This morning, Max was due to run a 5k. Well, he was going to be pushed in his Frankenchair, by one of his speech therapists, J-Jack (which is what he calls her with his talker.)
They've been planning this for a few months now, and we were all game for it, depending of course on Max feeling well for it. Max decided to stay awake all night last night, however. And while that in itself wouldn't necessarily keep us from getting him out, pair that with the seizures he's been having lately, and the small one he had this morning before it was time to get up, and I had to make the call that he wasn't going to make it.
It always frustrates me to have to cancel on people because of something going on with Max. I know everyone always understands, but still, foiled plans because of something none of us can control is just so...out of control feeling. And, I really wish Max didn't have to miss out on the fun because of these stinking seizures.
Max did indeed sleep most of the day. And given that I've slept about 4 hours in the past two days, I even had to take a nap, something I really don't like to do. By early evening, Steve was going a bit stir-crazy, so we got Max ready to get out for a bit since it was getting cooler and he had finally woken up and was feeling good.
We decided to head to Boulder, where we could walk around on the outside mall in the cool air and were certain we could find some buskers to entertain us. Tip of the day; Saturday night is prime picking for handicap parking in Boulder. We usually have a couple of places we can park on a busy day, and they're nearly always taken. Tonight, we got a great spot and others were still open.
We got Max out and started towards the pedestrian mall. We turned a corner and nearly ran into a homeless man sitting against a building. He had quite a set up of signs, and was asking for money. But, when he saw Max, he smiled and said "God bless you, young man."
There's a saying we heard early when we moved to Colorado that goes, "Boulder - 30 square miles surrounded by reality."
Boulder is a trip. It is gorgeous, and full of brilliant minds, and hippies, and scientists, business-people, and outdoorsy people alike. You never know when walking down the street if you're walking near a millionaire who just happens to dress like a homeless person, or a homeless person dressed to the nines.
It never fails, when we go to Boulder with Max, people stop to talk to him. Not just to us, they stop to talk to Max. And as strange as that may seem, it is not the norm most places we go. No one is staring at Max in Boulder, because there is so much more to take in than a child in a wheelchair. The setting is beautiful, no doubt, but it's the people in Boulder that make it so special.
We returned the smile to the homeless man, and kept on toward the mall. That's when I saw it, and Max heard it. A young man, perhaps a CU student, walking and playing his bagpipes. For those who don't know, there is something that runs deep in Max about bagpipes. Especially a live performance of bagpipes. It's like the Siren calling him to sea...it draws him in and mesmerizes him.
We turned the corner and stepped in line behind the young piper.
(Please excuse the bad framing...I had initially meant to take a photo and it started with video.)
We followed the piper for six blocks. About three blocks in, a young man, probably around 16 turned away from his family and took off skipping behind the piper. The mom, holding the hand of his sister, who looked to be his twin, followed quickly after him and joined our little tattoo. We all stopped to enjoy a performance given by the group of homeless guys on the corner. They're always on this corner, so I imagine it's they're spot. They were an active group of fellas and could definitely dance a jig.
As our piper moved on, and we followed behind, the mom of the two teenagers asked me if Max was enjoying the music too. We told her that Max loves bagpipes, and she told us that both her children have autism and she hasn't seen them both so excited in a while. She said, "it's magical, I feel like crying!"
So there we were, our piper, two youngsters with autism marching and skipping behind, and Max swaying and singing along in his wheelchair. At each stop-light, he would take a breather from his pipes and the kids would all ask for more. The light would turn to the walking man, and he would start up again with his band of soldiers behind him.
At one block, we ran into a gang of adult big-wheel riders. They waved, whistled, and honked at Max. Who was still dancing to the bagpipes ahead of him.
We crossed the street and started to make our way back to Max's van. At a stop-light Steve offered the piper a tip, as we could not have wished for a more perfect event to have taken place for Max...except for maybe a traveling troupe of opera singers. The young man turned for the first time and took in his groupies, and smiled a very appreciative smile. He refused the tip, and started playing again. One by one, we fell away, leaving the young piper to walk the streets of this eccentric city.
Every time we go on a walk, or bike ride with Max, we look for a "treasure"; something particularly special and unique about our time out. Max knew right away what his treasure was tonight. I'm having a hard time choosing one thing. It was a crazy weird experience. A truly Boulderesque experience. One that turned a crummy day all the way around.