Memories of My Grandparents – Are You Okay?

Elenora and Joe circa 1985

One year, when my daughter was just a wee thing we decided to take her on a trip to Disneyland.  So, my grandparents, my sister and I and my daughter pack up the car and take the one hour drive to the park.  We did all the usual touristy things and were having a great time when I decided that I wanted to go on Space Mountain.  I’d never been before and it seemed intriguing.  My sister didn’t want to go with me and I was getting settled into the idea of not going when my grandfather said, “I’ll go on it with you.”

I thought, Great!  We got into the line and boarded the train and off we went.  We started into a tunnel and it was very, very dark.  I kept looking for the end of the tunnel but it just never seemed visible.  Suddenly we took a sharp right and I found myself sitting in one place while centrifugal force was taking my body in another. It was a very disconcerting feeling.

I was immediately concerned for my grandfather who was 85 years old.  I looked at him, or at least in his direction but couldn’t see him…not even an outline.  While I was still puzzling this out, the train dropped steeply and turned to the left.  Again that horrible sensation of distortion from the known hit me hard.

I yelled in the direction of my grandfather, “Are you okay!?”  But there was so much screaming due to the roller coaster ride that I could not hear him reply…if indeed he had replied.  I kept looking at him trying to see any part of him. Thoughts raced through my head… Was he alive?  I didn’t know the ride was a roller coaster, completely in the dark.  What if he’s having a heart attack?

The ride is 2 minutes and 45 seconds long and it seemed like the longest 2 minutes and 45 seconds I’d ever experienced.  As my body kept lurching up and down, right and left, I tried to ignore my own sensations and simply willed the ride to be over.

When it stopped, I looked over to see my grandfather and he was quiet…but alive.  We got off the ride and I could see he was unsteady on his feet so I helped him to the first bench available.  His face was as white as a ghost when I asked him if he was okay…wondering if he could still have a heart attack.  He replied he was fine but just needed to rest a few minutes.  A rest I gladly shared with him.

Though this event gave me a good scare, I am happy to say that he lived four more years!