Accident Disabled Grandma With Multiple Disabilities Seeks Motor Home Grant
by Judith C. Connor
(York, PA, USA)
I wear many hats. I am a 68-year-old housewife, pastor’s wife, mother of three, grandmother of eight and a retired schoolteacher. I love all of my hats. I do have a story to tell.
I will start my story when I went to college. I was, and still am, a Christian and wanted to go to a Christian college. I not only wanted a BS degree, but I also wanted a "Mrs." in front of my name. My pastor guided me to Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.
The first semester of my senior year I did my student teaching for nine weeks with little time on campus. I was anxious to find the man of my life. I met Paul at the dining table in the BJ dining common.
I found out he was going to be a pastor and that was not good. That would be living in a glass house and being poor. I saw how my pastor lived -- people were mean toward him and his family and paid a low salary.
Time went on with many dates. The love bug bit. We were in love. I graduated and Paul came home for the summer, stayed with my family and me and worked for my dad.
We were engaged in August 1966. Paul went back to BJ, and I taught second grade in my neighborhood. I also worked on wedding plans for our wedding on June 24, 1967. It was a long hard year without Paul.
We were married and lived in Greenville so Paul could finish school and I taught third grade.
In March of 1969, we were blessed with a beautiful, baby girl, Margaret. Paul was also asked to be youth pastor at our church. He accepted the position. I had responsibilities as a youth pastor’s wife and ended up teaching sixth grade half days for our new Christian school.
We were in that ministry for about two years. We had our son Paul, Jr., in October 1971, during the pastorate. However, we realized we could not stay there because of a low income -- exactly what I was concerned about before we were married. We still felt called to the ministry, so we moved on.
We then moved to Michigan and lived with my parents. Paul worked for my dad again. It was looking dim because I was pregnant again and had no home for ourselves. It was then that a very, very small church in Port Huron, Michigan, asked Paul to be their pastor.
Paul took the position and continued working for my dad. We were able to buy a cottage type home in Port Huron with my dad’s help. The ministry was very hard because of its size, so it was short lived. The happiest thing that happened to us in Port Huron was the birth of a beautiful, baby girl, Beth.
We lived in Port Huron for five years. I taught in a Christian school for one year, and our two oldest children attended school there. We prayed and prayed for a new ministry.
Finally, a deacon from North Central Pennsylvania called Paul and asked him to candidate. We went and were called. The church was a nice size, not big, but we really thought this church was for us. We moved there, and we stayed almost twenty years.
The income was so low that sometimes we could not buy toilet tissue; we had to borrow some from the church. (We paid it back.) Kleenex would have been a luxury.
While there, I taught in our Christian school for 10 years. During our stay, all three of our children graduated from our Christian school and went on to college at Bob Jones University.
Our three children met their life mates at college. All three were married in our church. Now they live in three different states. We have eight grandchildren. What a blessing they are to us.
The 20 years in Pennsylvania had its good and bad times. We did live in a glass house. The ministry hits the family hard. Sometimes, I wondered if we were supposed to be in the ministry; we hurt from the meanness of some of the people. Many thought we should live like paupers.
I got gastritis a lot and was hospitalized many times. The doctor said it was stress. I had to be counseled and hospitalized for mental issues. After several years of hospitalizations I was given disability status on December 1, 1992. I had no trouble getting approved; I received it the first time I applied for it.
I received disability until I was 65, and then I was then put on social security. I received the same amount of money, which is low because I never made much money. I was told over the phone that social security was all I could get.
In 1990 I had a pulmonary embolism. At some time I acquired MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) for which I was not treated. When I learned this, I never gave it any thought. I found out later it would hamper me for life.
Finally, Paul and I both realized our ministry of almost 20 years was done. It was time to move to another ministry. Paul was asked to consider the position for state representative of the Pennsylvania Association of Regular Baptist Churches. They have about 100 churches in the association. Paul would become a pastor to pastors. Since we had a lot of experience with pastoring, he was elected.
We moved from our parsonage to a rented home. We did a lot of traveling throughout the state. I loved this ministry. God was really using us in this capacity. I did a little bit of office work for Paul -- answer the phone, stamp letters, fill envelopes and a few other small things. I am being paid, at this time, $62.50 every two weeks.
Sometimes I could not even do the work because I was so ill. Paul and our church people filled the gaps. However, on one of our travels to a conference in Indiana, we were in a bad car accident. I had to be life flighted to a hospital in Ohio because the top of my head was sliced. I had many problems from that injury. Thankfully, my husband was not hurt.
After the accident, we decided to move from the home we had rented for 11 years, and buy a home in York, Pennsylvania, near a pastor friend. I had gotten so sick; the Physician’s Assistant I was going to in our town did not know what was wrong with me. I was rarely able to go with Paul looking for a home. However, the last time that I was able to look at homes, we found a small Cape Cod we loved and bought.
We were there only a week or so when I became deathly sick. I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. I was delirious, and I was septic in my blood from MRSA. The MRSA had attacked an artificial knee I had put in at Geisinger Hospital in April 1992. (I was treated at the hospital and transferred to a rehabilitation home for a few days. I was able to go home very early.)
When I still kept getting infections in my knee, I underwent several surgeries on my knee and received new knees, spacers and a cleaning of the knee. When these surgeries did not work, the surgeon said I had a big decision to make. I needed to have my leg amputated or try a rod in my whole right leg.
We decided to do the rod, but during the surgery for the rod, my heart stopped. The surgeon gave me CPR. It took almost four minutes to get my heart pumping. There could have been brain damage, so I thank the Lord I had none. The surgery could not be finished for a few days. In the meantime, I had a defibrillator/pacemaker put in my chest before surgery on my leg could be finished. All went well with the final surgery -- number nine.
I had lots of physical therapy for my leg. The last therapy was to learn how to walk with a leg that did not bend. Then I had to learn to get in a car and use a toilet -- not all bathrooms have room for a leg that does not bend. I did not realize that until I was visiting my sister in Michigan and got stuck in her bathroom; my shoe was jammed against the wall. It happened to me again just the other day. My foot was jammed against the bathroom wall. Scary!
After all my trouble with my knee, I thought I was going to be able to travel, but I continued to be sick. The MRSA attacked my lungs. The first episode was life threatening. I had to be put on life support. The doctor told me I was her miracle patient. Of course, we knew God was not done with me yet.
I was hospitalized many more times. My lungs had taken a beating. Having had two pulmonary emboli did not help. I now have pulmonary hypertension -- not a good disease. It is not curable. The doctor told me the medicine would keep me comfortable. I am. The disease does give one a shorter life span. I also have third stage kidney disease with the function only at 30 percent.
However, the medicines have improved my life, and I now would like to travel with my husband in our ministry. Because of my experiences, I believe I can minister to pastors’ wives and other women of the church as God leads. I understand how a pastor’s wife feels when people are unkind or when their families have needs.
The churches usually put us up in a family home and, occasionally, a motel, but we never know what the bathroom will be like. I not only need space, I also need handicap bars to get myself up. Because of this, I really need a class C motor home. It has a bathroom that I can use with my leg. Only one problem exists -- I will not fit in the passenger seat as it is manufactured.
If the motor home could be made with the seat back farther, that would be great. A class A fits all my needs, but I know it is more expensive. We would also need a fund for gas and maintenance and insurance since we are still in a low-income bracket. We have a mortgage, a car payment, a loan for my teeth (damaged from my medicines), and credit card debt because of medical expenses. I am on 25 medicines.
For distances, I do have a power chair, which my surgeon said I had to have. My physical therapist called the company. She put me in contact with someone who evaluated me so that Medicare would cover the cost since I can walk very little distance with my walker. I would need a trailer to carry it because it will not fit inside the motor home.
A motor home would be a tremendous answer to prayer. I would not be home alone. On June 24, 2012, we will be married 45 years. We have already spent so much time apart because of my illness, and I would not like to lose any more time.