Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Slippering Sloping Sandals

He hasn’t worn anything but sandals since arriving on our side of the map. He figures if he has to really dress up he can just wear socks with the sandals. John is not what you would classify as a GQ kind of guy. He fits in more with the shorts, sandals, and black socks crowd. Except I have gathered and tossed all the ’black’ socks.

He waits until the summer sandals go on sale for half price, therefore he only buys shoes in late September or very early October. This past Friday we went to the mall that specializes in his size 12, half price sandals.

To be honest I felt a bit sorry for my grandson. Saturday was his 16th birthday. He should have been the focus of attention. But, when John walked out of the bedroom all dressed up, to go to the restaurant my grandson had chosen for his birthday dinner, with new sandals on his feet all birthday thunder was quickly forgotten.

“Kid’s you need to see this. Hurry! You’re not going to believe what‘s in the living room.”

Of course, John wanted to see too, so he started flipping his head from side to side and moving from one end of the living room to the next asking, “What’s going on. What’d you see Dave? Did the cat bring in another lizard?”

By that time the kids had arrived and caught sight of what my son had seen.

“JOHN HAS NEW SHOES! Can you believe it? John has new shoes.”

The laughter was almost as loud as the time John came out of the bathroom and announced that he had washed his hair ... with his Red Sox hat ON!

But I digress. It is very difficult for me to get into my son’s Dodge Caravan so we decided that I would drive my own car and we’d all meet at the restaurant. Of course, by the time that we got the wheelchair, John, and me in the car the other’s were half way there. While John and I were pulling into the closest Disabled Parking slot in the restaurant parking lot the rest of the family was inside looking at menus.

John often makes unintelligible noises, grunts, and groans interspersed with telligible four letter warnings when he is pulling the wheelchair out of the back of the car. I have seen his cane flying past my car window more then once when the MS doesn’t let his legs cooperate with the task at hand. I have even seen his beloved Red Sox hat fly by once or twice. I have learned not to worry about his ’extract the wheelchair’ exhortations. Usually by the time he has the wheelchair pushed to my open car door he has re-claimed his sanity and his legs.

So Saturday I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the noise that I heard coming from the back of my car. I did notice that he was slower then usual, but I decided that it was in my self-interest to let that go without comment.

I need to reiterate here that John claims he is more comfortable ‘pushing’ my wheelchair then walking beside it. He says that he feels like he has support when he has the handles of the wheelchair in his hands. He claims that if his legs falter he can steady himself on my chair and just keep tooling along. I sometimes feel a bit foolish. After all, I am perfectly capable of rolling along under my own steam. But hey, who am I to refuse comfort to the floundering.

As I was getting into the wheelchair I DID hear John say, “These damn shoes!” But once again I decided not to comment. Sometimes new shoes pinch the toes or feel a bit tight. I just assumed that was what was bothering him. Until we came to the incline...

I didn’t intend to laugh. I really didn’t. And I didn’t mean to start the woman in the next car laughing. But you know how infectious laughter can be. Sometimes it just gets out of hand and spreads without encouragement. And when my son showed up to find out what was keeping us so long and couldn’t stand up straight he was laughing so hard, that wasn’t really my fault either. And those two men and two women that were leaving the restaurant? I swear I had nothing to do with their loud, rude, gulping laughter. When my son suggested that I push my own wheelchair and he would carry John piggyback I didn’t mean to laugh so hard I couldn’t answer him.

But what’s a girl supposed to do when the man that is pushing her wheelchair bought himself new half price sandals.

The new sandals were the kind that you slip your foot into. They didn’t have a strap around the heel. A lot of men around here wear them. They seem to be very popular.

Every step that John took down the incline the sandals went straight ahead while one of his heels would go left and the other heel would go right and his butt was left swaying in the ocean breeze in the middle. That, in itself, wasn’t hysterical. It was John’s total un-comprehension of the mechanics of the maneuvers. He became so perplexed that he eventually tried to get to the bottom of the incline walking like a duck with his feet facing each other while his heels hung off the sides of the sandals. It felt as if it was taking 20 minutes to travel a four step path. At one point, between spurts of laughter, I said, ”John if you go any faster we’re gonna get a wheelchair speeding ticket.

But he was so intent on keeping some part of his foot inside the sandal that he really didn’t notice that the snails in the grass were going faster then he was and that a crowd had assembled to see if he was ever going to be able to make it down that slippery slope.

When he reached level ground and stood with both feet facing forward again he turned to my son and said, “Were they laughing at ME?”

“No John, WITH you. WITH you.”

And then John laughed.

When we finally got into the restaurant we had a great time. John had set the mood. The laughter was easy, the food was wonderful, and the love a family shares when its teenagers can be corralled for a few hours was delightful.

My son even had a surprise dessert made. When the waiter came out and asked who the birthday person was and set down a huge chocolate concoction everyone at the table knew who it was really for and the laughter once again flew from one to the other. My grandson hates chocolate. His white cake was at home waiting for him.

John LOVES chocolate even when he has to toss his new size 12, half price sandals in the waste bin.

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