A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done." -Vince Lombardi
Neil, of 'Spanish Bay' by Hans M. Hirschi, is tired of dealing with the abuse of a few bullies at his school. In one particularly nasty incident, he ends up on the ground after his wheelchair is forcefully pushed against a wall. Neil doesn’t realize that the young man, Chris, who rushes to help him, is the one he grows to love.
Neil is impressed that a stranger would come to his aid. Usually, people only see his wheelchair; they either ignore him or are too uncomfortable to acknowledge him. Neil hates his wheelchair but, because his muscle disease is degenerative, he knows he will end up in it sooner or later. Neil has never understood why the bullies at school pick him. He can hardly wait until high school is over, hoping college students will be more mature about his situation. Neil is blessed with wonderful parents who support him in every way. He is proud of himself for being independent, even though he realizes his mother, especially, has reservations about him doing things on his own, but at least she respects his wishes. Neil accepts Chris's invitation to come back to Sally's, the cafe where he works, to join him for coffee and this begins what is to be a whirlwind romance where he and Chris discover very quickly that they are made for each other. Neil's parents are concerned, especially since it's Neil's first romantic involvement. They also acknowledge that Neil is now an adult and has to make his own decisions.
Chris is a wonderful young man who left his strictly religious family because he is gay. Fortunately, he runs into Sally and starts working in her cafe and it changes his luck from bad to good. Sally loves Chris and quickly grows to trust him, so much, in fact, that when she becomes ill, she asks him to take over for her. As their relationship grows, they realize how attuned they are to each other, able to talk about anything, and, together, accomplish whatever they set their minds to. They are constantly finding ways to improve what they have. Eventually they move in together, which is a gigantic step for any couple, but the adjustment hardly causes a ripple between them. Chris tells Neil about his family and why he left and about his concern for his other siblings, particularly his youngest brother, Frank, who also has physical limitations. Chris misses him the most since he was one of Frank's caregivers. When Chris receives the tragic news that his parents have been killed in a car accident, neither Chris not Neil hesitate for a moment. They go to Texas to see what they can do to settle his brothers and sisters into the best situation they can.
This is a wonderful love story between two young men who don't let anyone or anything stand in the way of what they want or need to do. Time after time, roadblocks are thrown in their way and in each instance, they find a way to not only manage it but succeed. That takes a special kind of person with a unique way of looking at life and these young men possess that outlook. Their family and friends benefit greatly from their attitudes, love, and dedication. I've never understood why some people look at others who are physically challenged with such a jaundiced eye. Often they try to ignore they are there so they don't have to deal with them at all. People with a disability don't want special treatment. They want to be treated with the same consideration as anyone else, no more or no less.
I had an experience that has stayed with me. I was on a bus when a blind girl got on. She was startled when I gently touched her arm and asked if the young man who helped her on the bus was her boyfriend. She nodded, then broke into a huge smile as I described the loving look on his face. Before the trip was over, she thanked me and explained that most people simply ignored her. I thought how lonely that must make her feel.
If you'd like to read an endearing love story between two special men who don't know the meaning of “can't”, then you will enjoy reading this one. Thanks, Hans, for giving me such a touching love story with a huge message, highlighting the problem of how people mistreat those who are physically challenged.