My older brother, Mike, is so observant. If he sees someone in uniform, he always stops to thank that person and humbly shakes his / her hand. This week he saw some people pushing a car into a driveway from the road. Mike immediately pulled over and began pushing the car with them. He’s just that kind of person.
With my vision impairment, I don’t always see to offer my help like Mike does, but I’m certainly aware of what he (and others) do to make my life easier–starting with driving.
Mike’s strength is driving. Over the years, he’s delivered pizza and Meals On Wheels, driven a log truck, long distance rigs and local delivery trucks, as well as a school bus, moved friends and family in pick-ups and u-hauls. One of his favorite jobs was when he chauffeured high school kids to proms and brides and grooms to their weddings for my father’s antique limousine business. His ease in driving made him popular with the guests.
He’s blessed me with these same skills many times.
We have little to no public transport in my hometown. Since I stopped driving eight years ago but still had to get around regularly, Mike chauffeured me to my various teaching jobs, appointments, errands and even my writing critique groups. Our routine worked well. I didn’t have to worry about fares. Instead, I treated him to coffee and cokes and occasional meals.
But a few years ago, he was hospitalized for an extended period. Suddenly, my support system folded. Though I worked from home by then, I still needed to run my errands. My family and friends were busy living their own lives and facing their own challenges. I didn’t want to burden them. It also hurt my pride, especially when they turned me down.
If I couldn’t walk to my destination, I was out of luck.
I paced, schemed, whined and smuggled myself into other people’s cars as I tried to solve my dilemma!
I felt like a shut-in — cut off from the city center, unable to even visit my brother at the hospital to encourage him. There had to be a solution.
God put the name of a woman who I used to work with in my mind. Judie Gleason.
We didn’t know each other all that well and it had been a few years since my job ended. How could I call her out of the blue? We’d met once by chance and had a pleasant lunch together. Remembering this lunch fueled my nerve. Before I chickened out, I forced myself to call her.
Unfortunately, I reached her answering machine. That did it! I couldn’t leave such a raw need like that for anyone to pick up and hear. I identified myself and gulped out, “Have a great day!”
From a message like that, how could anyone infer that I was in dire straits!
She returned the call, only to have me miss it. We finally connected a few weeks later.
Struggling with embarrassment and pride, I hesitantly explained how I needed to run errands once a week. Could she possibly help me? I quickly offered to pay for her gas.
“Let me look at my schedule.”
After what seemed like a long time, she said she could. “Amy, don’t worry about gas. It’s my pleasure to help.”
Looking back at this arrangement and to our continued friendship today, Judie has these words to say:
“I never realized how much we depend on transport, especially in the small town where we live with limited options.
I soon discovered how much my gift of time and transportation meant to Amy in helping her become and stay organized.
God knew I needed her optimism as much as she needed my rides. He was preparing me to handle a life-changing event I was about to go through.
When I drove Amy to the City Mission for a speaking engagement, I learned about an upcoming Bible study. It struck a chord in me and I felt a certainty that God wanted me to attend. The weekly studies turned out to be a lifeline in my turmoil. I would have never known about the City Mission study had it not been for Amy’s need for transport.
God has continued to bless our friendship through our shared rides. Though her brother is back in business as primary chauffeur, I made it clear that I wasn’t willing to give up our time together. “I’ll still take you once a week. I will make that time for you.”
That’s just fine with me.
Judie says, “This Christmas, offer the gift of time and transport to anyone who doesn’t drive-not just a vision-impaired person. It will always come back to bless you.”
We agreed on three rules, which have made the arrangement successful.
1. Choose the same day (and preferably the same time) each week so that minimal misunderstanding occur.
2. Be reliable. Don’t leave someone wondering if you’ve forgotten or something came up and you couldn’t make it.
3. Be punctual in arriving. Be ready to go.
Judie concludes, “Take time to get to know each other better. Don’t let it be just a ‘business transaction.’ Occasionally, have a coffee or light meal. Enjoy the companionship. Our time together has become one of the highlights of my week. Though she lacks physical vision, she helps me see my life more clearly. ”