Friday 31st May 2013
Finally after months of waiting and planning we were now on the plane heading west. This was to be my first long haul flight (10hrs). By the time we had been in the air for 6 hours I was beginning to feel that I had had enough now. I hadn’t bothered to watch the first in flight film, preferring to read my book instead. Lunch had been surprisingly tasty considering it’s uninteresting appearance. Luckily the plane was less than half full so the two of us had four seats to ourselves. That came in handy when we needed to spread out. I seem to remember that we both managed to doze a little during the flight. I did watch one of the films though.
All was going reasonably well until approximately 2 hours before we were due to land. Owl began to feel unwell. I tried to coax him to eat as much as he could of the afternoon snack. He didn’t seem to be making any improvement. By the time we landed Owl was feeling very weak and shaky. We waited until the majority of our fellow travellers had alighted before making our slow progress through the plane and finally into the terminal.
I did my best to support Owl plus carry both mine and his hand luggage. These travellators are a huge relief in this situation. However we had just come to the end of one of these moving walkways when Owl felt his legs give way under him. I had a hold of both his arms and managed to lower him slowly to his knees. It was then that a fellow passenger leapt out of the wheelchair she was being pushed in so that the staff who had rushed to our help could hoist Owl into the now vacant chair.
The previous occupant of the chair continued on her way with the help of a walking stick.(I do believe another chair was brought for her in the next few minutes). The airport employee who had been pushing her chair ran off ahead calling out that he would be back. I loaded our bags onto the back of the chair and began to push. True to his word the employee, came running back to take over pushing Owl along the corridor until we came upon another wheelchair which along with its occupant had been left against the side of the long, long corridor. Our saintly helper took off at a fast pace with the other chair before parking it further up the corridor and running back to us. So we made progress along the seemingly never ending walk to passport check, playing leapfrog (with these two wheelchairs). I had to almost run to have any chance of keeping up with Owl in his chair.
I was just preparing myself mentally for the long wait to get through customs when our chair was once again snatched from my hands and pushed to the very front of the queue. After a very short wait (only 2 or 3 minutes) we were ushered forward to have our passports checked and stamped. Next I was faced with collecting our suitcases from baggage retrieval which I did but how to push a wheelchair and pull along two wheeled suitcases?
Perhaps I could hook the two handles of the cases onto the chair handles? Hmm no that didn’t work. I tried to push the chair with the cases hooked over my arms. That didn’t work either. Owl suggested that I get a trolley for the cases which I did but how do I push a chair and a trolley? I couldn’t play leap frog as I couldn’t leave the cases unattended. I was just going through all the possible ways of managing this, I couldn’t come up with a solution when I was rescued by our saintly helper again who took control pushing the wheelchair through arrivals and parking Owl next to a row of seats a few feet from arrivals gate G.
By now Owl was in need of the washroom(restroom). Oh no another problem that I couldn’t overcome on my own. Never mind it was by this time 13.47 in San Francisco and Owl’s children Missy M and Mr T were due to arrive to meet us between 14.00 and 14.30. Once they arrived we would have to ask Mr T to take his father to the restroom. We waited patiently (what else could we do) for my new step children to arrive. (Before you start to worry these ’children’ are 16 and 18). We sent messages by text and skype to let them know that we had already gone through Arrivals. After a while I wandered through the Arrivals Hall to see if I could spot any familiar faces. I couldn’t but I did check that the flight information board did say that our flight would be at Gate G. Returning to Owl we continued to wait. We waited, then we waited some more. Now and again I would say, could that be Mr T. The answer was always no. Time trickled by, still no sign of the much awaited teens. If they were going to be late why hadn’t they called or sent a message. We had no idea from which direction they would be entering the Hall.
After two hours Owl was becoming quite distressed, I decided to take another walk through the (mostly empty) hall, when I reached gate A I saw a young lady who could be Miss M. I called her name, it was her. The two of them had been waiting since 14.15 at the wrong gate. They had been about 200 feet away from us for nearly 2 hours!! From where they were standing they had been hidden from our view by a pillar of all things.
I led the two of them back towards their father explaining that unfortunately he was feeling poorly and was in a wheelchair. They were both very good about this. After visiting the (much needed by all of us )restrooms we were making our way back through the arrivals hall towards the car park. For some inexplicable reason I decided to throw myself on the floor. Throughout my life I have learnt to live with the embarrassment of falling over when my ankle turns over. I always land on my hands and knees.
Not this time though, I could feel myself go and there was not a thing I could do about it. I felt the tip of my nose hit the marble floor, followed by my forehead, my glasses smacked against my nose before skidding off across the floor just out of my reach. When I looked up Mr T was bending over me, and an elderly couple had rushed over. I felt hands under my arms hoisting me up, I was led to a nearby seat. I gingerly put my hand up to my face expecting blood. There was none, my nose was numb, my right knee was cut, my left foot felt bruised and my left hand was incredibly painful. At first I was afraid that I may have broken my hand and or my nose. After a few minutes I began to feel a little steadier. Missy M drove us all to the motel we had booked for our first few nights. Neither Owl nor I were in any fit state to drive so our hire car would have to wait.
Well with Owl falling ill, my falling over and the kids waiting 2oofeet away for 2 hours maybe that was three things that had gone wrong and the rest of our trip would be problem free.
But what an impression to make meeting my stepchildren for the first time.