All Aboard!

Summer 2010 #2

We’re together again! It’s been some months since my Favourite Wife, Little One and I travelled anywhere together. We occasionally go to the same places, but always by different means: B4 and I by train or bus (or taxi as a last resort), and they in their cute little car. I even went alone by train to our daughter’s wedding. But no longer! For a week we’ve had possession of a colossal new vehicle with its own ramp and space for Bugger, and we are together again.

I am my youngest daughter’s third father. The Supreme Court judge who wrote to congratulate us on Little One’s arrival some nine years ago described the act of parliament that governs adoption as the strongest law in our nation. But legislation knows nothing about the tides of life; and my great concern is that I am also the third Dad to be swept away from her little life. In many ways she is like a four-year old in a ten-year old frame; and her actions speak far louder than anything she says. Every day I see her frustration with my disability. Running in the Botanic Gardens was once our regular pastime; so close to our home and so, so vast – we would chase and tear and fall down worn and wasted. Then run again, and again, and once more! ‘Squash & Tickle’ is a favourite too: the rules are written in this game’s name … but nowadays we play the briefest round and I have to hope someone will intervene and rescue me from her Squash, as I am no longer the king of Tickle that she once knew. She can have no memory at all of the father who gave her life, nor of the family that cared for her first year in the world; but she knows well enough, in her own way, that they left her alone. On A-Day every year we celebrate her adoption, her home-coming; we tell her how much we wanted her to be our daughter; we remember that we are a family not only by the ordinary path, but by also by choice. When she wraps her arms around my neck with candid simplicity to whisper in my ear about the magical world of her ‘other dad’, I feel the unformed fear welling within her that simply says, “Don’t go!”

I am determined to stay, somehow, by her side.

Our Little One loves routine. No day would be complete without her invitation for a ‘Hit of Tennis’: Totem Tennis, the game that she has only recently stopped referring to as ‘cricket’. This we do, which must be followed immediately by a bounce on the trampoline (she bounces, I get bounced). Then by ‘I-Spy’ with our faces to the sky; then by an inexplicable game in which she pretends to be an hatchling eagle, fresh from its shell and learning to fly around the trampoline (I am the baby eagle’s father, perhaps that is the clue?); and finally we roll on our tummies to peer down through the black mesh and spot the fiercest animals prowling in the imaginary jungle of grass below. This ritual anchors her world; it is succour to our souls. There are other games we play as well. The kindness of a friend means that we still have two power chairs, B2 as well as B4, and she is an expert pilot. I think it’s a skill she learned at our Special School; and on our front drive she is the unequalled queen of wheelchair tip!

Christmas holidays are a breath away, and soon we will be together on drives, in parks, and even at the beach! Our vehicle is shiny and new, laden with technology and comfort, and I am very aware of its cost. I can’t help thinking that for many families, and in much of the world, such luxury would be beyond reach. In fact, we would not be doing this ourselves without the generosity of my own parents. My brother’s advice was succinct: “If money will fix a problem, let’s throw some at it!” Our vehicle is bringing us back together, Little One, Favourite Wife and I. We are fortunate indeed. In our people-mover it is people that matter.


5 thoughts on “All Aboard!

  1. Val Lodge

    Hi Rod and Karen, So glad for you to have been able to purchase a wagon for Rod and his chair. I think Rod said you have a ramp. You can also get an hydraulic lift. Should make life easier for you all.
    Its great to follow all your family activities on facebook. Love Val

  2. Ann

    Roderick, This is a very powerful post. We walk by faith. I lift you and your family before the Lord, asking Him to protect all involved. And, I thank God for the generosity of your parents and family. Enjoy your time traveling together. Your little one is so blessed to have you as her dad.

    God bless you and keep you,

  3. Kathleen Powell

    Again an amazing read Roderick and again as I read I marvel at your gift of joy to us all as you share your journey.I know there’s heartache there as well but the joy shines through.Thank you again

  4. I’m so pleased that you said “the joy shines through” Kathleen. That’s always my hope, but on a couple of recent posts I don’t think I’ve done so well! There is joy.

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