Archive for Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Basehor woman finds meaning in mystery trip

May 28, 2003

Doctors worked furiously July 6, 1989, attempting to revive the clinically dead body of Nadine Stevenson.

Her heart stopped beating off and on for 11 minutes.

The routine gallbladder surgery had taken a drastic turn for the worse, she recalls; iodine injected into her legs caused an allergic reaction and later, a seizure. At the 12th minute, Stevenson did as doctors hoped -- she returned to life.

From where she returned remains a mystery.

While her body lay on the operating table just inches below doctors trying to awaken her, she says her spirit traveled somewhere else, to the most serene, safest place she has ever known.

Words do not paint an accurate description of where she was during those critical 12 minutes, but Stevenson tried to put the experience into grasp.

A kaleidoscope of soft colors enveloped her, warm air moved throughout and a strange, brilliant stream of light invited her near. The strange place seemed like home and there is no need for fear when you're at home, she said.

"There was a light at the end of the tunnel," Stevenson said. "It was there and it was very real. It was very comfortable. You want to go near it."

"It was all things good," she added. "In all you do, it matters what kind of faith you have. I'm a firm believer it was God's hands. A lot of people don't believe in that."

Stevenson, a Basehor resident and member of the Bonner Springs Baptist Church, didn't tell many people of her near death-experience.

"I knew what I had seen but I didn't realize what had happened to me or the seriousness," she said. "I thought they would think I was out of my mind."

After coming to grips with the experience, Stevenson told her story.

The tale restored faith in some family members and for Stevenson, a devout Baptist, it only reinforced her pious beliefs.

"I know what happened," she said. "I believe more than I did before. There's also more of a value for your family and friends."

The experience also proved vital in her sense of community; Stevenson, 82, a resident of the Pebblebrooke senior center in Basehor, seems to be the unofficial social chairwoman of the development.

Each time new residents move to the housing development, Stevenson is there to greet them.

"When my daughter and I looked here, she came by to say hello," neighbor Yvonne Goodwin said. "My daughter said 'Mom, you've got to move there because she's so nice.'"

Stevenson has also helped organize weekly dinners at Kelley's Bar and Grill in Basehor, for development residents.

"One day I just said 'how about us all go to dinner,'" Stevenson said.

On a typical Wednesday afternoon, 15 to 25 Pebblebrooke residents pile into cars and make the trip to Kelley's. Stevenson usually taxies a group up there as well.

The weekly dinner snowballed into a variety of activities that Stevenson helps coordinate at Pebblebrooke.

Things like Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners as well as Monday afternoon card games for Pebblebrooke residents have become quite popular.

"Well, you get that many old women with that many covered dishes and you've got good eating," Stevenson explained.

"She's had a lot of good effect here," Goodwin added. "She's really gotten things going."

For Stevenson, the experience 14 years ago played a profound role in the community she tries to create today at Pebblebrooke.

"I think so," she said. "I don't think I would have gone that far without it."

And don't expect her motor to stop soon with coordinating activities for residents.

"If you keep going your going to go longer," the 82-year-old said.

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