I departed Logan Airport at 1:40 PM. Of course I was at the Boston airport an hour ahead of boarding time. I was sitting in a chair that was attached to other chairs that formed a perfectly straight row. On the seat next to me I placed my over stuffed large canvas bag that also doubles as my purse when I travel and my small black roll-on suitcase under my legs. Her name is Arscnault, but I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew in those first few moments is what I observed of her physically. She had gray hair, slender, stood about 5 feet 4 inches and was unsteady walking even with a cane.
She hobbled up and asked if she could sit down next to me.
“Of course” I said and removed my canvas bag from the seat next to me. I placed my oversized over stuffed bag under my legs and now to the causal observer it appeared I was sitting in a lounge chair, my legs straight out in front of me and sitting up right.
I wondered why she wanted “that seat”, the one next to me since there was many empty seats available at gate A9. In fact there were many available seats in my row but Arscnault wanted the one next to me.
I asked her if she was going on vacation and she told me she was returning home to Peggscov, Nova Scotia. Thinking to myself, it must have been draining for her to have even made it this far. I always give so much credit to people with disabilities who still travel. I don’t know how some people do it…getting to the airport early, standing in long security lines, removing shoes, belts and sweaters. Liquids and jewelry all stored in separate bags, standing with your legs spread, arms in the air while being scanned…it is difficult even for the young and strong.
She wasn’t a chit-chatter nor did she smile but yet she was sweet and had a story they needed to be told. She was returning home from a niece’s high school graduation. She said she always thought of that niece, as a granddaughter so missing her graduation was not an option, at least to her. As she spoke of her niece’s accomplishments she seemed to sit straighter and become stronger and a proud little smile came to her face. She went on to tell me she was traveling alone for the first time and was scared. I told her she was brave to travel alone and I don’t blame her for being scared; traveling these days is not easy. Arscnault was flying to Montreal and then taking a smaller commuter plane in to Peggscov. Not easy I said again.
She continued, “they promised me a wheel chair, United promise me a wheel chair,” she said again. “Would you like me to check on it?” “No” she said and continued, “I will check on it.” And she did. When she returned she seemed a little more at ease for her wheel chair was on its way.
After she sat back down she began telling me her story. She was 72 years old, three children and seven grandchildren. Four years ago she suffered a stroke and the doctors felt she would live out her remaining years in a wheel chair. She looked in my eyes and as if shameful of having done something wrong said ”I looked awful, I was determined never to let my grandchildren see me that way, I just couldn’t, it would have scare them.” I said again you are so brave!
I had to ask even though see didn’t seem the type…Were you a smoker?
“No” Arscnault said. ” I never smoked or drank! My husband and I loved to travel, we loved to hike, take walks and I skied right up to before I had my stroke.”
And then I had to ask, what happened to your husband? Arscnault fought the tears from welling up in her eyes and quietly said “he died three months ago. I miss him everyday.”
I said of course you do! great loves are not meant to be forgotten or to be tossed out like yesterday’s garbage. It speaks volumes of his character and your relationship. Again I said, You are so brave!
How did your husband die? Arscnault gave me one of those deer in the headlights look as if she still cannot believe what happened. She took a breath and said, “he went in to the hospital for a knee replacement, routine they all said but he was allergic to the metal they used in his knee (it went to his lungs, then to his heart, then to his brain) he didn’t make it.” Again I said, you are so brave!
And she finally said, “We had so many plans, we loved traveling, it’s so hard not to have him with me, but what choice do I have?” Staying in bed and waiting for death is not an option.” I said this is why you are so brave…because…. it is not an option for you!
I turned to Arscnault and said Your strength and bravery are amazing, the fact you have lost your husband, the love of your life just three months ago and you still made it to your niece’s high school graduation is inspirational. You are a very lucky woman to have known that kind of love and tenderness in a marriage. Poets write about such fairytales, songs are written in hopes of finding such a love; people live their whole lives in search of what you had. She said, “I know.” Thinking forever and ever would not have been long enough for them and the song Marry Me by Train started playing in my head, “You wear white and I wear out the words I love you… and your beautiful….marry me today and everyday”
I told her your last four years has been physically and mentally painful and so unfair. You could have turned bitter and yet your strength has come from all the love you have for others (from your heart) and you did not want to disappoint them…but you could have made different choices, I repeated myself, you could have! She looked up at me and paused, and said softly “it is not an option.” I said Arscnault not to you its not because you are so brave and filled with love!
“Strength of love is more powerful then the power of fear.”
I wished her luck; safe travels and thanked her for sitting next to me! We realized as they were calling to board my flight her gate was A12 – which of course was where the wheel chair had been placed waiting for her!
Asklotta and staff will MIND YOUR BUSINESS with the reminder; 25 minutes can really make a difference in your life…IF you are willing to listen!
Again, it has been my pleasure to tell you what to do and what NOT to do!
President and CEO