Silver Bells, Silver bells, its Christmas time in the city
Ring a ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas Day.

Mom hadn’t been home for 3 months. She had missed the trees changing colours and cleaning out out the garden and taking out the dock. She hadn’t been able to come to my University graduation and missed the busy season in their business. She had missed the first snowfall of the season.

The house was felt empty with just Dad in it. With Shelley newly married and Laura on a six-month overseas adventure I decided to move home after grad.

Things had been on hold for months, and now that the December snows were falling, it looked like things might start moving again. What we were hoping for was that Mom would be able to come home for Christmas

You see, on September 10th, my Mom had been in a terrible car accident. Fortunately the other drivers only had minor injuries, but Mom was broken up like Humpty Dumpty. Both arms, both legs and her pelvis were broken.

The doctors were much better than all the kings horses and men, and they had pieced Mom back together with pins and plates and a hope and a prayer.

She had been in the hospital for 3 months and we wanted her home for Christmas.

I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me …

So here’s the deal – to leave the hospital, you have to be able to transfer. Right … be able to go from the bed to the chair. And to do that, you have to put your weight somewhere – a leg or your arms. Of course Mom had broken all of them.

It looked like her right leg might be strong enough to do it by Christmas. So we started planning, with the hope that she would come home.

What you need to know about our family is that my Mom is the director. Not the big booming voice, pointing and yelling kind of director, but rather the director that quietly and calmly gets everyone to do what needs to be done. We were taught as kids to check the list. Whenever there was any sort of family activity happening, Mom would make a list of jobs that needed to be done. Whether it was putting Christmas dinner together or cleaning the house, we were to choose a job on the list, complete it, cross it off and choose another until the list was complete.

Now it was up to us. So with hope in our hearts that Mom would be home, we made our list.

We knew that we couldn’t bring her to our home there were just too many stairs, so we were headed to the cottage.

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree
Of all the trees, most lovely

So we found a local place where we could cut a tree and we found a beautiful one. We brought our decorations up from home and we made it feel festive and wonderful.

Shelley and I talked to Mom about what she wanted to buy for presents and we shopped and wrapped so that everything was under the tree.

It’s a holly jolly Christmas
It’s the best time of the year….

As the days went on, and Mom was getting stronger and stronger. We visited often to keep her spirits up. Dad spoke to the doctors, and it looked promising that Mom might come home.

It occurred to us that we had done all of this preparation to have Mom home, but we hadn’t planned to GET her home. Dad and I got working on this challenge.

Dad had replaced the smashed up car with a van thinking it would be easier for Mom when she came home. We thought we could roll Mom up a ramp and into the van in her wheelchair. We went out to the garage to take a look, and realized that this was not going to work. The angles way too steep or we would have to have a crazy long ramp.

The seats in the van were too high for Mom to transfer in, and of course it was December, so we had no idea how slippery it would be.

So on to Plan B. My Grammy’s Cadillac. My Grammy spent the winters in Florida, so we had her big old Cadillac for the winter. This thing was massive – it drove like a boat.

So you have to image my Dad and me out in the garage trying to work this out. We had tried the ramp thing into the van – no go. Now we were trying to figure out how to get Mom from the wheelchair into the car, and then back out again at the other end.

Able to transfer or not, Mom was just not going to be able to maneuver this transition on her own.

We decided that the best way to do it would be to use a board between the wheelchair and the car seat. We could get Mom on to the board, and then slide her into the seat.

So we tried it ourselves. We brought a chair out to the garage and set it up. I sat in the chair and we got the board situated. Dad slid me along the board. It worked pretty well until I hit the seat where I stopped dead. The seats were velour, which doesn’t slide very well. Even if we could get her in, we’d never get her out again!

We needed something that would slide. After tossing around a few different ideas, we decided to try a garbage bag. We put it on the chair, I got on. Zip – worked like a charm! I slid right in and Dad was able to pull me back out and onto the chair.

We were ready, now it was up to Mom.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas …

The days went on, and well into December, finally we got the word! They were going to let Mom come home. We were really excited. We sorted out the last of the presents and bought food for Christmas dinner. And then the day came.

Off we went to the hospital and collected Mom. Our transfer technique made the nurses laugh, but it worked like a charm.

Dashing through the snow… in a Fleetwood Cadillac …

We got Mom home safe and sound. We opened presents and shared stories and spent three wonderful days knowing she was whole and well and on the mend.

We took what could have been an overwhelming, upsetting and depressing situation and chose to do it differently. A great attitude and lots of love and laughter was a good start. Add in a dash of creativity, flexibility and jerry-rigging, and we ended up with a wonderful family holiday.

You know that saying, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade? Well I say, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, and have a party!

We have been blessed with 15 more Christmas times with my Mom and look forward to many more. We still go to that Christmas tree lot and every year it makes me think of that first one where love, laughter, hope and grace under fire made it amazing.

I hope that your holiday is as wonderful!

© 2013

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Personal finance expert, Karen Collacutt is founder and CEO of Make Friends with Your Money.  Karen works with ambitious people who are making good money but are wondering where it all went at the end of the month. She helps her clients to get clear on their money life challenges and opportunities, matching their money to their goals.  They build a plan, confidence and peace of mind around their money.

Certified Money Coach and Certified Financial Planner, Karen brings over 15 years of finance and business experience to her clients. Coach, speaker, author and change catalyst for those ready to create a positive and empowered money life, Karen delivers a fresh perspective on how to make friends with your money.

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