I wrote what follows eight years ago-suspect it was near the start of what has proven to be my second career as a chronic malingerer. I am probably not alone in having a very short memory, not as short (yet) as a goldfish but pretty much the self-absorbed musings of an Obliviot. Think of this as my attempt to be both Clarence and George at the same time in reminding myself, and I hope you, as well, that It's a Wonderful Life.
I spent about five hours on Tuesday with people who hoped to be elsewhere, but were happy with where they were, as was I. I've not been feeling well, or even fully wide awake since some yakking on Friday night, and my physician decided after one look the place for me was in the local hospital's ER.
I met Darryl who was hit and nearly killed by a drunken driver when he was eighteen and who never left the hospital for close to three months while he battled to stay alive. Now, not all that many years removed from that injury (I can't say 'accident' the drunk who hit him didn't 'accidentally' get his buzz on. It happened deliberately and I hope someone paid for the careless thoughtlessness that created it), he was an EMT and calling me 'bud' (which, for those keeping track at home, is one step above calling me 'chief'. It's a good thing I felt like fried crap, otherwise I'd have squared young Darryl away) and getting me started.
Mike, took over--and he was also an EMT, and had wanted to be one since he was in high school. All I wanted to do in high school was graduate. It was happy to meet a fellow successful graduate. Dr. G. had been on duty when I came in through the emergency room in July for renal failure and pancreatitis. He is NOT short; he is gravitationally impaired and was quite good at getting the tests organized that were to consume most of my afternoon.
Monday, I took my Thelma and Louise to the doctor and, yesterday, turnabout was unfair play as they waited wordlessly (which is hard for my daughter; she is her father's child, after all) as they were joined by my son, Patrick, who left his work in New London to loom over me (he really is a much bigger person than I remembered him as a child) in much the same way as I walked the floor of the Offenbach Krankenhaus roentgen abteilung when he cracked his forehead open as a toddler. He wouldn't sit still for the x-ray and so they had me wear a lead vest and hold him while they stood behind the plate glass of the wall and irradiated both of us. He was no more than four and kept calling them 'feigling' (coward) though he couldn't have known what was going on.
I met Lorrie or Laurie, I apologize for the spelling, who had wanted to join the Peace Corps and they only had room for people who meant well and who had skills, so she had trained to be an x-ray tech, and by the time she was really good at it, she'd met and married someone and they had a family. So much for the Peace Corps. She had spent part of last summer in Haiti, helping people whose poverty is, by every account I've read, soul-shattering and returned, with a renewed sense of purpose that had caused her to accept an assignment to volunteer in a hospital somewhere in Mexico sometime this February. She has to do it, she told me.
All of these people and a dozen more have lives that have nothing to do with mine, for 364 days and twenty hours out of a year. And yesterday when I needed each of them to excel and achieve for me, not because I was worthy of their effort but because I was a fellow traveler on Spaceship Earth pulled over in the breakdown lane, they were there doing what they had to do. Just as they had on Monday and just as they are doing today.
It's Christmas Eve on the calendar. Mine came early.