July, 2000
Nevisian Paradise
Garrick's Pasture
Nevis, West Indies

Greetings from Paradise
"But That Is The Body That God Gave You"

Dear Friends,

Well, this is my final letter from Nevis this season. As Lee and I prepare to close down the house and leave Nevis and our first season here, I have reflected on the numerous blessings that Lee and I have had this year. Even though the event I am about to tell happened in March, I will now share what is probably the greatest lesson that I have learned this year. As many of you know, I have been plagued with debilitating dizzy spells more often than I would like since my first bypass in 1989. In part, they are a result of doing more than my body is capable and what goes on between my ears-namely, how I respond to life. True to form, I got myself in the same mess again. After arriving on Nevis in November, eight months after my second by-pass, moving in, having Thanksgiving, a crew party and open house for 60 people in December, builders under foot finishing the house from 7:30am to 3:30pm during the week and adjusting to being together with Lee 24/7, my body just gave out. Oh, yes, I had the warning signs similar to the minor earth movements before an earthquake, but I paid no attention. I had my agenda, as always, and I was going full-speed ahead. And so one night for dinner at Sunshine and Maria's, I started to feel that rise in my body that warns, "you are going down." I tried to ignore it, but the feeling overwhelmed me and the room started spinning. After my usual forty minutes on the sofa, it did not stop and being post-surgery, they called the ambulance. I did not think that I suffered a heart attack, but since I am asymptomatic when I do have heart problems, I decided not to fight the decision, (didn't have the strength anyway). So we waited on the sofa, another guest sound asleep and my praying for this episode to end. Forty-five minutes later, the ambulance finally arrived after several wrong turns. I had decided that this obviously wasn't my time to go or if it was, there was nothing that I could do about it. So off I finally went on the bumpy road to the hospital. After checking my vital signs, they thought that I might have had a mild heart attack--I didn't think so--kept me overnight and suggested that I visit the Harvard-trained physician in St. Kitts in a few weeks.

So, I returned home the next day and began my three week vigil of minimal activity, waiting for my body to return to some kind of normalcy where I could again engage in a more flourishing life other than looking out the windows at the mountain or sea and counting my blessings. And so, with help and prayers and listening to my body, I returned to being able to move without the dizziness. In the third week, I felt strong and steady enough to visit my dear friend, mentor and neighbor Veronica and so I walked down the mountain the length of one lot and turned left on the goat path to Veronica's home. I crossed the goat pen, unlatched the make-shift gate and went to door with my "good afternoon." She was pleasantly surprised to see me and we shared the arrival of the new spring flowers that had bloomed in her and Kenneth's lovely and ever-expanding garden. She slowly walked me back and as we reached halfway across the goat path with the sun beginning its final golden decent, we stopped with Mt. Nevis as our backdrop as she asked me, "Ruth, when are you going to learn to respect your body?" I replied, "Veronica, I never have, I guess that is why I am in so much trouble much of my adult life. There are one hundred things that I want to do, twenty that I really want to do and two-to-three that I can possibly do." With all the love that one can possible give to another human being, she said, "But, Ruth, that is the body that God blessed you with." It was the end of the sentence, no need to complain, or explain. There was no negative message that insinuated, "deal with it," but a positive message of life, "you have been blessed." And, so I vowed to myself and God on the mountain, that I would really try and rid myself of my addiction of wanting others to like and approve, but try and spend my days doing what I could in love for myself, family and friends. And so as Lee and I leave our Nevisian Paradise, I will try and carry the lesson that I have been blessed to learn. Moreover as much of the joy and blessings that I have had here, I hope that my Greetings from Paradise have brought joy and inspiration to you. As we prepare to leave our beloved isle, I ask for God's blessings of health and safety for all we know throughout the world and a safe and healthy return for Lee and I in the fall. Hope that you have a great summer and are touched deeply with great joy. Be well until the fall.

Love and later,
Ruth