When I plan a special outing, I have to take my multiple sclerosis along. No matter how I’ve tried to ditch it, it always has to ‘come with’. There is no baby-sitting service that I’ve found to take it off my hands for a day; and trust me, I’ve searched for one.
In my area, one of the big “must do’s” for locals and visitors alike is the Great NY State Fair. As a kid I lived close enough to walk to it, although in a kids’ world of today, the distance would definitely require a parental chauffeur. My walk included going over a railroad yard on a truss bridge that was so rusty, one push on the bridge rail made a piece of the guardrail swing open like a gate! I happen to know this for sure because I pushed on it myself. I ran home from there, either because I was scared that I could’ve fallen off, or that the cops would yell at me (again), or both.
Today there is no rusted truss bridge, and I don’t live anywhere near the Fairgrounds. Yesterday my excursion was well-planned to accomodate my MS and my little three year-old traveling buddy, Evan. We took the bus (his first bus ride!) and got dropped off at the gate. We walked through the turnstile and came face-to-face with a dozen photographers with big cameras poised. I looked at them all and couldn’t help but say, “I guess it’s not us you’re waiting for, right?” (the governor was close behind me)
Little E and I walked less than fifty yards when he refused to walk any farther. My plans of a little walking and lots of tram riding to get around the grounds dissipated at that moment. So after a quick pick-up and reassurance that he could walk like a big boy, we exited the main gate (hands stamped) and rented a bright blue double long car-shaped antiquity of a stroller. But the stroller rolled smoothly and easily and people moved out of the way when it neared, as it seemed like it could sever a foot if it came too close. My backpack, though very light due to my minimalist packing, snuggled in its own compartment; Evan sat like a little racer and strapped himself in. We were off to see the Extreme Canine Dog Show. We arrived just after it began and I had to stand, but it was early enough in the day that it didn’t matter much. Immediately after the last ‘goggie’ trick, we went to the next set of bleachers and found a seat for the Wild About Monkeys show. When I couldn’t raise my left leg to make it over the bleacher seat, strangers’ hands reached out to help. Other strangers offered to move so that Evan could have the best seat for seeing the critters. Those were heartwarming acts that blessed me enough to mention it here.
Our day continued at a slow and steady pace with stops at the famous Rainbow Milk Bar, the butter sculpture, and The Villa (for pizza fritte!!!). There were plenty of benches and places to perch when I needed to rest. Evan never complained about our stops; he was quite content with seeing everything there was to see. Of course the roll of Smarties and packet of Craisins helped—both were freebies along our route. We strolled through the cow and horse barns and stopped for a visit to the 4H building where Evan made a straw rocket. That rocket, so simple, is sure to keep any kid playing for quite awhile. And it’s much neater, too, than rockets made with baking soda and vinegar like the one that Evan’s dad launched in my kitchen with my son and my husband many years ago.
In Kiddieland we ran into Evan’s cousin and his mom, and the boys rode together on the airplanes, wiggly worm, motorcycles and trucks. After the rides, I knew I needed to call it a day. Evan hopped in his vehicle and I pushed him all the way to the main gate with only a short break to watch the Harlem Wizards play basketball along the way. At that point, I really had to dig in to make it to the exit. Breathe, take some water, stretch. My legs felt like concrete blocks but they were still movable! Probably a bit Frankenstein’ish, but considering that I was at the Fair, did it really matter? As I struggled, I thought about Evan’s way of celebrating an accomplishment—he hoists his arms in the air, grins real wide, and says, “Yay! I did it!”
That is exactly how I felt when I plopped down in the seat for our ride home. I had survived going to the fair with a three year-old for the first time in twenty years! And I did it all by myself, except for that dreadful tagalong MS, of course.
I could say nothing less than, “Yay! I did it!”