On my way to relocating to Austin, I stopped at a halfway point in Joplin, MO to spend the night. On the morning of November 8th – Election Day – I was about an hour into my trip, excited that I had less than eight hours left on my journey, when I stopped at a small quick stop in a small town called Big Cabin, OK to use the bathroom. It had been lightly raining and when I opened the door of the U Haul truck to get out, there was a large, muddy puddle right below me. I attempted to get out of the truck and jump across the puddle and when I did my foot slipped under me and I took a hard fall into the puddle. I went to get up and realized my left ankle was hurting. When I looked at the ankle, it didn’t look normal and I realized I had either sprained it severely or broken it. Within seconds, a small group of people came out of the quick stop lead by an older gentleman who introduced himself as Milo and told me he was a retired firefighter. He began to check my ankle and my vitals to make sure I was okay. Upon doing so, it seemed pretty clear my ankle was most likely broken. He called for the local sheriff named DJ, and DJ let me know an ambulance was on the way and that they were going to make sure I was cared for. Upon learning I was in the midst of moving and also had my dog Baxter with me, one of the men in the small group named Les offered to take Baxter with him to his home and take care of him until I was taken care of at the hospital. He also offered to take the key to the truck that pretty much contained everything I owned, and told me he would take care of it for me. When the ambulance arrived, they told me the closest place they could take me was to Tulsa – an hour away. Les exchanged phone numbers with me and said he would check in on me to work out getting Baxter and the truck back to me. As I lay on a stretcher in the midst of a small group of complete strangers in a small town in Oklahoma, I told them that their kindness was overwhelming and that the reason I maintained hope on this particular Election Day was because I was aware that I was capable of making a difference in the world with each interaction I had with the person in front of me, and they were demonstrating that before my eyes. I said that when we woke the next morning to find who was President, I would continue to hold hope in a time of conflict and division because I would be reminded that no matter who we are we are capable of caring for one another regardless of our differences. And then the ambulance took me off to Tulsa.
At the ER in Tulsa, it was confirmed that I had a severe fracture in the bones of the ankle that meet the tibia in the leg – it just so happened to be the same leg I broke a little over two years ago. It was going to require surgery, but the surgery couldn’t happen for a few days when the swelling went down. And it just happened to be the case that my daughter-in-law Jamie in Austin has a sister and her family in Tulsa – Joy, her husband Matt, and their three children. As I write this, I have just spent three days with this wonderful family who took care of me while a stranger took care of my dog and all my worldly possessions until Joy and Matt retrieved them last night. On the night of this accident itself, I watched the results of the election with this family who were supporting Donald Trump while I was supporting Hillary Clinton. And Joy and I switched back-and-forth between CNN and Fox news as we gave each other respect for one another’s interests. And I interacted with their young children as we did this and engaged in so much conversation about the issues at concern. As we said good night to each other, I told Joy I was not afraid of what I would wake to the next morning because I would hold the experience of the day with me – that we are capable of caring and respecting one another among family and even total strangers. I woke in peace, even with many concerns and the realization that much healing and trust is needed in our country, because I know that of which we are all capable.
This has been my journey from Chicago to Austin. I’ll be arriving there on Friday with the help of Jamie’s parents with her father driving the truck and her mother driving me so I can keep my foot elevated. I’ll be having surgery sometime in the next week and after some time off work to recover, I’ll begin the new phase of my journey.
Many of us are going through change and issues right now as we deal with this change in leadership in our country. I’m reading many people’s thoughts, concerns, fears, etc. I share many of those, but I do so with hope because I believe each of us is capable of taking a lead in our country and making a difference. It’s my experience and my opinion, but it’s what carries me through my days. This afternoon I noticed a wall plaque called Family Rules in Joy and Matt’s home and it moved me greatly because I witnessed it being lived. I shared this with their oldest daughter who told me it was a challenge to live what is written, and I responded that it certainly was a challenge, and that we are going to fail and succeed each day in attempting to live our lives in love, but it was possible it we kept the hope that it was possible.
I will never surrender my hope in love.