Traveling Alone and Disabled: Part One
I'm setting out for a fortnight at an Irish Inn. I envision gales of laughter and deep sinister twisting tunnels. I am a middle -aged woman (yes, yes, I realize that to be considered middle-aged at 61 means I will have to live to 122. Work with me here). I am planning to travel all by myself to Ireland. I should mention here that I am handicapped. I walk with a cane because I was paralyzed from the chest down 7 years ago by a random, rare neuro-auto-immune disorder called Transverse Myelitis. It took me a year to learn to walk. The gist is I have nerve damage that has left me in excruciating pain 24/7/365. This level of inconvenience is the kind of thing that can get one's attention.
I have chosen an upscale inn to pretend I am one of the Crawleys of Downton Abbey. I want to test my ability to be pampered. To quote my dear friend Alanna, "My idea of a wilderness experience is a new bellboy at the front desk!" So sue me, I have become a lightweight at risk taking. Possibly the only place I am considered a lightweight, which is not my fault.
Speaking of weight, I am not so sure that travel broadens the mind but I have definitive proof that it broadens the hips. I have eaten my way through several continents like a swarm of stoned gypsy moths with the munchies. I now understand the attraction of wearing travel knits, their sole redeeming quality being they can stretch up to 4 sizes wider than labeled. Granted you will look like the Michelin tire guy in drag but that's why the good Lord made shawls. If you are on a walking you vacation you stand half a chance of only gaining 10 pounds. If you go on a cruise, the only way to avoid weight gain is to swim back from your farthest port of call.
Adding to my weight gain challenge is the copious amount of water-retaining medications I swill back everyday for my medical condition. Thus it's no wonder I look like Dumbo's mother with lipstick on. The fact that I throw my meds back with equal parts of chocolate milk and Bailey's is, I am sure, unrelated. Hey, the label said not to take the pills with grapefruit juice.
I have my suitcase ready, I have my new self shaping up, so that leaves preparing for my spiritual quest. I mentioned that I am handicapped. Many people have asked if I feel as though God has abandoned me. It is the opposite. I think He is as close as my eyelashes. The challenge is to see my life's journey with my heart not my left brain. Anyway, God has not lost sight of me. In fact, I am quite sure he is zeroing in on me with his Holy lasers . . . or tasers. In other words, I am not on God's milk carton, I am on his refrigerator door because I am his favorite. (Typing thi,s I wonder if people in other countries put their kids' pictures on the refrigerator the way we do in the US? Does Queen Elizabeth have little Prince Chuckie's first attempts at watercolors on the royal fridge?)
Soft luggage in tow, I have checked my ticket 55 times, lost it twice in the depths of my pocketbook only to find it in my coat pocket. I have a monstrous hat upon my head, my folding cane in my lap and Mr. Pillow under one arm. I wonder if the innkeeper, upon seeing me for the first time, will wish he could bring my meals to me in a separate room, away from the highbrows who frequent his establishment?
I steel my nerves. Okay, God, sock it to me. I am ready to ride the white water of curiosity and thrill seeking, albeit old lady style.
Your quest, Ms. Franz, should you accept your Mission Implausible, is to discover what it is God has in store for you. What else should I be doing to get ready for the next stage of my life, the back 9, the home stretch, the autumn of my life, the last act, the final chapter, the ultimate cliché? Whatever I discover I am pretty sure I will want to add a grand finale with costumes. And FYI: I want my tombstone to read: Still traveling, just in another realm.
To be continued . . .
Sally Franz is a former stand-up comedian, motivational speaker, and radio host. She is a twice-divorced mother of two and a grandmother of three. Sally has a degree in gerontology and several awards for humor writing. She is the author of "Scrambled Leggs: A Snarky Tale of Hospital Hooey," and "The Baby Boomers Guide to Menopause."