It’s a Friday in summer, and time for the weekly free concert on the local town green. The green is full of people bustling around, throwing frisbees for their dogs and playing with their children. The seven of us are making our way through the crowd, heading for our favorite tree to sit under.
I have both my hands on the handles of R’s wheelchair. She sits quietly, smiling her shy smile and watching the busy green in front of us. My right arm is hooked through M’s left arm, helping him balance as he walks with me. He’s fingering the knotted end of his hoodie’s drawstring with intense interest, and is looking at it rather than the terrain as we walk; occasionally he stumbles and needs the support of my arm. My co-worker is pushing P’s wheelchair one-handed, no easy task. P is leaning back in her wheelchair, facing the sky with her sightless eyes wide open and an ecstatic smile on her face, whether from the cheerful crowd noise she hears or from something in her own head I can’t tell. My co-worker is using his other hand to help C push the joystick on his electric wheelchair to make it move forwards. (C has limited use of his hand and has trouble pushing the joystick on his own.) C is frowning slightly as his wheelchair bumps along over the green; this outing interrupted his favorite TV show.
With both my co-worker and me helping two people each, we have no hands to spare to help L as he uses his walker to walk along with us, somewhat unsteadily, over the bumpy grass, frowning in concentration. His gait isn’t smooth; sometimes he has trouble making his muscles do what he wants them to. His eyes are focused on the wheels on the front of his walker, and he’s not looking ahead to see possible obstacles.
The wheels on the front of L’s walker hit a small dip. He pitches forwards, and I watch helpless as he starts to fall.
Immediately, the three strangers nearest L rush in to grab his forearms and elbows and pull him up, helping him regain his balance and his grip on his walker. It happens so quickly he never has time to reach the ground and hurt himself. A fourth stranger steadies the walker and re-establishes its wheels on firm ground. When L is again safely upright with a firm grip on his walker, the strangers merge back into the crowd.
They saw someone needing help, gave it instantly and without question, and then went their own ways without waiting for thanks.
We live among good people.