I am the luckiest man in the world.
I never imagined that day in 1973 at the Food Co-op that sharing the purchase
of a head of cabbage with the Co-op Volunteer would lead to sharing the next 40
years with her. We graduated together and spent the happiest two and a half
years of our lives in the village of Nauhuizalco, in the midst of the El
Salvadoran civil war. I was completely smitten by Shelley’s unlimited
selflessness and desire to serve others.
That path carried us through her
graduate studies in Public Health, Nutrition, Maternal/Child, Nursing and Nurse
Practitioner and my own PhD. During that time we were very blessed with two
incredible and brilliant daughters, Sarah and Katurah who have mirrored their
mother’s love for math and science.
I have been in awe of Shelley as she
rode a motorcycle to 34 Bolivian villages in the Amazon basin to teach public
health, midwifing and nutrition to mothers’ clubs, walked across tree-trunk
bridges to communities to give vaccinations and training, taught Lamaze classes
to women in prison and also to 12 to17 year-old girls at Children’s Hospital,
pioneered HIV prevention at Ohio Department of Health, cared for mothers and
children at the Hilltop Clinic, and stayed late at work to be able to check on
the daughter’s health of the young woman who cleaned her James Cancer Hospital
office, even as Shelley herself battled for mobility in her final days with
I currently work with the Makushi
Tribe in the Amazon area of Guyana to create village learning centers because
this is how we have always felt and when I see her next, I do not want her to
call me a “slacker”.
I am at the Clinic enjoying Monday
evenings because I learned to follow Shelley, the light of my life. This one is
for you, Shelley.