I can’t get him out of my head. The sparkle in his eyes. His silent, toothless smile. And the slow but enthusiastic thumbs-up he gave signaling he was ready to go.
During the pre-boarding on our flight from Phoenix to Fresno, a man in a wheelchair was brought up to board the plane. He didn’t hardly move and didn’t say anything. His skin seemed to be draped over the frame of his body.
When I took my seat on the plane, he was already seated directly across the aisle from me. Something about him drew me in as I watched him, sometimes not-so-covertly, from across the aisle. His eyes were so full of joy I expected them to overflow and trickle down his cheeks at any moment. I nearly felt the same would happen to me.
He mostly held his hands in what seemed to be a very awkward position. They were big and looked strong, like they had done a lot of hard work throughout his long life.
He sat, not staring bleakly into space, but watching everything and paying very close attention to what was going on around him. He had no book, no iPod, no nothing. He didn’t want anything to drink when offered, declining politely in his own silent way. He just sat there, so utterly at peace.
The cover on the armrest where the tray table was stowed kept flipping open. A couple of times I almost reached over to close it, wanting him to be more comfortable. But it seemed to bother me more than it bothered him, so I left it alone.
His body was clearly no hindrance to his soul.