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Season of Thanks Takes on New Meaning
Everyone loves a sad story when it has a happy ending. Well, we have such a story right here in our midst in Sister Dorothy Root (Sister Amelia Joseph). Sister Dorothy was the victim of a terrible car accident in the parking lot of St. Joseph's Church, Lee Center in December 2007. She suffered severe internal and external injuries, resulting in the amputation of her left leg. Since Sister Dorothy's return to the Provincial House (PH) for more rehabilitation and recovery, she has been meditating on that life-changing accident and the ensuing moments, not with self-pity but rather with an incredible sense of gratitude. Sister Dorothy counts only her blessings.
Given that the accident happened, Sister Dorothy ponders how fortunate she was that her Church has hospitality ushers at the doorway, one of whom saw the accident, rushed out to evaluate and immediately called for aid from parishioners. Eight men were needed to lift the car off Sister Dorothy who was pinned there helplessly. She wonders what was in the mind of each of those men who worked to save her. What were the thoughts of these men when they returned home and shared with others their part in rescuing her? What were the thoughts of the others in the congregation at Mass that evening when Father Paul Carey told them the cause of the commotion in the parking lot? Of course, Sister Dorothy subsequently found out from the outpouring of visits, notes and gifts she received what her dear friends among the parishioners were thinking during her stay in the hospital and in rehabilitation.
Among other providential circumstances which Sister Dorothy sees as blessings is the fact that there was an ambulance in the parking lot that Saturday evening with an EMT nearby, so that she was able to receive immediate care. In addition, as the accident was occurring, Kathy Bilyo, her secretary and close associate of many years was driving into the lot and was there to accompany Sister Dorothy to the hospital, holding her hand and offering the comfort of a dear friend in her critical moments. For her part, Sister Dorothy says she did not go through what has often been described as that quick review and summary of one's life as the end seems near. She was conscious the whole time, aware of her precarious state, encouraged as her rescuers worked to release her body from under the car and very aware of the assiduous care of the EMT and the presence of her friend as they drove to the hospital.
Since Sister Dorothy's coming to the PH, she feels even a deeper sense of gratitude as she experiences the expert and concerned care of the nursing staff on the 4A Infirmary Floor and the loving care and concern of the sisters at the PH. In particular, Sister Dorothy counts as a special blessing the fact that upon her arrival here, she was greeted by two of her dearest friends, whose constant attention and care have aided greatly in her adjustment to her new lifestyle, having come from living alone to living with hundreds. Sister Jean Albert Burns lived and worked with Sister Dorothy in Lee Center for years, and Sister Carolyn Schanz and Sister Dorothy are colleagues from years ago when they were both administrators in academia. It is said that with only one good friend you can survive almost anything. Sister Dorothy feels especially blessed to have these two sisters as companions on the journey.
Of course, the sisters to a person cannot help but be impressed and inspired by Sister Dorothy's courageous acceptance of her handicap and her undaunted desire to live and act as normally as possible, coming to all meals and participating in as many events as possible. She had planned to don a bathing costume for the Heritage-Review skit at the Welcome Party in September but was unexpectedly hospitalized that week. Since then, Sister Dorothy has undergone treatment for an internal virus that had infected her system and again she returned home with nothing but high praise for the care she received at Albany Medical Center. Thus ends Sister Dorothy's catalog of blessings!
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Sister Dorothy Root has defied the odds and faces life with joyful gratitude and enthusiasm for whatever comes next in God's great design for her!
by Sister Fran Eustace, CSJ