The Walker, the Waves and Me


Our yearly trek to the beach often highlighted my annual decline. And that year was no different. The waves crashed onto the beach as the sun warmed our skin. Entranced, I longed to throw the force of my body into the tide and feel the current carry me to the shore. But years had passed since I’d been that daring.

Diagnosed with mitochondrial disease and hypermobility disorder, I fatigue easily, which has an impact on my muscles and joints — especially my ankles and feet. Thus, walking on sand alone tires me out.

Strong young boys carried me to the ocean’s edge more than once that year. And when they weren’t around, I leaned on my grey walker for balance.

So, as the waves called to me, I should have ignored their plea. But then an idea hit. The kind I couldn’t ignore.

“Nathan,” I started, leaning toward my oldest son, “Will you help me into the waves? If I use the walker and you hold it steady, I can just stand waist deep for a little while.”

“You want to?” he asked. “Let’s do it.”

While others looked on in dismay, Nathan steered me to the water’s edge. There, his hands gently guided me and the grey walker into the churning surf.

Triumphant, every cell in my body smiled. While I rocked with the water, I stood steady in walker’s frame. When enough time passed, Nathan said, “Do you think it’s time to go in now, Mom?”

After one last wave washed over me, we slowly maneuvered back to shore. But when I sat back down, I felt stronger, more able, washed by the water, even.

I battle limits every day. After eight orthopedic surgeries to stay mobile, my feet ache. Nerve pain ricochets. And a recent fall in the shower resulted in another ankle tendon tear.

But memories can still be made. Especially when I let go of my pride, lean on an old grey walker and ask my 23-year-old son for help.

The author with her walker and her son next to her, both walking on beach toward water

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