Nashville – StoryCorps
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A New Heart And A New Path: Transplant Recipient Shares Lifelong Dream With Her Mom

When Gianna Paniagua was just a baby, she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy — a heart defect that led her to severe heart failure. Gianna was 14 months old when she received her first heart transplant.

Gianna with her mother, Lourdes, at the hospital after her first transplant in October 1992.
Courtesy of Gianna Paniagua.

Even with a new heart, Gianna spent most of her life in and out of hospitals. Those experiences shaped her childhood, and she remembers being surrounded by doctors for most of her life.

Gianna as a child playing doctor with her dolls. Courtesy of Gianna Paniagua.

During these countless appointments and medical procedures, Gianna was able to lean on her mom, Lourdes Matamoros. Lourdes has been by Gianna’s side for decades — including when she received her second heart transplant in 2021.

Gianna (right) in the hospital with her mom after receiving her pacemaker in 2018. Courtesy of Lourdes Matamoros.

A year after receiving a new heart, Gianna came to StoryCorps to speak with her mom about her plans for the future.

Top Photo: Lourdes Matamoros and Gianna Paniagua at their StoryCorps interview in Nashville, Tennessee on March 17, 2022. Taken for StoryCorps.

Originally aired April 8, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

This Is Where I Leave You

It’s never easy to say goodbye to the people we love, but in this episode of the podcast, we’ll hear from four families as they navigate some of the most difficult conversations imaginable and, in the process, they remind us that even in death, there is life.

The first story comes from Patricia Mishler who moved to the United States from England in the late 70s with her two daughters, Suzanne and Janette. In 2014, at the age of 72, Patricia was diagnosed with ALS–also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. At StoryCorps, she sat down with her daughters to talk about living with the disease and knowing that it would one day take her life.

Next, you’ll hear from Eva Vega-Olds and how she used the StoryCorps app to record her final conversation with her father, Leonardo Vega, while he was receiving hospice care at home. 

You’ll also hear Natalie Colvin interviewing her 88-year-old grandfather, Willy Weeks, who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, made the decision to end his life on his own terms using a drug prescribed by his doctor. 

Our final story comes from 25-year-old Mark Carles, who came to StoryCorps with his older brother, David, to talk about how living with a rare form of liver cancer has impacted both of their lives.

Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.
Middle Photo: Patricia Mishler with her daughters Suzanne and Janette Lynch on March 28, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. By Erika Romero for StoryCorps
Middle Photo: Eva Vega-Olds with her father, Leonardo Vega, on her wedding day in May of 2009. Courtesy of Eva Vega-Olds.
Bottom Photo: Mark Carles and David Carles at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on November 6, 2019. By Mia Warren for StoryCorps.

Released on December 3, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Heat and Memory” by Jarrett Floyd
“Untitled #2” by Yusuke Tsutsumi
“John Stockton Slow Drag” By Chris Zabriskie
“Siloed” By Matt Stevens
“Photosphere” By Charles Atlas

 

Ashley Judd on the Importance of Speaking Out

When the New York Times first broke the story about Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long record of sexual harassment in late 2017, it sparked a national conversation about sexual misconduct in the workplace. In Hollywood, Ashley Judd was one of the first actresses to speak publicly about Weinstein’s abuse.

At StoryCorps in Nashville, Tennessee, she sat down with her friend Ted Klontz to reflect on the courage it took to come forward — and the importance of speaking out.

Originally aired March 2, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps is partnering with Time’s Up to record, preserve, and amplify the stories of working women past and present and to create a dynamic and vital record of the stories of people in the workplace across the world. You can record your own Time’s Up interview with a woman in your life. Get started using the StoryCorps App.

 

Judy Charest and Harold Hogue

On December 24, 1956, Marguerite Hunt drove with her 3-month-old daughter, Judy, to the Shelby Street Bridge (now called the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge) in Nashville, Tennessee, got out of her car, and with her baby in her arms, jumped 90 feet into the cold waters of the Cumberland River.

charest3Harold Hogue, an engineer with the Nashville Bridge Company was at work in a nearby building and happened to see the incident unfold through an office window. Immediately, he and his colleague, Jack Knox, ran to the river and saw Marguerite in the water holding onto a piece of rebar pleading for someone to save her baby. Jack jumped into the water and grabbed Judy, swam back to shore, handed her to Harold, and headed back into the river in an attempt to now save Marguerite. Harold rushed Judy to the first aid station in the Nashville Bridge Company building and left the infant in the care of a nurse; with help from others, including Harold, Marguerite was saved as well.

When Judy Charest was 21 years old, Marguerite was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was also the first time Judy learned of the Christmas Eve incident on the bridge. Jack passed away in 2005, and Marguerite died in 2015. Recently, Harold told his grandson about the rescue and he was able to track down Judy allowing them to meet again almost 60 years after Harold helped save her life.

At StoryCorps, Judy and Harold discuss both of their meetings.

Originally aired December 23, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Above: Rescuers pull Marguerite Hunt onto the shore of the Cumberland River. Harold Hogue is in the foreground in a white shirt, dark pants, and wearing a watch. Originally published Christmas Eve 1956, photo courtesy of Mike Hudgins/The Nashville Retrospect.

Suzanne Lynch, Patricia Mishler, and Janette Lynch

In 1978, Patricia Mishler left her home in England and moved to the United States after marrying an American. The mother of two daughters—Suzanne, 13, and Janette, 11—her family first lived in Indiana before eventually resettling in Nashville, Tennessee.

Patricia, now 73 years old, was diagnosed about a year and a half ago with ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, destroys motor neurons, the nerve cells that control muscle movement in the brain and spinal cord leading to progressive paralysis and eventual death. mishler1Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from the onset of symptoms. (According to the National Institutes of Health, only about 10% of those with ALS survive for 10 years or more.)

A grandmother to more than a dozen grandchildren, Patricia once spent much of her free time pursuing favorite hobbies like gardening, sewing, and cooking. But since her diagnosis in October 2014, she has been unable to enjoy them any longer.

Suzanne (above left) and Janette (above right) recently brought their mother to StoryCorps to talk to her about what it’s been like for her to live with ALS, and also her thoughts on knowing that the disease will one day take her life.

Originally aired May 6, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top Photo: Suzanne, Patricia, and Janette (left to right) in England on holiday in 1976 courtesy of Janette Lynch.

Marjorie Finlay, Nathan Williams, Denise Clancy, and Shane Clancy

Last year, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that as of April 1, all military combat jobs would be open to women. As part of StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative (MVI), this week we are presenting two broadcasts from woman who served at a time when their roles and expectations were defined almost solely by their gender.

IMG_8997Marjorie Finlay enlisted in the Air Force in 1973 at a time when there were few women in the military. She was excited to be in uniform, but the training she received was not what she had expected when she joined up.

Instead of completing obstacle courses and firing guns, she was instructed on how to sit with her legs crossed at the ankle, how to do her hair and makeup, and how to dial a telephone with a pencil.

Even though this disappointed her, Margie (pictured in a yearbook photo at left) still loved being a member of the Air Force. But while enlisted, she became pregnant with her first child, and was told by her commanders that in order for her—a married pregnant woman—to remain in uniform, she would need her husband to sign a waiver giving his permission for her to remain in the military.

Her husband refused sign a waiver and in 1974, just before the birth of her son, Margie was forced out of the Air Force.

Margie missed being in the military and reenlisted in 1993. She and her husband divorced in 1996. Today she is a captain in the Air National Guard. She came to StoryCorps with her son, Nathan Williams (pictured together above), to talk about her early experiences serving in the Air Force. (Listen to their conversation in the player above.)

clancySCDenise Clancy comes from a long line of soldiers. In her family there are more than 200 years of combined military service. Growing up she always knew she would continue her family legacy.

Denise enlisted in the Navy in 1990 serving as a cryptologist and within a few years, when the Navy began allowing women to serve aboard combat vessels, she was deployed to the U.S.S. Enterprise. There were few women on ships at the time and Denise remembers being warned by her fellow enlistees not travel around the Enterprise at night without an escort.

While on the aircraft carrier, Denise met her future husband, Shane (pictured together above). They are both now retired from the military and came to StoryCorps to remember the ways women were treated on their ship, and what it has been like to raise their daughters in a military family. (Listen to their conversation in the player below.)

Originally aired February 27, 2016, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Andy Downs and Angelia Sheer

Young Andy Downs with his father, pilot Brent Downs, and his mother.On Oct 4, 1971, George Giffe, a 35-year-old Tennessee man suffering from mental illness, hijacked a charter plane at gunpoint from the Nashville airport. He also claimed to be in possession of a bomb.

Running low on fuel, the plane’s pilot landed in Jacksonville, FL, where the FBI was waiting. After a brief standoff, Giffe killed the two hostages who remained onboard before turning the gun on himself.

One of the two was Brent Downs—the pilot of the plane.

downs4At StoryCorps, Brent’s son Andy (pictured above with his mother Janie and his father) spoke with Angelia Sheer, the daughter of the man who killed his father.

This tragedy helped shape the way in which law enforcement subsequently handled hijackings after a federal appeals court ruled in 1975 that the FBI acted negligently when agents ignored the safety of the people onboard (the plane is pictured above sitting on the tarmac in Jacksonville, FL).

Originally aired October 2, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photos courtesy of Andy Downs.

Wilson Matthews and Jeanne Yeatman

For more than a decade, Jeanne Yeatman and Wilson Matthews worked together as flight nurses, caring for patients being transported to hospitals on emergency response helicopters.

Wilson and Jeanne were called in to save a 13-year-old named Stephen Wright (pictured above), who had been severely injured in a bike accident.

They came to StoryCorps to talk about their most memorable flight, which took place in 2001.

Originally aired July 24, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photo of Stephen Wright courtesy of the Wright family.

Dr. Jim Fleming and his daughter Janetta

Dr. Jim Fleming tells his daughter, Janetta Fleming Concepcion, about being trapped indoors by the Great Ice Storm of 1951.

Originally aired January 2, 2009, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Joe Buford and Michelle Miller

For most of his life, Joe Buford hid his inability to read from the people around him. After raising two daughters, he decided to make a change. Joe came to StoryCorps with his literacy tutor, Michelle Miller, to talk about what his life was like before he could read and how working together changed his life.

Originally aired April 18, 2008, on NPR’s Morning Edition.