That's my Susan, in the red and black blouse.
That's her son, Justin, in the white shirt.
Susan sent a piece today that she had written about a recent experience. I'm feeling the desire to share it with you. Here goes:
Quick Trip to the Zoo
Jill, my best friend for more than twenty years, is practically a second mom to my two children, now 27 and 31. Last week she gave my son Justin and me personalized annual passes to the Anchorage Zoo. She had taken her visiting niece there a month prior and thought it would be a great activity for Justin and me to participate in together for an entire year. My family is very fortunate that Jill is so gracious and has afforded us opportunities we otherwise would not have. We are grateful.
The last time I was at the zoo was probably twelve years ago. Justin was much younger, his wheelchair much smaller and he, himself, was about 100 pounds lighter. Back then the gravel paths were challenging but manageable. Of course I was much younger then.
When we arrived my heart sank a little seeing how much deeper the gravel is now, but darn it, we were going to have fun! We showed our passes and begin down the gravel path to the learning center area where we had decided to attend, ‘All About Reptiles’.
The path began as a slight decline; I gathered momentum and velocity, Justin doing his best to assist. Then the path became an incline. So as not to lose the slow speed I had achieved, I didn’t want to stop at the exhibits as we passed on the way to our destination. “Quick! look, Justin, on your right, Snowy Owl, like in Harry Potter. There on your left, Golden Eagle, related to the Bald Eagle. On your right, porcupines, live ones not like the ones we see on the side of the road.” My voice now breathy. “Alpacas, sweaters, sock and scarves.” “Ahead of us Musk Ox”, Justin states, 'I’ve been to the Musk Ox farm', “Good, because we are not stopping”.
We reached the top of the incline and stopped to readjust my undergarments, catch my breath. Next to us was the Black Yak enclosure. We could see three Yaks, one had his head through the railing and stood motionless, staring straight ahead, not blinking. Justin said, “He looks sad”, I agreed. My heart rate close to normal, again breathing evenly, we continued just a few yards to the oasis of the grassy learning area, a welcome sight.
Folding chairs were already aligned in rows. Justin sat in his wheelchair at the end of the second row and I sat to his left. Because we were early we got to see the zoo keepers set up the exhibit. Within the metal playpens they put a variety of turtles. There were a couple of totes that remained unopened.
We headed back to the parking area, much easier going downhill. We are both good sports and laughed about our, ‘speed dating’ zoo experience. Justin sat on a bench as I dismantled his wheelchair to fit in my small car. Once home he entered his house, bathroom bound, his housemate and staff in the living room. As he passed by them they asked, “How was the trip to the zoo?” As he hurried by them on his mission he said, “Good. The Yak is getting incarcerated tomorrow”.
Such is life with Justin, every outing an adventure…………………….