There are a hundred reasons why not to holiday abroad with David freezing and lurching as he does. An unwelcome stowaway, Parkinsons finds a way to show up wherever we travel. Guaranteed.

So he’s not reported INBBRIATED. Unfit to travel, a constant fear of mine I carry, I’ve slipped a yellow medi-alert bracelet around his wrist, and stuffed a card with his name and flight inside his shirt pocket.

I did lose him once. There one minute beside me at the gate, gone the next.

“He’s wearing a navy cap with a large D emblazoned on the front,” I explained wild eyed.

A security guy discovered him wandering, brought him back in the nick of time to board.

“Why do you do that to yourself? Are you nuts?” an acquaintance bugs me in an effort to put me off. It’s not a question.

“What are a few hiccups and couple of hair-raising scrapes compared to the plusses — the pleasure we get from our travels?” I counter. “No telephone to bug me, no set routine, nothing like getting away to lift my spirit and make me human again. Great break for both of us.”

Know it’s true.

I think back to the month in Mexico: David and I lazing in a hammock strung high in the bamboo forest canopy swinging eye level with wild green and red parrots; our pre dawn swims in velvet-black sea as the first rays of daylight skimmed the water’s surface. Least said the better about the inaccessible palapa accommodation we’d rented sight-unseen. Turned out it perched beside a disused Yelapa graveyard in the jungle…and that was just one holiday, one country.

My mind rambled to the Holy Man seated cross-legged beside the Ganges, the sacred ash he manifested for us to ingest. Next moment I saw David and me in Chile soaking in volcanic water piped directly into a sunken pool in our bedroom…then us treading on strewn gladioli blossoms carpeting the steps to a Guatemalan chapel… then there we were floating on a lake one early sunset to watch flocks of Scarlet Ibis flying home to roost in Trinidad and…and…

“Your husband needs your help,” the BA flight steward roused me midway across the Atlantic. “He’s stuck in the lavatory.”

Hobson’s choice in a case of EITHER/OR. Trapped. Poor David. Horribly humiliated, I found him with his pants around his ankles unable to hitch, zip and belt them up as well as being able to stand and open the door. Don’t want that happening again.

Lesson learned: David wears elastic-waisted jogging pants while crisscrossing the skies. Wears an extra layer of protective underwear too.

“What about the actual travel, dealing with airports and such?” nagging friend persists. “Surely that’s too hard?”

“David rides to and from the gates in a wheelchair cutting lines like royalty. The assistant pusher just zips through.” Annoyed I felt so defensive I didn’t bother telling her that we have TSA pre-check, Global Entry and the like. I feel like royalty too. Pre-boarding getting to sit buckled in our seats before the scrum hits the aisle.

“I say if you can sit at home for hours staring at the TV, then why not in a plane? What’s better than sitting tucked up in a reclining chair being attended to in the manner to which we wish, but were not born?” I snap at Miss kill-joy.

I don’t say its easy traveling with David disabled as he is, but neither of us are ready to be stay-at-homes. I’m grateful we can still pick up our bags and head out.

Yes, my care as caregiver, and David’s needs, remain the same…spooning food mouth-ward, counting pills, aiming and lifting limbs to arm and leg openings, moping urine spills etc., the grind of those twenty-four round the clock duties we Caregivers know only too well, will never, can never, change holiday, but using a trick or two we keep on rolling, rolling

I pull out my check-list.

1) Travel insurance: YES — don’t forget this tip to add to your list, if you are planning a trip, Caregivers. I discovered buying coverage at the same time as our tickets guaranteed acceptance–no questions asked. Confessing to pre-existing conditions, not required. But for that clause David might have waited months, a year even waiting to be cleared fit enough to fly home from France that year he was hospitalized for twenty days and so nearly died. Travel policy saved our butts. Paid a medical escort to deliver him to a New Mexico hospital bed.

2) Seat assignment 6a and 6d: good. Up front just behind Business Class. David should be able to walk that far safely on his own. And back out. Though once waiting to deplane, reaching into the overhead for his Carry-on bag, he teetered backwards taking down the line of passengers behind him like so many ninepins.

3) Wheelchair assistance: yup, all arranged. + have a wad of single, fives and tens stashed within easy access in a front pocket for handing out as tips. Often students, those wheelchair pusher guys are fun to talk to.

4) Pills counted and ready for fourteen days in their original pharmacy containers. Done. I used to decant David’s pills into smaller space saving containers. Big MISTAKE. Seeing is believing apparently. Doctors just won’t take my word for it. THEY have to verify which formula of medication, what dosage etc. for themselves.

I’m not one to fuss normally, but this upcoming trip to Puerto Vallarta has me nervous. Maybe I’m just old. Maybe the time has come for the vegetative slippers and fireside slumber. Perhaps I should have listened to the taxi man at Heathrow last summer. Been discouraged by the contracted thinking of that one friend.

“I must give advice Mummy, let Daddy stay at home,” the elderly Indian taxi driver from Delhi at London’s Heathrow shook his head watching me unclip David’s seatbelt, and manhandle him from the cab.

“You’re wrong,” I replied, “It’s kind of you to be so concerned but disabled as he is, my husband still gets pleasure from our travels.”

“Misery-guts,” I cursed.

Projection? The start of our holiday was not a good beginning.

An adverse reaction to one of his medications, travel anxiety, not sure of the trigger, but something turned my normally gentle David paranoid.

Convinced I was trying to deny him his medication, he grabbed the phial of pills determined to take a double dose. Cajoling, fury, even threatening to call 911–nothing persuaded him to relax his grip. It took two hours of what little night was left before I managed to trick him into giving them up. Sleep deprived and emotionally wacked out it was a miracle we made the pre-dawn flight.

David looked blank when I quizzed him next day. Had no inkling what I was talking about. How different our lives. His. Mine. I liken him as a kite flying aloft and free, and me as the controller who yanks the string struggling to keep him earthbound.

Memories of the suicidally, gawd-awful night at the airport hotel, and the bruise ringing my wrist from his fingers, fading, the warm lassitude of being on holiday is finally creeping over me. Sweaters and coats exchanged for shorts and shirts, and with sand between our toes, we flop recovering, massaged by the sound of the waves.

Question is, are two winter weeks at the beach worth the effort, worth the horrors it’s taken to get to Mexico, I ponder. Yes, so far, yes I say–two weeks at the ocean does justify the means. Mind you, this might be it–the very last time I travel with him alone. Sleep deprived, and emotionally floundering, I came this close to packing David back into the car and driving home before we’d even started. Perhaps I should have listened to the taxi man at Heathrow last summer. Been discouraged by the contracted thinking of that one friend.

“I must give advice Mummy, let Daddy stay at home,” the elderly Indian taxi driver from Delhi at London’s Heathrow shook his head watching me unclip David’s seatbelt, and manhandle him from the cab.

“You’re wrong,” I replied, “It’s kind of you to be so concerned but disabled as he is, my husband still gets great pleasure from our travels.”

“Misery-guts,” I cursed.

Here on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, I watch him. See David’s face upturned to the sun; David drinking in the blaze of color as the red orb dips into the sea; David floating on his back lifted by the waves; David plunging into the sea. Our skin tinged toast colored by the breeze off the sea, sitting on the sand together, David, our friend Jennifer from Colorado and me, a margarita in hand nibbling totopos and guacamole, Happy Hour is a happy hour indeed.

Each day a new day, I thank God for the gift of being alive.

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