Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Margaret Joyce

"On May 23, 2010 I did not wake up. 

My son had gone to the prom the night before and I had stayed up late. I went to sleep and didn't wake up. My husband found me in the bed not breathing so he did CPR (thanks to the Co-op, which requires their employees to take CPR he knew how) and called Islamorada Paramedics and they revived me. They took me to Mariners and kept me alive until I could get on the helicopter to go to Baptist, in Miami.

I spent a week in the ICU, unconscious, with an intubation, when I woke up. They put a defibulater in because they didn't really know what happened. I got to go home. My husband, the paramedics and the hospitals did a great job because my brain was not harmed and I am good.

It turned out to be an electrolyte imbalance, not a heart attack, it is very rare. The fact that my husband knew CPR saved my life; if he hadn't known and performed CPR I would probably not have a brain. I hear about the cutbacks in the county, but if Islamorada Paramedics hadn't responded so quickly, I wouldn't be here.

I learned a ton from that experience. I learned to not take anything for granted. I have 5 years of pictures now of my kids and family, experiences that I would have not been here for. It is priceless. Every day is a gift. I also learned about the community and how amazing they are. People came out of the wood work to help me and my husband. There was food and money and support, so much support; they even took care of my kids. My family at Baptist was incredible too. When something like that happens, you find out who your friends are. We have a great community!!

That is one of the reasons I went back to Baptist in Miami. I have helped deliver a ton of babies from here, people from the Keys. I learned from and helped Dr. Kellogg deliver so many babies from the Keys and I see those kids all over in the community and face book and I see them at school. I remember one day, I was picking up one of my kids from PKS (Plantation Key School), when one of the little girls that I helped deliver came out (her dad was in the car in front of me) with a little baggie in her hand with her first tooth she lost. I was in my car crying because she lost her first tooth! They are like my own kids. Most nurses get to help deliver babies but they never see those babies again. I get to watch them grow up, play baseball, dance. It is such a gift, it is so rewarding!

I came to the Keys when I was 10 years old in 1976. Now, my oldest daughter has graduated from Coral Shores and attended UCF (University of Central Florida). She graduated from UCF and is now an event planner for Disney. My son graduated from Coral Shores where he played baseball and he is now at the University of South Carolina on a baseball scholarship. My youngest is going into her sophomore year at Coral Shores and is a dancer and a Canette.

My advice? Learn CPR. That is what I really want to work on getting out there.. It is so important.. I was at the hospital working the day before; I felt normal, I had no pain. I went to sleep and didn't wake up, my husband just happened to check on me. He happened to know CPR. Life can be changed in an instant."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jill Gerlach

"I am originally from New Zealand and have been in the States now for about 35 years; my husband and I came over. My husband graduated from the University of New Zealand and came over to the States to further his education, for his post doctorate. Once he got his degree he was too educated to get a job in New Zealand, they didn't have the industry to support the higher educated back then.

We have raised 4 children here and we still have one at home.

We have lived in several different places here in the U.S. and about 15 years ago we settled in Miami. I am in the Keys to support my friends at Gumbo Limbo Pottery. I love the drive down every day; luckily my phone doesn't work on the stretch so I listen to stories on my ipad and enjoy the relaxing 45 min drive while drinking my coffee. I spend the day enjoying the company of the people in the Keys, and then I go home.

I got involved in ceramics about 15 years ago at the Ceramic League of Miami and met Jeff and Maite. I started coming to the Keys a couple of days a week to help them with a large order they received. As a result this mosaic I am doing on the front of this shop came about because of the firing. The blue pieces I am using were a first run of a plate he was making for a restaurant order and the plates cracked; he was going to through them out. Maite and I looked at them and thought it was a shame to waste all those pieces, so I am recycling them. The mirror I am using is recycled from a mirror that was left here and they found when they got here, and the green glass in the grass is from beer bottles generously donated by my friends!

A lot of people have stopped by to talk to me about this project. I have had 3 people ask me to do commission jobs but I am semi-retired now and I am past that. Commission work is very demanding but I love doing mosaics for friends. It feels so great being able to say 'No', but I love that people appreciate and love my art.

My dream, once we are retired, is to move to Oregon; it is the most like New Zealand. It is beautiful country, the people are great, and it is a communal type of living. It isn't really cold there but it rains a lot, like New Zealand, and hey, we have friends in Miami and the Keys. We will be like snowbirds but we will be rain birds!"