The kindness of strangers transformed my day today.
I was feeling under the weather today because I couldn’t get my asthma under control. We stayed in the condo most of the day. We were scheduled to attend a luau this evening and I wasn’t sure how it would go. Not just because of my asthma, but we were going on a shuttle bus to the luau location we hadn’t been to before and the tour organizers didn’t know anything about the wheelchair accessibility there. Also we were unable to get a list of the menu ingredients for the luau ahead of time, so I wasn’t sure what Nick and I would be able to eat because of our food allergies. Basically I was in a bad mood and when the tour guide, who I hadn’t met before, came towards me, with a huge smile on her face and her hand outstretched to shake my hand, I think I even frowned at her. I did shake her hand though. Undeterred, she assured me that she would do everything possible to make the evening very enjoyable for the three of us. I said that would be great, but I was unconvinced.
She invited us to board the shuttle bus first. I assisted Nick getting up the three steps while Arden managed the wheelchair and Nicks backpack. Nick was excited. Looking around he proclaimed, this is like a school bus. He loves traveling on small buses. He sat down on the first row just like he did when he was going to school. His smile was contagious. It made me smile.
As we were traveling to the luau, the bus driver was interested in where we lived, how old Nick was, what he thought about Hawaii. I love it, he said. When we got to the location, I noticed that everyone on the bus waited until we had gotten Nick off the bus and into his wheelchair before they got off. My mood was improving. Then I noticed that there were eight stairs in front of us to get into the building. I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a ramp or an elevator. Taking a deep breath, the good mood vanishing, I told Nick, “we can do this, it is the only way.” With both Arden and I assisting him, he was able to climb the stairs. Over my shoulder, I heard the bus driver say to the tour guide, “I got the wheelchair, you grab the bag.” When we reached the top Nicks chair was waiting with his backpack strapped to the back. My mood improved a bit.
Walking through the small mall to the front door of the luau, I noticed an elevator off to the far side at the back. I mentioned it to Arden, and we both felt that would be much easier to use when we left.
The main reason that we chose this luau was the Samoan fire-knife dancer. Before we got to Hawaii, Nick kept telling us that he wanted to see uh-oh dancers but we didn’t know what he meant. Then that first day we got here, he saw a brochure in a rack at the airport and yelled out, “Over there, uh-oh dancers.” Nick calls the Samoan Fire-Knife dancers, the uh-oh dancers. While we were waiting in line to check in, our tour guide said, “we picked the best table for Nick to sit at, so he won’t have to walk more than a couple of feet in the sand.” Until that moment, I hadn’t even thought about how we would get his wheelchair over the sand to a table.
We were escorted to our table, not only was it at the edge of the sand, it was in the middle of the luau, front row, right next to the stage. My mood was uplifted. Nick really was sitting in the best seat available. His smile tells it all.
It was a sit-down meal and the service was incredible. Also the food was superb. Needless to say, we really enjoyed the entire evening culminating with the uh-oh dancer. We were so close to him that we could feel the heat coming from the flames. I took a video for Nick. He has already watched it twice before he went to bed. He kept saying, “I love that luau. I love that food. I love the dancing girls. I love the uh-oh dancer.” I guess that sometimes when he is repetitive, it doesn’t always bother me.
The best part of the night for me was when we got back to the condo, and before getting into bed, Nick asked, “I dance with you mom?” That hasn’t happened for a long time. I think he was inspired by watching all the dancers. Twirling me around, we danced for a few minutes. Later after he was in bed, Nick called me to him, hugging me tightly, he said, “I love you mom.” It doesn’t get better than that.
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