I had envisioned a marvelous get-away weekend. Just a friend, my daughter, and me.
A scenic drive, a luxurious hotel, magnificent restaurants, and conference meetings full
of extraordinary music and life-changing teachings.
All packed and ready to go, I found my debit card missing. “Oh, well, we’ll get cash.
No problem.” I should have heard the little bells ringing right then.
Mary drove up and her and Katie put my wheelchair into the church van. (The doctor
gave me permission to go--as long as I stayed in the chair). I opened the door and very
carefully began to raise my bad left leg into the van. Pop! Ouch! Pain burst forth from
my good leg. I had somehow horribly hurt my used-to-be-good right knee. With tears
in my eyes, and with Mary’s help, I propelled myself up into the van. The knee will get
better, I assured myself. Now off for the fun!
We got away late in the day because Mary and Katie had both worked, and no one had
eaten, so we stopped for dinner. By that time it was dark and I knew we would miss the
picturesque drive through the hills. I would have to wait for the return trip to enjoy the
scenery. During the long drive Mary only went to sleep one time. A quick “Mary,
MARY!” brought her back on the road in good time. I’ve had lots of practice at that
since Ed likes to sleep while he’s driving also.
We arrived at the hotel very late and unloaded right at the front door. My knee hurt so
badly I was thankful for the hated wheelchair. I sank down into it and Katie rolled me
inside. Mary went to the small unsavory desk to register us and found they’d removed
our name from our room, even though we called and informed them we’d be late. But
they worked it out and we were relieved we would soon be in our beds.
Katie attempted to roll me into the one tiny elevator but the floor was uneven. I said,
“you’ll have to take me in backwards.” She turned me around and the larger wheels
rolled easily over the irregular threshold. The elevator was so tiny we could not turn the
wheelchair around and we hoped the second-floor opening was level enough to easily
roll out of the car. We rode up two floors, the door opened and there we were. Stuck!
Same unlevel doorway. Luckily an employee was standing there and he grabbed onto
the chair and helped pull me through. Whew!
From the elevator we found ourselves in a hallway and saw the signs pointing the way
to our room. We followed them only to find ourselves outside again! It seemed all the
rooms we passed opened onto an outside balcony, hardly wide enough for my chair. It
had a high wall you could barely see over and each unit’s air conditioner sent rivulets of
water across the floor of it. We walked through the nasty water, looking for Room 212.
A corner room with the exercise room right behind it. But none of that was important.
We were tired, we only wanted to go to bed.
They opened our door and we looked around. It was the smallest hotel room I have
ever seen. We once again had trouble getting the chair over the threshold. This is
where the conference management booked us a room? I wondered. Mary had
requested a handicapped room and was told none was available. I think they didn’t
have any, period! There was really not room for the chair and humans too, but we
sacrificed, tried to look at the light side of things, and made our way in. It was stiflling
and it reeked of cigarettes. While I hobbled around and put my things in my drawer, I
worried, found myself in a quandry. I had known in advance that I would be unable to
shower because I’m not allowed to stand on my bare left leg and couldn’t bring my large
bathing seat from home, so I had planned on “sponge-bathing” at the sink to keep the
stink at bay. And there in front of God and everyone was the sink! It was not in the
bathroom, but out in open space! Man, am I gonna stink before I get home. I turned
around and finally noticed the bed’s height. My stomach dropped. I’m 4 feet eleven
inches tall, the beds are three feet tall and I’ve got two bad legs! “How in the world do I
get in bed?”
“Just set down on it, Mom,” Katie suggested.
Right, I laughed to myself. I backed up to the bed. My butt came nowhere near the top
of the bed. I wiggled, trying to get one cheek up, to no avail. I turned around and Katie
took my arms and pulled me up on the stupid bed. We laughed. Might as well laugh,
as cry, humiliation does a soul good.
After everyone unpacked I decided to go to the bathroom and get into my nightclothes.
“Hope you're not claustrophobic,” said Katie.
“Huh?” I didn’t quite hear her.
I opened the small bathroom door. I thought I might be sick. Yes, there is a bathtub;
with the toilet right smack beside it. Don’t think you can get a foot between the two
either! It was a toilet like those in my grade school fifty years ago and the cheap toilet
seat didn’t even fit. And the whole micro place was dirty! Ugh! But the worst of the
worst? There was no fan or vent. No air flow whatsoever. What was in there, stayed
in there, and only got hotter and hotter with the tiny door closed.
I did my best to get my clothes changed. You see the brace I wear is covered with
velcro and my slacks and undies stick to it, and there was no room to bend over in
there, but after asking God to send an angel to unstick my britches from my brace, I
finally emerged ready for bed.
I crawled into bed with Katie’s help once more and laid my head down into the cigarette
stench of my pillow. I was awake most of the night, overcome by nicotine and worry
After a fitful sleep, a new day dawned and excitement overtook us. Time to put away
all complaints and focus on God. We faced the elevator dilemma once again. While
standing there a kindly man said, “Do you trust me?”
“Sure.” What choice did I have?
He took my chair, tipped it backwards, till I was on my back, feet stuck up in the air and
he rolled me forward into the dreaded elevator. Everyone laughed at my expense
remarking how they wished they had a camera. I was so pleased everyone was having
such a joyous day. “Thanks,” we hollered to our benefactor, as we rode down and he
took the stairs. Katie rolled me backwards across the doorway, then we headed for the
complimenatry continental breakfast. There was just one little problem. It was
impossible to get the wheelchair into the crowded tiny room. So I sat in the lobby and
Katie brought me a muffin. I love a nice breakfast out, don’t you?
Before leaving home our plan had been to walk the four blocks to the center from our
hotel, but driving in proved we would have to change our simple plans. The streets in
our conference city ran two ways. Either straight up or straight down. “No way can you
guys push this chair up and down these streets,” I told Mary and Katie. So we hired a
cab. How costly could it be to go four blocks? $5.95 plus tip! That’s how much! One
way! Let’s see, $5.95 times two ways, times 4 meetings, plus tips... Ai, yi,yi.yi,yi!
While I carefully and painfully climbed into the van cab, Mary took my purse for me.
When we arrived at the center, Katie pushed me in and asked, “Mom, where’s your
“Mary has it.”
About that time Mary came in, but her arms were void of what I eagerly sought. Three
sets of eyes bugged as we pondered where the missing purse was by now and how I
would eat and pay my hotel bill. And my cell phone! Need I mention my gum? My
mints? Tissues? Pen and paper? Credit cards? Ach!
Katie pushed me on to where we would sit while Mary tried to find out where in this city
my lost handbag was traveling. I said a quick prayer and decided to enjoy myself. God
takes good care of things, He’d bring it back or take care of things otherwise.
Forty-five minutes later Mary came in, my purse in hand. God is good! And the whole
arena tells Him so as we begin to praise and worship.
After the first meeting we walked/wheeled down the block to a quaint restaurant built in
1870. The old wooden floors and brick walls were just lovely with atmosphere. We
ordered lunch. My catfish came with slaw. I tasted the too creamy slaw and found it to
be very warm. Silly me, I ate it anyway. After a nice, cozy, restful luncheon, our waiter
a Will Ferrell look-alike, we called for a cab and a hostess said, “he’ll pull up out front,
you can go out that way.”
“No,” I said, “there’s a step.”
“No, there’s not.”
“Yes, there is. I saw it, that’s why we came in the side door.”
“I’ll go see,” she says. She opens the door. “Oh, there is a step.”
Isn’t the customer always right? Wouldn’t you know if there was a step into your
business? Sheesh! Must be the thin air here.
Our cab arrives. A man of beautiful color. Once he talks, I have to ask. “Where are
“Wow, that’s a long way. How long does it take to get from there to here?”
“That’s a long trip. Bet you got tired of swimming too.” He laughs, so I am encouraged
to go on. “Does Ethiopia have a major religion?”
“Greek Orthodox,” he replied and told a bit about it.
I could only think about how the Ethiopian Phillip baptized must have went home and
shared the Gospel with everyone. I mentioned that and our cabby knew all about it. He
laughed. I wondered why but remembered later that poor Ethiopian was a eunuch.
Guess HE could laugh, glad he was driving a taxi now rather than sitting in a chariot
belonging to Candace, queen of Ethiopia. I also brought up the woman from Song of
Solomon. Yes, he too had heard she was an Ethiopian. I enjoyed that four blocks,
riding with our cabbie. We got a lot of talking done in that short time. I’d found a jewel,
one of God’s own. It felt good. Never let a cab driver loose before you question him
thoroughly. He’ll certainly shake your cash loose and this way you’ll feel you get
something special for your money.
Back at the hotel Katie said, “I’ve got a bite on my belly and it itches!”
My head jerked up, “I worried all night about bedbugs!” and began to look myself over.
“No, Mom, I had this yesterday,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Gee, don’t do that to your old mama. I’ve seen how bad those bedbugs can be on the
news on tv. That woman was covered head to toe!” I still itched hours later.
Mary decided to drive to our meeting that evening. How much could parking be for just
a few hours? So while she went to park the van, Katie and I went on in. Mary made it
back in. Ten dollars poorer! Ten? About time for the praising to begin I got chills.
“Wow, I’m freezing, Katie.” For the next three hours I sit there shivering with a plastic
bag from Katie’s book purchase over my arms. I finally realize, I’m not cold, this is
really chills. We planned to go eat after the meeing, but by the time it was over I was
sick and they took me back to our lowly room.
All I wanted was to climb into bed. I was weak and shivering, had two bad legs, and a
bed high enough to set for a dining table. How would I get in? Katie came around on
my side of the bed, bent over beside me and using her back pushed me up into bed. Is
there no dignity to be had? I laid down fully clothed, complete with shoes and brace
(and don’t forget--no shower in the last 34 hours) and tried to find solace and warmth in
my cigarette saturated bed. Mary and Katie ordered a pizza and ate it while I tried to
convince my stomach contents to stay inside rather than out. I slept off and on as I
shook with chills, perhaps ran a fever, and a thick curtain closed over my brain.
I awoke to Katie and Mary talking about taking me home. I sat there, head drooped, a
zombie according to Katie. I hated for us to miss the day’s meetings, especially the
praise and worship time. This is what we came for. But somewhere amidst the deep
fog my brain was encased in, I knew they were right. I needed to go home. Katie
already had my suitcase packed. We paid our exorbitant bill for our want-to-be hotel
room and headed home. Perhaps I could at least enjoy the pretty drive. But it wasn’t to
be, for I found I couldn’t stay awake for long.
We arrived home and I went to bed. I slept 22 of the next 30 hours. It was another day
before my brain was returned to me. And another day before I began to gather some
strength. But with wakefulness and movement also came the realization of the pain in
my knee. Even with mental alertness returning, my stomach forgot to power up and I
couldn’t eat for two and a half days. I then forced a cheese salad sandwich down, but it
chose not to stick around too long, if you know what I mean.
Was my trip’s vision realized? My hopes actualized? Not in any way but one. The two
conference times I got to attend were wonderful! And the subject of the teachings?
“It’s not all about you! -- Die to self daily.” I learned to stop feeding and giving my flesh
what it wants in order to kill it. I am to be like the seed in John 12:24 - “I tell you the
truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single
seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” And what do those seeds do? They
produce more seeds or perhaps feed people. Just as we can do only when we truly die
to self. Then we can love others with God’s love and do what He asks because we love
Him. Our weekend teacher said, “Stop asking yourself how you feel about it, just DO
God’s will! Love God’s will more than your own life. Because you can’t be selfish and
be happy at the same time.”
Wow! Love God’s will more than life. Die to self daily. Don’t feed fleshly desires. Die
to self so the life in you can be given to others. In light of those teachings, I’m going to
have to ask you to disregard everything you’ve read here above the previous
paragraph. Someone’s flesh was screaming loudly. Thank God, it appears to be dead
now. For today, at least, it has been killed enough to take notice of God’s love and will.
And if my seeds have dripped or spilled over on you a little bit in this little account, then
perhaps His will has been done. Tomorrow is another day. I get to die all over again...
for Him. Want to join me?
Cassie Memmer © August 8, 2006
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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