Thursday, 6 July 2017

A Beautiful Thing

Two and a half years ago my friend Mike and my brother Jim renovated my apartment for me, making it wheelchair accessible. We put down laminate floors, put in wider doors, enlarged the bathroom, added a roll-in shower, and added a nook for shelves. Picture it this way. The shower takes up about six feet along the outer wall. The last two feet out of the eight foot wide bathroom is a slot for shelving.

When we built it, back in January of 2014, there were two principal issues. One, expressed well by my brother Jim, was "be sure you live long enough to get good use out of this." I have. The other issue was the shelves. We managed to get two of them installed but not the third. It has been, for two and a half years, a project awaiting time and helpers.

These are not simple shelves. The slot for the shelving is about 44" deep, far deeper than the normal 18" shelf. In addition the slot is only 24" wide, so I cannot get deep into that space in my wheelchair. That eliminate the idea of a 12" shelf set sideways. So we made large, deep shelves and put them on drawer slides, the kind used on office desks. The slides are only 24" long, but with a block brace at the rear of the shelf and a setback at the front, we could use a 40" shelf which would slide out to where I could reach the contents.

We managed to get two of the shelves in place. Then we simply ran out of time. Also, shelf number three would be too high for me to reach easily, so it was logical that we should leave it out. Unfortunately that logic did not sit well with me, so I kept all the parts and pieces, hoping one day someone would help me put in shelf number three.

It has finally happened, not with just one helper but with several. At the same time as I wanted to install shelf number three, I saw that the original shims used to adjust for the non-square wall of my apartment were pulling out. They had to be replaced. I did shelf number one, all on my own. It took me about three days, but I got it done. Dan and Anisa came over and helped me with shelf number two; it took them just a couple of hours. We also increased the shelf gap from 12" to 15" between shelves. More room, more storage.

Then came shelf number three. Kate's partner, Phil, took the various bits and pieces I had, cut the shelf to size, and assembled it all. My friend Andrea came and picked up the shelf as David and I were headed off to the UK. While we were gone, she put two coats of bathroom paint over the shelf, sealing it and making it look pretty. The day after David and I returned, Andrea brought the shelf over. Finally, over the last couple of days, Dan has been over once again, this time to install shelf number three.

We finished last night. The sight of this small project completed almost brought me to tears. It was, it is, important to me. The shelves look terrific. The spacing is right. The balance with the room is right. Already I have put back my linens and towels, yet there seems to be plenty of room, even more than before. As an added plus, I can reach the top shelf from my wheelchair, especially with the help of a grabby stick. Even more, if I need to get right up there, I can do that with my power wheelchair.

There is a lot more going on here than a simple shelf project. I've lived long enough to see it complete. My daughter, her partner Phil, Anisa, Dan, and Andrea all helped to make this possible. It happened quickly once we finally got it started. It fits and it works. The project is complete. It is a beautiful thing.


  1. Nothing better than the simple things! Glad you are surrounded by great people who obviously love you very much.

  2. You do seem like you do indeed have many wonderful friends, that make a point to include you in their lives. Sometime when your somewhat home bound... people/ friends have a hard time dealing with that... so distance themselfs. You are lucky in that area!