Enquirer Herald

York woman uses words to heal wounds

The composition books she writes in are the same ones elementary school kids use - the black-and-white bound ones with the white ruled pages and wide lines.

She has so many notebooks filled with words, and she fills more each day.

On Wednesday, as Christmas approached, the day that celebrates the birth of her Lord, this woman named Ida Neal Lord used the word "love" at least four times in her latest notebook, which is all about overcoming what happens when there is no love.

"Love conquers all," Lord said Wednesday at the York Adult Day Care Center, the place she spends her weekdays every day of her life. Where she is the one and only author-in-waiting.

Where this 45-year-old woman lights up the place with her face - a face that once lay on a cold floor, covered with blood.

If you get shot in the head by a maniac on Valentine's Day 2008, and then have to re-learn how to eat and walk and read and write - there is plenty to write down.

Ida Neal Lord will not be denied. She writes it all down.

The story she writes is about a mother of three and a nursing aide for hospice patients who goes to a check-cashing business to get money to wire to a brother in prison.

There, somebody who has shot three people before - and robbed even more at gunpoint - shoots her in the head for no reason.

For good measure, he shoots her in the back as she lays on the ground.

The woman somehow survives surgeries and a coma and re-learns how to do everything. But only to a certain point.

Some wounds to her head and body cannot heal. Bullets tore away too much of that head and spine that tell the body what to do and how to do it.

That is not a novel. That is what happened to Ida Neal Lord on Valentine's Day 2008, and what she has lived with every day since.

And somehow, at that adult day care, Ida Neal Lord walks in, with a metal brace like a cane with four feet, and smiles.

And each day Lord, a mother of three boys and a grandmother of eight, takes out her composition books and writes it all down.

"Ida has such a determination, a spirit, a joy for living, that none of us can figure out where it comes from because she always has it," said Dee Curran, director of the adult day care in York.

"She never gives up."

Nursing assistant Regena Hawes calls Lord, "Our author. Our greatest treasure. Our celebrity."

A woman who gained celebrity because she was shot. A woman who limps through the grocery store or Walmart, and people clap. They just stop and applaud when they recognize the cane, and the smile, wrought from the barrel of a gun held by the worst serial shooter in York County, ever.

She writes it all down, how people are nice to her and help her continue.

"I love them all," Lord said.

With help from one of her grown sons, Lord has found a self-publishing house that will publish that book for about $1,700. Women who have been shot and have had to re-learn every part of life, do not have $1,700.

Lord has social work help, an apartment in public housing after a life of living from the sweat of her labor, and little left over. She has asked Santa Claus, in her Christmas list written in one of those composition books, for a CD player for Christmas because hers just broke.

That is what Philip Watts, serving eight life sentences and deserving every one of them for crimes so brutal and cold, has given Ida Neal Lord every day of her life.

And, surely, at Christmas.

Yet Lord forgave Watts long ago.

"I pray for him every night, when I read my Bible," said Lord.

Then, after prayers for the man who shot her, Lord somehow lays her head down to sleep.

She wakes early and faces another day of trying to eat and walk and using her right hand to write.

Her left hand is clasped shut forever - a reminder of violence unleashed on her for no reason at all other than meanness.

She plans on calling the book "Anu Beginning." A play on words, instead of "A New Beginning."

"That spelling might be catchy," Lord said. "I know the right spelling. But I want it to find people.

"I just hope to get this published, so somebody might be inspired not to give up, like I don't give up."

On Ida Neal Lord's Christmas list is only that CD player. The other thing she wrote cannot be purchased. It can only be earned, then given.

"I want better people, who love each other more," Lord said. "That is all I really want.

"A better world for people, with more love in it."