Post Title: “Uh-oh! Watch Your Knees. Clear a Path!”
This year, Grove City held two wonderful draws for me: writers and Lisa and her family. Lisa grew up across the street from me. Our hard-working dads talked over the road when they chanced upon each other. Lisa and her siblings played in our treehouse, swung on our rope swing, and became pirates at the helm of our leaky cabin cruiser, the Mushrush, which sat on its side for a whole summer in the backyard waiting for repair. How wondrous childhood is when you have good neighbors!
Years passed, and time drew us apart. Back home again and through Facebook, I discovered Lisa lived in Grove City, a mere hours from me. Girl Scout cookies and family funerals drew us together briefly—until this June.
By day, I was a conferee at St. David’s Christian Writer’s Conference. By evening, a reunited neighbor relishing news and family talk.
My brother promised to collect me in Grove City. But a tiny detail made me hesitate. I typically served as his human “alarm clock” and in my absence, who knew if he would hear the buzz of his electronic substitute?
“I’ll give you a ride home,” Lisa declared. I tried to spare her the drive. But it seemed the best option.
So Lisa and I lugged my suitcases, sheets, pillows and plastic bags from the dorm and packed them in the car. The memorable 5-day conference ended. “Goodbye, you St. David writers!”
At home, I opened the man-door to my garage, and said, “Heave-ho, mate, watch your knees,” in my best sailor voice. We encountered so many obstacles to reach my back door. To escape them, I almost screamed, ‘Jump overboard!’ But fat good that would do. She would hit cement.
“Oh, Amy, this isn’t good,” she said.
“Don’t worry. I’m used to it. I trip and skin my knees a couple of times a week. We have people moving lawn mowers, rakes and hedge trimmers all the time. I never see them until it’s too late.” Even as I spoke, I stumbled over an empty box.
I heard the quick intake of Lisa’s breath.
She followed me up the stairs to my apartment. “You shouldn’t have anything on the steps,” she warned. “It’s easy to take a tumble.”
That small pile of papers? I guess I could put an unsuspecting foot on a sheet and it could become a projectile. “Yep, you’re right. I’ll get that right away,” I said, bypassing the mound and depositing the heavy suitcase with my books at the top of the stairs.
Later that evening, Lisa texted me: could I please organize your passageway for you? I’d like to give each item a forever home and make your path safe.
A few years earlier, I sent a tip to my readers saying as much. I don’t know about you but, objects accumulated, it seemed next to impossible to sort them out later. But now I had a friend volunteering to sift through the chaos.
You bet I accepted the offer!
She drove home the following Sunday, armed with a push broom, a shoe rack and a will-do attitude. Her sister-in-law accompanied her. “This is Susan. She loves to clean and organize. She will take the laundry room. I’ll work on clearing a path through the garage.”
When Susan asked for Spic and Span, I knew the pros had arrived. Dawn dishwashing liquid wouldn’t do. But after all, she is a 30-year veteran trauma nurse at the emergency room. She knows the value of the proper antiseptic.
When they threw open the doors, I feared Sophie Socks, my new kitten, would make a dash for the open air. But she never did. At the first rumblings of the vacuum cleaner, she sprinted to points unknown. I suspect the closet. We blocked the exit from the apartment with the dog gate. Sophie hiding proved to be an asset.
These experts drew on their experience. Dust flew. Unopened drawers moved with a yank. A mammoth tarp lay folded for the first time ever. Assorted rakes and gardening paraphernalia found a new home in a high trash barrel.
“Sit,” Lisa ordered, planting me in a black camp chair she found. “Go through these magazines.”
I couldn’t believe the space and order they created from the chaos.
Lisa took out some solar lights and instructed me to gather a bucket from the unused white limestone we had at the foot of our front driveway. She placed a solar light inside a pretty flower pot, packing the stones around the light to keep it upright. She showed me how to loosen the black plastic stem which turned into a pointer. “If you want, this pointer allows you to place the light into the ground,” she explained.
Toward the end of the session, Lisa quietly planted a flower to mark the grave of Midnight, my cat we buried in February. She had lived to the ripe age of nineteen.
As a final touch, Lisa and Susan stretched white masking tape into a path from my door to the man door at the other end of the garage. “Tell people not to put anything in this path. Keep it free so you will be safe.” Lisa instructed.
I didn’t have enough words to thank them.
My ex-neighbor said softly, “You are a treasure. We don’t want anything to happen to you. I’ve been planning this for a week. Every night I lay in bed thinking what I would like if I couldn’t see well. I asked Susan to help. She is the best person for this job. Isn’t the laundry room stunning? Susan loves to clean and she is amazing at it.”
I agreed wholeheartedly.
My steps would once more be safe. My white cane would claim its rightful spot beside the door and guide me through the laundry room and garage to the car once more.
“I wanted to be a blessing to you,” Lisa said, her eyes shining. She reached out to shake my hand. “Neighbors forever even from an hour away.”
I thought about how the warmth of family lives on in the next generation, crossing from state to state, continues from one birth to another, through marriages and divorces and even sight loss. Mobility is restored. A small seed grows, blooms and reblooms. The neighborhood expands and others move in.
It’s such a beautiful gesture and acknowledgement of what it means to be a neighbor. So much of that is lost in today’s nuclear environment. We need more heart, and willingness to offer ourselves.
“Heave-ho! There’s a clear path ahead.”
The tree in the backyard has long been cut down, so our wonderful tree house, ladder, and slide are gone. The rope swing is missing. But with the help of good neighbors, it’s as if the cabin cruiser my dad set on its side to repair so many summers ago is now in good working order. My cane is the paddle and I’m safe from the slippage. When I look across the garage, I can see our families’ pleased faces in the wake of a refurbished Mushrush. The dust, grime, and mess are behind us but the motor pushes us forward.
God sent me off to Grove City College and St. David’s Writer’s Conference not only to learn more about the craft of writing but to also hone the craft of being a good neighbor.
I think my low vision and mobility issues were just God’s medium to bring great neighbors together for a hypothetical ride on the lake. When we follow the promptings of the holy spirit to be a blessing to others, God always leaves beauty in the wake.
As my brother and I went to join Lisa and her family for ice cream at the Peninsula, I caught my finger in the car door. “Owww,” I howled, shaking my pinky to dispense of the pain. In my mind’s eye, I saw my father’s surprised expression. With a wink, he was no longer in the wake, he steered the Mushrush toward Sara’s restaurant. He loved a good ice cream cone.
You have just read “Uh-oh! Watch Your Knees. Clear a Path!” by Amy L. Bovaird. © July 9, 2019. All rights reserved.
5 Stars “…I’m not vision impaired. I don’t read non-fiction for enjoyment. I am not what some might consider the target market for this book, but I can tell you that I would recommend it to my own teenagers, my husband, my teenage students, and anyone else I know as a book of bravery, encouragement, motivation, testimony, and just as a pleasure read. Don’t pass it by: You will be blessed.”–An Amazon Reader
5 Stars “Living in the Power instead of the fear!”
Mobility Matters elegantly shares Amy Bovaird’s emotions and experience which anyone going through vision loss can identify with. The transformation as she overcomes her fear and the enemies voices that her loss of vision will now define who she is as a person and dictate the rest of her life, will inspire hope to each reader. Amy’s journey stepping out in faith and how the Lord’s Word gave her the strength to keep going, is a must read.
This book is not only for those going through the hallway of vision loss, but for each family member or any one who loves someone losing their vision would also benefit by reading.
Mobility Matters Stepping out in Faith has left me thinking I will now call canes power sticks!!!
Michael Benson, Founder
Visual Experience Foundation
4 Stars “…As a mobility specialist myself, I found this book of great interest to me for its subject matter. I was quite amazed that Amy could get around on her own with her genetic condition, particularly at night, since individuals with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) tend to lose their night vision and are using a cane at night much sooner than Amy was using any assistive device (even a bright light). Amy maintained her positive attitude, her faith and her sense of humour. If only we all could do that in times of crisis!” –Kathryn Svendsen, Mobility Specialist, Canada
5 Stars “Couldn’t stop reading until I finished. Very inspirational. Will definitely be looking for more by this author!” –Sharon Hannah
5 stars “…This book really inspired me. Amy’s outlook on life is what I would like to model in my own. Yes, going blind SUCKS but she took it to another level. She made it into an adventure and I needed to be reminded of that again. Her positive outlook on this all has really encouraged me in my current situation now. Taking the step of faith to move on forward and embrace life for what it is. I highly recommend purchasing this book! Be inspired, take a journey behind the life of someone with Usher, smile, laugh, and enjoy! –Andi Nicole
5 Stars “As a person who lives with chronic illness, I sometimes get bogged down with books on illness that feel really heavy. This one does not. Author Amy Bovaird, who is losing her sight, writes so well about her personal experiences, I feel like I’m walking alongside her as I read. I kept coming back to the story to see what happened–was she going to let fear stop her? Would she overcome?
The lessons Amy learns through her experiences apply to any of us who fear aging, illness, new symptoms, or really anyone who needs some inspiration, and that reminder that much can be accomplished if you step out and forward–even when you cannot see beyond that first step. I definitely enjoyed this book. –Kimberly Rae, Bestselling Author of the Stolen Series
Blog post review by Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight
One of the best books I have ever read about mobility and white cane use is called Mobility Matters: Stepping out in Faith by Amy Bovard. It is funny, poignant and packs a lot of tips and useful information. You can find it by following the link below to Amy’s web page and listen to a chapter before you buy, it is wonderful.