Yesterday was an unexpectedly lovely, lovely day from start to finish. It started out as a usual Friday: I got up, did some housework, took care of KidThree for a bit, had coffee and a shower. The babies are usually here at 7:30, but when they didn't show up by 7:40, I went to look for my phone (which I found under my pillow--oops). A message from their mother. I returned her call and was told that she had decided to play hooky that day, so I wouldn't be needed to watch the twins.
A Free Day! Oh my. What to do with it? I know, Mop the Kitchen Floor! So I did. A little more housework here and there, then I Mopped That Floor. It really was yucky; I don't like to think of how long it had been since I last mopped it. Anyway, cleaning it felt good. My bedroom is my refuge, but the kitchen is my playground--I LOVE to cook and to bake. When I was almost done rinsing the floor, my phone rang. It was a woman from the wheelchair place, telling me that KidThree's wheelchair was ready to be picked up. Oh Glory Be and Hallelujah! Be Still, My Heart! There could be almost no better news, except to find out I won the Lotto grand prize or something.
***KidThree has been in a borrowed wheelchair for almost three months now, a chair that was old and rickety, not fitted to her, a chair that was too big in the back and too short in the front, a chair with bad brakes and then no brakes, a chair with no anti-tips on the back. It got her around, but barely. Think of it as one of my grandmother's Oldsmobiles, and my grandmother was not a little old lady just driving to church on Sundays. My grandmother drove wherever she wanted on the road and at whatever speed felt right to her at the moment, regardless of the existence of any other vehicles in her vicinity. Traffic lights and regulations were mandatory for everyone else but just suggestions for her. My grandmother's cars had tough lives and showed it.
Giddy with joy and anticipation, KidThree and I got outselves put together and ready for a road trip (the wheelchair place was thirty to forty minutes away). Before leaving town, we dropped off a donation at Friends of the Library and then another donation at the SPCA Thrift Shop (where my KidTwo used to work, and where another employee shouted out, "hi, KidTwo's Mother!" and I shouted back, "hi, KidTwo's Friend!"). KidThree was busy on her phone in her co-pilot's seat, then asked if we could meet a friend of hers for a visit, which made me realize I didn't have a book in my bag.
***I almost ALWAYS have a book in my bag. On this trip, though, I debated it as we were hustling out the door, me with my bookless bag, and decided I could manage without one, as I had KidThree with me and we had no plans to be stuck anywhere. But if KidThree was going to visit with a friend, I was going to need a book.
We would have to swing by home to get me a book. Of course, when I got to the corner where I would need to make a right to go home instead of a left to go to the freeway, my autopilot kicked in and I turned left anyway. I was about to go around the block when I realized that I still had ten dollars left on my Borders gift card from BabyJ's parents and that Borders was right on the way to the freeway entrance. So, no going around the block needed and we continued on towards Borders, where KidThree stayed in the car with the radio for company while I ran in to spend my ten dollars.
Uh oh. In a bookstore with a gift card and having just been to the ATM. Uh oh. The first thing I saw was a big display of Gregory Maguire's latest, "A Lion Among Men," a copy of which jumped into my arms before my eyes finishing sending the message of its existence to my brain. Then I headed over to the trade paperback table where the books usually were 'buy two, get one free,' but now (the money crunch hitting?) were 'buy one, get the second half off.' Oh well. I thought I'd look anyway. The first side of the table, nothing, at least nothing for me. On the second side, an equally disappointing scan of titles until halfway down the table, when I saw a pile of Bill Bryson's "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid." Yippee! I had read that one in hardback from the library but hadn't realized it was out in paper yet. Bill Bryson I buy and keep. It joined "A Lion Among Men," nestled in my arms. Then to find another title, so I could add another book for just a few dollars more. Nothing. Hmm. There Must Be Something. Scanned the titles again, then another leaped out at me--how had I missed it the first time? Steven Pinker's "The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature." Steven Pinker is my favorite person studying and writing on language today. His books are so good, so funny and so chatty and full of so much information that he imparts in such a breezily cheerful and uncomplicated manner. I had "The Stuff of Thought" at home on my shelf of library books, I just hadn't gotten to it yet. That copy gets to go back unread. On the way to check out, I passed a display of Tolkien's, "The Children of Hurin" in paper, a book I had passed up in hardback only because of our severe economic troubles. The heck with economic troubles. I was now babysitting the twins, KidThree was doing much better, and I had just been to the ATM. "The Children of Hurin" got to snuggle in my arms, too.
Five minutes and the rest of my gift card and $48 of my ATM dollars later, I was back in the car with KidThree, headed towards the freeway.
At the wheelchair place, we were greeted by the sight of KidThree's chair in the lobby, shining and clean and with its back in place and looking like it was ready to go to Indy. Several signatures and happy smiles later, KidThree was in her own chair, happily wheeling around the lobby, exulting in its return. I then showed Our Favorite Wheelchair Guy FriendL's old chair, sad and bedraggled as it was. He tsk-tsked appropriately as I showed him the sagging foot plates, the non-functional brakes, the torn-up hand grips.
Our Favorite Wheelchair Guy had to go out to see a client, but he got another technician to come look at the chair and give me an estimate on repairs. That nice, sociable young man was just as friendly and pleasant and helpful (I guess you have to be like that to be a successful wheelchair technician, as they must deal with so many different people with so many different levels of disability). The upshot of it was that we left that chair there for a complete review; the technician will call me with prices before ordering parts. I think I can cover the necessary repairs and a couple of the smaller, mainly cosmetic ones, but don't think I'll be able to swing a new seat, which it should have. Drat. Maybe I'll win the Lotto between now and then. I'd love to give it back to FriendL with a new seat, too. This chair has really done great service: FriendL was in it for years, then I was in it with KidThree pushing me when I broke one ankle and tore up the other (and before she was shot), and now it had carried KidThree around for months (KidThree is as rough on wheelchairs as my grandmother was on Oldsmobiles).
We weren't able to get KidThree's friend, as he was in the back of beyond, so KidThree and I headed out to lunch alone. I spotted a restaurant whose name I knew--they must be doing well and have expanded, as the one I'd eaten in before was miles away. Their food was very good, so KidThree and I went there. When we went in, we were a bit disconcerted to find that the bars and tables all appeared to be bar-height, which of course is no good for KidThree in her chair; we were about to turn around and leave when we spotted an empty table of regular height all the way in the back, so we were able to stay. Lunch was terrific.
Then back in the car and back on the freeway towards home. KidThree went to school for the last hour, where the staff enthused with her over the return of her own chair (which spins on a dime and is perfectly fitted and in which she can go so very fast). Now that KidThree has her own chair, she may be able to stay in school for both the morning and the afternoon sessions. The nurse from the regular high school had had the staff restroom modified for KidThree so she could use it independently; I checked it out yesterday and have to send her a thank you with a copy to the superintendent--she did a marvelous job.
It was a joy to help KidThree into and out of her own chair, to push her around in it, and to watch her wheel herself around in it. Picture moving up from one of my grandmother's battered sedans to a sleek new BMW and you will know just how it felt.
I spent a little of the rest of the afternoon making a pan of bar cookies for a barbecue one of the tenants had set up to meet new tenants. KidThree and I headed out to that around seven and stayed for two hours, having a wonderful time throughout. We met many new people, some students who lived in the complex and others who were friends of the girl who set up the barbecue; KidThree even gave her name and number to a young woman who used to be a social worker.
What a lovely end to a lovely day. From start to finish, the serendipity of it never ended. Getting the day off, cleaning that sticky floor, finding four books from favorite authors and actually being in a position to BUY them instead of just admire their wonderfulness, getting the wheelchair back, introducing KidThree to a restaurant I had enjoyed for years in its other home, finding the staff bathroom at school so perfectly equipped for KidThree, and then that cheerful barbecue under the trees in our courtyard.
Days don't come better than that.