It took a long time for me to readily accept help from others, even though I have always been one to try and help others. I finally realized that others enjoy helping me as much as I enjoy helping them. With this new outlook on life, it has made my transition from blue collar, lower level management to independent entrepreneur a much more rewarding
journey than anything I have ever done before. Old friends and new friends alike have rallied around so that I truly believe I can do anything I set my mind to.
Despite living only a mile away, we had never met. Over the course of twenty-six years, we had passed here and there along the gravel road as I was driving into town and she was out for her daily walk. When I was a kid, everybody knew everybody or at least we acted like we did. We would sit on my grandparents’ porch and wave to all who passed by. It’s a different world now; so when I would pass, she would step off the road and look away. So although I knew where she lived, I really knew nothing about her other than she was related to my next door neighbor.
When I pulled up to her house, she came out wrapped in her coat and clutching a small handbag. I got out and helped her in the car. As we headed to the doctor in Columbia about an hour away, we shared some small talk about the weather and such. I tried to keep the mood light to keep her mind off of the seriousness of her condition, not to mention I have a weak stomach and human pain to others is perhaps my greatest fear. That’s correct; I can’t handle pain of any type to others. The mere fact that I was driving and accompanying my neighbor to the doctor was some sort of miracle in its own, but there were really no other options available. I had to step up.
Once inside at the doctor’s office, I helped my neighbor to a seat. After letting the front desk know I had brought my neighbor in, they handed me four sheets of paper work that needed to be filled out. I sat down next to her and asked if she could fill out the forms or if she needed me to.
She asked that I fill them out for her. So I turned to her with a big smile on my face and said, “You know what, I don’t even know your name”. We both got a chuckle out of that. Her name was Dorothy. So we proceeded to fill out her paperwork as best as we could together. I was able to fill out some very basics such as address and birthdate (in her 90’s) from her ID, however the rest of the forms were more of a challenge. Did she suffer from this or that, did anyone in her family suffer from this or that? It was all pretty much a guessing game as Dorothy didn’t really remember if she had any of the ailments listed or if anyone in her family ever had. She told me to write on the forms that she was still alive so she must be pretty healthy. I agreed with her. Dorothy said she walks over two miles every day so that should tell them something. When asked about what meds she was on, Dorothy pulled a crumpled piece of paper from her wallet that we soon realized was outdated. We ended up leaving it mostly blank too. It made me realize the importance of keeping a list of current medication on hand especially for the elderly. I let the receptionist know that I was only a neighbor and we pretty much guessed at all the answers. I asked them to contact her sister for an accurate listing of medical history.
When the nurse came to get Dorothy, I told her I would wait right there for her to return. She grabbed my arm and told me to come along. So for the next four hours I sat through Dorothy going from test to test— injected dyes, dilation, scans, etc. In between tests, we would tell stories and laugh. My ulterior motive was to keep her calm and to keep me from throwing up. Just standing outside the doctor’s office, my stomach started to flip so I did everything I could to take my mind elsewhere. My telling silly stories and asking her to tell me silly stories, probably served us both well. I did my best to explain the necessity of all the different tests in as much as the results were leading to a procedure to be done right then and there.
The doctor told Dorothy she needed a procedure in which they would stick a needle directly into her eye and inject medicine that could cause infection, floaters, redness, itching and a whole set of other horrible- sounding side effects, but it was the recommended course of action. After listening to the doctor and taking notes, reading the brochures and chatting with Dorothy, we decided it was the best course of action to take as it would need to be done sooner instead of later due to the bleeding in her eye. While waiting for the doctor to return, I decided it was time for more stories and jokes as I stared at charts of eyeballs on the wall. I now have an even greater appreciation for those in the medical field who hang art on their walls. As I tried not to think about what they were going to do to Dorothy and her eye, I desperately wished there were paintings or photos of waterfalls and fields of flowers in the room instead of the medical junk.
When the doctor came in with the big, humungous needle, I tried to step out of the room. The doctor stopped me and said I could stay. Secretly, I wondered if he could tell I was contemplating passing out so I could avoid the whole procedure. For Dorothy’s sake, I sucked it up. With tears in her eyes as the doctor and nurse prepared everything, I got up from my safe chair and stood by Dorothy holding her hand. For 90-something years old, she has a great grip which helped ease the queasiness in my stomach. She was a trooper. I can’t say that I would have handled things the same way…actually, I’m 100% positive I would not have handled the whole day as well as Dorothy did. I would’ve asked them to knock me out directly after they took my weight. Her toughness and true grit reminded me a lot of my own grandma. I know we were both relieved when the doctor finally gave us the thumbs up on the procedure, but my stomach flip-flopped when he told Dorothy she would need to come back every 4 weeks to do it all over again. Throughout the day, I felt an extreme appreciation for my good health and felt a huge sense of empathy for Dorothy. She took it all in with a smile and positive attitude.
Starving, we stopped and grabbed a sandwich for the ride home. We made it back to her house after dark. I offered to stay with her until family could arrive, and she seemed grateful that I offered. I cleaned out her medicine cabinet and went through each container and made a list of what she was on and what the doctor had added. I made out a time sheet for her so she could manage her meds and went over the handouts from the doctor. She showed me family pics on the fridge held up with old magnets and showed me a favorite passage in her ear-marked bible. We chatted until family arrived. I was profusely thanked for all I had done, but it had been my pleasure. I enjoyed getting to know Dorothy and felt good that I was somehow able to help her when she needed it.
A few days later Dorothy’s family delivered a nice little note card along with a gift card to Walmart as a token of appreciation. It wasn’t necessary, but it was a very kind gesture. I’m not a big fan of spending money on myself too often; I’d rather invest it back into my business, but I had been needing new gloves for my farm chores. The gift card allowed me to stock up on gloves and a new watering hose for the cows—all for helping a neighbor in need.
When I told my friend and fellow artist, Nancy Koehler, about the opportunity to purchase the van, she without hesitation offered to loan me the needed money so I could buy the van outright and make small payments to her that I could manage. It was as if the stars had aligned. I know this may seem a little extreme, but a reliable and appropriate vehicle is a much needed necessity for a traveling artist. Now I have one!
Earlier this month, the Artists Boutique in Kirkwood was my first opportunity to travel to an art show with my new van. She’s twenty years old, but she’s new to me. It was such a great feeling to load everything inside the vehicle and shut the doors…no climbing on a ladder and strapping tables and card racks to the roof.
What a relief! I am very proud of my new van and am looking forward to (hopefully) another fifteen shows this year if I get juried into everything I plan on applying for.
In my eyes, when you put good into the universe, good comes back. Perhaps it’s the rose colored glasses I tend to wear. Either way—Life is Good.