Ontario Place. Remember that place? My mom took my brother and I there a lot when we were kids. I was the ever passionate dare devil. I would push my brother in his wheelchair through the punching bags hanging from the ceiling, carry him up to go down the huge slide and squeeze him in beside me on the bumper boats. Sometimes he laughed, other times he gave me a “why me” look.
I learned a lot of things going out with my brother and my mom. She really does know everything. My brother being vulnerable, she had a heightened sense of emotional intelligence, seeing what people needed and caring for people even when they didn’t know it. She slowly and subtly passed those things on to me.
We took Wheeltrans everywhere we went. That was back when you had to book it five days in advance. If you booked on the fourth day in advance, you were too late and had to wait till the same day of travel to try and book it. You can bet I was on the phone early Monday morning booking for Saturday to go out. My first lesson: planning ahead.
We often booked to be dropped at the East gate. It was easier to get to. You’d avoid the ramp with about seven rises before you got to the top and you didn’t have to walk along the bridge looking down at the water. Sometimes, wheeltrans would go to the west gate. You could see it from the east gate. My mom would say “run over to the other gate and tell the driver we’re at the east gate. If it’s not our bus, wait at that side and keep an eye out over here. Run back if you see me wave.” Lessons two and three: Run fast everytime and be observant.
One time Stephens wheel broke off his wheelchair. The front left. We could see the bus sitting outside the gate. Couple bad things happening here. We could miss our bus, they won’t take a wheelchair if its broken and we had run out of meds and food for my brother. We had to take this bus home and couldn’t wait. While she ran to explain to the driver, I went into the first aid and asked for tape and string. They got tape out of the first aid kit and string from their ballons. I took my brother out and sat him on the floor. Flipped the chair upside down and proceeded to wrap the string around the broken wheel, attaching it to the base. I then tapped it. My mom got there and helped. We must’ve done it in five minutes. We caught our bus. Lesson five: Use your resources and think on your feet, because the consequences could be much worse.
Sometimes we’d pack lunch to save money. Sometimes my mom would buy lunch with the little money she had. She didn’t pay for herself or Stephen to get in, only for me once I was older than six. We sometimes had to ask for a “no fare” on Wheeltrans and pay at a later date. But man, did we always have a fun time. She never let on that money was an issue. Even if she said she didn’t have enough money to go there and we’d go somewhere that was free, we’d have the best time. Lesson six: Money is nice but people are better.
If I didn’t have my brother and my mom, these lessons would never have been what they were. Thank goodness for that.