God Bless Her!
She perched on the side of the slimy hot tub, her delicate, broken legs hanging limply in the bubbles, an open copy of Vogue or Oprah at her side. She wore a fancy black shower cap with ruffles round the edges, (PP could envision Bette Davis sporting such a cap in one of her 40's screwball comedies) a one piece black swim suit circa 1967, with a black gemstone pendant dangling between her thin cleavaged breasts.
PP had seen her before. Wreaking havoc with her motorized wheelchair. Actually it wasn’t really havoc. Just running over someone else’s flip flop in the chair's way. Maybe PP’s regular readers remember?
But tonight, she was beatific. Gentle. Wistful even, when PP climbed into the tub’s welcoming warmth after a cold hard swim in the vortex of Running Man in the lane next to her and Behemoth Man sharing her lane.
Sometimes! PP just feels like she’s being swept away at the Y. It’s the same feeling she gets when she’s driving the Geo down 880 and everyone around her is going 90 miles an hour, and the drag and push from the trucks jostle her little vehicle precariously in the narrow lane.
This is how swimming at the Y can be. PP is the Geo. Behemoth Man is a Big Rig loaded down with piles of redwood lumber. Jogging Vortex Man is the SUV on her tail that drives perilously close to her rear bumper before swirling around to overtake her.
So, then after this swim, PP is so relieved to be in the Hot Tub. She knows that Broken Legs Lady is trouble, but she’s okay with that tonight, esp. since there’s sure to be a story involved.
And oh! There is!
“I was jus walkin across the street. In the crosswalk. And this Japanese Lady came at me and run me down at 70 miles a hour!” BLL proclaimed to everyone that came in or out of the tub.
Damn. No wonder she couldn’t walk. It was amazing she was still alive. And alive she was! 'God Blessing' the two teenage girls whining about their moms. Chuckling with Big Orange Suited Woman over her driving days, “I was HELL on wheels!” she proclaimed. And PP believed her!
But then, at the end of the night, after Utopia and its myriad conversations of teachers’ woes around budget cuts, and running into old friends from high school. “Get outa here! You seen Sharma? Damn!” PP came back out into the Hot Tub room to witness two women trying to help BLL back into her wheelchair.
They looked like they could handle it, but…..PP had a nagging suspicion that maybe not, so she hung back shyly watching for a moment before asking if they needed another set of hands.
“We might,” Buxom Swimmer Woman nodded, trying to get the wheelchair to move with its little motorized handle gizmo. “You can stick around if you don’t mind.”
PP nodded,knowing that she couldn’t help with the wheelchair. Her experience with the Lovely I’s had been so long ago and hers had not been of the motorized ilk,so now, PP stood behind the chair, holding it steady on the slippery tiles, while a third woman, her pale breasts hanging in useless poetry, tried to get BLL’s poor legs swung round and out of the tub.
This was harder then it would first appear --BLL was so tiny, so delicate. Yet her legs in their limp paralysis were heavy logs as PP watched helplessly. After a few minutes that seemed like an eternity, the two women finally managed to lift the thin limbs with their blue black swollen feet out of the tub. Oh….PP’s heart hurt at the sight of them.
But BLL was undaunted. She laughed. She grunted. She God Blessed Amens as PP got up on the right side of her to help Poetry Breast Woman with this half and Buxom Swimmer took the left side.
And they did! Off of the tiles and up into the chair. Whew!
“God Bless y’all! You are such dears! Thank you thank you thank you!” and with a final harrumph into her chair, BLL grabbed hold of the motor gizmo and prepared to ram into the steam room.
Later, in the showers, Buxom Swimmer Woman grinned and beamed at PP. “Good Team Work there!”
“Yeah.” PP agreed. “I don’t know how she woulda done it without us.”
”I guess she just has to ask for help,” BSW nodded. “It must be hard….” Her voice trailed off.
“But what choice does she have?” PP dunked her head under the steamy hot shower. And really, what choice did she have? It wasn’t like she was ever going to walk again. That much was clear. And the alternative? Stay at home and stare at the walls?
When you could come to the YMCA and entertain, inspire and motivate a small group of women in your honor?
Hell. Which would you choose if you were in BLL’s place?
“Makes you appreciate what you’ve got, doesn’t it?” Poetry Breast Woman murmured to PP as she made her way back toward the lockers.
Yes. It does. PP can walk. She can swim. She can drive like Hell.
But most of all, she can yearn. For those who don’t have what she has. She is so blessed.
Yet, don’t tell BLL woman she ain’t blessed, cuz she sure as hell is gonna disagree with you!
God Bless her!