Magazine Home
To Betsy Bowman, Who Saved My Life

“He who makes his neighbor suffer harms himself.
  He who helps others, helps himself."       - Leo Tolstoy

by Colette Morya

I first met Betsy and Bob in Juarez Park, in September 2019 at a global climate change event inspired by Greta Thunberg. Bob approached me with his patient smile and handed me a flyer about the event. I was imperssed by the way that Betsy translated the speaker's poem from English to Spanish.

The very next day, the tree removal controversy on Guadalupe Avenue erupted. I joined the movement to save them, Salvemos 41 Arboles. One day, while I was on the brigade, Bob Stone arrived. (That's when I learned his name.) He was there, talking and supporting us, filling us with hope, gaining my respect immediately.

As a result of my involvement in Salvemos 41 Arboles, I was invited to an event at the Biblioteca. Mickey Metts spoke on how we are being surveilled through our digital devices. I felt here are people who care about more than themselves, who are striving, on a large scale or small, to make the world a better place. I rejoiced to be among them.

After the talk, I was invited to dinner along with Bob and Betsy. That's when I learned that the two were married, university professors, philosophers (Sartre) and cofounders of the Center for Global Justice here in San Miguel. My admiration for them swelled.

Salvemos 41 Arboles protest

A couple of months later, something went very wrong. One afternoon I didn't feel well. I had a pain in my abdomen. At first, I did my best to ignore it, but over the course of the evening and night it got worse. Seconds dragged by. The torture was in slow motion. By dawn, it was unbearable. I called a friend, who called an ambulance

Arriving at the hospital, death whispering in my ear, things got worse. The hospital workers would do nothing to save my life without the certainty that they would be paid. They needed a credit card.

I asked for help and all I got was a paper to sign releasing them of responsibility. They knew what I was going to die, and they didn't want any legal trouble because of it.

The pain was more unbearable each moment. My shivering indicated the internal deterioration of my body. With Death sitting in front of me, smiling and waiting, my survival instinct roused up. I searched for an opportunity. It really was the chance of a lifetime. I contacted Betsy.

I was in a different dimension, an eternity of pain. The nurse wouldn't even give me a Tylenol. Suddenly there was Betsy. With the little breath I had left, I begged her help. This woman, whom I barely knew, was my last hope. And she, without thinking, in a simple act of infinite compassion, took out her credit card, and handing it to the attendant, saved my life.

Betsy and Bob

We say in Mexico, "With money the dog dances." With that gesture, my life was now precious to the hospital. They went to extremes with their care and attention. I was rushed into an operating room, where my swollen appendix was removed.

After the operation, the same nurse, the one who had first ignored me, told me what I already knew, "You have very good friends." I am not always as grateful as I should be, but at that moment I knew how lucky I am.

Making conversation, that same nurse asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I was a writer, she looked surprised and ill at ease. "Are you going to write about this, too?" she asked. "Yes, I am," I dryly replied, looking her straight in the eye with the same coldness I had received from her at the start. Mysteriously, now everyone in the hospital started treating me like a queen.

After the storm, comes the calm. When I was discharged, Betsy and Bob most graciously invited me to their home for my recovery. I felt that I couldn't have felt been luckier. But I was wrong. Circumstances, including the onset of the pandemic and the extreme generosity of my hosts, extended my stay with them for more than a year.

It would take a book to recount what I learned with them during this time, valuable lessons that I keep in heart. Their main advice, as Betsy told me, is "Help, help whoever is in front of you. Just help." In my own way, and to the best of my ability, I now do, in honor of Betsy Bowman.

Mickey and Bob

Elizabeth Bowman and Robert Stone have been a blessing to San Miguel for the last 18 years. Passionate activists for civil rights, peace, feminism, cooperatives and solidarity economy movements, their aim is to achieve a just economic democracy, an integral humanity inspired by Sartre's second ethics. Their list of academic and political accomplishments exceed the length of this article.

The personal generosity Betsy and Bob showed to me in my hour of need is a reflection of the spirit that animates their political activities.

Through the many programs offered by the Center for Global Justice, they are building a better world. Visit their website and discover their valuable work, including educational programs, and a weekly webinar with international authorities:

Bob and Betsy,
How can I thank you for saving my life and then providing an example of how to live the life you saved?

Still, thank you from the depths of my heart for the greatness of your hearts, your love of life, your continuing unconditional support, for teaching me that change can be achieved as long as we are united and in harmony, for getting me ready to continue my destiny and supporting me in my objectives.

Betsy, "Long live the Queen!" Bob, "Andale! ¡Adelante Juntos!"

I am still discovering new ways in which I am lucky to have met you. I think I always will be.



Colette Morya is a poet and traveler-writer now residing in San Miguel where she is learning about historical and anthropological culture through her "urban tourism."

events @

Subscribe / Suscribete  
If you receive San Miguel Events newsletter,
then you are already on our mailing list.    
Click ads
copyright 2024