I honestly haven't a clue how I got this note, but I know Eunice, the woman who wrote it. She's somewhere in her eighties, I think; and I know, as she reports, that she's wrestled her cancer to the mat--and it's over. She's a retired teacher who spent years at Zuni Christian Mission School, where I met her last week; and the e-mail arrived just last night, as if out of nowhere. I don't remember giving her my address, but if I did, that was one blessed move. Best story I'll hear all week, I bet.
Texas and New Mexico Sept. 5-13, 2012, A year of being on the sick list.
I flew to Dallas to meet a former colleague. My day there was hot but we walked the campus of SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) where Wycliffe translators have a museum of things they collected from their fields of work. I recognized arts, pictures, and crafts I had/have from areas around the world.
[Getting around is no problem. Well, not much of a problem, I suppose, if you've just licked cancer.]
We drove through
oil fields, cattle ranches, bare fields and by wind turbines getting into New Mexico in time to
visit John who was laid up with a knee replacement. (He would have gone beserk with his camera
anyway.) I took Joanne to a Navaho
supper with people I had known when I worked at the CRC in Zuni.
[Don't know who Joanne or John is, but John must have been thrilled with her visit and I'm sure he got a picture.]
The celebration at the mission Sunday and Monday was glorious. Hundreds of people who had worked there at one time or another came. Anglos outnumbered the Zunis but former students, parents of present students and the Native American staff was there leading the program. Such fun meeting and greeting them again, and eating Zuni bread at pot lucks! We were there to dedicate the splendid new school building built to replace the temporary ones which have been used since the fire destroyed our home, church, and school in 1971. We also saw the groundbreaking for phase 2 which will replace the housing units. Zuni has changed of course and I loved the improvements; new trading posts, pavement, a bed and breakfast (the same Vander Wagon home I stayed in the first night after the fire), a museum, and firm foundations to prevent floods.
[It was a treasure--the weekend, I mean. I loved it. She'd been there for years and years and years, and was there in 1971, when a fire burned the school to the ground, burned everything, as she says. I can only imagine how much she loved the reunion. I met Eunice in the b and b, the old Vander Wagen home, where she stayed when her apartment burned down with the school.
And then this:]
I splurged on a nice motel for a night in ABQ with a free shuttle to
so guess where I ate
and bummed around for the afternoon. I
was riding on air flying back. A man saw
my cane and offered to trade his first class seat with me. In Old
I had a three hour layover so I ordered a sangria cocktail at a crowded
kiosk. It had wine, apple, orange,
lemon, lime and cherries. Customers gave
me a seat, watched, smiled, and remarked so I told them it was I was a three
way celebration; my birthday, the new school, and my better health after a year
of working toward it. When I went to pay
the bill had been paid by a Lebanese girl from Boston.
Another birthday I will not forget.
[You ever think the world is going to heck in a handbasket? Well, not yet. Think on these things: one luxury motel room in ABQ--free shuttle, too; bumming around Old Town on a cool morning; some guy in first class with huge heart; a blessedly thoughtful Lebanese girl from Boston with a handy credit card; and a three-way birthday Eunice will ever forget.
I don't have a clue how I got this note, but I'm so blessed by the story that it may just as well have a return address from somewhere in heaven. She didn't sign it, but I know it's Eunice. Still, out of nowhere like that, the wonderful story it tells is my morning thanks.]
And if you're wondering, the woman in the pic?--that's Eunice--and her 98-year old friend and ex- colleague, Art.