When Liz Glover won the chance to carry the Olympic torch in 1987, it was a dream come true for the young woman who loved the outdoors and had yet to find a sport she didn’t enjoy.
Less than a month later, a near-fatal car accident took away everything she loved and she began the long road to recovery and a new life.
Glover shares her story in her memoir, Feeling the Warmth of God’s Love.
It was Jan. 24, 1988 and Glover, then 26, was on her way to work in Fingal, Ont., unaware that it had rained the previous night, creating a sheet of ice underneath freshly fallen snow.
Rounding a corner, her 1984 Hyundai Pony spun out of control and collided with a tree, the trunk coming directly into contact with the driver’s side door.
“The night before the accident, I was praying and told God that I was fine and that he could take the next day off,” she said.
At the time, Glover was working part-time in a group home for people who are mentally challenged. She lived with her beloved Gram, and her parents and five siblings lived near by.
“I had filled out 100 of those cards at Petro-Canada for the chance to carry the Olympic torch as it made its way to Calgary for the ‘88 Olympics. This was no doubt the greatest highlight of my life so far. I had the world by the tail, and I was just coming into my own as well.
“Who else would say to the creator of the universe, ‘I’ll be OK, you can take the day off.’
“As my car was going out of control, I was praying again, ‘Dear Lord Jesus, I need to back out of giving You the day off. Please come back I really need Your help!’
After being rushed by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Ont., Glover is quickly assessed and taken to the operating room to have her ruptured spleen removed.
During surgery, she feels herself floating above the operating table, observing.
“I really wish to return to earth and for my chance to be a mother…I wish my turn at seeing my children’s little smiling faces. I wish to have little birthday parties and to introduce them to God, the Tooth Faith, Cupid, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I wish to help them learn to read and to use their imaginations. But most of all, I wish to pass on all the patience, kindness and love that my grandmother has always shown to me.”
But Glover has a long road ahead of her. Her ribs are fractured, an artery in her heart continues to leak blood into her stomach cavity. She is known as a closed head injury victim and is in unstable condition with massive internal injuries. In a coma, she is put on life support and clinging to life. She battles pneumonia three times and her lung collapses. She is on a roller coaster ride that takes her from stable to critical and back again.
After 18 days in a coma, Glover wakes up and learns that doctors believe she will never speak and will never walk again. But she begins rehabilitation determined to prove them wrong.
“When I woke up from the coma, I could only move my eyelids, but I saw my Gram, and our hearts were connected. She was the most beautiful lady you’d ever meet.”
Glover’s long road to recovery began and, while she has never regained the physical strength she once had, she has her speech and she has the ability to walk and is not reliant on medications to function.
“All your dreams and aspirations are gone and there are battles that you have to overcome and it becomes like a game. I was always pretty content prior to the accident, but you are given life with a set of cards and they all have to be played.”
And when she got married May 5, 1990, Glover’s dream of motherhood was suddenly within reach. Daughter Kaitlyn was born in 1991 and her son Bob in 1995.
Glover worried about caring for an infant. Without the strength in her hands and arms, she was concerned about supporting a baby’s head.
“But you work through everything and you find ways to do everything.
“But I know that’s why I came back after my accident, to be a mom — I know God was with me all the time.
“I know for a fact, and my journey proves it beyond any doubt, that God was, God is and God will always be here with me.”
Glover left Ontario for Vernon when her now ex-husband found work out here. Once the decision was made to relocate, she never looked back.
“I wasn’t worried, as I just figured this is the next part of the adventure, that there is a reason for everything. I’ve never lived in the past, so this was meant to be. I don’t like to go back.”
Glover wasted no time in her new community. Unable to work full time since her accident, she started volunteering at Silver Star elementary school, which both of her children attended.
“It takes me such a long time to do what most people can do very quickly and I don’t have the strength in my arm. My children were always great and understanding as they knew what I could and couldn’t do.”
She loves her two days a week at Silver Star, something she has continued long after her children have left school.
“It’s just fabulous and the teachers are just amazing there. I do my rounds, I have a box and when teachers need help with photocopying or laminating, it goes into my box and I help out the whole school.”
And it was thanks to those same teachers at Silver Star that saw the publication of Glover’s first book.
She gives credit to Grade 2 teacher Lynne Whiskin, who edited the book for her, and retired Grade 6 teacher Sandi Simpson.
“I thought about writing a book when I was still back in Ontario, and I thought maybe this would turn into a good story. I started with a capital letter and the odd period but no paragraphs or other punctuation.
“Lynne helped a lot with that, and I knew there was a way to get this published but I was told it was too expensive, so Sandi found me a publisher in Kelowna.”
Glover’s favourite time to write is between 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m., when the house is quiet.
“I wrote it so that anyone in the same situation, or in any situation, could read it and pick up inspiration and encouragement and to not give up.”
To order a copy of Feeling the Warmth of God’s Love, call Glover after 5 p.m. at 250-542-9552 or text her anytime.