British poet T.S. Eliot once said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” This has always been Bob’s approach to recovery, and we found out just how far it is possible for him to go when we decided to visit the Chateau de Versailles during a recent family visit to France. The overseas trip alone was a big deal for us, but we had a good idea of what to expect in the airports, having traveled cross-country a few times since Bob’s stroke. It’s not easy to travel, but nothing in Bob’s life is anymore, so if it’s do-able we go for it.
This particular trip was long in the making, mostly in terms of getting up the courage to give overseas travel a try. Bob was game from the get-go, but I was a little more apprehensive. Handicapped accessibility always means grab bars and ramps, but little things like the height of a bed, the number of steps, the width of an aisle, the pitch of a floor, are all unpredictable and unknown until you get there. So there is always a level of stress associated with exploring new places.
We timed our trip to coincide with our grand nephew’s First Holy Communion, so our goal was not to do a lot of sight seeing but to enjoy time with our family. But when we realized we were only a 45-minute drive from Versailles we thought we’d try to check this baby off our bucket list. Worst case scenario, we thought, was that Bob and I would hang out in a café enjoying wine and cheese while everyone else toured the chateau.
As it turned out, the sprawling field of old cobblestones leading up to the chateau and the courtyard were formidable but did not deter Coach Bob. He said he could do it so we did. While Marianne, Julia and Emma went in search of the ticket office and a wheelchair for the interior tour, Bob and I slowly and carefully made our way across the cobblestones. Eventually we got to the entrance and to a chair so Bob could focus on the tour instead of his foot steps. The rest was a breeze. It was a beautiful day, and the staff at Versailles could not have been more friendly and accommodating.
Alexandre’s First Holy Communion was a special day that we were glad to be a part of, and the rest of the weekend spent reconnecting with family we don’t often get to see made for a wonderful memory. Semper Avanti.