A very large, very tall, very old 15 passenger van with a wheelchair lift with over 138,000 miles on it is my vehicle. Not my ideal choice, but “it is what it is” as all of our money is allocated elsewhere. (All those cute little kiddos with disabilities grow up to be cute little adults with disabilities who, unfortunately, find it impossible to be able to work. Not that that makes them any less wonderful, enjoyable or successful, it just puts a little extra strain on our family budget.)

In the van on Wednesday, I was enjoying a beautiful, crisp autumn day, with a slight wind moving the branches around for the trees to show off their few remaining colorful leaves just waiting to join their friends on the ground. Contentment filled the van as I hummed while I drove. I didn’t quite do the lovely singing I usually do because I was on a mission for work. (While driving to make home visits is not usually included in my job description, on this day I was helping out a colleague.) Because I am awful with directions, “mapquested” directions lay on the floor next to the driver’s seat.
As the van whisked along on the interstate highway, I noticed that the directions had moved towards the door. Keeping one eye on the road and one eye on the directions, I watched with panic as the papers moved closer to the door…down one of the steps…down the next step…and finally on the third step. It happened in the blink of my eye (the one that was watching the papers!) As I was in heavy traffic, it took a while to maneuver to the side of the road to stop, and the papers inched towards the bottom of the door. (The door gasket had long ago aged out and fallen away, leaving a space at least an inch wide at the bottom.) Panic set in as a piece of paper entered the crack and ever so slowly inched out…it was like seeing my life flash before my eyes, quarter inch by quarter inch, as the paper made its way free out of the opening. It was so surreal it reminded me of a cartoon…person chasing paper in the wind and the paper is always one step ahead, teasingly just a little bit out of reach! I would have laughed, but inside I was sick to my stomach. My directions were gone! The client I was going to be meeting would be sitting, forlorn, at her home, waiting patiently for the me that would never be able to find her house.
But WAIT! There was another paper there, clinging to the bottom step. Maybe I could salvage the final steps of the street directions. By this time, the van was safely stopped by the side of the road and I flung myself out of the driver’s seat onto the floor of the van to look down the stairwell. On my knees looking down, almost crying with happiness, I grabbed that one precious piece of paper…it included the final steps to get to the client’s home. I would be able to find her! I would make that visit! I was soooooo happy!

While in the scheme of things, losing mapquested directions would not be the end of the world, in retrospect it symbolizes the constant struggles one has when raising children with disabilities. There are often solutions to their problems, but they are flighty and hard to come by. Sometimes they flip through our fingers through no fault of our own and we are left in a slight panic, (sometimes a huge panic…) Fortunately for me, I have always found that last page to my mapquested directions, just enough to make life work out. Just enough to relieve my panic and restore the happiness in my heart. Such is the ups and downs in life…


Comments on: "And The Paper Creeped out the Bottom of the Door" (33)

  1. YAY!
    happiness returns… life is always an adventure.
    thanks for posting this story.
    ~ Eric

  2. πŸ™‚ glad you were able to make it to the client’s house.

    not to take away from the message of your story, but I have a spare GPS laying around (I use the one on my phone these days). would you like it? It’s older, but works and the software can be updated. If you want it, shoot me a mailing address to and I’ll send it out next week. Right now it’s collecting dust in my car (and taking up valuable space in the center console!) πŸ˜‰

  3. also, I think many of the answers in life are simply fleeting and tricky to spot at times… I know it’s true for me anyway. The solutions to breaking out of our cycles and ruts can come and as quickly slip away until only the last bit of it is left.

  4. Great analogy! I’m glad you made it and the “right” piece of paper crept out!

  5. This is so beautifully written! And I encourage you to sing anyway!

    The images of the papers slipping through the door crack (and the fact that you have a door crack itself is painful!), and the agony you went through, played out like a movie in my mind — where you squirm and you don’t want to laugh at the same time. “Dramatic tension” fills your life!

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful tale of hope.

  6. Steve Evans said:

    Sweet story, thanks for sharing it. Blessings to you and to your family.

  7. Oh man. I have to admit your description made me chuckle a little. πŸ™‚

  8. I, too, am directionally challenged and probably would have caused an accident trying to save that one piece of paper. But, somehow a solution was found for what could’ve been a large problem. I guess if we don’t panic, those little solutions stay within our grasp without slipping through our fingers. You always seem to be able to find a way to deal with all you, well, deal with. It’s so admirable!

  9. I love your light heartedness. It’s inspiring!

  10. Amongst my friends, my bad sense of direction is legendary (even going to places I’ve been to before) so I could feel my heart rate rise during your story πŸ™‚ But I love how “just enough” is sometimes all we need to “relive panic and restore happiness.” Thank you for sharing!

  11. That is so like life! Thank you for sharing your inspirational story.

  12. What a great story and so true in many aspects of life.

  13. As a fellow driver with no a/c, I totally identified with you. It’s strange how the only time these things seem to happen is when I’m late/on my way to someplace important. The directions usually end up on the floor, somewhere I can’t reach them. More than once, I’ve been stopped at a light, put the car in neutral to pick up the papers, and forgotten to return the car to drive. The drivers behind me were not amused.

  14. my heart was in my mouth as I read this! Such a relief at the end! And such a great metaphor – thanks πŸ˜€

  15. I just HAD to comment! My family used to have a van like that one, with the wheel-chair lifet (though we took that out after we bought it becasuse none of us use a wheel-chair) and I know exactly what you are talking about with the paper and the door. Thank’s for this story, it brought back a lot of memories for me!

  16. I think I have a permanent twitch in my eye from all the close calls. Your post made me smile. Thank you πŸ™‚

  17. I just HAD to keep reading!!! Ohhhhh!!! Great! Thank you for sharing this encouragement.

  18. live more….laugh more….love more…. with all the ups and downs…you still have a wonderful life πŸ˜‰

  19. […] my last disastrous attempt to use Mapquest directions to find a location, my husband had pity and surprised me with a new GPS. (He’s a heck of a […]

  20. racheltoalson said:

    I just have to say you are amazing. I hope you know that. You are truly making a mark on the world, and I admire the heck out of you!

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