Grace on Wings mission 121 had the crew heading down to Ft. Smith Arkansas on a beautiful spring Monday to pick up our sister in Christ, Tula H.
A soft spoken, frail, 92 year old widow, Tula was a sweetheart of a person. One couldn’t help to fall in love with her when first meeting her.
Ft. Smith had been her home her entire life where she was married to her husband of 55 years and raised her family. Both Tula and her husband were World War II veterans. Other than her military stint, she never worked outside the home. Her husband was a test pilot while in the military, however, she maintained an adamant fear of flying. Once she flew back to Indianapolis to visit her family here only to insist her husband make the 11.5 hour drive to get her back home. There was no way she was getting back on a plane according to her daughter in law, Sissy, who accompanied us down to Arkansas and back.
Tula lost the love of her life nearly 12 years ago, but remarkably was able to maintain her independence, with her daughter’s and visiting nursing’s help, in her long time home up until this past December.
In December, a routine visit by the VNS revealed she had a blackening of a few toes on her right foot. While not diabetic as some may think, unfortunately, she did have poor circulation in that extremity. It was determined the best method of treatment would be a below the knee amputation. The amputation was successfully done at a Ft. Smith hospital, and despite a few post op complications, she was transferred to a local rehab center shortly thereafter.
It was becoming vividly apparent during her stay at the center that she wasn’t probably ever going to be able to return to her independent life style she was accustomed to. It also helps to understand that her daughter living nearby suffers the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis making it difficult for her to continue to help Tula at home. Therefore, other living arrangements had to be made in order to effectively care for Tula.
I’m a firm believer that God puts people in places or positions to help out or make a difference that best glorifies his name. I’ll explain.
Her son, Art, was aware of the increasing needs of his mother and desperately wanted her to be moved back to Indiana so he could be actively involved in her care. After exploring all the usual means to get her transported here, God intervened.
Art retired from a successful law practice 3 years ago and he and his wife, Sissy, moved from urban Indianapolis a few miles north to Fishers. In conversation with a neighbor one day he spoke about his desire to move his mother to Indiana, but yet was unsure how to go about the best way to do such. I’m sure God was smiling at that moment, because this neighbor was a friend of the family of Mike, one of the GOW co-pilots! As the saying goes, the rest is history.
With Hal and Mike at the controls of the “new and improved” Nellie, my partner Julie and I, flew down to Ft. Smith and picked up Tula. She was brought to the Ft Smith Regional Airport by a wheelchair ambulance, so this was one of the fastest turn around that either Julie or I had ever been involved in while volunteering with GOW. Tula couldn’t have been a better patient even though she had a disdain for flying. It’s amazing what a little strategic pre-flight medication can do for anxiety!
The 1.5 hour flight back to Indianapolis International was uneventful, even though Hal sincerely apologized for the turbulence and rough landing due to thunderstorms in the airport area. I learned long ago not to criticize someone else’s job that I couldn’t do myself. That said, good job Hal!
Tula was transported from the airport to the brand new Allisonville Meadows extended care facility in Fishers by Heartland Ambulance Service, who graciously donated their services, even though they had to send a crew from Muncie to do so. Tula was tucked away into her new room with nearly all the amenities of home. As an added bonus, with the facility being so new, Tula got a private room until all the rooms are occupied.
I’ve more than likely carried on much too long about this mission, but one more thought. I am reminded of the verse from Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (NIV) Tula was truly an angel, a gift from our God.
Glory to HIM
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