Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Good Samaritan

When we arrived at the airport in Memphis we were informed by the agent at the gate that the flight to Houston was overbooked and that so far only one person had agreed to take the compensatory free flight and give up his seat. This after Jim spent 5 hours on the phone with Delta changing our times and securing a direct flight. Just as I was explaining our situation a rather disheveled man walks up and hears our plight. "Perhaps I can help," he said. "I have a seat on this flight but I will give it up if you can book me on another that will get me to Houston in time to make my connecting flight to Dallas. In fact, I don't have to be home until Monday--if you will pay for me to stay I can fly out tomorrow."

Wow! God works fast!

After twenty minutes of negotiations (for him) we had our seats on the 1:40 flight. The man came over and sat down by us as I thanked him for his kindness. He had been in St. Louis for a reunion of his Vietnam platoon. From the smell, I think they had been celebrating non-stop. Turns out he is a published author, Thomas R. Hargrove, who just happened to have a few of his books with him. The book, which I purchased is A Dragon Lives Forever: War and Rice in Vietnam's Mekong Delta published by Texas A & M University Press in 1994. He has 2 more published by Random House one of which--about his captivity by NARC in Columbia--has been made into a movie. I don't remember the name. They called us to board. I will look it up on line. Very interesting guy.
Making this divine encounter even more amazing--he was traveling to Dallas to get his wife who is being treated for LUNG CANCER. We gave him one of our cards. I will follow up later.
God is full of surprises.

Caregiver's Complaint

Caregivers occasionally need to vent without rousing the ire of the people who haven't walked in these shoes and therefore don't realize that the patient--however sick he might be--still has faults. For instance:

Jim is annoyingly "prompt." This coupled with his aversion to inconveniencing another human being can drive me crazy. When we come to Houston, we call ahead to have our Afghan friend Ferreydoon (Fred) pick us up at the airport. Fred is a paid driver. He is not doing us a favor--we pay him for his services. If we are to arrive at 3:30 Jim tells him to pick us up at 4:15 so that we don't keep him waiting. When we have a direct flight, with no problems, we arrive early--which means we end up waiting for 45 minutes. Since this has happened the last few times, I suggested that Jim tell him to be there at 3:45. When we got on the plane today in Memphis and it was apparent that we would be leaving on time, I suggest he call and change the pickup time. But no, being his stubborn Taurean self, he wouldn't budge. Better he wait in the 100 degree heat, fighting the side effects of chemo, than to have poor Fred sit in his airconditioned car for 15 minutes.

When we got to Houston--at 3 o'clock, Jim did call him to say we had arrived early but it was too late to change the pick-up time. I know what you are thinking--Jim is such a nice guy, so humble and thoughtful,--true, but there are times when it rankles.

We have had more arguments over the years--not because he wants to be prompt, but because he wants to be early! I like to be prompt ,too, but not early, because as you all know I hate to wait. Actually it's because I hate to waste time. As my children will attest, I'd rather squander money than time. I plan everything to the last minute (not always successfully) so that there aren't gaps of unproductive time. I am the consummate multi-tasker. I never go anywhere without a book, (in fact i've been known to read while I drive (well, only on the high way with light traffic and cruise control), I pray while I exercise, memorize scripture while I walk, and wait to make obligatory phone calls until I'm in the car. I only talk with friends while I make beds, unload the dishwasher, or dust. Scratch that--I gave up dusting a few years ago. I have dropped cordless phones into the washing machine, the toilet and the sink. Before cordless I fried several cords while cooking.

I even schedule my R & R. My daily "to do list" has time allotted for an occasional napping for watching my favorite TV shows ( and that I try to combine with eating). I actually thought my time stewardship was a virtue until the psychologist pointed out that I was driving the rest of the family crazy.

Before you come down on me too hard, let me say that I didn't press the issues with Jim. Just one "I told you so" as we waited in the sweltering heat for the car to arrive." But I didn't pick a fight--in his weakened condition it wouldn't really have been fair.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Summer State of Mind

I’ve spent the past two weeks loafing and languishing, enjoying the freedom of summer—which is odd since summer offers me no more freedom than any other season. Having lived the better part of my life tied to the school calendar, I find that remembrances of summers past are too strong to ignore. When school’s out, the pool’s open, and the temperatures soar, I feel liberated from all things remotely suggesting work and obligation.

I lie by the pool as if I have nothing to do and nowhere to be. When I’m hungry I eat; when I’m sleepy I nap. I succumb to the lure of a good book—during the day—a pleasure I usually postpone until bedtime. I watch chic flicks or “All My Children” with no thought given to the dust bunnies collecting in the corners or spider webs in cracks and crannies.

Summer is an attitude formed in childhood when the mind is still malleable. Parents continue with their year-round drudgery allowing the kids to operate on a more flexible schedule with less supervision. Bed times are extended, rules are broken. Imaginations run as wild as the barefoot children free to roam as far as their legs or bikes will carry them.

Adolescent summers. Days at the pool, the smells of chlorine, and suntan lotion, and hamburgers sizzling on the concession stand grill. Basking on wooden lounges, the sun beating down on yet-to-be damaged skin, head on my arms, noises in the distance of cannon-balls and can-openers, and life-guard whistles accompanied by shouts of “No running” and “Stay off the rope.” I’m about to drift off when a teenaged admirer seeking attention dumps a hatful of icy water over my sun-baked back.

A day at the pool is followed by a baking soda bath, a splash of Jean Nate, and sun dress chosen to show off the newly tanned skin. The boyfriend arrives driving his dad’s ’62 Bonneville. Destination—the “Dog ‘N Suds” for root beer in an icy mug delivered by a car hop.

The memories are so thoroughly assimilated that all these years later summer still holds the promise of romance and the possibility of adventure. When the thermometer rises and the aroma of Coppertone fills the air, I ignore self-imposed regulations and surrender to the summer state of mind.

Now my adventures take a milder form. I no longer swim in the forbidden shale pits or flirt with bad boys in fast cars. Tossing caution to the wind, I indulge myself in a racy movie, a late night swim, potato chips without a picnic, chocolate for breakfast--the forbidden fruits of adulthood. I haven’t donned a bikini yet or attempted a half-gainer from the diving board—but summer’s not over.