Another typical Sunday full of our usual activities, church, laundry, house chores, a long run and whatever else we can find to get into that I have enough energy to do. We were out with the goal to complete 8 miles. We are preparing for our fourth Publix half marathon in March and a year off really doesn’t do this body good, especially when handling over 300 pounds between me, Noah and his wheelchair. The first couple of miles sucked as they usually do for me. The positive was the weather was just right with a nice breeze blowing. In true Naomi fashion, I “heard” the weather forecast but I didn’t really “check” it before we left for our run.
This particular day I opted for an out and back route with some varying grades of hills. I finally hit my
stride, settled into a comfortable pace and Noah was in his happy place – asleep. Fifty feet from my turnaround point I see the clouds quickly rolling towards us. We’re stopped at the traffic light, waiting for the walk signal so we can cross and head back to the van, when the sky begins to release a light rain. As we’re waiting to cross the street a couple of guys in a pickup truck delivering pine straw offered to give us a ride. I respectfully declined; albeit I wasn’t prepared, this wasn’t our first time running in the rain. Not the ideal situation, but we could manage in this kind of rain to get back to the van. As we crossed the street the sky opened up some more releasing an onslaught of water. I began to regret that ride I had just declined. We barrel down the hill, getting pelted in the face by heavy rain drops only to get stopped at the next traffic light as the crossing signal wasn’t in our favor. Yet it was here we met our next Good Samaritan. A young woman offered me an umbrella in hopes to give a bit of a reprieve from the storm. Noah and I get across the street safely, I opened the umbrella and the wind viciously snatched it causing it to turn inside out. Add insult to injury when the wind flipped the umbrella it snapped all of the spokes so it was literally useless. All I could do was laugh; Noah wasn’t amused.
As we approached a gas station to take refuge a small SUV stopped and the passenger asked if we needed a ride. As much as I wanted to say yes I declined as there was no way to get Noah, me AND his wheelchair in this vehicle. Again, it wasn’t an ideal situation; I know Noah was miserable yet not complaining and we only had 3 miles back to the van (I say that last part seriously yet sarcastically). The woman offered me her umbrella, graciously took the broken one I had in my hand and went on her way. Noah and I made our way over to the gas pumps to take shelter and think of a new game plan. I considered calling friends to see who could rescue us, but figured by the time they got to us I could have us back to the van (I’m working to be more patient). With umbrella in one hand positioned like a sword, wheelchair in the other we set out to conquer the final 3 miles laced with intermittent hills. Just as we got to the base of the next incline I see a woman running towards me – she offers us a ride and I gladly accept despite the logistics.
I can’t remember the last time, or if I’ve ever, accepted a ride from a stranger. I can definitely say I haven’t since I’ve had Noah – even at my age I’m a firm believer in stranger danger J. I get Noah in the backseat, kindly asking her son Beau, to hold Noah’s arm so he doesn’t tip over or fall out of the car (um…crazy lady, with kid in a wheelchair, and neither of them look like me and you want me to do WHAT??). He didn’t say this but he did look a bit shocked. Knowing her son and the odd situation, his mom, Pam, stood in the doorway and helped hold Noah as I finagled getting the wheelchair in the back of their SUV. This moment made me extremely thankful for our van, the Noah Mobile. This was the first time I had to lift this wheelchair or lift a wheelchair period in over a year; it wasn’t easy (80+ pounds is very different from 60lbs) yet I got it done. As odd as it was, catching that ride resulted in the best two miles I’ve experienced in a long time. We all learned that we had more in common than not. Our kids were of similar age, had birthdays close to each other, shared some hobbies, etc. Pam and the other drivers that showed various acts of kindness helped restore my belief that there are still good people in the world.
Enjoy this song I found fitting (I don’t own rights to this music).