A few weeks ago, my friend, Rush, asked if I would like to go on an outing. I am sure she had no idea how good that sounded to me. Rush is a retired special education teacher who is busy with different projects and spending time with her granddaughters. I wondered when she would have time.
It seemed as though the days crept by until outing day. I hoped in early June the weather would be warm and sunshiny so we could walk—and roll—two blocks for a fast-food lunch. Even though dining there is not grand, getting out is the important part. I also knew if we had extra time we could peruse the nearby dollar stores.
Rush arrived, and we began chatting away in my room. I always feel I am starved for adult conversation. I thought our chatter might make my roommate uncomfortable, but she never complained. She even left the privacy curtain open, which we ended up partially closing. She seemed to be fine with us visiting in the room.
We were well into an involved conversation when we realized we had better head out. The day was overcast and a chilly 65 degrees with strong winds. Even with a wrap around my shoulders, the wind was fierce when we entered the parking lot.
After we crossed the street, I saw there was no wheelchair curb cut on the other side. Inconsistent wheelchair curb cuts can make sidewalk excursions complicated, but we managed with Rush on the sidewalk and me rolling alongside by the curb.
We turned the corner and headed down a sidewalk that was definitely more cracked and broken than it was last summer. Rolling along in my power chair, it felt like I was riding a bucking bronco. The wind gusted around me, and my fingers stung from the chill. I am usually timid at intersections, but Rush pushed the traffic signal button, the light changed and we easily crossed.
The taco place was pretty deserted. But on that chilly late spring day, the drive-thru had a lengthy line. Both of us laughed that we were going to eat fast food. Like usual, I chose what I thought was a healthier item, and Rush enjoyed her favorites. I explained to her how grateful I am for a meal out because I get a break from facility food.
We talked about family, recently enjoyed books and how getting older can be ever-changing even though we feel the same on the inside.
Being engaged in conversation freed my mind from everyday challenges. I think that has to be the best part of friendship. Somehow, when I am with a family member or friend, I feel as though I am transported to an altered space where I am calmed both mentally and physically.
Returning by a different route, we walked on the street again because of sidewalk access. We turned up another busy street and hugged the outside of parked cars until we found a curb cut to return to the sidewalk. We had a great time but, like always, it was over too soon for me.
Rush suggested another outing in the near future. I am looking forward to spending another part of my day out and about—and relaxed.
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.