08/01/2012 - By Gayle Irwin
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"We decided we'd go around the world," Elizabeth Martin reflected as to why she left her native Scotland at age 29 alongside her friend Helen.
"Helen said, 'How about going to Montana?'"
So the two nursing school friends left their homeland and traveled to America in 1967. Little did they know that their dream of traveling the world would basically end in Big Sandy, a remote small village in north-central Montana near the Missouri River.
"Main Street ended in a field. It was a bit of a culture shock," Elizabeth remembered.
She and Helen responded to an ad placed in a nursing magazine by a Montana doctor. Elizabeth practiced midwifery, and she enjoyed helping mothers and newborns. The doctor's ad implied his need for help in that field.
"He said, 'Come on over, I need someone to deliver babies,'" Elizabeth recalled in her still-strong Scottish accent. "He didn't want to do it."
The hospital in Big Sandy was a 9-bed facility. Elizabeth had practiced both in Scotland and England, leaving a 900-bed hospital. The change was challenging.
"Helen and I lived in the basement of the (Big Sandy) hospital. The town had five bars and three churches," she recalled.
Helen still lives in Big Sandy. Elizabeth moved to Casper in the fall of 2010 to be near one of her daughters and her family. Shelley, Elizabeth's daughter, has followed in her mother's footsteps and serves as a nurse at Wyoming Medical Center.
The world traveling dream was set aside upon marrying a man from Montana. Misfortune struck when their children were not even teenagers: Elizabeth's husband died in a freak accident at a neighbor's home. Elizabeth worked three jobs to keep her family afloat; she served not only as a nurse for the doctor, but also in home health, and she delivered the rural mail several days a week. Those times were challenging, yet each of her three children attended college.
Perseverance has played an important role in Elizabeth's life. So has faith. Raised Catholic, her mother, sister and aunt served as oblates, following the rule of St. Benedict for a life of peace, prayer and work. Elizabeth is also exploring this aspect of her faith in greater depth.
"It's a way of living your faith," she explained. "The rule was set centuries ago, but it's still relevant today."
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She attends St. Anthony's and Our Lady of Fatima parishes.
Her perseverance and faith were tested again on 9-11. Her other daughter, who had served in the Air Force, was at the Pentagon that fateful day. Fortunately, she survived.
Just a few months ago, Elizabeth underwent heart surgery. Her chest had to be opened a second time and an infection set in. She has tirelessly gone through IV antibiotics and cardiac rehab. However, her prognosis is good.
"I'm doing well now," Elizabeth stated.
Throughout her life challenges, Elizabeth has found strength in her family, her faith, and herself. After her husband's death, she took a few correspondence classes and began writing stories.
"I needed to have something I'm obliged to do," she said.
She writes fantasy and speculative fiction.
"I like getting out of myself. I like to fantasize, to make up stories," she said.
"What I write reflects what I read," she added.
Recently, a book she started during the 1980s was published to Kindle. Titled Sahra's Quest, the story recounts the life of a young woman, a medical practitioner, who possesses special talents of foreseeing trouble; she uses those abilities to help people. The book is part of a trilogy and is written for youth and adults. The second installment, Monahan's Search, is also available on Kindle. Elizabeth participates in a local writer's group and one day hopes to attend a conference or two and share her works with publishers. She would like to see her stories in printed form as well. "I recently went to the library and I thought, I'd like to see my books in a library," said Elizabeth
Other stories in the works are tales for children, including a story about a 10-year-old boy who helps a leprechaun get back to Ireland and another about the same boy assisting the son of the Loch Ness Monster escape its kidnapper. Although Elizabeth said her Celtic heritage did not play a large role in her life back in Scotland, her grandfather did share stories with her occasionally. Now, her own granddaughter can download Elizabeth's stories to her IPAD.
Change requires perseverance and faith, and Elizabeth has employed these her in own life. From Scotland to Casper, from nursing to writing, from family to faith, she embraces joys and challenges, finding adventures and blessings in her life's journey.