"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
April 22, 2013
Making Friends from the Ground Up
by Kathryn H. Kidd

A couple of weeks ago, when it was time to get out of bed in the morning, my feet slipped out from under me at just the wrong time. Instead of my sliding on a transfer board from the bed to the wheelchair, my feet took me on an unexpected excursion and I found myself sitting on the floor.

For most people, finding oneself on the floor is no big deal. For me, however, once I am on the floor I am on the floor. There is no way on earth I can get up again, unless a herd of strong and good-looking men appear to lift me back into my wheelchair.

Fluffy, who was a long-time reader of Boys’ Life, is not someone who just sits around when a crisis presents itself. As I sat haplessly on the floor, he began cobbling together a Rube Goldberg contraption that would have made any Boys’ Life reader proud. After some time in the basement, he brought up an armload of boards and a long plank, hoping to build a bridge that I could slide up from the floor to the wheelchair.

Alas, gravity was against him. I got my carcass on the bottom of the plank, but there it stayed. I knew how disappointed Fluffy would be if his scheme failed, so I valiantly told my rear end to scootch itself upward, but my rear end was not interested in appeasing Fluffy. It wanted to stay on the floor, and that is exactly what it did.

We had not yet had our morning prayer, so we took a moment to do that. One thing I asked in the prayer was that we would either be inspired to find a way out of our mess or would be inspired to know when to give up and call Fire and Rescue. The moment we said amen, Fluffy and I looked at each other and said, “It’s time to call Fire and Rescue.”

Fluffy handed me the phone, and I made the call. When the Fire and Rescue person answered the phone and asked what was wrong, I said the only thing I could say in that situation: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Five minutes later the ambulance appeared with its lights flashing. There was no siren, but the lights were enough to draw a whole contingent of neighbors out of their houses, convinced that I had finally bought the farm. Alas, that was not the case. The neighbors didn’t get to see me wheeled out under a sheet. Instead, the intrepid men of Fire and Rescue had me off the floor and back into my wheelchair in a flat minute, and were back at the firehouse watching “The Today Show” while the neighbors were still speculating outside.

Things did not proceed as smoothly when I once again slid to the floor a week and a half later. Our house sits on the cusp of two counties, and this time the people from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue were the first to respond. They had no idea how to get me off the floor until the people from Loudoun County showed up five minutes later to assist. One of the Loudoun County firefighters had been on the scene the first time I slid to the floor, so he knew exactly what was needed. With the Loudoun County people leading the effort, I was back in the wheelchair and ready to do my daily exercises without there even being a crimp in my day.

(Lest you think Fluffy and I are complete idiots, we jettisoned the slippers that were causing me to slip to the floor after the second incident — just as we, years ago, threw away the doormat in front of our house upon the second time I broke an ankle after stepping on it wrong.)

We hoped that would be the last time where I would find myself sitting on the floor, but we did not count on the humorous hospital architects at Reston Hospital, where I am undertaking my physical therapy. There is a circular street that is just for people to use when they need to enter the building with a person using a wheelchair. People can stop the car, get out the wheelchair, put the person in the wheelchair, and then leave the person shivering or sweltering in the elements until the driver has gone across the street and parked the car in the high-rise parking lot.

This is a lovely sentiment, but it stops there. In reality, there is a sharp incline with a hairpin curve that goes between the wheelchair passenger loading space and the front door of the hospital. I have never felt comfortable with that hairpin curve or that incline. If you’re going to have a handicapped entrance, it seems just a tad churlish to build an obstacle course leading to the door. But I digress.

On Wednesday, after physical therapy, Fluffy left me on the flat middle of the hairpin curve while he went across the street to pick up the car. Ever helpful, I decided I would wheel myself down the second half of the sidewalk and meet him at the loading zone.

I forgot about the steepness of the sidewalk. All I can say is, “Zoom!” That wheelchair got away from me faster than you could say “impending disaster.” It went down the hill in a flash and then took an inexplicable right turn, crossing the street and then hitting the curb on the other side. When it hit the curb, I went flying. I was securely belted in, so the wheelchair went with me. It landed on my head, and I landed on the asphalt. What a revolting development!

But the revoltingness ended there, because Good Samaritans converged on me like ants on a watermelon. More people than could possibly help me came to my rescue. The ones that were not equipped to pick me up from the ground stood at my side or ran to get helpers. One lady stood behind my back, giving me her legs to lean on until I was eventually set to rights again.

With a whole crowd of watchers, all I could do was to entertain them while we all waited for the strong and handsome men to arrive. I’m not sure what I said, but when Fluffy arrived, he said I was keeping everyone in stitches — which, after all, is quite appropriate for a hospital parking lot.

Eventually the strong and handsome men arrived. They picked me up and put me on my wheelchair. Then the whole crowd watched while I transferred into the car and Fluffy and I drove safely away. I escaped the scene of possible carnage without as much as a bruise on my person. (The next day, however, my muscles were quite aware that they had been on the losing side of an altercation.)

All I can say is how grateful I am for the seen and the unseen angels who helped me on Wednesday afternoon. The unseen angels took the first shift. If the wheelchair had continued to go straight, the only thing in front of me was concrete. Just having that wheelchair turn right and cross the street probably saved me from broken bones.

The angels were also on duty when I crossed that street, because I crossed it at a blind curve. If any cars had been navigating the curve at the time I crossed, I would have been mashed like a potato.

It is the human angels I’m focusing on today, however. Cynics say that good people are a rare commodity these days, and that everyone is out for himself. If you believe that, just get in an accident in a public place and you see how wrong you are.

It doesn’t matter whether they are Mormons or Baptists or Jews or Catholics or Muslims. If you take a tumble, they appear from nowhere to help you. They don’t ask if you have the same beliefs (or non-beliefs) as they do. All they want to do is lend a hand, and if there’s nothing they can do to help you, at least they want to lend you moral support until you’re out of danger.

The world is full of good people — of people who are Good Samaritans even if they have never heard the Good Samaritan story from the Bible. They help others because that’s the way they were raised. They may pick you up off the ground or mend your broken body. If they can’t do that, they may simply use their legs as something for you to lean against until real help comes. It’s what good people do.

If you see somebody trip on a piece of sidewalk or careen across a parking lot in a wheelchair, don’t just stand there and stare. Be an angel. If you come to the aid of a stranger, you’ll be an angel to that stranger who needs your help. And knowing that you’re an angel can’t help but brighten your day.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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