Someone asked what kinds of things entertain Maggie. She is physically unable to do things other kids do, such as run around, hang out etc. She does not have the dexterity or the visual skills for video games; and those vision issues make it unpleasant to watch television and movies. She cannot use a cell phone and when she goes to the mall, it's generally with her old mother.
Despite these limitations of “normal” teenaged activities, Maggie has a great time. There are two reasons for this. First, she is the most easily entertained person in the world – she lives exactly in the moment – and second, she thrives on any human interaction, especially from peers. Hence, Maggie is thoroughly entertained by someone talking with her or including her in anything.
The best activities involve someone pushing her wheelchair very fast. This is true now and has been for long time. When she was little, her brothers used to tear around the grocery store with her. I would say “not too wild, boys” and other shoppers would stand frozen as they came tearing by. The surprised looks on their faces generally turned to grins when they saw how much fun Maggie was having.
My mother and I were reminiscing about an event like that at my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party. It was a fancy cocktail party and dinner at The Spinnaker in Sausalito. There were probably 150 people there including most of the 20 grandchildren. This was 11 years ago; my kids and many of their cousins were too young to appreciate the cocktail hour and found other ways to entertain themselves. You can only eat so many maraschino cherries before you have to find something else to do. Several of them went outside to hang out on the deck. Eddie and Tim brought Maggie out there with them. I always have one eye on Maggie. I was aware of what was going on and not the least bit concerned.
The Spinnaker is a restaurant out on a pier and sits right on the Bay. In order to maximize the view the railing on the deck surrounding the banquet room is made of Plexiglas. From inside, it appears to be an open deck without a railing or protection of any kind. It's difficult to describe, so I snagged these pictures off the internet.
It is a beautiful and serene setting unless, of course there are 15 or so Coghlan grandchildren tearing about the place.
At one point, I was standing in a group of about 10 or 12 of my parents friends – who were all in their 70s at the time – when a couple of them gasped and everyone turned their attention outside. Eddie was pushing Maggie as fast as he could across the concrete deck with Tim and a half dozen cousins running behind. The group I was in was starting to panic, as was another group with whom my mother was standing. They thought the kids were racing wildly with Maggie on an unprotected walkway with a straight drop into the water. They were horrified. I laughed and pointed out the rail, which was all but invisible.
I believe there may have been another round of drinks for that crowd before we sat down.
My mom told me some of her friends still mention that image. It took them a little longer to break into grins, but once they did, the image was lasting.