I Failed Again – 2nd installment


My Next Failed Attempt

The very next thing on my list of what I had to do was to volunteer for an outing to Rosedale Mall, but when I did, the recreational therapist in charge turned me down because of my state of mind. 

I told him, “Mark, you know that I always go on these little escapades away from this place.  Besides you won’t be going until next week.”

“I don’t know Steve because of what happened last night I am hesitant to have you along this trip.”

“I don’t want to go to cause trouble, I’ll be good, can’t you let me go along?  Besides my home is in Wisconsin and it’s freezing out there.  I won’t go anywhere.”

“Well I’ll check with the Dr. Mon…oh wait, he isn’t in until Wednesday”

“Can’t you just take me without asking his permission, I mean, I’m thirty-three years old.”

“Steve, you’ve had a head injury; we only want to do what’s best for you.”

“Don’t you think I know what’s best for me?  Well okay then I’ll wait till I hear from Dr. John.”

That would give me more time to plan out what I’ll do.  Once we get to the mall I’ll go inside with them and tag along to the stores – a couple of them.  Then, I’ll excuse myself to go to the bathroom but instead I’ll sneak outside and across the highway and hitchhike home.  I’ve got to talk to Nancy.

At home in New Richmond, WI with Nancy
At home in New Richmond, WI with Nancy

The only bad part will be my wheelchair.  I may be able to stand long enough to hitch a ride but if somebody pulls over they probably won’t be patient enough to wait for me, or they’ll see the wheelchair and just keep on going.

Once the doctor had been reassured that I wouldn’t be going just so I could escape and see my wife, he was fine with it.

The day arrived to go on the outing, mid-January, snowy and bitingly cold as the icy wind came howling from the north.  Four of us rode in the back of the long van and our wheelchairs were strapped in to hold them from rolling about.

Once at the mall I was the last to be unhooked and I found myself wishing to get a ride across the, sure to be freezing bridge, and down the entry to the freeway but I dare not ask them.  No, I rolled my way into the mall entrance and there they were, the two recreational therapists and the three residents of the nursing home (brain injured section) sitting at one of the tables of the food court sipping through straws.  They paid me no mind and so neither did I act out of the ordinary, but my feeble mind was working overtime plotting and scheming.

Soon they all got up and the therapists asked if I’d like to join them for their shopping, but I told the truth and said, “I don’t have any money.  I’ll just sip on my Jamocha Shake and people-watch; you guys go and have a good time.  It’s enough for me to be out of the home for a while among regular people. They left and were making their way down the extra wide corridor; soon they will turn the corner and poof…they are gone from eyesight.  I’ll just wait a few minutes, ahh, I better go to the bathroom before heading out.

While standing at the urinal somebody came in and stood one away from me…it was ark.  Now what will I do?

 “Hey Steve.  I thought you slipped out on us.”

 I wouldn’t do that – it’s too cold out!  But hey, is it okay to go out and have a smoke?  (I used to be a smoker).

 “I thought it was too cold out, Steve.”

 “Well I’m just going out have a smoke”

 “Can I go with you cause I could go for one.”

 While out there smoking the others came out, ready to go.  Damn!  My plan didn’t work, but you know that was probably a good thing.  It was just too cold and besides trying to roll the wheelchair across the bridge through the howling wind and drifting snow would’ve been impossible for me.  Unable to stand without holding onto something eh…what was I thinking?

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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