Resident Beth Riner tries to see the good in every situation, and is known for her positive outlook and willingness to help others. What some may not know, however, is that Beth went through a difficult time when a health crisis threatened her very life. She not only lived, but thrived, and has taken full advantage of each and every day she was given thereafter. She shares her story with us:
“When I was 44 with a severe headache, I went for my annual eye checkup. On the eye chart I saw two E’s, and said, ‘The red one is at the right, above the black one.’ The doctor halted the exam, instructing me to go home and expect a phone call from a neurologist. Once I was hospitalized, a saintly doctor took me through a battery of tests and diagnosed me with a cerebral aneurysm. (CAT scans and MRIs were not yet in use.) The severe headaches did not subside. I didn’t eat.
“I had worked at church and in the Presbytery as a Christian educator. Visits and prayers were offered on my behalf. Marion, my husband, was given some leave from work to keep our two sons on schedule. Church members brought food to them. After three weeks, I was dismissed and will always remember the lighted Christmas tree when I was welcomed home. Marion spun a pile of carols and Chopin records while I tried to refocus my double vision with a painting above the sofa.
“As strength began to return, and the eye patch was removed, I entered a hospital-sponsored walking program, chalking 500 miles in our neighborhood and collecting rewards of T-shirts, fanny packs and a pedometer. I entered a ‘Y’ water exercise program.
“In time, I resumed volunteer teaching and delivering Meals on Wheels. My husband retired, and we began to travel. I had served on a Synod committee that encouraged the startup of two Presbyterian Manors and sold early “Art is Ageless” calendars. We set our sights on Aberdeen Village. Our daily mall walks often ended with a trip to the Aberdeen Village marketing office.
“When we came on board, the highlight for Marion was sitting on the balcony to observe the campus mowers. The food was tops! It was ‘Candy Land’ walking back to our apartment! Almost everyone had jelly beans or gum drops on the shelves outside their door, and we lived on ‘Long Haul!’
“You should know, as I wind down this epistle, that I got with the program! I put in a mile a day in the halls or on trails and signed up for water exercise classes. Flowers and mementos appeared on shelves. I discovered more food options, eating less starch and more fish and salads. We joined the Chorale. I taught English as a second language to a staff member.
“When Marion became ill, we felt supported by our community of neighbors. My present goal is listening to them now, wherever they might be in life and lifting them up with my blessing.”