Last Wednesday, Terri manoeuvred her motorised wheelchair into Kathleen’s lounge room. Terri is one of the project managers for MY disABILITIES and had put me in touch with Kathleen, and her son Michael, whose stories I am writing.
Terri is quick of mind and full of spirit. She had taken a public bus from home to a shopping centre. There, she bought two scented candles – one red, the other pink. Then she powered her way along sidewalks, across roads, and into Kathleen’s unit where presented the candles to Kathleen and I: our Christmas presents.
On Sunday morning, I visited Rise Church, where Terri, Michael and Kathleen worship. Terri had dyed her hair bright red since we last met.
After the service, Terri took public transport from Lightsview to West Beach. It took her 90 minutes, which gave me time to have lunch before driving 30 minutes to the Adelaide Sailing Club. I wanted to watch Terri sail.
At 2pm, Terri led the way to a little umbrella where Sailability volunteers had set up a registration table. When I found out that I too could go sailing, I paid my $10 and put my name down. When it was our turn, Terri powered her way down the ramp and was hoisted from her wheelchair into the boat, where a volunteer from Sailability was waiting.
After taking a video of Terri’s transfer into the boat, I hopped into another boat with another volunteer. After we made our way out past the rocky side crofts , I was kindly allowed to steer. My instinct was to move the joystick in the opposite direction to the pitch (the tilt of the boat, which was significant due to the wind in the sails). I had to keep reminding myself that the joystick adjusted the yaw of the boat (left or right).
‘I’m a terrible steerer,’ I said, but my kind volunteer said there was no such thing as a terrible steerer. I found that it helped me to focus on some fixed point ahead to steer properly. There are all sorts of lessons right there on goal-setting, I’m sure.
The next day, Monday, at 1:30pm, I watched Terri scuba dive at the Adelaide Aquatic Centre as part of her Immersion Therapy. I met Nike, Terri’s carer, who helps her in and out of bed most days, and sometimes meets her during the day if she needs extra help, for example, when Terri goes swimming. Again, Terri was hoisted into the water, put on her breathing apparatus and went for a swim.
As 2017 hurtles to a close and I plan for the year ahead, I find such inspiration from Terri and her adventurous spirit that overcomes obstacles in the way. You can see a video of Terri’s adventures here.
We spend most of our days working toward milestones – studying for a degree, waiting for a visa, hoping for a promotion. It’s natural to focus the moments when our dreams come true, and yet it’s during those in-between days that we weave relationships and meaning into our short and transitory lives on earth.
If you have an interesting story about a something that happened to you while you were on transit – a transit of a few hours or a few years, do leave a comment below. We’d would love to hear about it and I may even ask if I could feature you in a future post.
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