My family participated in the Terry Fox Run yesterday. This in itself is not remarkable. At least some of us have participated in it for more than a decade. What was remarkable was the mood in which we participated.
We have always done the “run” from the same location – an old house in an upscale neighbourhood that serves as the home of the community association. It is always a bustling place with cheerful, helpful volunteers, food, music and everyone from serious runners to families coming and going. They map out different length routes through the neighbourhood to suit all the participants
When Deane was young, my husband would take him in a jogging stroller. Not a regular runner at this time, my husband would push himself (and Deane) on a 10 kilometre course that ran up and down a ravine. I was always concerned that this was going to result in pulled muscles or worse, but he said it was something he wanted to do.
My husband has always been inspired – and somewhat haunted – by the story of Dick Hoyt, a U.S. National Guard who has run more than 1,000 races including marathons and triathlons, carrying and pushing his disabled son. It is a truly awe invoking and inspirational story. But not something the parent of every disabled child can or needs to do.
Once Deane outgrew the jogging stroller, we would take him in his wheelchair and our daughter in her stroller, then training-wheel supported bike, on one of the shorter routes with a group from our church.
A couple of years ago, we thought we would step it up. We had bought Deane an adapted bicycle with a high-backed seat and two large heavily supported training wheels. The bike came with a bar that we could attach to my husband’s bike so he could pull Deane.
We have to travel along a four-lane main street across a bridge to get to the starting point of the Terry Fox. We set off. I can’t remember the technical specifics, but the attachment wasn’t working properly. My husband tried a number of times to fix it. By the time we reached the beginning of the bridge, his frustration was at the breaking point.
“I just want to take my son for a ride!” he yelled through gritted teeth. “I just want to be like other families!”
That is the feeling we can’t shake sometimes. As much as we don’t want to admit it, every now then it bubbles up. Even if we’ve accepted our reality, adjusted our lives and adapted our physical surroundings, there are times that it is still hard when you be like everyone else.
We ended up going home, driving over in the car and walking the route.
I would be lying to say we don’t still have those moments, but we are learning from them. Deane has a new adapted adult tricycle. The front wheel can be replaced by a bar that attaches to my husband’s bike much like the regular tag-along that a converts a parent’s bicycle into a tandem bike.
We have tried a couple times to attach it – ending in much frustration on everyone’s part. But this weekend, we started the day before. With no time pressure or heightened expectations, we figured it out. We even took it for a test ride.
Yesterday, we rode the Terry Fox as a family. With a little extra preparation and patience, we were just like everyone else. We were all in good moods even when, like any other rider, my husband got a flat tire.