Column: Experiencing the kindness of Seymour

Friday. 90-plus-degree heat. Multiple sclerosis flare is beginning to recede. Our granddaughters are spending the week with Nana and Grandpa.

6 a.m.

I smell hot Folgers brewing away. HEbrews! Deep breath. I ask Abba to help me be a blessing as much as I am blessed.

I hear the sound of various medications and vitamins clicking into five ramekins as my hubby doles out my morning, afternoon, evening and bedtime routines along with as needed but always needed medications.

The feeling in both legs is basically nonexistent. My hands are trembling. I take the bite plate out, put my glasses on, lower the upper and lower parts of my bed.

I see my bedside potty chair. It has been emptied and replaced by my hubby. The soft curls encircling my 5-year-old granddaughter Diana’s face bring me the sweetest joy as she sleeps in the crack between our hospital-type beds with various pillows, blankies and an odd assortment of her latest favorite stuffies all scattered here and over there.

6:30 a.m.

Nine-year-old granddaughter Alejandra is up. We work on her long, very thick hair conditioning, smoothing. Diana ditto and done.

Coffee drank, pills choked down, legs, neck and arms stretched. Bag packed for the day ahead, our last day together we think, so I am determined to make it great.

We don’t eat. Casey’s across from the hospital has wonderful doughnuts. I take some bottled water. Meds make me dry.

7:30 a.m.

Kiss wonderful, faithful, beloved and loving hubby goodbye.

The phone rings. My regular and much-loved Schneck physical therapist has a family issue. Do I want to cancel or go with a new one for the day? Ignore the check in my spirit. Do not consult the author and finisher of my faith. We go forth unwavering. We have plans, and we ain’t cancellin’ nothin’. As a former homeschooling mother of an Eagle Scout, I have learned to be prepared and flexible.

8:10 a.m.

We catch the Seymour Transit bus. I am in my fully charged, fully loaded wheelchair, American flags waving for visibility, multiple bags hanging from my hooks, phones are charged, the girls are excited because we have an agenda. One of my favorite people of all time, Margaret, loads me into the bus via wheelchair lift. The girls hug her. Her heart melts. My heart melts. We are all happy and smiling. We are off.

8:30 a.m.

We unload at Schneck on time according to plan.

Hug Mrs. Margaret goodbye after our typical banter about the great blessings of Jesus. I remember thinking how much I do not deserve any of his goodness, any of his kindness.

9 a.m.

Diana has my phone. Alejandra has hers. Both have volume turned down. My granddaughters are more apt at cellphone stuff than I will ever be, and they both are delighted to play on them.

Physical therapy goes great. The new therapist is kind and caring, but thinks (I think) I can do more than I think I can do, so I walk. Wow! My hamstrings are barking, but the barking is good.

9:30 a.m.

Tell all of the Schneck greeters adieu, more smiles. Diana is very cute sitting on my lap driving the wheelchair from my lap. Alejandra is walking along beside me holding my hand. We are calm. We are happy. We are on our way. We have a plan.

Suddenly, I remember we can’t get doughnuts, etc. before I go to the bank, so we roll with another slight change of plans. We will just get doughnuts at Casey’s near our home as we plan to wheel home without the bus because it is more fun and I am Nana and we have a Nana Plan for summer fun. No problem.

Sometime after 9:30 a.m.

The following events happen in such rapid succession and confusion, accurate timekeeping/remembering is impossible.

Halfway between Schneck and the Jackson County Public Library, I decide Alejandra should ride, too. My wheelchair is custom-made for a 450-pound former me, so we sort of fit, at least the seat belt does.

We hit a sidewalk chuckhole. My fully charged, fully loaded wheelchair stalls. “Low Power” flashes on the console. What is going on? This is definitely not part of the Nana Plan.

Alejandra gets off, which helps a tiny bit with our sudden power shortage. After we slowly chug up to the library, we unload the library items from my blue quilted bag, leaving only Alejandra’s cellphone, a pen and my PT, OT schedule left inside.

We stall. We restart. Looking up, I see skies looking iffy from a 30% chance of storms. Humidity is off the charts.

The girls and I are off to JCB. We need cash. We have a plan, remember. At this point, I am not sure why I thought it was so important to get money for doughnuts when we could barely make it over the railroad tracks near the library.

We get into the bank. Alejandra realizes her phone is missing. She remembers it is in the blue bag. I remember I did not attach the blue bag after we emptied it at the library’s drive-thru book return.

I try to convince Alejandra to walk around the block to look for it. I know. She knows. God knows this is a stupid idea. She refuses, but I know she was torn about not obeying her Nana, which in retrospect makes this whole scene even more sad. I am almost in tears realizing how much of an asinine plan that is.

Diana leans back on my lap. I nuzzle her soft curls. She is calm. I look around some more after cashing a check to see the quickest and shortest way out of the bank. I head for the front and have to turn around, wasting even more power because there isn’t any ramp, only steps at the front entrance, so we have to turn, go around the back and across the side to get back to the park, the swing and a place so I could think through our next steps toward home, food and my battery charger.

Alejandra says her phone has to be at the library, but I say we should track back to look because it may have fallen off of my wheelchair on the way to the bank. We 911 my daughter to track Alejandra’s phone. The tracker shows movement.

I am to be very honest not currently able to multitask. Remember, MS is aggravated by heat. It is hot and really humid. MS is aggravated by stress. I am very stressed on all sides by hungry little girls, beeping trackers, a daughter who is lost in our mess by my 911 call, worthless legs, empty fully charged batteries, threatening cloud formations and well, my own stubborn determination to have fun and stick to my Nana Plan.

The wheelchair completely dies. Diana is calm, scary calm. My heart is racing. I think if we can get to Burkhart Plaza, we can swing the morning away until Seymour Transit can rescue us.

Three ladies rush out of Tiemeier’s Jewelry Store as they notice a very confused elderly lady in a stalled wheelchair with two very young children stopped in an odd sort of way trying to sort out the way. The first woman to reach us has a presence that calms me down almost instantly. She assures us she will do anything we need to help us get our situation resolved.

The chair starts, we hobble to the swings and open an umbrella for shade and call the Seymour Police Department to see if a blue bag had been turned in. The dispatcher was kind, calm and said he would call at first report of said bag.

The Seymour Transit dispatcher tells me she can’t get us a bus for another hour. I fell apart. Alejandra is worried she has disappointed her mom by turning the volume down on her phone, which is against the rules when she was simply obeying me. Now, I am really panicked. Diana remains a rock.

Edie from Seymour Transit calls. A driver has volunteered to work over, and she has brought out a third bus for us.

The library calls saying someone had turned in our bag, and the phone, bag and my pen safely were waiting for us downstairs. I could have kissed that sweet librarian.

We all get safely home, eat, change into swimsuits, repack our stuff for the second leg of the Nana Plan and call for another bus to get us to Shields Park Pool.

Sometime later that afternoon

We take the bus, only this time, I use the wheelchair lift using my rollator. I can barely move, breathe or think straight, but I said we were going to go swimming, and by land or by sea, we were going to go swimming. It was all part of the Nana Plan.

I walked in the cool, clear water. They went down the water slide. We snacked on goodies from the concession stand and reconnected with friends and cousins. The storms never came, and the plan never went like it was written, but the day ended in satisfaction. Why? Because of the kindness of the people of Seymour. Thank you so much for teaching me about kindness.

Thanks to Schneck, Seymour Transit, Tiemeier’s, Seymour Police Department, Jackson County Public Library and Shields Park Pool. Oh and Casey’s for their great doughnuts even if we didn’t get some last Friday.

Pegi Bricker is a Seymour resident who has lived with multiple sclerosis for the past 18 years. Send comments to [email protected].

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