Yesterday, we had another crazy adventure. My poor Dad is so depressed. I prayed about it and felt the Holy Spirit gave me an inspiration to take him out on fun outings he could look forward to periodically to keep him going. So I thought, hmm, what does he really enjoy? Spectacle of course! No one appreciates a great show like Dad, whether it be magnificent natural scenery, poetry, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, or fireworks. So I thought, hmm, my kids loved California Adventure’s World of Color, and arranged a time to take Dad.
This soon got complicated. I conceived of this project in late October when we were still having an Indian Summer. But by the time I got a date everyone could make plus tickets, reservations for good viewing places (“viewing” is a euphemism Disney marketing came up with as they get a way to make to you pay more to get “viewing,” not “seats” as you stand, unless you’ve got a wheelchair, which we had for Dad), and figured out the labyrinth of rules to get annual passes (yes, I did get marketed into that), the date was set for November. Unfortunately, the weather was capricious, and though we’d have sunny days most of the time, it always seemed to rain on the days I arranged for the outing, except once when we had a big windstorm instead. I rearranged all the reservations and everyone’s schedule (poor Vinh cancelled all his afternoon patients three times) to go several times before we finally did hit a date when everyone could go and there was no rain or wind. That was yesterday.
As it is now winter, the nighttime temperature are cool. Yesterday’s prediction was 36 degrees, so I bundled everyone up in ski clothes (everyone, including Dad, therefore was really too hot). Although we left the house at 3:30 pm for an 8:00 pm show, the traffic was so horrendous that of course, we arrived late, lost our dinner reservations, and Luke got carsick. Thanks be to Vinh’s terrific guardian angel (and his gift of extraordinary peripheral vision), we got the last half parking space in the handicapped session. We only had time for a cold picnic outside (but Dad loved the food, surprisingly, which was amazing because he usually can’t find food he likes to eat), and rushed off to the viewing area because you have to get there an hour early even in “preferred viewing” to get a good place to park a wheelchair. Long suffering Vinh waited with Dad and carsick and fussing Luke (who also had aching teeth from an orthodontic procedure), while Stephen, Peter, and I had a grand time going on the kiddie rides (just my pace, actually).
Peter was so excited. He loved the rockets, jumping jellyfish, and tornado swings (adorable ride because it follows the theme of one of Stephen and my favorite cartoons about Mickey Mouse tenaciously conducting the William Tell Overture despite a windstorm sweeping his orchestra into a tornado). He was a great sport as we had to pass up the new Little Mermaid ride he kept pointing to twice as the ride broke down once, and the second time, we ran out of time. The World of Color show itself was truly spectacular and amazing, but as Peter put it, “Too loud.” He did however watch, mesmerized, through the whole show. The coolest part was watching Dad. Dad enjoyed the show so much, that he got up out of his wheelchair and stood up leaning forward over the railing the whole time so he wouldn’t miss anything. He absolutely loved it!
Later we managed to catch “Soaring” as we left the park, my favorite ride of all time, that I’ve been dying to take Dad to see to experience flying over California. He did enjoy it, but said “Too dangerous!” as we simulated swooping over the waves and went flying with hot air balloons and gliders. (Peter loves this ride and had a delighted grin on his face the whole time.) When we finally made it back to Dad’s retirement home, Hollenbeck Palms, I asked Dad how he liked the evening, and he said, “Beautiful! Gorgeous!” Halleluiah, praise the Lord!
I have to mention one more thing about the evening. It was a real struggle at the end when everyone was tired to have to get in line again to get the laminations for our annual passes and then to go into Disneyland to find a photographer to activate the passes (procedures that they told us had to be done on the first visit on the passes, though Vinh was so frustrated with Disney crowds, waiting, rules, and procedures at this point, that he never wanted to come back to Disneyland anyway). Of course, we went to one photographer who told us to go to another who sent us back. Vinh had really had it by now, and Dad and the kids were pretty tired though still hanging in there. I made a desperate plea to the long line of people waiting for the photographer. We stood there with my flapping son with autism and 90 year old dad in his wheelchair, and I asked if anyone would let us cut in front of them in the line? What happened then was my Christmas miracle. In that long line of tired people, each of whom had had an entire day of dealing with the crowds and long Disney queues, every single person nodded “Yes, of course.” So there we were, in the very front of the line, and got our pictures taken, including one of my big little guy struggling bravely to take off his noise cancellation headphones for Disney rules about annual pass photos needing to be taken without any headgear (you could hear the murmur of protest from the crowd, and the photographer did let Peter keep his headphones on). I waved to those anonymous brothers and sisters and wished them all a Merry Christmas, and they smiled and waved back, despite waiting six photographs later.
So life is good. There’s so much good in people. Merry Christmas to you, and God bless us everyone!
Joyce, Vinh, Peter, and all the Trans