Free At Last

For the past eleven years, I’ve had a special neighbor who was just a phone call away. Since I have cerebral palsy, she would often pick up my mail when she got her own.  Whenever I found myself in a predicament  I could count on her to help me.

Even though she took medication, living with a mental illness was a constant battle for her. Every now and then, when her medicine wasn’t effective she needed to go into the hospital.

 One year after she got out of the hospital she dropped of some groceries and I asked, “How are you doing?”

“I’m doing a lot better.  I’ve had some therapy and my doctor adjusted my medicine.”

“That’s good.” I commented.  “I need you, so please don’t hurt yourself.”

She assured me she wouldn’t.   Nevertheless, whenever I heard an ambulance in our neighborhood, I called to see if she was okay.

This past Saturday while I was in my bedroom, I noticed an ambulance go by again.  When I looked out of my dining-room window, I was alarmed to see several police cars also.  Like always, I immediately called her to see if she was alright.  The answering machine picked up. A sense of dread grew, the longer the police cars stayed in front of her building.

All too soon the apartment manager confirmed my worst fear.  My friend had died.  For a while some of her friends wondered if she’d taken her life, because her death was so sudden.  She loved God and read her Bible and prayed almost more than anyone else I know.  So, when someone asked whether I thought she went to heaven or hell.  I answered, “Heaven, she’s already been in hell.”       

             A few days later, I heard she had died from natural causes.   God had set her free and taken her to live in His presence.

Out and About

One of the draw backs to having cerebral palsy is not being able to drive. Fortunately, if I know where I want to go, there are two different transportation services I can call to give me rides: Ride Connection and Tri-Met Lift. Ride Connection requires two days notice in order to provide a ride. Tri-Met Lift requires one days notice. Ride Connection is a free, cab-like service that takes you directly to your destination. Tri-Met Lift is a bus that picks up multiple people with disabilities and drops them off at their destination whenever it is most convenient to their route. Ride Connection gets you to where you need to be at an exact time. Tri-Met Lift gives you an hour, or more, range of time that you will be picked up and dropped off. I prefer Ride Connection.

 

When my Mom used to drive her car from Montana to visit, we enjoyed being able to go wherever we wanted spontaneously. But now that she takes the train, it requires a little more planning to take her places that she enjoys.

 

One year when she was visiting, we were scattered and couldn’t decide what we wanted to do; all we knew is that we didn’t want to stay home. So, I booked a reservation with Ride Connection to take us to the mall on Saturday so we could shop and have lunch. However, Friday we decided to go to a quilt show instead. So, I called the Tri-Met lift, to take us there.

 

The next morning while I was in the shower, Mom knocked on the bathroom door and said, “Our cab is here.” I thought, “Wow! It’s too early for them to be here.”

 

A minute later, I realized I’d forgotten to cancel my first ride! I was glad I was in the shower, because I felt as though I had egg on my face. Although the day started out a bit bumpy, when we got home that day we had a good laugh over it!

 

Last year when she visited, we had another successful adventure. One morning, as we ate breakfast, I remembered how she used to enjoy driving her car to one of her favorite stores called The Rack. Although it’s relatively close to my apartment it is just beyond walking distance. As I ate, I wondered how we could get over there. I had an idea, but I thought she’d never go for it. A few minutes later, I told her, said, “You know, I have two scooters. If you really want to go to The Rack we can take them.” To my amazement she said, “Okay!”

 

Getting around town without a car is tricky but I’m glad it doesn’t stop me. I just wonder what adventure we’ll go on next week when she’s here!

Moving Forward

It seems like only yesterday that I celebrated my 60th birthday.  But the other day I turned another year older.  Birthdays, like New Year’s Eve, can be a time for making new resolutions or dreaming about what will happen in the future.  Unfortunately, without a plan to accomplish my dreams, they have become casualties of my busy life. 

Looking back over the past years, I sometimes have wrestled with a nagging feeling that I haven’t accomplished much.  Rather than momentarily scaling back on my activities, I have decided to start filtering my activities through the lens of my overall goals.  Staying busy out of fear of failure is like being on a treadmill, it’s easy to look busy but you don’t get anywhere.  Fear and guilt of any kind, are like loops of a shag rug.  If you don’t have boundaries around your life or schedule, it’s like getting your toe caught in a loose loop of a shag rug.  You might eventually fall flat on your face, because you suddenly realize you’re not going anywhere. 

My fear of failing to live up to my expectations has kept me from moving forward in the rhythm God desires me to move in.  When I’ve surrendered my desire to move quickly or accomplish things; as he shows me how to breakdown the tasks into steps I can handle, it’s as if He takes scissors to the cycle of nonproductive busyness.  For example, every day activities seem to have whittled away a big chunk of each day.  Instead of getting frustrated and stuck in self pity, I’ve learned to be grateful that I can do it on my own.  I’ve also learned that I can use some of that “wasted time” to grow myself by listening to teachings or audio books.  When I’m willing to let Him lead me on small step at a time, I get more done and have a lot more fun.   

            What have been some reasons you’ve gotten distracted from the path God has called you too?  Please feel free to share what has helped you to refocus.