Sam puts the van in park as he looks at Martha and they both smile lovingly at each other. He looks over his shoulder at his grandmother, snoring loudly with her head drooping to her right side and a puddle of drool forming on her right shoulder. His eyes well with tears as he gently touches his grandmother’s knee to wake her.
“Grandma,” he says softly. “Grandma, we’re here.”
Martha opens her door and gets out to stretch. The final leg of their 4 day journey was a winding three hour drive through hairpin mountain turns to get to the California coastline. She closes her eyes and breathes in the fresh air, stretching her arms high into the air.
Sam opens the van door and steadies his grandmother’s head against his shoulder. She’s still snoring loudly, barely moving even as Sam struggles to pick her up and place her in the wheelchair.
They lockup the van, and Sam pushes his grandmother along the rocky parking lot until they reach the opening to the beach. None of them have ever been to the beach, and Sam instantly receives Beach 101 knowledge: wheelchairs don’t roll in sand!
“What are we going to do, Sam?” Martha asks her husband as he stands with his arms folded, pondering how he’s going to get his grandmother to the beach.
Sam hears his grandmother’s sweet, still small voice, “Are we there, Sam?”
“Yes, Grandma. We’re here. The beach is just over that sand dune.”
“Take me there, Sam. Please, take me to the water, so I can put my toes in the ocean.”
Sam gently picks up his grandmother, all 90 lbs of her, and carries her like a precious child up the sand dune. Mustering ox-like strength, he powers his way over the sand dune, cradling her securely and keeping a steady stance with each step with his beloved grandma.
His grandmother smiles as she feels the salty air on her face. “Please, let me put my feet in the water, Sam. That’s the last I’ll ever ask of you.”
Sam carries his grandmother over to the water. “It’s freezing, Grandma.”
“That’s okay, Sam. Just let me feel the water.”
Sam wades into the water until the small waves are crashing against his upper thighs. He adjusts his grandmother so that she can reach her feet down into the ocean water.
“Thank you, my dear, Sam. Thank you so much. That was all I needed.”
As Sam carries her back to the beach, she lifts herself up to his shoulder and whispers in his ear, “Grandpa said he loves you.”