SOLD, the sign hanging outside our first home together as a married couple read. It was our plan to make that house our “happily ever after”. We loved that cute little two-story with it’s walkout basement leading to a sprawling backyard. We were content there and had so many dreams to remodel, keep adding to our garden, possibly add a pool or outdoor kitchen someday, and make it completely feel like ours. Nice neighbors and convenient distance to stores, schools, other community resources made it really hard to leave.
Yet with Roa’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy-quadraspastic, we learned that it wasn’t the right home for him. The wooden staircase lost it’s charm when carrying him up and down from his bedroom. The walkout basement was the only access to our backyard that, large as it was, also carried a pretty hefty incline for a walker or wheelchair. Even inside on any of the three floors, Roa had little room to practice moving in his gait trainer or wheelchair. Let’s just do some remodeling, we thought, yet simply remodeling the main bathroom to accommodate more space for adaptive toilet seat, a deeper tub to fit his bath chair and a handheld showerhead left us with a hefty bill.
So we faced the fact that it was time for our family to move on. We listed that sweet little house where we etched the heights of our boys on the door frame… and it sold.
Searching for a handicap accessible home is not an easy thing. There are houses listed as handicap accessible whose only feature is a wooden ramp to the front door. Even those kind of homes are few and far between in the real-estate game. We began looking for just any one story home in our budget that we could modify. With our many house tours, it became obvious that a true handicap accessible home is “barrier-free” meaning level surfaces from the driveway into the front door, no step-up into or down-to another room, wide hallways with angled corners, large bathrooms with support bars and roll-in showers. Another great feature of a fully accessible house is a large attached garage with a gradual incline from the home’s door for loading into a handicap accessible vehicle.
It is amazing to me all the little things that can make a home difficult for a person with physical needs. A kitchen island isn’t all too friendly at wheelchair height, a traditional doorknob is difficult to turn, and the floor trim separating the hardwood from the tile floor makes just enough of a bump to make maneuvering that manual wheelchair over a pain.
Our dreams for Roa are big dreams. We want him to feel included in our everyday functions. We want him to feel free enough to move around in his walker or wheelchair with some independence. We also, of course, want to save on our bodies from carrying and lifting him for everything, and always directing his mobility aid around corners or away from stairs.
So we gave up our search for a ready-built home and decided to go ahead and move forward with the plan to build our own. I hope to share a lot of our journey here with you. It will not be our dream home, but it will have what we need. More importantly, it will have what Roa needs as he grows from a preschooler to a young adult. This home will be the home where dreams are worked towards as goals.
As hard as it was to read that SOLD sign and know that a chapter in our life was closed, we knew we could no longer live by the motto, “Just Bloom Where You’re Planted”. It was time to uproot so Roa can grow.