Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Touched by an angel


Winter slammed into the Midwest in December 2010. Snow-covered, icy roads did not stop Donna from her duties as a foster mom.

As a single mother, Donna was always extremely responsible. She reached out to help others: family, friends and strangers. With her engaging personality, gravelly laugh, and lively chatter, she left a great first impression: BUBBLY. 
Someone was goofing around with her in this photo, thus the arm around her neck. This is how I remember Donna,

With incredible determination, she not only provided for her baby, who required frequent surgeries for a birth defect, Donna worked harder than two women. In addition, she cared for her own challenged mother. DYNAMIC! Donna was a super charged woman when we were young moms. When her daughter grew up and married, Donna filled the void with work and selflessly assisted other mother's daughters.  She became a foster mother.

On December 17, 2010 Donna was not going to allow lousy weather to stop her from transporting one of her foster daughters. She was headed back home for her other foster daughter's birthday celebration. Her tires hit a patch of cinders, meant to enhance traction. Instead she lost control of her car; it careened backwards, down a hill and bounced to a halt in a ravine. The back of her seat broke, and Donna was trapped, flat on her back, strapped in, unable to move. She was most concerned she could not answer her frequently ringing phone. She KNEW it was the disappointed girl. Donna was more worried about her than her own predicament. Donna lay in that car for hours/days until she was rescued. As a result of the accident, Donna is still paralyzed from the chest down.

My children and her daughter are cousins. I married the older brother, she hooked up with the younger brother.





It had been years since I'd seen Donna. We were long overdue for a meeting. Sunday, we met at a half way point, coming an hour from opposite directions. We ate a late lunch (because I was late) at Long Horn Steak House. She was accompanied by her daughter, my sweet niece, Veronica, and also her home health care attendant, Melanie, who does an awesome job and is very personable. Eighty hours a week, she works with Donna. Kudos for the good care giving and friendship. I felt as if I knew Melanie.   

Donna has the same genuine smile and dynamic personality, even if the years have softened her voice. Her eyes sparkle and radiate joy. Her heart radiates love. She is an angel. Donna has use of her arms from the elbows down, but arthritis has crippled her hands. That doesn't stop her from strapping on a wrist fork and feeding herself.

Obviously she is a home town Cardinals baseball fan. Look at those fancy fingernails! I admired her many pretty rings; this one in particular. She removed it and handed it to me. "Here, it's yours. I want you to have it." Her selfless act brought tears. I tried to refuse, offered to buy it, but she insisted. I will treasure it always.


Two hours passed quickly. We shared life stories, old memories, and made some new ones. We laughed and reminisced... our younger girls came out in us old gals. I hope she enjoyed herself as much as I did. She has a devoted daughter, my sweet Veronica, and a caring family and support system. Nothing seems to get her down. I can't imagine being confined to a wheel chair, but Donna makes all of life seem easy. Lazy me, I think about exercise and complain about my flabby arms. Donna exercises her arms and proudly showed me how firm they are. She's been my incentive. If she can do it, I will, too.

I am so proud of my sister-in-law. She is an inspiration. While many would have given up or given in, Donna continues to give... to everyone she meets. I really do know an angel on earth. 

12 comments:

Chatty Crone said...

Oh my goodness you do know an angel on earth. Even for her to be able to smile after all that is a miracle - I honestly don't know if I could do that. I believe in God 199%, but sometimes I don't know why things happen - but tell her never to give up. Love, sandie

Mary Menke said...

Linda, your sister-in-law Donna truly is an inspiration. I love her attitude and her determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Like Chatty Crone, I'm not sure I could do that. I wish Donna the best. Thanks for sharing her story, and God bless both of you.

Sylvia Forbes said...

Donna is amazing. After all that she has been through, the fact that she can not only smile, but have such a positive attitude is incredible. Many blessings to her and to you, Linda.

Val said...

Donna's personality comes across in her eyes and her smile. She's an inspiration for us all to do more, in helping others, and making the most of what we've got. Those nails definitely show she's part of Redbird Nation! So great that you two had a chance to meet up for lunch and reminisce.

Susan Sundwall said...

Oh, wow, Linda, Donna does sound like an angel for sure. May blessings pour down upon her and give her the eyes to see them. Those arms are strong for a reason. =0)

Kim said...

Donna's resilience is admirable. I'm glad she's been able to remain helpful and positive all these years. You are lucky to have her in your life.

Dianna Graveman said...

What a wonderful story about a courageous woman! Thank you for sharing her (and your) story with us.

Susan said...

Donna truly is an inspiration, Linda. Thanks for sharing this touching story. Susan

Pat Wahler said...

What a beautiful and inspirational story. I truly admire Donna's grit and determination.

Alice said...

Linda, your sister-in-law is indeed an amazing woman. And like you, when I read everything Donna's been through yet somehow manages to remain optimistic, it reminds me I need an attitude adjustment now and then. Thanks for sharing the inspiring story. And Donna, thanks for raising the bar on accepting what life throws our way!

Connie said...

This is a lovely tribute to your sister-in-law. She sounds like an inspiration to everyone who knows her.

Theresa Sanders said...

Donna’s photo alone radiates beauty, love, and joy. She is a true blessing, as is this blog post. Thank you so much, dear Linda, for introducing us to this lovely and loving member of your family. And... I do so admire those fingernails! 😊