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The Healing Tree


Chapter 27

Tác giả: unknown

“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t skiing!”  The words were stenciled on the t-shirt of a deeply-tanned young man who didn’t look like much of anything would scare him.  I scribbled the phrase down in my journal, grist for a future poem.

Nine years ago, Amanda had talked me out of an electric wheelchair.  Now she’d talked me into joining her Bum-Legged Ski Bums Club on their annual spring trip to Lake Tahoe.  Even better, Robbie and his wife Molly would be joining us.  Robbie had just finished his third year of medical school.  Molly taught math at the local community college, but – and this was the best part! – she was taking a year off to care for their new baby Margaret Anne (who, we had already decided, would go by Maggie).

Before the accident, Mark and I had raced each other down double black diamond ski slopes.  But nothing in my previous experience had come close to the terror, and the exhilaration, of having been strapped onto a ski-sled that was custom-designed for paraplegics, and set loose to fly down the bunny hill.  By the end of the week, I was skiing with Robbie down some of Tahoe’s milder intermediate slopes.  I knew I was skiing, because I was plenty scared!

The highlight of each day came in the afternoons, when I got to baby-sit little Maggie so that Molly could ski with Robbie.  We sat in front of the lodge fireplace, we two, I with my hot chocolate and Maggie with her pacifier, and I read poems to her.  Classic and contemporary, she loved them all – even the ones I’d written.  Don’t ask me how I know this, I just do, but her favorite was the one I completed right there, sitting in front of the fireplace with little Maggie on my lap:

Old Ladies

I love watching people on their journeys

Through airports.

Inventing make-up lives, romantic and mysterious,

To match

The strange faces and costumes that skitted by like

Exotic birds;

Especially the babies –

Babies on shoulders, babies on hips, babies in strollers;

Babies slapping the hard floors with their exuberant little feet;

Babies leading their parents on a merry chase down the

Delicious new world of an airport concourse;

Babies running open-armed and wide-eyed to welcome their

Beloved Grandmothers.

Grandmothers make us special.

Grandmothers make us human.

We’re not just old ladies.

We’re Grandmas!

One bleak day long ago, seemingly in another lifetime, I looked down from a high corner of a frantic room.  I’d almost let the angels without wings lose the broken lady they were trying so hard to save.  There were many days afterward that I’d wished I had let them lose her. Sitting in front of the fireplace with little Maggie, I knew why I’d come back.


I’ve given my wheelchair a name:


The accident that brought MacGuffin

into my life

wasn’t about being paralyzed,

wasn’t about being a widow,

wasn’t about being a poet.

It was a slowly-emerging illumination

in a long conversation with God.

A MacGuffin is “a particular event, object, factor, etc., initially presented as being of great significance to the story, but often having little actual importance for the plot as it develops” (Oxford English Dictionary).


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