Posting will be sparse to non-existent over the next week, as it has been the past few days. This is because I’m hanging with Mom for a week or so. Actually, I’m hanging with my mom and my sister at the beach at Cape Hatteras. Sister and I have spent months planning this undertaking. Cape Hatteras is a place very special to my mom; it was a beloved vacation spot for her and my dad, and it is more special to her since he passed. She hasn’t been back there in years, and her failing health has made it questionable whether she might be able to undertake such a trip at all. So it’s very exciting that we were able to get her here for a week this month. Traveling through an airport with a wheelchair and all that implies is no simple undertaking.
We were so grateful for all the help we received from US Airways airline employees, from regular people around us, and from a truly amazing SkyCap in the Norfolk airport who transformed our experience from “nearly impossible” to “piece of cake”. We were happy to tip him heavily as he made all the difference in a smooth transit from baggage claim to the rental car. We aren’t sure how we would have done it otherwise.
But here’s what I’m really excited about. We used this technology once before but it is even more crucial on this trip as my mother’s mobility is even more reduced now. It’s the beach wheelchair. The beach wheelchair allows us to take her from the hotel right down to the shoreline. It lets her enjoy the waterfront, the waves crashing on the shore, the sounds and smells and sights of the ocean. She can sit there and watch children playing on the beach, people playing with their boogie boards, and wind surfers plying the waves. We can go up and down the shore distances that would just be unthinkable otherwise.
Here’s Zuska saying a very big thank-you to the inventor(s) of the beach wheelchair. Kudos to every engineer who works to open up access to the disabled, everyone who works to make life more accessible to those who would otherwise be locked indoors and limited in options. I can tell you all your long hours of work are worth it, because of the enjoyment you brought to my mother today.
As of 2003, which is the latest information I could find on the net, there were no beach wheelchair options that provided good independent mobility – all require someone to push the person in the wheelchair. But as far as I’m concerned, the beach wheelchair we used made the difference between my mother being able to experience the beach, versus not at all. It would be great if beach wheelchair inventors could take it to the next step and create something that gave wheelchair users more independence. My mother, who is not the most adventurous person in the world, expressed an interest in a motorized beach wheelchair. She was supremely confident that in just a few years such a thing would be widely available. You hear that, technology geeks? Get working!
Thanks to Ocean Atlantic Rentals who provided the beach wheelchair, and Best Western Ocean Reef Suites, whose hotel siting provides accessible beach access for a beach wheelchair in Kill Devil Hills, NC. Thanks to US Airways for kindness in transport through on our trip.