Wednesday, December 19, 2012



Last blog post before Christmas and I been thinking ‘bout what I want to talk about. There’s been a lot of talk about villains lately, so I thought maybe I should post something about a hero. I backed away from my ‘100 People To Meet Before You Die’, because the next person up, did something that really disappointed me and I lost my heart for it, but the other night when I couldn’t sleep and I lay in bed listening to the ocean break on the beach, I thought of a hero of mine who came forth at the Christmas Season. I would like to tell you about her.

I met Shirley Hunter when I moved to an out of the way place in Idaho, Swan Valley. Shirley was an interesting character who was in the midst of the fight of her life when we met. Her husband, the love of her life, was going through cancer treatment and she was devoting everything she had to his recovery. Sometimes, that type of thing is tougher on the loved ones than the sick individual.

Shirley has a very personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ and more than once she explained that she fought hard for that relationship. She is definitely not the kind of person who believes something because someone else says ‘trust me’. This woman knows for sure, for herself (my kind of person).

Shirley is a nurse. In the late summer/early fall of 2004 after much preparation Shirley was able to see a long term dream of hers fulfilled when she traveled to Africa with another mutual friend. In Africa she was training health care workers in infant CPR and other pre and post natal care. Shirley was thrilled with this opportunity and the chance to really make a difference in the lives of so many people. When she came home to the states, she did presentations for other health care workers hoping to inspire others. That, I’m sure she did. This alone would have given her Hero status in my book, but there’s more to the story.

December 26, 2004, as I’m sure most of you remember Indonesia was devastated by a horrific tsunami. The destruction was unbelievable. The death toll astronomical. A general cry for relief went out around the world. One of Shirley’s daughter-in-laws was affiliated with an organization sending some of the first relief workers, but when they were ready to go, it was found that most did not have the necessary clearance or proper inoculations to travel safely to this part of the world. The DIL contacted Shirley and sure enough because of her recent trip to Africa all of her paperwork was in order and she had the necessary shots and then some to safely gain her entry to the area.

After the fact I remember Shirley telling a group of us that she didn’t want to go. She was tired and she had some idea of what it might be like. The long flights, the waiting in airports, not to mention flying military transport most of the way. In the end she realized that all of her preparations for a dream come true (the trip to Africa) had also prepared and made her uniquely qualified to enter this particular nightmare. She was on a plane in the early hours of December 27th.

When she returned she told us how she and her DIL were in fact among the very first relief workers to be allowed into the country. There had been military struggles in Banda Aceh for a long time and as much as they needed the help, the government was very leery of outside intervention. For whatever reason they let these two women through and allowed them to bring tons of relief supplies that had already spent hours sitting at airports waiting to be distributed.

Shirley spent several weeks there, trying to help the living recover. The trauma to most wasn’t physical but physiological. The stink of death and decay hung in the air and facilities were negligible. Everything was quite literally washed away. This courageous woman did what she could to help people cope and see life to be worth living again. Did I forget to mention that at the time Shirley was seventy-two (72) years old? Think about that for a minute.

I suppose at some time in everyone’s life they have thought about being someone important or special, about really making a mark in the world, about making a big difference. I know I have. I have come to understand that we are all important and special. Each and every one of us has an almost constant opportunity to make a mark, a really big difference in the world, but often it’s with one or two people at a time.

If you come around here much, you know that I have a profound belieF in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I truly believe that they qualify us and make us ready to step up and make a difference, just as they did for Shirley. Being a HERO is as easy as being a friend.

Shirley Hunter will remain one of my heroes for the rest of my life.

May each of you have the MERRIEST CHRISTMAS EVER!


  1. What an amazing woman! She takes away the excuse of being too old to make a difference.
    You're right, I think God expects more from us. We have a calling.
    Have a blessed Christmas!

  2. Being able to recognize the special in others is a skill, too.

    It's always a pleasure to read about those who answer that call to help. Lately, we needed those kind of people a lot.

    Thanks for sharing the story of unique woman.

    Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2013.

  3. Please add 'this' unique woman to my comment. Sheesh.

  4. Bless her! It makes me shake in my shoes to think about doing something like that.

  5. This is a beautiful story. Shirley is an amazing woman! Thank you for this.

  6. This was an excellent, well written blog bit, and Shirley Hunter is a hero - absolutely!

    God does work sometimes in mysterious ways. ...I just now made that up, but feel free to quote me on it if you ever want to.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  7. This was a beautiful post, and I'm glad to have read it. You're absolutely right. It's so easy to say I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but it's another thing to actually find true meaning in those statements. I know way too many people that use it simply as way to hold themselves morally above others, and yet at the same time, they do nothing for anyone else.

  8. I'd love to have gotten to know Shirley. Swan Valley is beautiful. Was she well to do? Usually those in Swan Valley and Jackson/Victor/Driggs were well-to-do.

  9. Alex - You are so right. We have no excuse.

    D.G. - People like this are always needed.

    Donna - You and me both.

    DL- That she is.

    Beth - You are very welcome. I feel it a privilege to to have known her.

    STMc - Thank you sir. You are totally correct. God does work in mysterious ways.

    Beer Boys - Appreciate your comment. You are so right.

    Michael - Shirley is a beautiful person, certainly rich beyond what you can count. Swan Valley is beautiful. I'm so grateful for the time I spent there.

  10. This was a very touching post, Farawayeyes. I appreciate your bringing attention to Shirley, and am amazed that she was 72 when her heroism peaked. Inspiring.

    Blessings to you for a safe and warm Christmas and New Year's.

  11. People who can take on things like Shirley did are to be admired. It's a lot more than I would probably be willing to put myself through.

    Tossing It Out

  12. Beautiful story, beautiful woman. Merry Christmas!