Noah first got his wheelchair when he was around 18 months old. He's had the same base since then but the seat has been changed three times as he has grown bigger. At first it was easy to get him out and about, but as he started to get bigger we found it harder and harder to get him in and out of his wheelchair, and into our little car that we had back then. We knew it was time to look at getting a van so we didn't have to lift him in and out all the time and take his wheelchair apart to fit in the boot of the van.
We were really excited to find a cheap van that would suit us, as the seats could fold up in the back which meant that Noah could stay in his chair and have the whole back part of the van to himself. When a nurse at the hospital found out we were buying a van, she was so lovely and came around and asked us if we would like some money to put towards getting some ramps and tie downs, as they had done some fundraising for a little boy who had a brain tumor, and had extra money left over. They were looking for a 'nice family' to give the extra money to and they had trouble finding one, so we were their next bet! ;)
We are so grateful for them doing that for us as it meant we could just push Noah up the ramps and into the van and leave him in his wheelchair while we were driving. It made out life SO much easier...that was until the last year or so when he grew so much bigger and it was getting harder and harder to push him up the ramps safely.
Noah recently got fitted for a new wheelchair and we have to patiently (or not so patiently) wait for the funding to come through before he can get the chair, but I was starting to worry about what we would do as the new wheelchair is going to be way too big to fit into our small van. I just had a feeling to not stress about it, so I tried not to think about it as I knew we had a good 12 months or so before we would need to worry.
Not long after his fitting for the new chair Nan passed away. We were really sad that Nan was no longer here, but glad that she was with Pop but with the sad news, we also got some amazing news as a family. My Dad and Uncles and Aunty decided that Nan (and Pop) would want us to have their van that they used to get out and about in. I have been putting off blogging about it for a while, as it's still not official with all the legal side yet, but I have been reading my new friend Becky's blog about giving Ben's van to another friend of ours - Junior and Heidi. Heidi has been saying how she is feeling in awe that someone could show so much kindness and I know exactly how she is feeling.
To be given such a huge gift that is going to literally change your life is overwhelming. Saying 'thank you' doesn't seem enough and you know you will never be able to repay someone for such an amazing gift, but it really has changed our lives and made our lives so much easier. Before I would actually dread having to take Noah to school or out anywhere as it was getting so hard to get him into the van and my back was really starting to feel it. Now I'm never worried about having to go out on my own as it's so easy to get him into the van, as it has an automatic lift which means there is no more strain on my back and it is a lot safer for Noah, as there is no risk of him tipping off the ramps.
We actually seem to go out more as a family now, as it's not as much of an effort to go out. The boys love to help with either pushing the buttons to lower or raise the lift, and also to help strap Noah's chair down.
It's also nice that Noah is actually able to sit close to Kobe and in the back with the other boys, rather than being right at the back on his own. I often look in the rear view mirror and see Kobe with his hands on his leg, giving it a rub.
It has been the biggest blessing having our new van or 'Nan's van' as we call it and I always think of Nan and Pop sitting in their wheelchairs in the back and think how happy they must be that Noah is getting to use it now. They both seemed to have a special connection with Noah.
Thank you so much to our extended family for their kindness and generosity in giving us Nan's van. It's overwhelming when something so amazing happens in your life. It has blessed us in so many ways. We now have two vans so we are officially a 'two van family' which means we don't have to buy a new car just yet which was going to be hard with building a new house.
We know how you are feeling Heidi and Junior and are so glad that you get to benefit from using Ben's van too. I know Ben will be smiling over you as you go out and about it in, and hope that it brings some comfort to Becky and Steve to know that it's gone to a very deserving family.