I’m here because when I said rhetorically to Mac “Do you know where we should go?” we both answered in perfect unison “Sydney, Australia.” It was the first time either of us had uttered the name in that context.
I’m here because he was willing to be away from his busy life and do the heavy lifting involved with traveling with me.
I’m here because Lisa gave up 2 weeks of her life, contributed a significant (HUGE for her) chunk of money for her part of the travel, showered and dressed me every morning and got me ready for and into bed every night. She also was integral to the wheelchair assembly/disassembly, got me a soy chai latte every day and reported in vivid detail on all her adventures that I missed. She’s such a wordsmith, it’s like I was there.
I’m here because while I’m here, my friends are packing up my apartment, painting my new house, installing a wheelchair friendly sink and pulling out the old one, buying a sofa, moving me in and unpacking me. Don’t bother re-reading that paragraph again – your eyes were not playing tricks on you. They really did do all that! I am coming home to a brand new home I have never seen with my stuff in it.
Finally and most importantly, I’m here because my Dad wanted to give me the trip of a lifetime. He spent a ton of money on the three of us, effortlessly welcomed Lisa into our family ( easy to do), went along with everything we wanted including sitting through some of the WORST theater ever, arranging to get me on the stage of the Opera House to sing for Allison’s challenge, letting me take risks I needed to take (leaving the hospital against doctor’s orders and taking a crazy ride) all while coping with missing his wife and dog and worrying about me and Allison. He put up with me yelling at him when he broke traffic rules and responded to me like a perfect gentleman. He and Mac hauled and lifted my increasingly weakened body and occasionally my wheelchair with me in it.
In short, he was a hero.
Here’s what I didn’t get to do:
All the sights with stairs.
Didn’t meet Bruce or Sheila.
Didn’t take Nat King Cole records to Newcastle (Coles to Newcastle – get it?)
Didn’t (couldn’t) challenge an Aussie to a drinking game.
I was often too tired to do much of anything. When I sang at the Opera House, I was so weak from being carried onto the stage over a precarious ( probably deadly fall) pit and so moved to be singing that my voice shook and I couldn’t tune it to save my life. My last night included theater that was an insult to actors everywhere and a fight with my precious son ( great make up talk though). I could easily tell you the story of a disappointing trip.
But then I would have to leave out the birds – lorikeets, ibis’, conures, pink cockatoos, emus. I would have to leave out holding a baby Wallaby in my arms, seeing a Joey peek out from its mom’s pouch, seeing a koala close up, have more people call me “darling” in two weeks than I’ve had the rest of my life. I would have to leave out how people in wheelchairs nod or say “hi” or even want to talk, much to the bemusement of Mac, and the laughs and the sunsets and the feeling you get when you’re in a new place for the first time. It cost a lot to be here (not just money) and I don’t know if I have another “far away” trip in me, so this is the story I want to tell.