The Apparent and the Heartfelt (Sep-Dec 2007)

By Matt Dabbs

by Scott Simpson
September – December, 2007

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. ~ Ephesians 1:18-19a

Today I met Carol Perry.

A few years ago she was appointed Assistant US Ambassador to Panama, given a huge salary, housing, house servants, and an incredibly bright future. Then one day, the gardener at the mansion where she was staying decided to press her into a sexual encounter in an upstairs bedroom of the house. She refused, and he pushed her out of the balcony window. Apparently, she fell the thirty-some-odd feet to the concrete below, bounced once on her head and came to rest on her side breaking her skull, her neck, her back, several ribs, all of her teeth, and tearing open her legs (apparently caught on the Blue Marlin sculpture attached to the balcony).

I say “apparently” because her memory is rather spotty due to severe brain damage.

Apparently, the gardener and his wife carried her to the upstairs bed and took her for dead. She woke up and spent 24 hours bumping her way slowly down the stairs (she knew if anyone did come, she wouldn’t be heard from upstairs—her voice was damaged as well). Nearly 72 hours after her fall, she was finally found by a group of tourists who were visiting the mansion.

The Panamanian hospital found only one fractured rib. Apparently, they weren’t equipped to diagnose and treat such extensive damage.

After an extended recovery time in which Carol seemed to have difficulty recovering, her parents both died of cancer within 3 months of each other. Carol was of course devastated, but the still undiagnosed brain damage caused her to cry ongoingly and without cause or valid explanation. The villagers simply believed she was overwrought with her parents’ death. That much was apparent.

Carol made it back to the states, but couldn’t concentrate or focus enough to hold the jobs she landed. She had apparently lost her professional edge. Eventually, she was alone and living in her car. Homeless. Destitute. It was apparent to most people that she was one of those people who had made some bad choices, or was emotionally or psychologically weak… or, perhaps, was slave to some kind of addiction. But eventually someone suggested she get some additional medical tests to get at the root of the problem. Someone else helped her find the necessary funds to pay for the tests. The tests showed that, apparently, the damage from her accident had been far more extensive than the Panamanian hospital had thought.

Now, as a person with an identified “disability,” she was able to get the funding she needed to continue medical testing and treatment. After a long battery of tests and treatments, the doctors stated that Carol, whose extensive brain damage was apparent, would most likely never be a fully functioning member of society.

Apparently, Carol didn’t believe them.

* * *

I met Carol Perry today because she spoke to my students as the founder and CEO of the Charlie Taylor Foundation, an international non-profit named after her father, and dedicated to connecting people who have needs with people who can meet those needs. Apparently, some people’s needs are easily written-off, or overlooked, or rationalized away by most of us. But Carol and her foundation are meeting needs of people in Mexico, Panama, and the U.S. simply by receiving their letters, BELIEVING the need is real, and finding the person, group or corporation that can meet that need.

Apparently, when Carol sees needy people, she doesn’t see how hopeless their situations are; she can’t understand how undeserving or ungrateful they might eventually be; she never realizes how much of her own personal time, energy and money it might take to make even a small dent in their situation. Apparently, the brain injury has made Carol very gullible and foolish. Just think… with wounds like the ones she has already survived, why would she step out and risk even more?

I asked her why she had turned toward helping all these other people after she had been hurt so much. She said it was because she was “her father’s daughter”—Charlie Taylor— a survivor of the sinking of the USS Quincy in 1942 who watched his buddies taken one at a time by hungry sharks and oil fires in the South Pacific and then later became a “search and rescue” guy. “Someone came by and picked him out of the water,” she said, “and he had to watch families discover that their fathers, brothers, or sons had not made it out alive.”

Several times, while she spoke to my class, she lost her train of thought. She would pause, smile, look at me and ask, “Now, where was I?” I’d tell her, and she’d start up again. This day of talking and answering questions just about wore her out, but she was still smiling after the last period—even when her voice was almost gone. She told the kids that there was one thing she really wanted them to know. “If NOTHING else, get this…” she said. “If you have it in your heart, you can do it with or without the help of your head.”

Apparently, Love’s actions don’t always make sense.

“I’m my father’s daughter!” she repeated before she left, smiling again.

She certainly is.

You can visit Carol’s website at [http://www.thectf.org].New Wineskins

Scott SimpsonScott Simpson has been a teacher at the high school and university levels for twenty years, holding faculty positions at York College, ACU and Black Hills State University. Scott also served as Executive Director of Camp Blue Haven in Las Vegas, NM for two years. He is currently teaching English at Central High School in Grand Junction, CO. Scott is a writer, poet and songwriter and enjoys making and recording music with his wife Sheryl and their two daughters, Maegan and Laurel.

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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