Tiny Tim?

Mia and Noah at Universal Studios

For the last ten years or so, we’ve been blessed to be able to spend a couple of weeks in Cortez, Florida over Christmas. My brother Michael and I use to visit for a month every summer with our grandparents in Sarasota. The trips always feel very nostalgic. My uncle lives there, Mom flies down and we are able to eat, fish and make memories at the ‘Mullet House.’

Malia has always been a huge Harry Potter fan, so one year we promised to take her and Noah to Universal Studios. Joe and I prefer a quiet beach over tourist traps, so Noahs never really experienced anything like the Magic Kingdom!

We started at the entrance, and as any parent of a special needs child knows, you get a ‘cut to the front of the line’ pass. We had a plan of dividing our time between Noah’s two loves: Transformers and dinosaurs and Malia’s obsession.

It just so happened that Bumblebee was walking around patrolling the perimeter. He came up to Noah, who was blown away by seeing his seven foot tall hero in action. He was giddy when the Deceptacon arrived on the scene to do battle. Watching life through Noah’s eyes is always so refreshing. He gets swept up into the story and is absorbed in every detail. It’s contagious!

We witnessed parades, stegosaurus coming to life, Hogwart’s Castle and a dragon breathing real fire! When we stopped for lunch, Noah declared that he was too tired to walk anymore. Joe looked at me and shook his head. There was no way he was going to carry Noah on his shoulders on a sunny day in Florida. Joe sweats…a lot! Noah was pushing a hundred pounds…I couldn’t carry him! Malia, started to panic thinking that we would have to leave. Finally I decided I would go back to guest relations and ask for a wheelchair! Problem solved.

Noah was beyond content. He was able to see the park without exerting the least bit of effort. He had a drink, a snack, and his windbreaker covering his legs…life was good.

We watched men on stilts and followed the crowd to a alleyway. We came out on the streets of New York City? There was a huge crowd surrounding a waitress who was singing the blues. The crowd looked at poor Noah in his wheelchair and began to part so that he could see the stage. Joe and I sheepishly pushed his chariot wheelchair close to the action.

Mable, the waitress and Jazz the sax player were unbelievable. The crowd was clapping and singing along, it was a great break from Bumblebee and the rides.

No sooner did Mabel finish her song when a police car drove up Delancey Street. Out of the Bluesmobile came Jake and Elwood—wearing their trademark black suits, porkpie hats, and dark shades. Gimme Some Lovin started playing and the crowd went wild. The Blues Brothers started shimming around and everyone was dancing and twisting.

All of a sudden, Noah threw off the windbreaker from his legs, jumped down in front of the stage and started cutting loose. People began pointing, they whispered to one another. Everyone was looking from Noah’s dancing legs to us. Were they witnessing a miracle?

Just as I was about to grab Noah, Joe and the wheelchair…Jake jumped from the stage and started dancing with Malia and Noah. The crowd’s attention was on the stars, so Joe and I slinked to the back row.

From behind everyone we could still see a few people pointing to Noah and his very capable legs and pantomime pushing a wheelchair…

After the song, Noah pushed through the crowd, grabbed his drink from my hand and jumped back into his chariot and covered his legs.

We waved goodbye to ‘the boys’ and left the Big Apple. Noah wanted to visit the Transformers….again…

It’s funny, after almost a decade, the thing I remember most about our Universal trip is the street party with Jake, Elwood!

Baby Shark… do, do, do…

Assateague Island 2012

Floor 22 left all of us badly shaken. Yet the day was young, the weather balmy, and the beach was beckoning. We loaded everyone up and headed down to the private beach.

Malia our resident mayor went in search of seashells. On her expedition, she began a conversation with a diver. He started to explain all the intricacies of the sport. Next thing we knew, she was out with a mask and snorkel, finding beautiful sea treasures.

The gentleman gave Malia a bag to dive with, waved and set her loose!

Mom and I were taking shifts with Noah, shift taking still goes on to this day! I was ‘on duty’. All of a sudden, I heard commotion up the beach. People were scrambling out of the water and a black fin was swimming parallel to the shore!

I looked down the beach at Mia who was about fifty feet off shore, grabbed Noah and started running! She of course was diving and clueless to what was happening on the beach. I’m running, screaming at her, dragging Noah behind me.

This next part sounds like it’s made up, but Boy Scout promise, I assure you it’s not! Three stoners came up to me with guitar, and ask what I was yelling about. I pointed to the ominous black fin slowly making its way up the shoreline, and told them it’s a shark! They don’t miss a beat and the three of them began strumming the Jaws theme. Yes, yes they did.

My fight or flight had already been depleted from the floor 22 experience. Now it was in overdrive because a shark was coming after my baby girl. What world was I living in???

Malia finally heard my screams, saw my panic, and used all her swim prowess to swim to shore. At that moment a six foot shadow passed us, it’s tail swishing, it’s fin gliding through the waves. We just stared at each other wide eyed.

We walked back to our compound, and our family was completely unaware of the mayhem we just endured. We began retelling them about the shark, the musicians, Malia swimming to avoid being eaten! No one believes us! My twinsie, Mia and I both speak in superlative, this always makes for interesting storytelling, but our kin always take us with a grain of salt.

The musicians walked past us, still playing the Jaws theme ✔️ then, the ‘shadow’ turned and started making its way up the coast in the opposite direction, Mom and the kids saw the fin with their own eyes. ✔️

I called Joe, for the second time that day with another outlandish but true tale. My husband, the forever realist, told me it was probably a tarpon or at the very most a benign sand shark!

Regardless of the true nature of the 10 foot behemoth, we survived and lived to tell the tale! Just another family vacation, nothing to write home about!

Merry Christmas! Until next time!

The fake shark used in the movie Jaws!

Floor 22

I hate winter! Can I just get that out of the way? Anyone who knows me, knows that the beach is my happy place. Cold, winter months have me craving Florida sunshine. Knowing this, Mom would often do a winter rental somewhere in the sunshine state. This particular year it was in Miami so that we could be close to my brother and his family.

Mom got a cute little condo facing the ocean. The kids and I flew down excited to be spending a week in South Beach. When we got to the hotel, it was sprawling! A circular drive led to a forty story building with multiple pools and a private beach. The valet took our luggage and we headed up to our suite.

Noah was about 6 years old and had a propensity to wander away. With Mom, Renee, Zoe, Marley, Malia and I all taking Noah shifts, we were confident that someone would always have an eye on him.

Going up in the elevator I took the opportunity to review Noah’s numbers. We talked about how we were on floor 22, and how it was a repeating number. The elevator was pretty full, but I’m so oblivious to spectators observing our unconventional life. I asked Noah to recite our floor and to show me the number. We counted the floors as we went higher and higher.

A week of elevators was Noah’s dream, not to mention our view was of a drawbridge on the Intercoastal Waterway. The sights and sounds were a six year old’s dream!

His favorite thing about the hotel was the garbage chute. His chore each day was to walk the trash to the foyer of the floor, open the hatch and drop the bag down the conveyor.

Since there were seven of us in our condo, we were generating a lot of refuse. Noah was using the chute multiple times a day! An escort would make sure he was not attempting to slide down it himself.

One morning, Noah told me the trash needed to go out, I was the only one up. He and I walked down the corridor, I stopped at the corner, he continued a couple more yards to where he was to drop the days waste and come back.

I waited a second, nothing. I looked around the corner and Noah was gone! That quick! I ran down the hall, no sign of him. Every parents worst nightmare was flashing before my eyes.

I ran back to our suite, and screamed at everyone to wake up! Noah was lost. We all spread out, some checking our floor, others walking down the emergency staircase.

Each minute felt like days. I was having a panic attack while I was running around our hotel in my nightgown, barefoot. I asked all the service personnel if they had seen a little blond boy anywhere. Most spoke Spanish, so no one understood my question.

I ran to the front lobby which lets out on a very busy street. Could he have left the building? Do I run through the streets?

I needed to call the police, then call Joe. Shakily I got on the elevator to make two calls I dreaded. Time was of the essence.

I got off on our floor and there was a handsome gentleman holding Noah’s hand waiting in the foyer of our floor!

I rushed to Noah crying, sweeping him in my arms. The man told me the day we arrived he was in the elevator with us. As I was going over Noah’s numbers, I kept repeating that we were staying on floor 22, double digits.

He found Noah wandering the downstairs lobby. Apparently he dropped the trash in the chute, got on the elevator and escaped to the front desk, all in nanoseconds.

The kind stranger said he recognized Noah’s tow head, and almond eyes immediately and knew to bring him back to floor 22. Slowly, one by one, the rescue party came back to our suite overjoyed to find Noah was safe.

From that day forward, all the service people, front desk workers and hotel guests would call out and greet Noah by name wherever we went. Mr. Mayor took his notoriety in stride and greeted everyone with high fives and fist bumps.

Crisis 10,001 averted. Mom and I caught our breath, thanked the Lord and headed to the beach. You would think the day had enough excitement, but there was much more in store for us that day!

To be continued….