Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Story Of My Life

In each day there are the unexplained, random things that happen to us. We call these coincidence; some days I am not so sure. A collection of coincidences becomes a story. A collection of stories becomes an event. We call the long string of events another kind of story, a life's story.

On Monday, while wandering about the resort, getting our bearings and figuring out what we might do with our day, we found there was a lu'au at the hotel that night. A lu'au is the Hawaiian version of that most common of cultural events, the community or family party. Regardless of language, location or circumstance, each and every culture has this kind of event, usually to celebrate significant moments in community or family life, a wedding, a victory in war, a peace treaty, whatever. It's something that we as a human species need to do; socialize, drink, dance, play music, commune.

On attempting to register for the lu'au, they asked my name; I said "McBride" whereupon I was told that wasn't sufficient. Apparently there were at least seven McBride's registered at the hotel at this time. So I said "Richard McBride"; "Sorry, Mr. McBride, we need a bit more than that." Apparently there was another Richard McBride staying at the hotel; it was a whole family of them here for a wedding. So I gave the hostess my name and room number, and was finally graced with individual identification; we were going to the lu'au.

The next day, yesterday, we were going to try to get me into the pool. This hotel, the Sheraton Kona, has excellent handicapped facilities. The room, although smaller than suggested online, has an excellent layout, access to all parts of the room, and a well designed handicapped washroom with wheel-in shower. All facilities have "ramp" access; I can go anywhere I want in this hotel, anywhere that anyone else can go, even the pool. The one exception is the waterslide, an understandable exception at that. After all, I cannot imagine most people in wheelchairs are into the whole waterslide thing. If they are, I am sure the hotel would provide help to get them to the top of the slide.

We went to the pool, with its handicapped lifts in both pool areas, the inner and outer pools. The staff readied the lift and showed me how to operate it. I transferred to the lift seat, at which point I needed to stop for a rest. As I was resting, a couple of ladies in lounge chairs beside the lift commented on the whole process. We started to chat and they mentioned they were here for a wedding. I said "McBride?" Their hands shot up in reply, as did mine in the next moment.

Then came the long chat, the one about family history and where they were from, both now and three generations back. It's close enough that we might be distant cousins, with their family originating in Ireland and relocating to Glasgow, in Scotland, during the infamous Irish Potato Famine. As it happens, the family patriarch is Richard McBride; he goes by Dick. He happened to wander by and more introductions were made all round. We talked about family sizes, sons, daughters, grandchildren, and for Dick, great-grandchildren.

As inevitably happens, they asked how I came to be in the wheelchair. I told them, and this led to further chat about how life takes you to places you never expect. This led to even more talk; it took me a while to get into the pool.

The pool itself was not what I would call a success. I got in the water only to find that my completely uncontrollable legs floated astray in their own "Free Willy" fashion, going where the current and my motion would take them. I had no control; my legs just bobbed up and down, lose and free. Unfortunately this lack of control meant I could not stabilize my upper body.

I tried a floating device, only to find that my legs bobbed up underneath the floatation, turning me over, rotating my head backwards, into the water. I tried going it alone, only to discover that I had neither the strength nor balance to maintain vertical stability. Again my face ended up in the water. The only thing I could do was sit in the submerged bench that ran along the poolside, or grip the rim of the pool and move along the sides, all the while being observed as an object of curiousity to the other denizens of the not-so-deep.

I finally admitted the reality; there would be no more "swimming"days for me. I got on the lift chair and got out of the pool. As I rose, chair bound, from the deeps, the conversation with the McBride's began once again. It seems our love of chat is genetic. Then they said Emma and I should come to the wedding, an invitation which quickly became an insistence. It was for Thursday at 4:00 PM. I said we might be out on a helicopter ride, to which they replied "Come when you get back." It seems another trait might be genetic; persistence, or perhaps stubbornness. We said yes, and I am looking forward to attending another McBride wedding.

I don't know why these things happen to me; they just do. It's the story of my life.

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