Sunday, September 2, 2012

We Have Our New Van

I am home for just a couple of days in between covering the RNC convention and the DNC convention.
When the cabbie dropped me off Friday afternoon, there was a silver van in our parking spot!

The busyness of the last week in Tampa left me in a state of blur as far as home goes, so I was kind of surprised to see it there, even though I was the one who parked it there exactly the previous Friday.

Typing it out like that makes me realize we need to go somewhere today, so it is driven more than once in a couple of weeks!

Here's the story of the van coming to it's new home.
This very nice man came to pick me up at our place. His name is Charlie Brown!! This made me happy, because my dad's name is Charlie Brown.  So, in the middle of our political discussion, he agreed to being photographed.

He drove me from home to Ride-A-Way in Beltsville, Maryland - about an hour away.
There were a couple of service doggies waiting in the waiting area and they were so calm and sweet.  I love seeing service dogs because dogs generally make me happy, but you know, you're not supposed to pet service dogs, so it also kind of makes me sad. But these dogs were "off duty," so I was allowed to pet them. Random aside, I know.
One of the ladies in the office pulled up my paperwork, and one of the guys went to get our van!

They pulled it out front and showed me how the door and ramp were fixed to automatically deploy.  They also put a mat down over the carpet in the back. This is helpful for two reasons: 1. It will be easier for Michael to roll on than carpet. 2. It will be easier to clean than carpet.

Then, Randy, the Ride-A-Way General Manager informed me that they did all of the repairs AND serviced the van for us COMPLETELY FOR FREE!!

You guys, this blessing just keeps getting better!
That's me (standing on the ramp, otherwise I'm way shorter than everyone else) with Tammy and Randy.

Ride-A-Way just happened to be having lunch there that day, so they invited me to join them.
After the van presentation at Walter Reed a couple of weeks ago, I was already impressed with how these people work together to get adapted vehicles to our wounded warriors, but I got to see all of them in action and it was awesome!
This is the shop where they work on the vehicles.
This truck is for a quadruple amputee named John Peck.
It was so nice to meet him, and his mom, and see Tammy in action!
Pretty soon, I was on the road home. I didn't plan well, though, and I was heading home without a GPS, and an almost-dead phone.
So, yeah - those things plus the fact that I felt like I was driving a giant silver school bus - were a little crazy.
Michael had the dogs out in the courtyard when I got home.
He was so ready to check everything out.
Here he is on his inaugural roll-in:
Princess walked up the ramp like she had done this a million times before. I guess she kind of has, because she was around for Michael's old van - which was a full-sized van and had a lift, not a ramp.
But Brokaw... he was not feeling the ramp!
He only wanted to enter through one of the front doors. He doesn't like walking on metal. I have no idea why. He is just quirky like that. Like, when we are walking him, he refuses to walk on a street grate or a manhole cover. And once he was in the van, he did not want to walk down the ramp to get out!
I had to drag him down the ramp.
After I got Michael all tied down, we went for a little drive.  Around our apartment complex.
I felt like I was in Driver's Ed. Mini-van driver's ed.  I tried braking suddenly and turning quickly - to see how Michael was able to hold himself up.
He did pretty good.
Because Michael doesn't have any control of his abdominal muscles, he has a hard time holding himself up, unless he is holding on.
So - we ghetto-rigged a way for him to stay upright while riding in his wheelchair.
Don't laugh.
Yes, that's a backpack.
No, it's not a back to school thing.
It's a hold-his-shoulders upright kind of thing.
And it worked just great!
That very night, we took our new van out for date night.
We went to Macaroni Grill. And I wore a dress. And heels! People. You don't realize how big of a deal this was! Because we have this van, I am able to be a woman again. I able to wear a dress without having to hike it up and show my world to the world if you know what I mean. I'm able to wear heels because I don't have to lift my husband into an SUV.

This was just the FIRST of many dates we are going to have because of this amazing van. Thank you again to everyone involved in sharing this gift with us. A special thank you to Ride-A-Way Beltsville for hooking us up with some awesome, free service!


Jenn [ Crippled Girl ] said...

I'm so happy for you guys! :) And as a fellow crippled kid, I love the ingenuity of the backpack! Mother of necessity, after all, right? lol I would say something to Micheal's doctors or whatever company/organization he uses for wheelchair supplies. There may be some sort of brace or something that he can get a prescription for, instead of using the backpack. Granted, our disabilities are different so I won't even pretend to know if this is a reasonable idea or not, but I figured anything's worth a shot, right? :)

Diane Moody said...

Congratulations, Ritters! LOVE your new wheels!

the seed said...

Things I love:
1 - that you would use up precious little battery to take a pic of yourself with an almost-dead phone
2 - that your husband is using a backpack to hold his shoulders back
3 - that this van means something to you that somebody who doesn't live in your world would EVER get and I got to read about it!
God bless!

gentrier said...

Excited for y'all! Side note: when I left Matt into my SUV, I HAVE to wear heels bc im too short otherwise. I've worn heels with shorts, sweats, workout clothes...u name it. Well, at least to load him up.

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Thanks, Jenn!

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Thanks so much! It's all about priorities, right? Hahaha

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Thanks, Diane. They are some pretty sweet wheels!

Dana Brown Ritter said...

How tall are you? I stopped wearing heels because since I hurt my back last summer (not even husband-lifting... I was lifting a stupid desk I sold on Craigslist into a lady's car!) because I felt my lower back hurt when I bent over to pick him up, even squatting. Actually, I've pretty much given up heels all together because they just plain hurt my back anymore. Oh, the sacrifices we make!

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