July, 2003, Revised February, 2007
Nevis, West Indies
Greetings from Paradise
“God Had a Plan All the Time”
Dear Friends and Family,
How peaceful my life would have been the last sixty‑two years had I been aware and carried the message in my heart God had a plan all the time. Blind Eileen of Zion continues to be my inspiration and guru with her example of deeds and words. To me, her dauntless, positive, humorous, insightful essence is as holy as the Dali Lama whose phenomenal inspiration aura I had the fortune to experience years ago. Punctuated with numerous telephone chats to Eileen‑‑whether my husband, Lee, is on island or in the States‑‑a bi‑monthly drive to other side of the island to visit with her is a must, “no ifs, no buts, no maybes,”as they say in Nevis. As always, I sit by her side enthralled with life's pearls of wisdom that gracefully, articulately and amusingly flow from her lips. I am captivated by this eighty‑seven year old woman and her life’s journey. Yes, she has been totally blind since she was sixteen (See Touched by Humanity, February, 2001) and yet she is not blind. I perceive her intact and whole as she perceives herself; she just approaches daily tasks differently. She once shared that it is a blessing to be blind when you are older because nobody gets upset that you have to walk slower. When I asked her what she prays for the most, she answered that God keep her mind sharp. Her prayers continue to be answered. After a severe stroke that left her speechless and unable to walk through her unwavering faith, self‑given physical therapy, her speech returned and is as articulate and literate as it was before the incident and she walked and was able to mop her home again. As there was no physical therapy available on the island, she treated herself. While in the hospital, she used the fingers of one hand to massage and stimulate the palm of her other hand, and used the toes of one foot to massage and stimulate the instep of the other. Her mind remains sharp as a tack. During her recovery, when she had difficulty walking to the restroom at night, she said, “Jesus, help me,” and when she achieved her goal, she said, “Thank you.” So she lives with an attitude of gratitude...and in between she loves to talk and laugh!
Sitting by her side glancing around her sunlit living room, I verbally toured for her the visual details of the golden etching of the chandelier, the delicate pale apricot lace of her curtains and the soft filtering light dancing through her leveler windows. I knew that our builder had designed her home, members of the community church had built it and a church in Canada had funded it but I did not know how she had acquired the land. Captivated again by the soft chuckles, deep voice and eloquent words of this very special human being, I asked her how she came to own her land. She responded that it was given to her as a thank you from her brother‑in‑law, who lived with Eileen’s sister in England. Eileen had cared for her brother‑in‑law’s father who had had a stroke and lived in the same village.
Eileen in her fifties at the time was asked to take care of the father during his recuperation. During the early days of his recovery, twice a day she boiled water, rolled up a gunny sack placed on top of her head to cushion the large pot of boiling water as she gingerly walked up the mountain on uneven dirt roads to bathe him. She again exclaimed, “Do you see how the Lord blessed me! I easily could have tripped on the uneven ground with boiling water scalding me, but I never did!” She gardened by feeling the earth and plants and prepared food for her patient and herself, often stretching a can of sardines from one meal to three. Eileen knows without a doubt in her heart or mind that Jesus or God has been there for her every step of her blinded‑way at she continues to put her total trust in that relationship. She said, “You know that God is the only truth, only company and only helper. God is my company at night and it is he who sends the people to help me. Some people think that money is security, but God is the only real security.” As we later strolled across her lovely, sun-lit living room, she said, “God had a plan all the time. You remember that I moved into my new home two months before I had my stroke. Just imagine how difficult it would have been if I had to learn to walk on the uneven floor or go number one or two outdoors at night.”
Shortly after her stroke, she silently began praying to meet one of her blood relatives before she died as she didn’t know if she had any siblings, nieces or nephews. She shared that when she was two years old, her father left Nevis and returned to his native Cuba and neither she nor her Mother ever heard from him again. In 2005, her prayers were answered. Her brother William sent a card from New York and a $50.00 check and told her he would visit her next year. On July 21, 2006, (coincidently, Lee’s 69th birthday), her brother William arrived in Nevis. When we called during his visit, she was laughing out loud with the mirrored joy of a teenager. She relished every moment of his month-long visit and learned that her father had been a very bright man who worked in the sugar mill. He had seven children, five sons and two daughters, two of her siblings had deceased. Eileen found out she had 26 nieces and nephews, some doctors, some in law school, and in or having graduated from colleges all over the country and has since heard from some of them. She was surprised how much energy her brother had (like she doesn’t have a lot for 89) and he was a great chef preparing delicious meals for her including mouth-watering corn beef and cabbage. To this day, she continues to live life each day to the fullest. She is beginning to talk about going to heaven and seeing color for the first time in over 70 years. God-willing, she will be 90 years this year on June 20, 2007. She still remembers what we shared from phone call to phone call every two weeks and her laughter, joy, acuity and spirits are blessed and strong.
Wherever I am, I carry thoughts and feelings of Eileen that
illuminate my spirit and warm my heart. I travel with peace in my heart that
whatever challenge Eileen finds in her journey, she will immediately asks God
when she needs help and immediately thanks God when she receives it. There will be no anxiety with thoughts
of how come, why me, what if. That is not part of her mental or verbal
vocabulary. When a challenge arrives, the words are simply “Please help me
Jesus or God” then “Thank you Jesus or God.”
Love and later,
p.s. One of the young men in her village
who knows Eileen well once told me, "If Eileen prays for you, you don't
even need medicine." I know her prayers have helped me over many health
Eileen and Ruth at their second time together sitting
on the porch of her "traditional house,"
no inside plumbing and no electricity, 2001..
Eileen at door of her new
home after her stroke, 2003.
Eileen and Ruth in the living room of her new modern home
with picture of African sunset from Lee's and my trip.
Even though she can't see the picture,
she likes to tell her friends who visit about it, 2002.
Eileen talking with Lee, whom she is very fond of especially since
she turned 90 and Lee 70 in the same year, 2007.
Eileen is 90 and thank God continues to be blessed!