As seen on Heartwarmers

Have you ever noticed how a tragedy can bring out the best in people? Take my friend Joyce, for instance. We met one day a few years ago at the clinic at Craig Hospital where we became good friends. We both depend on wheelchairs, share a love of God, and have occasional to frequent respiratory problems, depending on what life throws our way. Last week life threw eleven wildfires our way and we both came down with breathing problems.

It's frightening to see how quickly a spark from an illegal campfire, plus bone-dry conditions, plus wind, can equal a fire burning in tens of thousands of acres in three counties. I felt bad for the Forest Ranger who said how guilty he felt when they learned that one of their own had been apprehended for starting the blaze. With hundreds of dedicated people working in the Forest Service to take care of our forests and to prevent fires, all it took was one careless person to shed a bad light.

But back to Joyce. I called her on Monday morning, two days after the Hayman Inferno exploded, to see how she was faring. The day before, smoke had blanketed the Front Range with an eerie, yellowish haze. In Denver, forty miles from the hot spot, the sun could barely penetrate the ash-laden air. Health officials had said the smoke looked worse than it was, but asthmatics and those with breathing problems were advised to stay indoors and to close windows.

We did just that. However, she lived closer to the fire in a neighborhood that had already been alerted to be prepared to flee if evacuation became necessary. By the time I called her Monday, she and her husband were in the process of voluntarily evacuating. The following week, when she was back home breathing easier, I learned the rest of the story...

First of all, it looked like they had no way of leaving when they wanted to, because their van was at the dealership having some work done on the transmission. They were concerned it would take days. When Carl called and explained their predicament, the work was completed in four hours! For some reason, I don't think of the people who work at dealerships as being helpful in doing any more than extracting as much money as possible from hapless customers. Way to go John Elway dealership!

Next, two friends from church both called to offer Joyce and Carl storage space for items they didn't want to leave behind. They gladly took them up on it. Also, a friend who was a former Craig Hospital patient offered them a place to stay, as her house was set up to accommodate a wheelchair.

Joyce was appreciative, but her son-in-law had already called Craig Hospital--something that hadn't occurred to her. He had explained that Joyce needed to be on oxygen and that her husband Carl needed a lift to transfer her into bed.

Her custom-made lift, at home, was mounted on the ceiling above their bed. Even though Carl had taken it down to move it to a safer location, temporarily mounting it somewhere else for a few days was totally out of the question. The Craig staff was very accommodating and immediately made one of their outpatient apartments available.

When the Wilsons returned home a few days later, Joyce didn't want to bother her son-in-law to remount the lift above the bed, so she called the man who had originally installed it. He came out, reinstalled the lift, and found out why the lift in the bathroom wouldn't work. When she went to write him a check and asked the amount, he told her it was his gift to her.

It is the acts of unsung heroes like these that bring a tear to the eye, plant a smile in the heart, and make this world a nicer place to live.

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