I took a stroll along the hotel complex beach path one morning while Janis was off exploring with her newfound plane friend from the East Coast. Here is the story that came forward from the experience.
I paused at the planter as the man in the wheelchair prepared for his snorkeling outing. He pulled himself out of the chair, legs limp, thin yet not quite lifeless. He grabbed the hand pads that would later serve as flippers of sorts.
I watched as he turned away from the ocean, readying his body to drag,
regroup all the way to the water’s edge.
I sat staring in what I hope was a non-obtrusive manner, tears flowing down my cheeks. Awe, gratitude for health and strength in my limbs and inspired by his guts.
I yearned to sit with him surfside, questions not too nosy but shoot, I just wanted to know: How did this happen to you? What is that huge scar on your back from some well-meaning doctor with knife in hand determined to mend that broken spine? Were you sad, pissed off or just plain flabbergasted? What changed that transformed a self-pitying what’s-the-use kind of day into a snorkeling adventure? Instead I probably would have started with the usual tourist-speak:Where are you from, how long are you here for, have you tried the Hula Grill yet?
Would I be as determined as he if my legs were rendered motionless? I hoped I’d determine and persevere my way to the ocean too, under similar circumstances. So focused and strong with intention that my participation in the Ironman Triathlon might even be cause for celebration one day.
Thank you sir. As your lone chair sits under the shady macadamia nut tree, the sandy trail evident and is perfectly memorialized. You may never know how your courage touched this marathoner. The surrender of a lifetime that even a maxed out Visa card couldn’t fix. I am blessed and numbly open with thankful awe.