It was an August morning in Pinetop where we lived in White Mountain Summer Homes. I was running late as usual and my husband was driving me to the club where I was to be a substitute at bridge. As we drove along the winding narrow road among the tall pines, the sound of construction filled the air. Another monstrous home was replacing the original small fishing cabin built in the 50's. There were large pieces of building equipment everywhere and it seemed impossible to get through, so we turned into Rousseau's driveway to turn around.
Just then, two trucks arrived. I said, "Wait a minute, Honey. I'll get out and help you back out." I opened the door, stepped out and the next thing I knew, Glenn was quickly backing down the incline with my car door wide open. I yelled, "Glenn Stanley, what are you doing?" He pushed the brakes, the car door swung at me, and knocked me down. Glenn ran around the car, picked me up and put me in the seat. I knew immediately. "Glenn, both my arms are broken." It was unbelievable.
We raced to the hospital in Show Low where the greeting nurse cut my new jacket, new top, and new bra before I even entered the door. Our youngest son was on his way to spend the weekend and he took charge. He called a former neighbor who is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Phoenix. Greg said, "She has to come to Phoenix and have Dr. Barron. Just leave everything to me."
Two days later, after lots of morphine and sleeping tablets, I arrived by ambulance at Good Sam's ER. Three of our girls were there. The admitting nurse asked, "Diana, is there anyone you are concerned about right now?" I replied, "Yes, certainly, my husband." The girls said, in unison, "Mom!" "I was just trying to be funny," I said, sheepishly.
Three days later, after the successful surgery, I had to leave the hospital but I had no place to go. Good Sam's rehab was not an option as I was ambulatory. So I was brought here to the Beatitudes to the third floor of the Health Care Center to a three- patient room. My roommates were 97 and 99, one of them was deaf and the other was almost blind, but both were very ambulatory in their wheelchairs.
It was a very humbling experience for a person who was accustomed to come and go as she pleased, cooked three meals a day for her husband, cleaned her own house, drove anywhere she pleased. From an extremely independent 75 year old, I became totally dependent on others.
My blessed family helped me over the rough spots, with one daughter remaking three patio dresses so they could be lifted over me and fastened with Velcro, the others visiting often, keeping my spirits up. My wonderful husband of 57 years was there for long hours every day, feeding me and helping me with the bathroom if there were no attendants available. He kept asking me, "Was this in the wedding vows?"
The staff was wonderful. One special little lady piqued my curiosity because of her lilting accent. I asked her, "Where are you from?" She replied, "The Congo." "Do you have any family here?" "Yes. Three children," she said, holding up three fingers. "Do you plan to become a citizen?" I prodded. "Oh, no. I no good English." I absorbed the reply as she continued to clean the floor,
"Have you ever heard of the Literacy Volunteers?" She shook her head. I explained how it was a free service operated by volunteers who wanted to help people learn to speak and write English.
A little later our youngest daughter, Sara, arrived. I told Sara what the lady from the Congo and I had been discussing. Sara wrote down the address of the Literacy Volunteers which was in Sunnyslope. When the lady from the Congo returned to do more chores in my room, I asked her to pick up the note that Sara had left on my tray table. She read the note and looked up at me, her eyes filled with tears. "Oh, Miss," she said. "You have been sent to me from God! This is right by my house! I can go here and speak English!"
My eyes filled with tears, too. Over and over I had been asking God, “Why me?” . Now I had my answer.
I left the facility three days later without seeing the lady from the Congo again. However, she has been in my thoughts and prayers many times in the ensuing years. With such faith as she had, I am certain she found a way to follow through with the Literacy program on her way to citizenship!
This article originally appeared in Roadrunner Extra!, the resident newsletter of Beatitudes Campus.