A couple weeks ago activities took some residents to a nearby fast-food restaurant for lunch. Since I had not been out for a while, I decided to go along. Some walked the two-and-a-half blocks and others rode in wheelchairs. It was sunny, 84 degrees with 20 mph winds. It was perfect for outdoor seating and we could not wait to get started.
We had to wait a few minutes outside the back door of the facility for everyone to assemble. There were 15 residents, the activity director, activity assistant, an aide and the maintenance man. We chatted about which sidewalk route to take. I asked if our wheelchairs could make it on the sidewalks and got tentative head nods.
We headed out the back parking lot and crossed the street. The opposite sidewalk had recently cut grass growing up through it. My power chair was bumping as I rolled over it. Since I was afraid the bumping could tip my chair, I asked the activity director to assist me in taking a detour. She and I went down the driveway into the street and up another driveway. We went through a parking lot and around the building to rejoin the other residents on the sidewalk.
That sidewalk was old and made from large pieces of slate. When I was growing up I loved to skate on slate sidewalks. They were smooth and allowed me to build up so much speed I felt like I was flying. As the pieces of slate thudded under our weight, we came to a corner. I looked across and said, “There is no curb cut on the other side.” Some residents said, “Well, there is one on this side!” I laughed and said I needed to take another detour. I crossed with them and a few steps from the corner, a driveway allowed me to navigate onto the sidewalk.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we filled the outdoor tables. Two male residents and I were seated at a far table near the parking lot. Luckily, we had used sunscreen because the sun was hot. I saw beads of perspiration on the residents' faces. There was a huddle at the ordering window and I sat back and watched.
Eventually they took our order. Since that fast-food place does not feature light and healthy menu items, I decided to take a diet holiday. But I did order small portions and even a small soft-serve ice cream cone. As I looked around, everyone seemed content.
One resident ate and was ready to head back. About that time the medical transportation aide pulled in. She helped with the residents for a while and then took him back to the nursing home.
I was concerned that feeding me would hold up the outing. But the activity director and assistant each fed me part of my meal and then ate their lunches.
When we finished and gathered to head back, the maintenance man said he was leading the way. He went down a quiet side street. There was no traffic so he pushed a wheelchair in the street and we followed him. The cross street was busy and is right behind the nursing home. He cautioned us to stay close to the parked cars. Then onto the sidewalk and were back in the facility’s parking lot.
For most residents it was the longest they had been outside since last summer. All of us enjoyed our sunny, outdoor spring outing.