Justin and the Ferris Wheel

Today I watched little ones ride ponies 
under a sun-filled sky 
and a red and white canopy.
I watched children’s amusement at the antics 
of newly-hatched chicks. 
I saw piglets, lambs, and sheep 
and even petted a tame deer’s spotted back.
But those were not the most extraordinary things 
that happened today.
And was ignored by this strange fellow 
who was willing to smile for a photo 
if I left him alone.
I perused some fine artwork and  some beautiful quilts, 
jars filled with clear jellies and jams, peaches, pears, and pickles. 
I admired my fellow Oklahomans’ handiwork: 
baskets, carvings, drawings, sewing, and knitted sweaters. 
I watched bright blue-winged butterflies sit quietly
inside a huge green tent 
and watched young people fly and scream with delight.
 I listened to a L.A.street band drum on trash cans
 and I watched break dancers as fast and agile as gymnasts. 
I sat in the sunshine to eat a candy apple
and listen to 
  musicians panpipe Peruvian mountain songs.

I was at the fair,
without any accompanying students 
or any children of my own.
 It was an unusual experience for a mom of seven, 
a school teacher for twenty-five years, 
and a grandmother of eighteen.
 I bought tickets to ride the Ferris Wheel. 
Waiting in line I meet Justin, who really wanted to ride the wheel  and talk. He tentatively said hello to me 
and then began to chatter.
 He had questions. 

He asked if I had anybody to ride with me. 
When I said, “No, I came to the fair alone today,” he asked if I wanted to ride with he and his grandma. I said that would be fine.  “Grandma,” says the boy, grasping grandma’s arm, “She wants to ride too. Do you have enough tickets for her to ride?” 

I smiled and showed him I had tickets 
and suddenly Grandma decided not to ride. 
Grandma disappeared, so I was now with Justin.
(I think she thought he knew me!) 
“That’s J-u-s-t-i-n,” he spelled robotically 
as he stuck out his hand like a pistol for me to shake. 
He asked my name, and my age, and if I was a mom, and if I was married, if I was scared of the ride and where my children were, which rides they liked, how old they were 
and what their names were.
He asked about my shoes and weren’t they like his shoes? 
tennis shoes, black tennis shoes?

 He told me he was fifteen and asked if any 
of my children were fifteen. 
He asked if the ride would be high. 
He told me he had a seizure on another ride. 
“I do not like that ride,” he declared pointing.

“Don’t ride that one anymore, I advised.
 Soon it was our turn. We climbed aboard.
 “I have seizures,” Justin warned the attendant.
While we were riding J-u-s-t-i-n worried. 
He leaned over the side to check 
that his grandma was still there.
He called her on his cell phone and told her he couldn’t see her. 
She waved. He exclaimed, “There she is! Wave! Wave, Eleeza! 
It’s Grandma.” I waved to her.

He asked if we were on top. I nodded yes. He worried.
 I told him the ride was fun. 
He said, ” YEE-HAW,” 
(but not with much conviction). 
So I said,”Whoohoo! Here we go! Yahoo!”
And he joined in.
He asked if the ride was almost over. 
I said, “No, we get some more turns.”
He looked frightened.

 I told him the wheel was starting to slow, 
So soon they would stop our cart and we would get off 
and his grandma would be there waiting. 
Our seat swung to a stop 
and the attendant opened the gate.
 J-u-s-t-i-n was anxious to get off, but wouldn’t 
until he had waved me off first. 
“What a gentleman,” offered the attendant. 

“I have seizures,” answered Justin, 
wavering from side to side in a sort of fear dance
 at the instability of the still moving cart.
 I turned back to help him climb down.
When we walked down the ramp, I saw that
Grandma wasn’t there, 
but a sister and Justin’s mom
 were waiting for him. 
“Mom, this is my friend, Eleeza. 
She rode the Ferris wheel with me!”

“Hello,” she said, “Thanks” 
and off they disappeared into the crowd.
Hard  Hard  Hard
 Hard was written three times on the face of the wheel.
  Some people’s lives are super tough. 
I went to the fair feeling sorry for myself. 
I had no children who wanted to go with me. 
I had no friends or relatives who were available to go with me.
 I wanted to go and I did, but I was sad to be alone. 
I was at the fair and I was trying very hard to enjoy it. 
 I was saying “Yeehaw” at the right spots, 
(but not with much conviction).
 Because my kids growing up away from me is hard. 
Family changes and growth are hard for me. 
Yet, Justin was cheerful,

How he must struggle everyday with problems
 of how to fit in an ever-changing world that moves
 round and round 

and up and down too fast for him.   

and I really hadn’t any excuse for my pouting. 
Thank you, Lord, for letting me ride
 the Ferris Wheel with Justin. Bless his heart. 
Forgive me when I fuss and sull’ up to have to face 
insecurities and changes periodically. 
Forgive me, Lord, and thanks for the perspective.

One thought on “Justin and the Ferris Wheel

Add yours

  1. Good story, Elece. It is nice that you took time for J-u-s-t-i-n. If you had been with family or friends, you probably would not have met him. There are a lot of Justins out there, just waiting for someone to share a few moments of the day with them. He probably talked about his friend, Eleeza all day and then some.


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