What I’ve learned from our house on a hill:
- It’s dangerous for a person in a wheelchair to live on a hill.
- A smart dog makes a big difference.
- A caring and fast acting neighbor is essential.
I’m not sure if you’d call our home a ranch style or rambler house. The urban dictionary states: “Rambler, a one-story house with a basement. Not to be confused with a ranch, a one-story house without a basement.” We technically don’t have a basement, but my parents do live in the lower level of our home with a separate entrance and garage. How did we accomplish this? We live on a steep hill. From the top of the hill, where our entrance is, you don’t see the lower entrance. My brother, Mick designed our complete wheelchair accessible home and we built it in 1996. We love our home and have enjoyed this living arrangement with my parents for nearly eighteen years.
Fortunately, we live on a close-knit street, not because of the distance between our homes, but the closeness of our friendship. Our home and the one across the street are the first homes on the cul-de-sac. Two homes on each side of the road are located as you go down the hill, with one home at the end of the road. Each home is on a one acre lot. Most of our neighbors are the original homeowner and were all built within a couple of years of our home.
My mother fell the other day and injured her collar bone. I was downstairs checking on her and according to Mark, who was left upstairs, I took too long for the checkup. He was convinced that there was a party going on downstairs and he was determined not to miss out.
Mark headed out the door, down the driveway and ready to go down the steep hill in his manual wheelchair. Cooper, the neighbor’s smart dog down and across the street, spotted Mark and barked up a storm. Alerting his owners to the disaster that was about to happen. Our dear friend and neighbor, Stephanie, bolted up the hill and saved Mark from a tragedy by helping him down the hill.
I wish I could say this was the first time she had done this, but the truth is, she’s had a previous adventure and her son, Josh, had the experience once over the past ten years.
Unfortunately, there was an additional time when Mark got down the hill and made it to my parents’ driveway, and then tipped over as he tried to turn in. Luckily, our next door neighbor, Kent, heard Mark calling out for help. Mark always wears his wheelchair seat-belt so when he tipped over he did not leave the chair. Kent had a miserable time getting Mark and the wheelchair upright on our steep incline. He did not dare leave Mark in this precarious position to get help. Kent worried a car might come down the hill and not see Mark lying in the road until it was too late. It took Kent some time, but he was blessed with extra strength and finally got Mark and the wheelchair upright. Mark promised never to do that again and I’m sure he wouldn’t have done it on Saturday if he had a better memory.
I try to be a good neighbor, but with these kinds of adventures, the best neighbor scale can never be leveled. We are so fortunate to have wonderful neighbors who look out for our best interest. I’m so sorry for the scare, and I can’t thank them enough for their care!