One of my recent blogs talked about getting used to life in a wheelchair. We spent a lot of time in rehab learning how to maneuver, how to do wheelies so we could roll over small curbs, and in my case especially, how not to put holes in drywall. That last one took some serious learning, and I’m still far from perfect. But what they didn’t teach us about is hills. That’s something everybody in a wheelchair learns the hard way.
Not long after Tamika and I got married, we went to a restaurant we had meant to visit for a long time. Well, the restaurant sits at the top of a hill, and we had to park our car at the bottom in the parking lot. It was a tough roll up, but as usual, I insisted on doing it myself. Tamika offered to push me, but I did the manly and often stupid thing of insisting that I could do it on my own. I was winded by the time we reached the top, but I got the job done.
We had a fine meal and enjoyed each other’s company. Love is grand, and I was in love. I still am, but that’s not the point of this story. AS we left the restaurant, Tamika commented that the hill was really steep. “Dwight, why don’t you let me hold the handles and guide you down the hill,” she offered. “Baby, you know better than that. I can do it myself. No problem,” I answered with just a hint of annoyance in my voice.
Well, “I can do it” turned out to be not quite accurate. As I started rolling down the hill, the wheelchair started to gain speed at an alarming pace. I tried to grab the wheels to slow it down, but the rubber only burned my hand. I was now rolling at a fast and unstoppable speed, and all I could do was look back and give out a loud whoop. I smiled at Tamika, shrugged my should and let loose a big laugh. I didn’t see anything else I could do but laugh and hope for the best as Tamika was running after me as fast as her legs cold carry her. I knew it couldn’t end well. A short time later I crashed into the front wheel of a parked car with an ego that was more bruised than my body. I got extremely lucky and suffered no serious wounds. I also enjoyed the irony of the situation. I was in the wheelchair through no fault of my own in the first place, but this time the fault was all mine, and I got off almost without a scratch.
Tamika finally reached the bottom of the hill and gave me a bit hug, which I didn’t deserve. She, however, was not all grace and elegance. She laughed, called me a big dope, and added an “I told you so” for good measure. She then insisted on explaining that it’s not smart to take such needless risks. She was right, of course, but I still thought she could have looked the other way at least this one time. And I learned my lesson once and for all. I now eye hills with great suspicion and give them all the respect they deserve.