In my hand I had the keys to the car, and I knew that were I to follow these thoughts through, my husband would not be able to get into the car and drive away. But as I contemplated the thoughts grew only stronger, until suddenly, I KNEW I had to go for it. Break my bonds. Get out of captivity. Find freedom. It mattered not to me that I was so blind that I was unable to see even kerb drops. I would manage SOMEHOW! There was no going back. The plot was hatched. Freedom called.

And so it was that I drove my power chair towards the car, unlocked it, opened the driver’s door, and with a sudden rush of excitement and anticipation, and even amazement that I was doing this, I threw the keys onto the driver’s seat. That done, I left the door of the car ajar, so that it did not lock itself, and hared for the gate of the car park. I had to be quick, before they came out of Mass. I must NOT be caught. It was imperative. This was MY moment. My prison bars disappeared before my very eyes, sightless though I was. NOTHING would stop me now. I NEEDED this!

I got myself to the gates. There was only one way that I could turn – RIGHT, and along the ten foot. As I began to travel along the ten foot, my power chair tilted alarmingly to the left. The surface was far from even, and not only did it slope steeply, but it was also full of potholes. But of course, I could SEE nothing. Terrifying though it felt, I could not give up at the first hurdle. Soon, I would be at the end of the ten foot and onto the pavement. Everything would be fine from there.

The pavement proved to be much better, and although I could not see, I knew that if I followed it to the top, I would be on Frodingham Road. As I approached the corner, I realised that I had no idea where I was going. If I attempted to turn left, I would land at Brittania Corner. From there I could get to my mother’s – but NO, that was. NOT where I wanted to go. I wanted TOTAL freedom. I knew, also, that I would not be able to see the kerb drop, even if there was one, which I DIDN’T know.

And so it was that I turned right. “That’s better,” I thought, as I rolled along. I tried to think where I might go if I managed to get to the end of Frodingham Road, and all I could think of was Chatterton Crescent, where there was a kind of Old People’s Home and sheltered accommodation. I wondered if I could arrive there, unannounced, and say, “Could you shelter me please?” But no, that did not fit the bill at all. It did occur to me that I could turn right, head out of town, and for the hills – only there WEREN’T any hills. Well, not to my knowledge anyway. There might have been a cave or two, but I wasn’t aware of any! I also thought that I might be able to turn left, cross the busy road, and somehow make it to Atkinson’s Warren. Perhaps I could sleep under a tree or something. There were some quite good birds there, and birdwatching had been my best hobby when sighted. I would still be able to hear them, even if I couldn’t see them!

Just as these thoughts were filling my head, I found myself in collision with a huge roll of carpet laid on the pavement. “Damn,” I thought. I had forgotten that there was a carpet shop along there. However, once I had disentangled myself, and gained my composure again, I continued forwards, cursing the fact that carpet shop owners put grey carpets on grey pavements, for virtually blind people to run into. “It shouldn’t be done,” I thought.

Having briefly contemplated what I might do once I got to the end of Frodingham Road, I suddenly realised that I was near to a zebra crossing on my left. This was a road that I COULD cross, and at the other side of the road was my old school, Crosby Junior School. I thought of the huge angel on the corner, and decided that this would not be a bad idea.

It was easy crossing the road, and although I had had no idea in my head of where I was going, I somehow or other felt I was onto a winner. That angel was not there for nothing!

I began trundling along, past my old school, when it finally came to me. I was near to St. George’s Anglican Church. I knew Jonathan, he vicar there, and With a grumbling tummy I thought of Andy who would be inside serving meals in the café. I had no money on me, but maybe they would take pity on me and feed me.

And so, I looked for the footpath that I thought went across the expanse of grass on my left , and so to the Church. But I could no longer see anything, and I did not even know if there WAS a footpath, and if there was one, whether it went straight or diagonal. I strained to see, but I could hardly even see the green of the grass, much less a footpath. There was only one thing for it. FEET. I had FEET! And so, I began feeling for the footpath with my feet. A difficult task, for I could not feel much with my feet, due to the neuropathy from the cancer drugs. But, eventually I found the footpath, turned my power chair onto it, and headed off down it. I still had no idea whether I was going straight or diagonal, for I could see nothing in front of me. My eyesight had almost completely gone. I figured, though, that I must soon be reaching the wall of the Church. I had no idea where to go from there however. But, sure enough, I soon found myself at the corner of the Church building. Although I could not see exactly where the wall of the Church went, I followed it, knowing that there were some doors somewhere to be found. Now white is a colour that If, on a dark background, I can see. And suddenly, there, in front of me was a white door. Phew, I thought.I’m here. I’ve made it! And I pushed on the door – only to find that it was an outhouse! Damn! Where was the door? I looked to my left in a slight panic, and there, about two feet away from me were some big double doors. I pushed them open with my left hand and my feet, whilst at the same time trying to guide my power chair in with my joy stick.

Once inside, the sheer effort of everything, and the emotion of the occasion made me burst into tears. And suddenly, there was Andy. Andy was a godsend. Disabled himself, though not in a wheelchair he was empathetic to the plight of disabled people, and well aware of all their trials and sorrows. He immediately got on the phone to Jonathan, telling him vigorously that that blind lady in a wheelchair was here, and needing help. I just as vigorously yelled so that Jonathan could hear me, that he was not to come. That he was busy. That I did not want to bother him. The reply? I’ll be there in ten minutes.

Those ten minutes were the most comfortable ones that I had had in two and a half years. Andy sat by me, talking to me, with his speech impediment, listening to my pains and sorrows with deep understanding. It was a sacred moment, where two souls met in total understanding of one another.

Eventually Jonathan arrived, and, knowing him well, I held my hand out to him, saying “Jonathan,” and sobbing all over again.

“I’ve run away,” I said.
“Where from?” He asked
“Holy Souls,” I replied.

“Come in here,” Jonathan said. And we went into the Office.

Jonathan knew me well, having been the only one to have visited me during my eight month cancer ordeal. I had been completely naked for all of that eight months, being unable to bear clothes or even a light bedsheet on my body, which itched furiously from head to toe, and that was covered in open sores. But, for Jonathan, I did manage just to put something light over me for a short time. He was the kindest most gentle person that I ever met. We talked about death, and what it might be like to die, and everything else besides. My Catholic priest would have been horrified.

“I bet you’ve been expecting this,” I blubbed to Jonathan.

“Sort of,” he replied.

I garbled out my tale of woe, in between huge gulps and sobs.

“I’m a prisoner,” I said. “But I’ve escaped.”

Then, referring to the massive tree over the road I said, “Can’t I go and sleep under that tree. I don’t want to go home.”

This then led Jonathan to ask where Bob was.
“He’s in Mass at HolySouls,” I said. “Only he might be out now.”

I explained how I had left him in Mass, put the car keys onto his seat in the car – and SKIDDADLED!

In time, we decided that I ought to ring Bob to tell him where I was, at which point he informed me that he had got the police, having reported me as a missing person! The police lady was with him, and, hearing that it was me, wanted to know where I was, as she was coming to see me!

And so it was that there we were, Jonathan and I, waiting on the pavement outside St. George’s for the police to arrive. That tree looked ever more inviting, as I contemplated clink!

And so it was that I found myself explaining to a policewoman that I had run away from my husband and Holy Souls Catholic Church.

“Do you know this man?” She asked, pointing to Jonathan, who was attired in a bright orange shirt.
“Yes, he’s the vicar,” I said.

Then, “I hope you’re not going to put me in clink cos there’s no disabled facilities down there.”

Jonathan just remained quietly looking down onto the pavement, studying goodness knows what. It had turned out to be no ordinary day for him either.

The policewoman informed me that my husband had reported me as missing, having gone off in my power chair, blind, to goodness only knew where. The police had asked how far it could go on one battery charge. Eight miles, my husband had told them. And how fast can it go, they had asked. Four miles an hour, he had said.

BUT she has shocking pink socks on, he had said, as though that explained absolutely everything!

That was an encounter with the police that I will never forget, and neither, possibly, will Jonathan!


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