One Incredible Woman

by Arnold Nelson

Cathy was the smallest of the eight kids. She was not the youngest, in fact, she was third child. When she became a woman she was only 5 foot tall, but she had a big heart. It was one of the biggest hearts I have ever seen.

The first time that I know that she help somebody else out she was only five years old. She wrote a story about it it was called A Big Job For A Little Girl. In this story she talked about helping a little boy the same age as her who built a wall around himself after his parents died. He refused to talk to anyone and pretty much dropped out of life. Cathy, with a lot of patience, was able to get him to start tearing down the wall and start living again. If you would like to read the story. After I read Cathy's story, I decided to write some comments about her story, and my feelings, if you would like to read it. It is called Walls. It is located on this site.

Growing up in a big family, when you are one of the oldest, you end up spending a lot of time around younger children and sometimes even get where you prefer them to being around children your own age. Cathy always liked being around younger children. She liked teaching them and helping them and just generally liked being with them. When she got older she started babysitting like a lot of kids when she graduated from high school, she had job being a nanny. She also had a job in a rest home but the lady that ran the rest home was pretty cheap. She bought cheap dish soap and the soap was so rough it hurt her hands. So one day Cathy's father went to talk to the lady, and told her you'd better get some better soap or Cathy will quit. I don't remember what happened but I know Cathy quit shortly after that anyway.

One day, when she was at a church group she met a man. I think they were both lonely so they just kind of gravitated together and became friends. He recently had come from Kentucky where he got a ride with some friends. There was nothing for him in Kentucky and he figured he would have a better life in California. He had one big problem though, he liked to drink. He had a job cleaning up a bar every night, but I think he drank up most of everything he made cleaning up the bar. Anyway Cathy and this man started sparking and pretty soon he asked her to marry him. She said yes and they started their life together. He had gotten a second job working as a custodian in the hospital in town.

Her father bought a little Fiat and told them, if either one of them got their driver's license they could have the car. Years ago Cathy got a big scare when she was trying to learn to drive and had a flat tire on the freeway. After that she refused to ever drive a car again. She drove a moped for a while, then she had a little Honda 50. She loved that she could get around by herself. She wasn't afraid of hurting herself or anybody else with them. Her husband refused to get a drivers license. He always figured he could find someone to take him wherever he wanted to go. That was probably a good thing since he was drunk so much of the time. Her husband told me once that one of the reasons he got married when he did was to win a bet with a friend of his.

They got married at the mission in town. It was a small wedding, but it was a nice wedding. While her husband worked, Cathy started studying Braille she wanted to be a Braille transcriber. She was doing real good at it too. She was also watching kids during the day when her husband was gone.

One Sunday when she came home from church, she was watching the little girl of a friend of hers and all of a sudden she started losing feeling in her shoulders, she said as the numbness started moving down her body she grabbed the phone and call for help, by time she tried to put the phone down she could barely get the phone back on the receiver. She was paralyzed from the neck down. They rushed her to the hospital. The doctors never did come up with a satisfactory answer. The only thing I ever heard was there was pressure on her spine. The doctors relieved the pressure but it didn't do any good. She had limited use of her arms but no use of her legs. Some of the family went to her apartment and packed up her stuff. They put stuff in storage in her parents garage. One day her husband came over and got most of Cathy's stuff and some of his that was there. No one ever saw him after that. I think he took the stuff and sold it and drank it up. Her husband was not a very smart man. He only had an eighth grade education and I think he got scared and panicked, when Cathy became paralyzed, and he just disappeared. Sometime later, Cathy filed for divorce from her first husband and it was granted. Her father was convinced that the first husband did something to Cathy to cause the paralysis. If her father had ever gotten a hold of the first husband, I am afraid to think about what he might have done. Cathy tried and tried to convince her father that her husband did nothing. Even though her father always preached honesty is the best policy, he had a habit of not believing his kids, unless there was someone else along that could collaborate on the story.

Someone told her father, it was all in Cathy's head so he had her committed to a mental hospital for a while. That did no good at all, she just laid in that bed all day long 24 hours a day. Finally after several months of that she got out of the hospital. Her father wanted to bring her home to let her mother take care of her, but Cathy put her foot down. Her mother was getting older and wasn't able to do it. It would have been almost impossible for her mother to give her all the care she needed. Her mother did not have the needed education for it. So she got herself put in a rest home and started being responsible for her own recovery. She met a Seventh-day Adventist minister from a church in the area and through him she found out about programs to help the handicapped. One was a place called Easter Seals, where she could go for therapy.

Cathy said the day she rolled into Easter Seals she rolled back to the physical therapy office, there was a big Japanese man sitting at his desk. He was so big he scared Cathy. I don't think he had been a physical therapist very long and he was a little bit rough on Cathy. After a few appointments, they became friends. Cathy always made friends easily, and they went out a few times. Richard was breaking the first rule of physical therapy. Do not fall in love with your patients. One day while Cathy was laying on the floor in Richard's apartment. Richard came and sat on top of her and told her You're going to marry me- and thats that! All she could say was Yes.

At first her father didn't like it because her father was very prejudiced. He had fought the Japanese during World War II and he didn't like any of them. After he saw how good Richard was for Cathy he accepted their marriage. They were married in the same mission where Cathy was married the first time. What was funny was they even had the same organist. I know because she was a classmate of mine. Apparently she had a job for years playing organ for the mission anytime they needed an organist.

Richard grandparents were born in Japan and migrated to the United States. In the beginning of World War II our government panicked and took all the Japanese on the West Coast and put them in internment camps because they were afraid the Japanese would help the Imperial Japanese Army which the United States with fighting at the time. While Richard parents were in a camp in a place called Poston, Arizona, Richard was born. Cathy wrote a story one time about Richard parents. It was called A Nisei Love Story. There is also a story I wrote which talks a little bit more about the interment camp. It is called Relocation Centers, Internment Camps or Concentration Camps. It is located on this site.

You know how they say in a wedding, two people come together and become one? I don't think I've ever seen it quite so strong as with Cathy and Richard. They have such a strong need for each other, such a strong love for each other. It is just beautiful to see. They both want to help others so much it is just unbelievable. They will give just about anything they have, if it will help somebody else. They have a very strong faith in God and they know that God will get them through anything so they're not worried.

One Saturday, shortly after they were married, it was announced in their church that there was a young black man in the church that needed a place to live while he finished his physical therapy school. I don't think Cathy and Richard had to talk together for more than about 5 min. before they opened up their doors and allow this man to stay with them. Her father about had a fit again because he was so prejudiced. Her father grew up on the streets of Chicago during the Great Depression. I am sure he was probably part of the gang and may have been a gang leader because he was never a follower, he was always a leader. Because of that, he hated everybody that was not white. He never did accept that that young man. That young man became like a brother to them, not only to them but to me and to my little brother. We used to play miniature golf together and we used to have the best time. It was over 40 year ago when that man came into Cathy and Richards life and they are still best friends. Through the years Cathy and Richard helped many many people. If I were to try to list them all it would take several pages and I would probably still miss some.

Richard makes good money as a physical therapist and he uses a lot of that money to help others. They have lived in the same apartment in a bad area of Long Beach California for well over 30 years. They are happy there. Their apartment just got an overhaul that makes them even happier.

One day Cathy was rolling around downtown Long Beach. She saw a state office that was set up to help the handicapped. She went in and started talking to them. During the talk the lady she was talking to asked her what Cathy's biggest dream was. Cathy said she wanted to be a teacher. So they helped her. Cathy went back to school, to Cal State Long Beach, and got her transition credentials. It took a few years but she got them. Unfortunately, by the time she got them because of her age and her health she is not able to get a job in the public school system. She teaches kids at her church all the time. She runs the children program there and spends many hours a week getting stuff ready for kids every Saturday, and she loves it. From time to time she has guest speakers come in and talk to her kids and tell them about their careers and their jobs. She has asked me to come in. I have not had the time or the money to get there yet. Hopefully sometime next year I will be able to do it.

She has also become an advocate for the handicapped. She had been involved in many lawsuits when she found things that were supposedly set up for the handicapped that weren't set up right. She does not do it for the money, she does it because she wants to make things as easy as possible for the handicapped.

Cathy used to say she was not disabled she was differently abled. I brought it up to her one time, not too long ago, she had forgotten she used to say it. I never forgot it because I thought it was such a neat statement. It is okay. We all forget things, that's part of getting older.

Cathy has been keeping our family together by putting out a phone book every Christmas with the phone numbers and addresses of all of our relations. She started writing stories a long time ago. About six years ago she started putting them on the Internet. About four years ago she got me started putting my stories on the Internet. We are not making much money but we are having a lot of fun and what is more important, we are helping other people with our stories. Maybe someday we can make some money with them. If we do that would be great. Whatever happens. we both know God will take care of us. We don't have to worry about a thing. We just put everything in God's hands and He takes care of it.

Cathy has been helping people for over 60 years now. She has slowed down but she still helps as much as she possibly can. I could not ask for better sister. Cathy, I just want you to know I love you very much.

Cathy died early this morning (12/23/17) after a long illmess because of problems associated with being in a wheelchair. She is up in heaven now walking and running like everyone else. She can even be a ballerina now like she always wanted to. Her story on earth is finish but her story in heaven is just starting. Cathy please give mom a hug for me and take care of my girls until I get there.

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