By Anakalia Cronrod
Change has been in the air for what feels like an eternity. With no clear signs on destination, “putting out my feelers” has become the plan of action. What does this mean? Research, research, and more research on what mysteries exist in the wild blue yonder. Heading down the highway to check out places and talk to new faces. All it takes is one door of opportunity to open which cries “enter” as I venture into the unknown. At the tender age of sixty four and unsettled since leaving Hawaii in 2004, where to bed down for the rest of my life and perhaps have a bit more help has not been revealed yet. Though the body may lose RPM's, my spirit still revs at high amperage within me.
I recently traveled in my minivan for three weeks looking where to idle my engine with both scooter and wheelchair accompanying me. I had visited the rural community of Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, a year ago though wasn’t sure if it was appropriate. This became my destination once again to check out my heart’s desire to be on a farm. Organic gardening, grass fed cattle, organic pork, contented chickens with the orangest yolks I’ve ever seen, pecan and grape orchards, a pecan factory, and a bakery shipping mail order delights around the world. A new handicapped accessible building for visitors had been constructed with concrete floors good for scooting, wide hallways and doorways in the four thousand or so square foot housing offering room to move. Of course, outside the terrain had no concrete for my mobility wheels and only sand, dirt and grass.
I stayed a few weeks and upon applying for a year-long internship they accepted me. Of course, horrendous gnats and humidity which takes your breath away in the summer would have to be contended with. In lieu of an over sixty two independent living community as another option, residing in a small dormitory type musty building with eleven twenty year old interns seemed a bit too juvenile, though I know I can be effective picking up the pieces for the overworked and understaffed management team.
After two weeks, I then took off to Rish Park on St. Joe Island on the Gulf of Mexico where I accidentally “googled” and found a state run facility catering to vacationing mental and physical handicapped people. The only one there for a week in the middle of winter winds and turbulent seas, witnessing picture perfect sunrises and sunsets from any angle of the glass octagon family house I stayed in, had me praising God the entire time. A wood planked boardwalk traversing the large acreage all the way down to the sand further enhanced my experience.
Of course, everywhere I go it takes a few exhausting days to get settled in and make adjustments on the details of functioning such as sleeping quarters, which bed and bedroom serve me the best, how to access plugs for charging scooter and wheelchair and all my apparatus, etc. etc. etc. The supplements and special foods I bring to eat require excess output in preparation. Transferring from one chair to another and discovering what I need to make it work takes some doing and help utilizing tools I have learned to carry around in my car.
If one way to overcome challenges fails, I implement another plan. I doubt if I will ever get dementia due to my continual creativity in how to make things work. The park manager suggested I bring a person to help even though I repeatedly assured him my ability to implement solutions coupled with discernment in wise choices would get me out of any jam. Every night he did the rounds and peered in my windows to make sure I wasn’t collapsed on the floor and in need of assistance since cell phones cannot always get reception on this islet jutting out into the sea. A hurricane is always a possibility in this prime target area, but living dangerously goes with the terrain I traverse.
Follow me around if you want to have faith in the human race. In my travels, I readily speak to strangers who anxiously lend a hand. My situation offers folks a chance to access the most compassionate recesses of their heart and feel good about helping. When at Koinonia (which means community by the way), roommate Bob who had come to work for six weeks in exchange for board, found any opportunity to eagerly lend a hand. Christian hearts abound in the South, and atheists as well are anxious to assist. Seedy looking men in gas stations offer to pump gas for my car, and are uplifted by my plight and their ability to be of service. They compliantly run my credit card through the machine with no sign of attempted fraud in memorizing my account number.
Not for the weak at heart or overly frail in physical stature, a willful mind and desire to remain in the saddle of activity a bit longer accompany me when I go where no man in a mobility vehicle has ever gone. My perseverance furthers the drowsiness which oftentimes attempts to put me to sleep behind the wheel of the car when driving. Distances of two or three hours a day serve me best, and when heading for point B from point A, sometimes an overnight sojourn at a state park plugged into the electricity of an RV pad surrounded by monster campers with my space heater generating warmth throughout the night may lull me to slumber. With everything I need around me and standing up on my knees to pee in a cup within my mobile home, coziness prevails in the tight quarters. A ranger or camp host number remains within an arm’s reach on my cell phone should an emergency arise.
How much longer can I do this, I wonder, and where will I end up? Only time will tell as I continue to make my treks health permitting until the time and place to settle down reveals itself to me.
About the author, Anakalia (Andrea in Hawaiian) Cronrod:
I have only been in a mobility scooter and wheelchair since 2004. I fought the progression of Primary Lateral Sclerosis for many moons living a very active and physical lifestyle in Hawaii. I believe that my independence and years spent raising and training horses helped me adapt to what came about in later years (and strengthened my arms which now support me as well). I remain creative in adaptability techniques and find satisfaction in finding solutions I am able to share with others.