Linda Beck: Two are blessed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2018

Back in the fall of 1993, I started going to the pool downtown to continue using water therapy. I had used the outdoor pool at the apartment all summer and even the doctor said to continue whatever I was doing because my health was steadily improving.

Going to the pool for several hours every day was helping me physically and emotionally as I continued to deal with the death of my husband and living alone. I met a lot of people and they enjoyed watching as things began to look easier for me.

A new girl named Shelley DiDonato started coming to the pool in 1998. She had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and was told by some friends in the pool to talk to me about how the water had helped me get around better.

Shelly was only 28 years old and she was from Ohio. She was so beautiful and such a sweet person; it just broke my heart that she had been diagnosed with this at such a young age. I was delighted the following summer when I discovered that like me she loves the outdoor pool and sunshine.

We spent hours discussing our lives: love, lost love, family, friends, and our own health problems. I tried to encourage her and set an example with my actions. At times, we went out to eat and to club meetings. I offered advice, cried on her shoulder, and listened when she needed someone to talk with.

During that time, I got so much better that people thought there was nothing wrong with me. Unfortunately, Shelley had some negative times. I started driving, traveling to speak, and moved to my new home in the country.

We spent less time together and then I had the major exacerbation with the MS. I could no longer drive and had no way to go to the club. I don’t really know much about her life at that time. The club closed, the new YMCA opened, but time passed before I was ever able enough to go there.

My friend, Donna Fessler, had started going to the YMCA and for a time Shelley was leading the water classes. The two of them became friends and Donna kept us informed about each other. Donna gave Shelley a copy of both of my books.

Shelley came to North Carolina originally to get away from the cold in Ohio.

But her health was going downhill and the North Carolina heat began to wear her down. She returned to Ohio and for a time we lost touch with each other. Donna did kind of keep us informed about how we were each doing and encouraged me to keep in touch with Shelley.

Shelley and I started e-mailing each other some and she told me that she missed reading my stories. I realized God was giving me an opportunity to start a new ministry. I told Shelley if she really wanted to read the stories, I could e-mail them to her alphabetically a few at a time though sometimes they might be ones she had already read.

Shelley seemed delighted with the idea and I had a new mission. I decided I would read each story myself before sending it to Shelley. This occupies time about once a week when I send her five or 10 stories depending on how busy I am making cards for our soldiers. (That was one of the first ministries the Lord gave me in 2004 and we still can use help with that project. If interested, call me at 704-278–9355 or e-mail me at

Well, I started sending the stories to Shelley in May of 2017 and just finished through the ones that begin with the letter “I.” Almost 300 stories have been sent and she has expressed a lot of feelings about what these stories have meant to her.

Well, I give thanks to the Lord that this mission has helped me keep in touch with Shelley and renew our long-distance friendship. A cold winter in Ohio has her wishing she could come back to North Carolina. If I just had another room, I would welcome her back!

Rereading my own stories (some of which were written over 25 years ago) has been a blessing to me. I hope the Lord sees it as a job well done!

Linda Beck lives in Woodleaf.

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