When ‘Lucky’ Isn’t Really the Right Word

Standing around customer-less for my first hour at work Sunday, there was some real regret about not going to an early Mass, one that would’ve allowed for the 7 mile bike ride I got in after breakfast and coffee, a shower, ironing a shirt, and scooting to the mall. Feeling physically strong didn’t feel BAD, but thinking about the frightening negatives people I knew are facing, maybe inconveniencing myself a little would’ve been a ‘righter’ thing to do.

‘There but for the grace of God’ is a phrase that usually gets trotted out at times of stress others are dealing with, and thinking about my work buddy Jack’s situation, a friend-man with a professional project worth exploring who faces major eye surgery and the desperate state my Aunt Josie’s in, well, ‘lucky’ doesn’t seem like the right word.

Jack’s on leave right now because his daughter is in a Memphis hospital. Without all the details, she was the ‘1’ in ‘1 out of X number’ to suffer an incredibly horrific drug reaction that’s left her in the most painful limbo imaginable. Think of burn victims with 50-60% of their body laid open and then multiply that gut-twisting picture. She’s made it past the first 48 hours, but whether she survives all the potential infections and constant pain for two weeks isn’t a question even the doctors have a great grip on.

Chuck J. is someone I met at work two years ago, and we’ve corresponded periodically about various matters since. A former P&G veep of Marketing, Chuck has been working on youth-related programs now that he’s semi-retired. While wanting to push for progress on events that might require my particular professional (vs. sales) talents, meetings cancelled because of a 42nd anniversary and then a sick mother-in-law were small potatoes compared to the letter received on Wed. about four major factors he’ll need to have fixed with his eyes. Getting a Blackberry update that indicated he’s amused by doc’s assessment he’s “too young” for the surgeries he’ll need was good, but looking out at another great Fall day in Charlotte while writing about his eyes does bring up the idea of being blessed about avoiding anything close to these potential disasters to this 55th year in my life.

I like to think I was Aunt Josie’s favorite nephew, and she was always interested in what was going on, especially when she heard about my taking Spanish courses. She was a flaminco dancer in Spain when Uncle Howard was there in the ’50s, showing Francisco Franco’s people how to use the flight trainer his company produced. My brother Mike said he was standing next to her in the hospital hallway and didn’t recognize her, wasn’t 100% sure if she’d called to him or because a large guy was looking in her room and she thought he was my *cousin* Michael. At 87 there’s both dementia and a huge emptiness in her life since Howard died last year, and her son, who works in Corning (NY), can only get to see her every other weekend in Albany.

Almost everyone gets their turn in the proverbial barrel at some point, but a balky (though not crippled) knee, my manager’s reminder about credit apps and a toss-up between a cancelled Friday poker game and my football picks not covering their respective spreads doesn’t even register as worth a “damn!” or “this sucks” in comparison.

Calling my folks in another 10 minutes or so so I can talk about anything my 83-year old Dad (Mom is 78 and says she never expected to feel so good at this point in life) wants to is exactly the kind of blessing you GOTTA give thanks for. Yeah, ‘Blessings’ is the right word.

And yes, I’m definitely getting that church time in this week.

Glenn S.

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