Chapter 35: One More Try
Despite my fears and near drowning, Dave & I went on the cruise and learn trip in early June. On the first day I asked the teacher how he worked with people who were afraid of the water. I can’t remember what he said but at least he knew how I felt. We were on a 40 ft. boat. There were 2 other students as well as Dave & myself and the instructor who was an older man. We spent 5 days sailing around the islands near the coast of our province. It was a nice trip and I saw places I’d never seen before. I was quite happy because for most of the week there was very little wind. We’d get the sails up for awhile but not go very fast. That was fine with me. The purpose of the week was for each of us to get our basic yachting certification. That meant reading and written tests as well as actually doing what was required in sailing the boat safely. I did ok managing the ropes (sheets) for the main sail as I could stand in the cockpit area of the boat. The first time I took the helm I spun the boat around 360 degrees. I refused to take it again. I told the instructor I didn’t care if I didn’t pass, I wasn’t doing it. The stubbornness that came out in fighting for what Kayda needed came out at other times too.
One morning after spending the night tied up to a dock on an island, the instructor taught us how to dock properly. He told me to take the helm. I said no. He said “Barb, either you take the helm, or you get onto the dock and untie the boat and jump in once we’re moving”. He’d obviously seen me nervously getting on and off the boat each time we docked. So I took the helm. I didn’t do too badly. I can’t even parallel park our mini van and hear I was parking a 40 ft yacht. Obviously that’s not the right terminology.
On the last day we encountered our first real burst of wind. The whole first couple of hours of our trip back across the strait were very windy. They had the sails up and the boat had one side almost totally in the water. I couldn’t cope with that. Even though I’d been told over and over that the boat we were on had a keel and that meant that it didn’t tip easily, I knew the truth; boats tip over. So I went below and stood in the doorway with my back to the side that was in the water. I stayed that way until the water finally calmed down. Obviously a 5 day trip with virtually no wind wasn’t enough to overcome my fear of water. It was deeply ingrained. I’d actually been afraid of water my whole life. But I tried. I figured that had to count for something. I was amazed a couple of months later to receive a certificate giving me “expert crew” qualifications. Dave got the proper certification as did the other students.
One of the other students was a Doctor When I told him we had a daughter with hydranencephaly, he knew that meant she had no brain. He said he could never understand how parents could love children like that. Of course, being the mom I am, I’d brought pictures of her taken the previous Christmas where she was happy and laughing. I showed them to him and said “does she look like she has no brain?” No he said. By the end of the week he thanked us for giving him a better understanding of families of children with severe challenges.
While we were away, Kayda stayed at the respite home run by the people Dave worked for. Apart from the fact that she got quite gurgly and it was hard to know if she was ill she did reasonably well. However, she was mad!!!! Not only had I left her, I actually left her for several days in a row and I expected her to go to school every day with someone else looking after her. They finally ended up keeping her home from school for a couple of days as she just wasn’t happy there. The social worker visited during the week and she could tell that Kayda was just plain angry about being left behind. She was a very determined child and knew the way things should be; mom going away didn’t figure into her idea of the perfect world. It was hard because we were out of phone range most of the time. We only were on land every 2nd day so we couldn’t even check on her every day.