I have (had?) a beautiful home in Linden. It is more than just an address. It is a part of Arizona's heart. It is Arizona's people, its families, its courage, its strength and its simple appreciation for nature's beauty.
As an ER nurse, I have worked for many years in Navapache Hospital in Show Low. I have been privileged to become an intimate part of the human daily struggles of the families of the White Mountains. I have cried, laughed, and faced unique human tragedies with them. I have witnessed how, in this unique part of the world, no man is an island. No man stands alone. We are family and we are all one, especially when any one of us is in need.
I could give you so many examples of this. One of my favorite stories is when the whole Linden Fire Department showed up on Christmas Eve at my house in a big red fire truck with all the sirens and lights blasting. Santa himself (who looked a lot like a familiar police officer) was ho-ho-hoing and waving to the kids from the top of the truck. The word had gotten out that I had suddenly been blessed with some pretty needy foster kids. I'm a single working Mom and I was determined to make Christmas happen for these kids.
I'll never forget the look on those little girls' faces when Santa climbed down from that fire truck with a big bag of presents. They even brought a whole turkey dinner with all the trimmings just for them! It warmed my heart to look around at the smiles of the firefighters and paramedics that joined in the fun. They were my very special Santa's elves. But that's just the way of life there.
In the past year, we have learned that we are at our best when we face the worst. We will get through this and we will find a way to join together to heal, to rebuild, and to go on. It is in the spirit of the White Mountains, not to just survive, but to thrive, grow, and become richer in spirit through the challenges that we face together.
Kathleen Kelly, Payson