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Ancient Yet Accessible

 By Belinda

It was the last day of my vacation in Alvechurch and the weather, which had been unseasonably cool until then, had changed overnight.

The sun shone through leaves of intense, vibrant green. The summer blue sky was dotted with cotton ball white clouds. And the whole village was alive with birdsong. Exuberant trills, chirrups and throaty warbles filled air that was already intoxicating with the perfume of trees heavy with lilac blossom.

I needed to make a quick trip to the Co-Op--a convenience store in the village; to buy a few treats to share with friends who were visiting for tea later in the day.

"Would you like to come with me to the Co-op, Mum?" I asked.

Mum is very contented in her little home, and seems to have no desire that drives her to leave it.

It is easy to forget that when she traveled to vacation with us in Canada, she joined me in every adventure I was involved in and even some with Paul, such as helping do roofing!  She just wanted to be with me in whatever I was doing and if that meant going to a writers group meeting that happened to be on the night she arrived, she wouldn't hesitate--she did it.

Knowing all of this about Mum, when she answered "Yes," it affirmed that inside a body and mind that is slowed by the effect of a stroke; her heart, spirit and soul, as I thought, remained unchanged.

And so, with Rob's help and instruction and tips, the  foldaway wheelchair purchased for doctor's appointments, was dusted off and prepared, with a soft cushion on the seat. Mum exchanged her cosy royal blue slippers that fasten snugly around her ankles with Velcro tabs, for sturdy beige leather, lace up shoes. We helped her on with her soft, three quarter length, stone coloured jacket and she reluctantly gave in to Robs and my suggestion of her small but colourful blanket to keep her warm and preserve her modesty, where her knee high black stockings ended.(Rob resorted to, "Mum, they will be able to see your knickers!) The blanket was crocheted by Olive; a spry 80 year old neighbour who makes them for everyone in Tanyard Close, including Bruce!

Out of the front door we rolled, and into the glorious fresh air and the beautiful day.

We discovered a village new to both of us, searching for lips from sidewalks and finding them everywhere. To my happy surprise, without knowing it, because we never noticed it before; we had an accessible village!

We left Tanyard Close, with its tulips, daffodils, blue bells, and pansies everywhere in pots and gardens; and soon passed by the imposing, cream painted, Red Lion pub and restaurant. We noticed that it was ramped (not that Mum was headed there--I just was happy to see that she could, if she wanted to.) Then we passed Mum's old church, Alvechurch Baptist Church. A large sign proclaimed with red letters, "Open Church" and invited passers by to come in and have some quiet moments. "Look Mum, your church is open," I said, and even though we were on a different mission, it was wonderful to see a ramp to the front door and know that she could have gone inside and enjoyed some quiet moments.

We trundled by a row of centuries old houses and past the Tudor Rose fish and chip shop, and the breezed carried the lunchtime fish and chips frying, to our nostrils.

Crossing the road, we made our way to the Co-Op in the village square. The doors slid open at our approach as if by silent butlers awaiting our arrival. Even though the little store was humming with villagers and some aisles had piles of boxes with items waiting to be shelved, we navigated quite handily. Mum gazed with interest at the rows of magazines that we passed; the canned goods; and then we got to our destination, the cake aisle, where I met an old school friend who had just lost 3 stone (42 pounds) at Weight Watchers, stacking the shelves with cakes. She recommended the WW lemon slice bar as very tasty and we took one to accompany the ones I really wanted--the coconut covered jam sponge, and Jamaica Ginger cake! :)

We headed home by a different route, through the alleys and short cuts that run across the village.

Beside the village hall, at the foot of Bear Hill, where we used to live; in the council houses that are beyond the older homes; I paused, put on the wheelchair brakes and took a photo.

Mum, "out" in the ancient yet accessible village.
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