When Linda Swift asked me to do a cover for her new release, Single Status, neither of us remembered meeting before. But something about her name kept niggling at my mind, and after awhile the memory began to emerge.
In 1996 after the RWA conference in Dallas, we sat together in the airport when wave after wave of thunderstorms grounded us. After several hours, to our relief, we finally took off. Unfortunately, we came back in. Passengers de-boarded, mechanics tinkered with the engine, more thunderstorms arrived, and finally we left Dallas for real at 5:00 p.m. Too late for anyone's connections. I last saw Linda at the St. Louis airport, where I spent several more hours with the stranded Portland Gay Men's Choir, who sang most of their repertoire for other stranded passengers. We finally got into Portland at 1:30 a.m.
But Linda's card went into my Rolodex. And funny thing, she still had my card too. And I always wondered what happened to her. Now, I know. And I don't think we'll lose touch again.
All of my family is musical except me. And it was after a performance of her husband's band at a casino in Tunica, that my daughter had an almost fatal accident. While standing on the sidewalk in the wee hours of morning as he loaded his equipment, she was run down by a casino employee, high on drugs, thrown onto the windshield of his car, which hit a wall and caught fire. She was helicoptered to a trauma hospital in Memphis with multiple injuries. Her dad and I arrived from Kentucky and after an all-day wait, she had hours of surgery. Our first miracle was that she lived.
We stayed in a motel for a month, taking turns with her husband, sitting at her bedside, so that she was never alone for a moment. When word spread that she was injured, fans of her band and her husband's flooded her room with flowers. There were so many and the scent was so strong that one physician remarked "Why, this is like a funeral home." A very inappropriate remark in my opinion!
Still too weak to travel to her home in Nashville, she was moved after a few weeks to a rehab center nearby. And when she was finally given permission to travel, my husband and I went ahead to prepare her condo for an invalid. Both bedrooms were upstairs and not wheelchair accessible so we had to buy a bed for the living room. Her dishwasher didn't work and neither did the stove oven. Remember, she and her husband traveled with their respective bands and domestic life did not have priority. But since I was responsible for cooking nutritious meals, I needed proper equipment.
After a couple of days of frantic shopping for appliances, a bed, and groceries, then a frenzy of cleaning as we had been warned of her wounds getting infected, we fell into bed for a few hours sleep before her homecoming.
Sometime after midnight, I was awakened by a loud noise like someone hitting a wall. I tried to ignore it but it only got louder. Muttering something unprintable, I staggered to the window and looked out. And there by the front steps was a lone figure doing something with wood and a hammer. At first, I couldn't figure it out, and then it dawned on me. A man was building a ramp over the concrete steps.
Something we had not even thought of!
I called my husband to wake up and join me. And together we determined that it was the young man next door. We had met him and his wife and young son when we came two days ago and had heard our daughter and husband speak of them before. They had come to Nashville from New York City because he wanted to be a musician. For the time being, they were both employed at the nearby mall, where he worked a late shift as a security officer. Since they had lived in a big city, they had no car and both walked the couple of miles to their jobs as they couldn't afford a car. My daughter and husband had loaned them their car at times for buying groceries and other necessities.
The night was freezing cold and the guy was bundled up in a jacket, sock cap, and gloves as he determinedly hammered away at those boards until he had the ramp finished. And as I stood there watching with tears in my eyes, I felt such gratitude for this simple gift of kindness. It was truly more beautiful than the roomful of flowers I had tended every day. And even more special because I knew it had been a financial sacrifice to buy the lumber as well as a difficult task to build it in the middle of this frigid night.
My daughter came home, and after a fourth surgery and many more weeks of intensive therapy, she was able to walk again. And the much-used ramp was finally taken down. Now only a few scars remain to remind her and us of that almost fatal night. And this is the second miracle.
The neighbor couple went back to New York City after a time because their family needed them there. And the hoped for career in music hasn't happened yet. But I remember them from time to time and make a wish that all their dreams may soon come true.
LINDA SWIFT is a native of Kentucky but calls many places home including Florida where she now lives with her husband, a power plant consultant and avid golfer. She is the sole member of a musical family--which includes her husband, son, daughter, and son-in-law--who neither sings nor plays. But she loves to dance!
A late bloomer, she attended college for years between being a wife and mother, then became a counselor, psychometrist, and teacher of physically and mentally challenged students in public education.
Linda began writing poetry at ten, has won numerous awards for poetry, articles, and short stories and has had a play produced on TV. Writing books has been her goal since completing a romance novel at sixteen. She is the author of two books by Kensington and has two e-books currently available from The Wild Rose Press, one of which is also available in print. Her current release is Single Status from Awe-Struck who will also publish her new holiday book in December and her first historical in early 2010.
You can find Linda at her website here: http://www.lindaswift.net/