We wheeled my dad to the beach today. Because we are taking our summer vacation in October we were able to score one of those big homes, adjacent to the shore. So it wasn't a far trip- a smooth ride in the wheel chair across a paved parking lot. Then a fairly straight but bumpy boardwalk until we had to tackle the first set of stairs. Mom helped Dad to stand up, grasped his hand and slowly led him up a steady ascent. The sun is strong here but because it is October it is not too hot. My diffusely pregnant sister took the beach chairs and I clumsily heaved a heavy metal wheel chair up twenty seven stairs. We all paused and took a rest at the top of the dunes. Splayed out before us was the majestic view of the Atlantic ocean, a delicious sea breeze, and a second set of twenty seven stairs that led down to some empty white sand.
If I were to tell you about a Native American man right now, you would think I was taking creative license with this story, you would roll your eyes and not believe me. So I'll simply say that we met a Native American man at our resting place and he was resting too. He explained that he had health problems and that he tried every day to get to the beach, but most days he had to rest here, at the top of the dunes. He said that he tried every day, and some days he made it all the way and others he just stopped and enjoyed the view.
I'm sure my mom and dad smiled and said something polite. My sister was already way ahead of us and I just kept going with my father's metal wheelchair. Eventually we all made it down and settled into our first beautiful day on the beach.
Because it was October, we were able to sit and enjoy the sun for much longer than we could in July. And, yes, the Native American man made it down the second set of twenty seven steps, walked past us and we nodded our collective hello.
"I'm so happy he made it," said my mom.
And we all murmured agreement.
I'm so happy we made it. I'm so happy we made it to this beach. That we can carry heavy things, shoulder our familial burdens and make friends with Native American men. I'm so grateful for this October sun, powerful enough to color my skin, kind enough to give my family a gentle reprieve to sit and watch the tide come in. Thankful for all those who offer us help along the way and inspired by the humor we bring to it all. Some days we make it all the way. And we always enjoy the view.