When in my fifties, I was confined to a wheel chair. Sometimes even the weight of a sheet on my feet caused me excruciating pain. I lived way out in the woods and my driveway was a challenge to anyone fond of their car’s muffler. It was a difficult time.
But, two new friends began to come to see me twice a week, bringing lunch and sweets and laughter and even taking me places in my wheelchair. Each Christmas we did a shopping day at Cool Springs Mall, starting with a macadamia nut cookie, shopping, then lunch at Red Lobster, more shopping and a lush caramel cappuccino to cap the day off. By the end of the day, my wheel chair and I were buried under packages.
Soon our nephew brought me a computer and he and my granddaughter taught me to use it, so I was connected to the whole world, as I sat watching a doe with her fawn playing outside my window.
About then, I also watched a Canadian movie called, Strangers in Good Company, which helped me realize that I had all the best things in life: love, friends, nature and a connection to the outside world.
A few years after that, a son that worked for an airline started taking me and my husband to Europe every year. I spent months researching and planning our trips on the computer. Once there, my husband and son pushed me up steep cobblestone streets, down paths in the woods on mountains, and through the amazing storage areas of art museums like the Louvre, that weren’t easily accessible. There were challenges and limits, but again such wonderful experiences that there was no way I could feel underprivileged. Once we accept our circumstances, even our limits, we discover a flood of blessings all around us.
Then a new medicine became available that controlled my problem enough to allow me to walk reasonable distances on my own. About then one of my friends moved away and the other became crippled and in a wheelchair. So, we recruited my teen aged granddaughter to help us stay mobile. When helping someone in a wheelchair have adventures, it’s best to have a pusher and a door holder.
Miraculously an arts and science center was built in our small town and the next ten years were filled with marvelous art, pottery, and music classes and both professional and community theater. So, I got to return the kindness of my friend until she died.
Soon God brought other women into my life, including the friend that moved away, who had become home bound. I have been able to help free them as my friends and granddaughter did me.
Whatever your situation, watch for the love of God in it and watch for a way to pass it on.
I’m seventy-five now and once again, I can walk, climb a hill, and even dance a little. In my late fifties, I was dependent on a wheelchair to even get across my house. It was a long house with a lot of two stair changes in levels, so it wasn’t really handicapped accessible. The house, designed by my architect husband to uniquely suit our own way of living, was in the middle of our hundred acre weed and rock sanctuary, almost fifteen minutes from town, down dirt roads, and through a creek. It was my idea of heaven, until I ended up in a wheelchair.
My five children were grown and gone and my husband worked long days, six days a week. So, I was pretty isolated. I put a roll away bed in the middle of my kitchen, where I could spend the day, and usually manage to cook meals and load and run the dishwasher and the washer/dryer.
Two fairly new friends began bringing out delicious lunches and delightful movies twice a week. They also took me in the wheel chair to events at Museums and even Christmas shopping at a Mall. These visits and outings were filled with laughter and special treats of Caramel Frappuccinos and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies, that quickly became traditions.
One of the movies we watched was a Canadian film, Strangers in Good Company. This was about a tour bus of elderly ladies getting stranded in the Canadian woods. The younger woman bus driver had a sprained ankle, so the little old ladies had to rally and organize for survival. The women became quite resourceful in finding food. They stretched the rather large bus driver’s panty hose open on shrub branches, and held it across a creek to catch small fish. Another woman showed how to go frog-gigging with sharpened sticks. Shared leftover cookies, apples, and candy bars helped supplement foraging. The women bonded, sharing life memories, and renewing their spirits through taking time to just soak in the beauty surrounding them. Of course, at the end, they were rescued, but it was what they made of the time together, that was the point of the movie.
In spite of my friends helping me, I did struggle with depression over my situation, fearing it was permanent. But the movie made me re-evaluate my priorities.
Nature was really a source of connectedness to God for me. And my house was open to the woods around us through walls of glass doors. The kitchen was open to the great-room, so from both my bed in the kitchen (my “bitchen”) and my bed in the master bedroom, I could see and hear birds of all kinds, watch the hummingbirds kama-kazi diving at each other, and even watch a doe and her brand new fawn in the small clearing outside the windows. She brought the fawn just as it was learning to gambol and play. For several weeks she and I would both lie contentedly watching the fawn play. Other times, a male wild turkey would do his awesome dance in courting a couple of “ladies” in the clearing. A possum came in the evening and scratched on the screen door. A crazy, but beautiful cardinal, fixated on his reflection in one of the glass doors, spent days flying into the door and then regrouping in the plum tree next to it. Cardinals in the snow whitened winter landscape or among the spring dogwood blossoms were among my favorite things.
The movie made me realize that I experienced the presence and grace of God most in two things: the beauty of nature and in relationships. And wheel chair bound or not, I was blessed with good friends, a husband that loved me, and surrounded, up close and personal, by the beauty of nature. Even in a wheelchair, I had a bubbling spring of grace around me.