WHAM! … “Ouch!”
“Oh no… are you ok? I’m so sorry Andrew. So very sorry”
“It’s ok, I’m ok. I know you’re trying to avoid them. It cannot be helped.”
“I’m doing the best I can… I’m so sorry.”
Thump thump thump … Thump thump thump … Thump thump thump …
“Oh man does this road suck!”
Damn… it happened again. It happens every time. Shit!
I don’t take Andrew home all that often but… just often enough for me to feel… to KNOW that I really should be able to anticipate and avoid this. These bumps. Of course there is no way to avoid the bumps altogether but if I could just remember that they are there, I would slow down before the first of them and perhaps lessen their impact. But I never do remember.
I never remember and so these bumps always take me completely by surprise. These bumps that start with a WHAM! after miles of smooth road. Miles of smooth road that lull me into a sense of false security. A false sense that maybe… just maybe, they’ve fixed this part of the road too.
Of course that thought, the thought that perhaps they’ve fixed the road… it’s not at all conscious. Or, it isn’t until the WHAM brings the whole thing back into my consciousness since the last time. That thought (and subsequent surprise) is really just my shamed ego trying to rationalize away my failure to remember that the bumps are there. That the bumps have been there all this time since the last time, and I just hit them… again.
Perhaps writing this will help me to remember next time I pick up Andrew.
I picked up Andrew (again, this time) all the way over in Makaha and although the road is far from smooth through Waianae, once we get passed Nanakuli it’s pretty good until we hit those damn bumps. By then we’ve been on the road for over an hour and Andrew is usually asleep. Then we hit those damn bumps again and I again… hear him cry out in pain.
I’d like to think that it’s just the shock of being awakened so suddenly that makes Andrew cry out like that. I doubt it though, but I don’t know enough about his condition to do any more than speculate. Over the years I’ve known him, Andrew has always tended to avoid that in conversation. Andrew is always polite and friendly, but it’s usually quite late and it’s a long drive from Makaha to Kahuku and now a days he’s always tired.
Over the years I have seen him deteriorate. I’m pretty sure he has ALS.
When I first met him, Andrew was far more energetic, talkative and would often crack jokes and comment on the people he saw along the road. He maneuvered his electric chair with ease and seemed quite proud of his skill at doing so while getting on and off the lift. I even seem to remember him laughing about the bumps.
Those damn bumps.
Neither of us are laughing now. It was painful to watch him try and operate his chair tonight. His hands… they flop around like partially inflated rubber gloves as he struggles to make contact with the chair’s controller. I see the pained expression on his brother’s face too. He eventually has to take over and do much of it for him. Just to get it done. Andrew relents and sits up as straight as he can.
Andrew is much better at controlling the chair to disembark, once we’ve arrived at his destination. He lives at the hospital in Kahuku now. I’ve been talking about how our newer vans have a better suspension system and he might try making a request to only ride on those due to those damn bumps. He seems to dismiss the idea and says something about how things just are what they are. No need to worry.
I say I wish I’d been better at avoiding those damn bumps. Andrew just starts to sing softly…
“Nobody does it better… makes me feel sad for the rest.”
I could cry.