By Monica Gomez
cappuccino tasted delicious. Kitty and I were half way through our walk round
the lake, so we stopped for a rest. I cherished those walks so much: the fresh
clean air, the mountains close by, the green pastures, the sheep and this new
found acquaintance, who I sensed could become a life
long dear friend. An American and an Argentinean together in
this little mountain paradise in southern
had arrived 2 years before from
this small community, I was having a very difficult time adapting to the local
Italian culture. I say I am an Argentine
by birth with an Anglo Saxon heart because of my formal education as an English
teacher and my frequent visits to friends and family in
day, I heard that his wife, Kitty, had come to visit. I vividly remember the
English ladies, who had already met her, telling me: “You’ve got to meet Kitty.
She’s very bubbly. You’ll like her.”
They were right. I did, and before long, we started going for our walks,
and sharing, talking about our pasts, expressing our opinions and getting very
close in a very short period of time. At that point, Dan and Kitty were in the
process of deciding whether or not Dan was going to accept a position in
Back to the cappuccino. I was telling Kitty about how I missed my work as a
I had come up with the idea that maybe I could communicate with somebody on line. I thought of physically disabled people (quadriplegics, for instance) who use the computer as a means of communication with the world. So I searched the Internet for organizations, like the Christopher Reeve Foundation (Christopher Reeve had been a model of strength for me in a moment of a deep crisis when my son was born) and many others. But I got no answer.
I was talking to Kitty about all this when she said: ‘Dan has an aunt who has been in a wheel chair for 50 years.’ Without thinking I just said: ‘Maybe you can get me in touch with her.’
At this point, I must admit (and Kitty will agree) that we will never know what happened because we never talked about this aunt again.
passed. Dan and Kitty went back to the
Again – as that day in the lake when she had mentioned Ann – I felt that strange feeling in my guts. Anticipation, perhaps? Vivian didn’t have an Internet connection then so it was impossible to communicate directly with her.
Then came an email from Kitty telling me Vivian’s sad story: how her boy friend and father had both deserted her after her accident, just when she needed them most. Now that ‘male desertion’ was something I knew all too well! When my son Tomas was born and we were told he had Down Syndrome, his father couldn’t take it and left. He never overcame his rejection, one of his points being: ‘He’ll never be able to go to University.’
To make things worse, when Tommy was only 20 days old, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Being an only child, with only my wonderful but shattered dad to share this whole crisis with, I went through some extremely difficult times. But I survived! Then, I met Antonio and you already know that ‘happy ending.’
I thought maybe Vivian and her mom could benefit from my story. It wasn’t just to cheer them up; I was going to talk from my heart and my own experience. If I had survived and managed to find happiness after the multiple traumas of the last few years, I knew anyone could. It’s that feeling of sharing that is so healing, when you realize you’re not alone with your pain, when you connect with other human beings who’ve been there but have made it through.
So I wrote my story and even sent pictures. After that, when Vivian finally discovered the benefit of embracing new technology and got internet service, I sent her an email, very shyly, asking her if we could communicate. I’ll never forget the emotion I felt when I got her answer. I was moved, happy and excited! “Yes!” she said. “I’d like to be your friend!” Those words just filled my heart.
A few days later Kitty also gave me Ann’s email address.
Ann Ruthie Maxwell is the most extraordinary human being I have ever met. We started chatting immediately … and we have never stopped! We chat every single day, except for weekends when my husband takes over the computer. But those days we send email!
At around the same time, Kitty connected Ann with Vivian and this “sisterhood of 3 continents” started to develop.
I know it’s a cliché to say: “There are no words to describe…” But really, how can I begin to explain how my life changed after this? Both Ann and Vivian are a big part of my life. I think we’re even beyond a common friendship. There’s an invisible energy of light running through the Internet when we meet!
Ann is 71 years old. When she was 17 she was in a car wreck which broke her neck and took the life of her mother. She’s been through all kinds of experiences in these 53 years. You can not imagine all the challenges she had to overcome, yet she is full of life, strong, and has an incredibly wonderful sense of humor. She’s caring and loving towards others and not at all the kind of needy person who could be – in all her right – constantly complaining about her fate. I think she might be the longest surviving quadriplegic on earth. She’s a gift in my life.
Vivian is 23 years old. Three years ago she was coming back from a vacation with her boy friend when they had a car crash. She broke her neck and has been confined to a wheel chair with the same type of injury as Ann. Vivian is a sweet, loving, tender girl. She’s always so thankful - when I really feel it is I who should be thankful to her for having her in my life and filling my heart with her warmth.
She calls me ‘Aunt’ and she calls Ann ‘Grandma’
Around once a week, the three of us get together to chat online. We, from three continents, three different cultures, three different generations, are joined by this strong feeling of connection. So far away geographically, yet so close at heart. There is this indestructible bond between us which is simply love in its purest form. What we share is unconditional love because we’re happy just giving! When we are together we often think of the United Nations. If people could leave their differences behind and get close enough to see one another’s heart, they would discover this powerful link of love and we would find that hatred and violence have no place in this world.
would like to thank Dan and Kitty for getting us together in the first place
and for everything they have done to help Vivian. It is unfortunate that she lives in a country
that provides very little for the care of its disabled citizens. I must admit I
am so lucky to have left
But most of all, I’d like to thank Our Lord for this wonderful plan He had in store for us. We three have been through and continue to go through so much. Life is full of ups and downs, however, now I trust that the glory of this loving sisterhood will support us forever, sharing both tears and laughter.
We always nurture our dream of actually getting together one day. Who knows? God has so many surprises for us, as he has shown us! Anyway, right here and now, in our everyday lives, we’re there for each other inside this wonderful and magical circle of Love.
About the Author
Gomez is a qualified counselor from
She is willing to be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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