’s gone downhill so fast since I was here in September.
“We're pleased,” says Angela, as we walk in.  “She’s decided to feed herself again.”
“Mummy! I’ve missed you,” I hug her and snuggle close to kiss her cheek, the months apart melting away.
“Oh, my girlie, I’m so glad you’re here,” she whispers, still half asleep even though it’s ten in the morning.
“Hello, Mum,” Jack kisses her as well.
“Oh, my girlie, I’m so glad you’re here.”
I pull a little stool closer just as Janet trips and falls.  It happens so fast that I can’t even put out my hand to break her fall.  Guilt pours over me like an icy cloak.
People come running, cushions appear, phones materialize alongside privacy screens, all couched in words of care and concern.  Janet seems OK but they opt to leave her on the floor until the ambulance arrives.
Mum leans over, alert now, as are most of the residents.  But none of them move from their armchairs.  Jackie and I try to continue a conversation with Mum, but the excitement of the prostrate body far more interesting to her than the struggle of piecing together who we are and how we fit into this puzzle that’s her life.
When nothing further happens, Mum nods off again, but wakes to the commotion of the incoming paramedics.  He is tall, dark, and handsome; and his assistant short, white, and sweet.
Unabashedly, Mum stares at him, checking him up and down, “Ooooo, hello there, where did you come from?” she coos.  Jack and I burst out laughing. 
“Do you want some lipstick, Mum,” Jack asks.  (Old family joke.)
Mum is clearly mesmerized by this man and her eyes dart left and right.  “Now, what can I fall over, eh?” she mutters but soon falls asleep again, hatching her plan.
It seems a sensible moment to leave.

Next day, I come back with Dave and Jess and it’s a good day today.  Mum's sitting up, awake and alert in the dining room.  The pale winter sun streams in through the tall windows and plays hide and seek on the furniture.
Mum is smiling and making conversation.  Warm hands, brushed hair, she reaches out to touch each one of us.  David takes pictures and everything’s almost normal until Mum clutches her head, her face tightening into a frown, “It’s zizzling … zuzz …”  she whimpers, “in here,” pressing her temples.
I massage them, round and round, whispering words of endearment as I do, yet feeling totally inadequate.  What is it?  What’s going on?
Mum seems to feel soothed and shuts her eyes with a sigh and falls asleep.  Her face and hands have turned icy, so I wrap her in my soft two-tone shawl, knowing I won’t see it again, but glad at some silly level, that it matches her outfit. 
Did something happen?

The next day I return:

“Yes, she’s in there,” they say
And they point your way.
“Over there,” they wave to the room
Of two-dozen, great comfy chairs.
But you were sat in a chair
In a different place,
Not the tall Alice in Wonderland
Chair by the window,
Nor the squat plush one beside Pam,
Nor the one you were in yesterday,
And I can’t see you, Mum
I can’t see you. I miss you.

They say, “Mum’s right there, love,”
But I miss you,
I miss you.  I miss you.

Then, at last, I discover you,
Sleeping, shriveled and bent.
My eyes, my heart, and memory ache.
But with a deep breath I’m collected,
I must be collected, for I miss you,
And I can hardly bear that
I’ve missed you here too.

Your eyes flutter open,
When at last I caress the back of your hand.
It’s so chilled and still from sleep.
“Hello, Mumsie, darling,” I whisper,
Stroking your cheek now,
Holding your face in my hands.
“I’ve missed you.” I say.
“I’ve missed you.” You repeat,
but the words sound more like
“Bligh-ve mushh ooo.”
Your voice has dropped about two octaves,
since yesterday – just yesterday, the good day –
And no further coherent words emerge,
Though plenty are spoken.

I’ve waited thousands of minutes
To see you again, just to be with you
Again, and to hug you
Because I miss you,
And you miss me, here too, today.
Because all the while I stay, you sleep,
And sleep, and sleep.





Monday, 29 December 2014

The DragonWagon's Mum - Part 6



Christmas 2014



Tanya picked me up at the airport in Philly, when I flew in from London, heavy-hearted from a visit with my Mum in her last stages of Alzheimer's.  The swings and roundabouts of my emotional roller-coaster buffet me and I’ve realized it’s sometimes hard to keep an even keel.  I was so excited to see my daughter and her two boys, as well as the added bonus of having Christian come up for Christmas, that it felt disloyal to put away my leaden feelings.  I hope my children can forgive me if I sometimes snapped, if I sometimes wasn't quite myself this Christmas.

The DragonWagon had been squeezed into the Papi’s Mazda and had made the trip up to Philly with Papi and Christian, in case the DragonMaster changed his mind about where the journey might take him next. 

There may not have been flurries of snow in Philadelphia this year, but there were plenty of photo-flurries, laughter-gales, and game-storms at Tanya’s house, as the magic of Christmas touched us all.  As with so many precious moments, it was over all too quickly and suddenly it was time to pack up and leave.



Christian had decided to return to Ocala, to the same place he’d finished up at, so the already stuffed car somehow morphed to make room for one more passenger and a slew of Christmas presents.  The drive was tortuous down I-95 with traffic backups for miles and miles outside major cities and hubs, and 12 hours after leaving Philly we gratefully pulled into the Kerns’ beautiful lake-house in South Carolina, where Suzie and Scott spoiled us with all sorts of culinary delights, stories, and gorgeous beds to sleep in.

Another 12 hours driving south, finally brought us to Ocala, where after a quick supper of wings and celery (all other places closed that late on a Sunday night) we drove the DragonMaster to the designated spot.  My heart stopped.  We were in the gloomy half-light of a deserted parking lot behind a Winn Dixie.

As we pulled in, Christian pointed to the thick woods behind, “In there, Mum, that’s where I was.  That’s where I’ll sleep tonight too.”  I swallowed hard.  Wow.  This is what he really does. I hadn’t realized how truly disconnected I’d been, romanticizing this trip in my head and through his blogs.  Now I was in the middle of it, albeit momentarily, and I couldn't stop my heart from lurching.  Stoppit already!  Get a grip.



I’ve learned that when you love someone unconditionally, you have to let them go.  You have to willingly open up both hands with your palms upwards and allow them to fly away. You can’t make anyone stay and love you.  Shoot.  That doesn’t make it any easier.  Watching all his bits and pieces come out of the car was a sobering moment. Here was Christian’s whole life, a little jumbled pile of bags and parcels on the floor of the parking lot.


I looked at each bit as he packed, selected, repacked, sorted and organized…this is how he was living...I should have offered to wash his clothes.  I had been so proud of my Christmas presents to him, but looking at them now in the dismal, cold, night-light, I realize they might only ward off a little of the powerful elements: a thick orange and black rubber jacket to help with rain and cold; I should have sewn on some high-visilbility strips and got trousers to go with it; a jumbo Ziploc bag to keep at least one set of clothes dry; will it really work? a set of little bungee-cords to secure stuff with.  Darn I should have, I should have … I’m second guessing myself at every turn.

We’re intruding.  I feel it.  Papi and I had nothing to contribute to his packing and I sensed that Christian was trying to hurry so we could get away.
“We should leave,” I muttered, shivering in the damp chill.
“No, let’s wait until he’s finished.” Papi said, circling the DragonWagon.
Christian nodded, “I’d feel better knowing that you guys are on your way, you still have another 3-hour drive to get home.”
Papi wasn't convinced. I didn’t want to leave either, but it was the right thing to do.

We all hugged and smiled, Papi making a feeble joke which we tried to laugh at, but which was quickly forgotten and then we were in the car and driving off. 

I cry, but not much because Papi's reminding me that Christian’s doing what he wants to do.  Not much because he doesn’t do tears and needs to fix them right away.  So I pull my tears inside and put them in that place where I keep my tears for Tany and her boys in Philly; with my tears for Mum in England; with the tears for living so far from my beloved siblings. 



Life is good. I breathe deeply and consciously release my love and allow everything and everyone to be just where they choose to be.  I say a prayer that I will have the peace to accept that I am headed exactly where I need to be and it comes.  That peace that passes all understanding returns, and balance is restored.

Thus the DragonWagon walks on and the adventure continues.  Today, 24-hours after dropping Christian off, as I finish watching 7 Years in Tibet, I can’t help feeling that that whole movie was written for me, right now. So I dedicate this to you tonight, wherever you are, whenever you read this, with love.

May all travelers find happiness wherever they go,
Without any effort, may they accomplish whatever they set out to do;
And having safely returned to the shore,
May they be joyfully reunited with their relatives.

Dalai Lama, 7 Years in Tibet





Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The DragonWagon’s Mum - Part 5

Days 7 - 12




Why did I stop writing?  There was a moment when I was confident that Christian and I were in this project together, linked by the magic of Christian’s trip and our connection as free spirits.  As his journey progressed, I read his blogs with relish (and continue to do so,) and somehow I felt my own heart change.  This was NOT my journey, this was not my experience, this was NOT about Cath being in the limelight.  So I stopped writing my part.

I stopped writing and it hurt.  It hurt me, deep down inside and as I've scrabbled around in there over these past few weeks trying to understand what really made me stop he wrote his again.  What was wrong with me?  Jealousy?  Fear?  Sloth?  I can't really say I know, still, and perhaps it'll come out at the end of this piece.  But after reading Christian's new blog today on a grey day in chilly England just after the Winter Solstice ... there was something about the shortest day, the lack of sunlight and the miles between us, that kicked me into gear again.

The DragonWagon was headed from Orlando to Ocala, going east at first (which seemed counterintuitive to me) and then north after staying in Deland.  There's a method to the DragonWagon master's plan (or lack thereof) as he was meeting and old friend there first.  Excellent plan.  However, this morning when I read about his stay at Scott's house, I wept.  These lovely people opening their beautiful home to my son, somehow made him feel inadequate... This is where the adventure gets difficult for me as a mother.  I want to be there on his shoulder, whispering "It's OK.  They're fine with your being here.  Don't say no to the washing machine."  But it turned out right in the end.  If he hadn't left, he wouldn't have found the next angels on the road and he wouldn't have given Scott the chance to chase him with stick and chocolate!

That also made me realize my purpose on his journey.  It's about me learning to let go, it's about me not feeling pulled to "fix" everything every time.  That wonderful phrase I learned a few years ago after my daughter got married, keeps popping back into my head: "You're no longer a manager, you are now a consultant."  Hah.  So true.  Yeah, true but not easy, right?  We are invited into our children's lives and, if we're lucky, we're asked for an opinion or a consultation on occasion.  But my on-the-job-mother-training of 32 years, makes me want to jump in and fix.

It's also a wonderful test of faith for me.  Learning to let go, learning to really trust "everything in God's world happens for a reason."  I knew that north of Deland loomed the extensive Ocala National Forest, home to the Florida Black Bear.  So, here I was, cheerfully telling people that Christian was "somewhere" in the forest (no idea where,) probably having sighted a number of black bears.  Had he seen any? Did he know about this?  Yep, turns out he did.  The road signs also helped.  He was going to traverse it at its widest point, along SR 40.


Worry, I'm told, is like a rocking chair: a lot of movement which gets you nowhere.  So true.  So every day, I woke up with renewed conviction that I'd not make up terrible stories in my head about "lions, and tigers, and bears, Oh My!"  (Thank you Dorothy!)  I'm getting better at it :)

Nothing could make me prouder than to talk to people about what Christian is doing.  His conviction to stay true to his journey is amazing.  He could have stopped on day 1 or day 10 and I would still have been equally proud.  Dropping out of society like that, in this day and age where we're so interconnected and interdependent, thanks (tongue-in-cheek) to technology, is not easy.  Everyone talks about social media, instant responses, and credit scores; about goals and plans, end results and exit strategies.  Christian, however, has defied every single one of those conventions.  He has no planno time limit on anything, no exact destination, and I admire him for that.  I truly do.

Maybe, just maybe, this is part of my purpose, to write about it from the outside.  To remind the curious and the new followers, that Christian's plan is no plan  Lots of dreams, lots of thoughts and plenty of improv are running through his mind, a mind which is nothing like yours nor mine.  

When he was a little boy, maybe about seven years old, Christian drew this extraordinary design for a catapult, right out of his head at the airport as we waited for our flight back to Uruguay from England.  When he showed me the drawing, I was astounded at the detail and even more so when he flipped to the next two pages where he'd drawn each piece (nuts, bolts, screws etc) and labeled how many of each would be required, then on the third page, precise instructions of how to assemble the catapult.  
"How on earth did you do this, Christian?" I asked, my jaw in my lap.
With an impish grin, he tapped his temple, "It's my double-brain, Mummy, just my double brain."
Double-brain is right.  Where you turn right, he turns left.  Where you take the safe road, he always takes the less traveled path.  Teachers at his schools were perplexed by this boy who would never give the simple answer, but instead, always, select a (correct) answer so far outside the box that it rattled everyone.  

Yeah, the box.  Most people on earth live inside the safety of "the box."  Some people live with the roof of the box open to let in a bit of the outside, and a few actually venture outside the box.  A handful of people live completely outside the box, some venturing far and wide, but keeping the box in sight.  But Christian?
Christian looks quizzically at me, "There's a box?"
This is where you get to smile, because when you wrap your head around that, you begin to get a glimpse inside his world and maybe, just maybe, an idea of why he's doing what he's doing.



Yes, it's an amazing journey and I am privileged to be his ambassador on the ground.  For the moment all I know is that we've convinced him to exchange the warmth of his tent in the forest, to spend Christmas with us in freezing Philadelphia (where his sister Tany lives with her boys) and he's agreed.  We're so thrilled.

So Merry Christmas everyone, we'll return him to the forest in time for the New Year and a brand new adventure.  Until then, thank you to all angels on the road, each and every one of you; thank you to those who have commissioned work (that is what keeps him fed); to those who read his blog and cheer him on (that is what fuels his joy;) and to all the rest of you who are waiting to continue this journey, albeit vicariously, may God bless you and keep you safe tonight and always.





Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The DragonWagon's Mum - Part 4

Days 5 - 7



My last "official" sighting outside Calvary


          Day 5 - Carlos had driven me to school earlier that Thursday, because my car had had to go into the shop.  So he came to pick me up after 5 o’clock.  I had some boring errands to run so he chose to wait in the car.  That’s when somehow he missed that call.  He’d missed that call?  We were driving homeward and he excited and I desperate – talking but not communicating.  For the life of me I couldn’t understand why Christian would hang up the phone and not tell his father where he was.  I couldn’t fathom why Carlos wouldn’t ask him! 
            “But ... it was a voicemail!” Carlos exclaimed at last.
“What? Oh, duh!”  I slapped my forehead, “No wonder, I wasn’t getting it.  So when did he leave it?”
“When you were in the store,” Carlos said, “I don’t know why my phone didn’t ring.”
“Just now?” I squeaked, “Why didn’t you call back?” my heart was poun  My crazed mother-hands want to smack his calm-Vcop-attitude.
ding in my ears.
“I did, but they told me he wasn’t there any more.”
“Where? How? Who?” I sputter.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know where you called?”
“No, I just called back.”
“You didn’t ask?”
“I think they said the name, but I didn’t understand.”
“Argh!” I’m frustrated but excited too, “So why are we just driving home?  Don’t you think we should go?  Find him, I mean? We’re the support team!   Don’t you think if he’s blown out a tire or something, we should get up there and help?”
“Yes,” he paused, never rushing into anything, “But how do we know where he is?”
“I don’t know,” but I have faith, enormous faith, “He’s got to be somewhere near Narcoossee Road on 192, right?” I’m scouring the map in my head with all my yellow pins on it knowing that we’d agreed to meet on the weekend somewhere in that neighborhood.
“Yeah.” Carlos replied. “So, you think we should go up or should we wait?”
“Go! Go! Go!  Turn around right here and get on the highway,” I’m jumping up and down in my seat.  Why am I not the driver?  Why am I not in charge of this rescue mission?  He’s moving like molasses to me and I could probably jump out of the car, run around it and jump in the driver’s seat before he’d realized what had happened.  But that’ him and this is me, yet another testament to why we get on so well and why we fight so much.  We’re about as different as a bed and a chair.
“You think so?” he actually begins to slow down the car.
“Yes!” I wail, “Turn, turn here!" I almost want to tug the  I point.
At last we’re on the I-95 headed North and getting our ducks in a row.
His call came from a number.  Hah, of course it did, but whose number?  Who cared? We’d figure this out, but the important thing was that we were reducing the distance between him and us.
Then came iron-man’s confession.  As we turned onto 192 and into the late afternoon sun (very reminiscent of my drive only a few days prior) Carlos confessed he’d just driven up this road before picking me up at school.
“What? Today?”
He looked a little sheepish as he nodded. He’d driven all the way to Narcoossee Road, but not seen anything.
“So you had a premonition then?” I gasped.
“Yeah, maybe I did,” he shrugged.  “But I didn’t find him.”
He must’ve had a premonition because it was right around the time Christian was struggling with the wretched wheels. 
“Wow.  That’s amazing.  We definitely have to find him then.” We were chewing up the miles by the time I called that number, steeling myself to speak to some grumpy clerk or foreigner.  It was a rowdy line when the man answered the phone.  I couldn’t understand the name of the place.
“Excuse me? Who am I speaking to?”
“This is the Cozy Corner.”
“Oh, hello.  Is that a convenience store?”
“No, ma’am, we’re a bar.”
“Ah, I see.  I just got a phone call from my son, who borrowed your phone…”
“Oh, yeah!  The walker?” I could hear the smile in is voice.
“Yes!” I beamed, “That’s the one.  He left without telling us where he would be, would you happen to know where he went?”
“I sure do…” and the angel gave me precise directions of how and where to find Christian.

Carlos and I grinned.  My eyes flicked heavenward as I shot up one of my many gratitude arrows. Two agnostics and one Christian.  I’m the Christian.  You get to work out the other two.  It gets confusing because Christian is not Christian, but he's attracting all the angels. Carlos, on the other hand, wears wear a cross around his neck (and has done since the very first time I met him 35 years ago!)

My excitement mounted the closer we got; I couldn’t wait to see him and hear how it’d gone.  Did he manage to overcome the obstacles that no doubt had been thrown in his path? Had he enjoyed his alone time?  What did he think about when he walked and walked?
At last the sign for the Colonial Inn appeared, directly across the road from a field of cows.  Old, tired, but someone had been kind enough to paint over its wrinkles.

Rat-a-tat-tat-tattat!  I rapped on the door of Number 2 as Carlos pulled up and when Christian threw open the door, the first thing he saw was the red Mazda.
Christian whooped, Carlos honked, I hooted.  You’d think we hadn’t seen him for months.  It was a magic moment.  Who knows what we all said as we hugged, and hollered, and carried on.  It was a rowdy few minutes with the three of us chattering at once.

50 some miles later - tires totally ruined


“The FOUR tires collapsed,” he told us as he led us into his room.  There was the DragonWagon looking slain, lying on its side, wheel-less.  It was a horrific sight, each wheel worse than the previous.  One flat, two chewed down to the strings and inner tubes, one missing its ball bearings … a sad, sad sight.  But ... there were two new ones on the Wagon?  Huh?
“What about these?” I pointed.
“Ah, well, there’s the story,” Christian said and went on to tell us about Deputy McCue, from the Osceola Sheriff's Department, who stopped on the side of the road, to check Christian out.  After all, he does look rather shifty!
How does the only person who stops on the highway just happen to have two whole wheels of this exact type of wagon?  This is not your typical wagon, y’know. 
“Sit tight,” he’d said to Christian (who had nothing else to do but sit tight with this wheel-less wagon), and turned up some time later with two brand new wheels.  The perfect size.  The perfect fit.

I’m sitting on the couch watching Christian recount his tale and I’m looking at the wheels, the old and the new.  A rush of gratitude overtakes me.  More arrows heavenward. There is good everywhere, there really is good everywhere.  In a world that has become so corrupt with never-ending bad news, frantic headlines, bleeding articles, it’s such a relief to see that good is out there still.

We offered to bring Christian home to make the necessary repairs and return him to this same location.  But he chose to stay.  Incredibly, right between Christian’s motel in the middle of nowhere and the Cozy Corner there was a U-Haul rental store that was able to order him a couple of new tires.  

So … who do you think is on his side?





Sunday, 2 November 2014

The DragonWagon's Mum - Part 3



Day 1 - 5


These are his shoes...


Blow-out!  We got a voice mail from Christian on day 5 saying he’d had a “problem” with his four tires but that he wasn’t going to be at the number he was calling from.  There was no mention of where he was nor what his plan was.

“But he’s fine!  He’s alive!” Those are the first thoughts that rush to my mind.  “He’s alive.”

***

When Christian was out in Iraq with the Army in ’05, we would go weeks and months without hearing from him, and while it was worrying, of course, somehow we always knew “no news was good news.”  The Army had multiple ways of contacting us if needed. 

This adventure, however, is totally different for me. It’s requiring a faith of a completely different magnitude, because (God forbid,) if something happens to him, there is no grapevine that can get us a message since he cancelled his phone.  Possible scenarios have flashed intermittently through my mind, until I can bring the devilish thoughts under control again.  After all, he’s a man!  My father told me so, without mincing his words, back in ’04 when Christian was called up to serve. I refuse to contemplate any more horrific scenarios.  I have turned over my son into God’s hands. 

So the problem with writing this blog today, is that I should have written it three days ago.  Before I’d heard his message.  Because I am now writing from a place of ease and comfort.

You can read Christian's own account here as I won’t go into any of those details, because, of course, that’s his story.  I’m just going to tell you what happens to me.  Because that’s my story.

***

Before the phone call, before my moment of ease and comfort, was Day 1.  Throughout the scorching afternoon, (see The DragonWagon’s Mum Part 2) I couldn’t help pinning yellow tacks on the map in my head. How far? Blisters? Any other angels?  At my event, we stood at long tables handing out water and hot dogs to thousands of people from four to seven pm, with no shade and staring directly west.  West into the sun.  West in the direction Christian was headed. 

So by the time I flopped into my car, burned to a crisp, my mind was racing, you know it was. Home? Or west? Home or west? I stopped at the traffic light at the parking lot exit, my mind in a screaming debate.  A left turn would take me home and a right turn would lead me to 192.

It had only been four hours since I’d seen him.  But there was something about that look in his eyes, something about that walk down the road from our house, something about something … that I wasn’t entirely sure about. A mother-thing. I needed to know, so when the light turned green, I jumped out of the left-turn lane and turned right.

         I didn’t spot him for the longest time.  He’d walked much farther than I’d expected, or maybe it was that second-to-second agony of looking and fearing I’d missed him.  How far would I drive before I turned back and started again?  Would I then get out and beat the bushes to try and find his campsite?  I hoped I wouldn’t stoop so low, but I don’t know…

When I caught sight of him, my heart wobbled – there he was and there he was, a lone figure in the wilderness of an dying autumn evening… I slowed to a crawl and battled my colliding instincts.  He hadn’t seen me creep up from behind because he was on the opposite side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.


video



        I wished I'd taken a better movie, but I guess I wasn't focused on the technicalities.  By the time he was level with the only tree for miles, the camera wasn't picking him up. I could stop right there and let him walk on, or I could intercept him.   It wasn’t that I didn’t think he could make it, quite the contrary!  He’s an amazing man who’s accomplished some extraordinary things, so clearly this was more about me, right?
I decided to intercept him.  Give him a last Hoorah.  I think I needed to make sure that the degree of sadness I’d seen in the back of his eyes as he’d left the house and later the event, had passed.  I needed to be convinced that he was convinced.

We said hello and I touched his arm, it was clammy.  “You’re freezing,” I gasped, pointing out the obvious.
“Nah, I’m warm,” he smiled.
“You looked so lonely out here.”
“Not lonely, Mum.  Alone maybe, but not lonely.”
At that moment I looked deep into his eyes and I knew.  He’d done it.  He was focused and contented now.  My heart sighed with relief, the adventure was really beginning for him and for me.
“When are you stopping for the night?”
“Not sure.  I wanted to make it to the stream, but I don’t know how much further I’ve got left.  I’m sensing there’s water up ahead,” he jutted west with his chin.
The sun had slipped behind the horizon and I didn’t want to keep him any longer.  Yes, my phone app showed him he was only a short distance from the stream.  I had to let him go.

Do our kids get bored of us telling them how proud we are of them?  Is there a limit to how many times we tell them we love them before they choke on the repetitiveness of it?  I don’t know.  I wasn't ready to find out just then.
“I love you, Wister-man, I’m so proud of what you’re doing.”
“Thanks. I love you too, Mum.”
“Off you go then,” I beam at him and we wave as he strides off.

Yeah, he’s going to be OK.








Thursday, 30 October 2014

The DragonWagon's Mum - Part 2

"Must have" items on a world-walk!


            As I calculate 10 miles a day, I pin shiny little yellow tacks onto my mental roadmap from Palm Bay, Florida, to Orlando via SR 192.  It’s a four-lane highway that takes a daily beating as cars, trucks, vans and semi’s hurtle their way towards St. Cloud and Kissimmee to the West and Melbourne to the East.  However, the first 40 miles of SR 192, West of I-95, are very barren.  Cows, pasture and palm trees are all the excitement to be had, unless you count the vehicles flying past.
            As part of our deal on this trial run to Orlando, as he irons out kinks in his trip, Christian has promised to call us or send smoke signal by Friday so we might track him down on Saturday (Day 6.)  So day by day I pin yellow tacks inside my head - sometimes there's a LOT OF TACKS.  Where does he pitch his tent?  Do trucks throw up stones and rocks as they hurtle by him?  Is his water tank leaking?

DAY 1 – The DragonWagon rolled away at 2pm on a fantastic sunny afternoon, headed north on Minton Road towards Melbourne, FL.  I happened to have an event that very afternoon, at school – which is located (coincidentally) on Minton Road in Melbourne. I’m not sure how it turned out this way, but Christian would still be walking up that street when I was due to be at school. 
What to do?  What would you do?  Would you take another road?  Would you drive past him and way, casual-like?  Ignore him?  All these questions knocked around inside my head, until I made my decision.  I would take my normal way to school.  Up Minton Road. 
There he was, calm as ever, walking along at his casual-stride, the DragonWagon faithfully following behind.  Yeah, I got a lump in my throat and then I punched myself mentally.  Seriously?  He’d only been gone an hour … For goodness sake!  I slowed down, pulled out the phone to take a snapshot.  No, no, I’ll shoot a little movie.  Wanted to see him moving along, doing his thing and then I saw him … holding something.  What?  A paper wrapper.  Eating the milanesas already?  My car slowed to a crawl and that’s when I saw the tell-tale McD wrapper. 

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My heart plummeted.  Already?  He'd stopped to get McD’s less than an hour into the trip?  What kind of a trip was this?  Questions started piling one on top of the other inside my head before I’d even stopped the car completely.
“Hi!” he grinned through a mouthful, “whatcha doing here?”
“Hi, on my way to school.  I was going to suggest that you stop off and for hot dogs, but I see you’re …” I point to the offensive wrapper.
“OMG, you have no idea what happened, Mum.”

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In the next twenty seconds, I was put to shame.  What was even worse is that the voice that comes out of my mouth is so fake … I was blown away by Christian’s story, and Sheridan’s actions that’s for sure, but in the same breath I hate myself for thinking all those earlier thoughts.
Oh, Christian, I’m sorry.  What a rotten mother.

When I got to school, I retold the story - adding one or two of my ugly thoughts in a feeble attempt to make amends ... or did I do it to make it more colorful? 
One of the teachers clapped her hand over her mouth and gasped,
"I saw it happen! I was driving along and I saw this man get out of a car and give something to the walker with the wagon."
What a small world.  We were all in shock and more so later on when two other people witnessed the event. I'm sure we're going to find out one day who Sheridan was and we're going to be able to thank him personally for being the first kindness on Christian's road on Sunday, October 26th, 2014. 
The event is 20,000 people strong every single one of them is dressed up for a pre-Halloween party and the line is wrapped around the block so Christian doesn’t even get a second glance, although many of my co-workers clapped loudly as he walked toward our table and they cheered as he set off again.  We hugged one last time and I filmed him as he melted into the crowd.


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As I turned, I got some grit in my eyes.