Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dianne Odell

by David G. Woolley

I didn't know Dianne. She lived, until this week, at her parent's residence in Jackson Tennessee, 80 miles northeast of Memphis. She was 61 years old. Dianne spent 59 of those years laying on her back inside this 750 pound iron lung where she had control over one thing: the television clicker. She used her elbow to change the channel. Polio was the culprit. It infected her when she was three, just two years before a vaccine was approved to fight the paralytic disease.

When I saw the photo of Dianne I said, "That's too bad."

When the power at Dianne's residence went out and the stand by generator failed, not even her family's desperate efforts to operate the iron lung using a manual lever were enough to save her life. She passed quietly on a blustery Tennessee Wednesday afternoon, May 28th. Cause of death: power outage due to bad weather.

When I read about her story and how a power failure ended her life, I said, "What terrible luck for anyone to suffer."

But Dianne wasn't just anyone. She didn't let her circumstances dampen her enthusiasm for life. She earned a high school diploma while laying inside her iron cell and she wrote a delightful children's book titled "Blinky" about a wishing star. Her pen and paper? A voice activated word processor. I wonder if the wishes she made on that blinky star are finally being realized.

A lot of people helped Dianne the least of which were her parents who, for 59 years, bathed her, fed her and kept her company. There were other actors in this drama, friends like Frank Mcmeen who helped raise money for Dianne's equipment and nursing assistance. He said, "Dianne was one of the kindest and most considerate people you could meet. She was always concerned about others and their well-being."

You may think that Dianne was lucky to have family and friends who were willing to care for her. Voice activated word processing and elbow television clicker control don't prepare meals, change clothes, or do dental and doctor visits. There were a lot of caregivers. But if you're wondering who the lucky ones were, look to Dianne's parents, to her sister and brother-in-law, to friends like Frank. Dianne gave them the chance to care, the opportunity to give, and the hope of being found with a charity-filled soul. It was Dianne's luck that they embraced the chance.

If Dianne left any legacy, it is likely found peacefully entrenched in the hearts and souls of those who cared for her. Look close enough at her circle of family and friends and you may just find the one thing that has the power to save us all.

The pure love of Christ.

Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website. He is also a weekly contributor to the Latter Day Authors blog and he writes commentary and opinion at the Utah Ranger's Far Post blog


Sandra said...

"Dianne gave them the chance to care, the opportunity to give, and the hope of being found with a charity-filled soul."

This is my favorite sentence of all time. So few people understand this concept. Thank you for reminding us.

And I am so excited for Day of Remebrance in Sept.! I'll be counting the days and be first in line for a copy.

David G. Woolley said...

Hi Sandra:

I think most of my favorite sentences of all time come from reminders to live more charitably with each other.

Thanks for re-reminding us.

I am excited about the release of Day of Remembrance too. Its been a long time in the making. It was the novel I originally intended to write when I started the Promised Land series and it has, at least, lived up to my expectations. I hope it will touch your soul and enlighten your mind with some history and some worthwhile doctrines. As well as some entertaining moments.

Please let me know what you think when you've had a look.

All the best,

David G. Woolley