Monday, June 25, 2012

You Must Fight

Visiting a man in his early 80’s who is recovering from hip surgery, I ask, “what keeps you going?” He looks me dead in the eye and says with fierce convicton, “You must fight.” I pause as he does. He adds, “even if it hurts.” He continues, “I had surgery yesterday and I am walking today. They don’t want you to be in bed. If you stay in bed you will sink into the bed and never get up.” He pauses again. I meet his gaze.

Then his tone shifts and he says, “I was married 56 years. My wife died three years ago.” His voice cracks. I say, “it hurts?” He nods his head silently. After a long pause, he says, “Preparation."

I give him a quizzical look. He continues, “Did you know that in that one word are contained over one hundred words?” I reply, “no I didn’t.” He says, “You know how I know?” "How?” I reply. He says, “I took out a dictionary. There is no b,c,d. I started with a. Then e, i..." I resist the urge to question the veracity of what he is suggesting and pay attention to the one word he named. I say, “So many words in that one. Just look for the ones that are there.”

His calmly determined gaze is impossible to ignore. He says, “You tell people. Tell them.” I reply, “I will.” He relaxes his gaze and thanks me. I acknowledge this, turn, and head for the open door.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Be Well

Visiting with an elderly, Jewish, female patient; I say to her, "zay gezunt." The words mean "be well," or "may you be well."

She asks, "When I said that to my father, he said, 'zay mir gezunt.' What does that mean?" I reply, "May we be well."

Her eyes fill with tears as she nods her head in recognition. We are both smiling.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cake Like

Sitting on a tall stool beside the "bar" at Ten Ren Tea, I spot a tall man to my left being served a large, amber-colored bubble-tea. Beside it I see two single-serving mini-cakes, each wrapped beautifully as is typical of the goodies made by this Taiwan-based chain.

I take a sip of an earthy tea named Puer from a tiny papercup, then ask him what he is drinking. He says, "King's Tea." I recognize this blend of green Oolong and ginseng, known to be energizing while soothingly uplifting. I smile saying, "never saw anyone drink that cold." He replies, "actually, it's warm." I reply, "not hot, not cold. Like the weather today." He laughs and says, "yup, I guess so."

Then I say, "have you tried either of those cakes before?" He says, "no, have you?" I reply, "I've tried the smaller cake but not the larger one." Without a moment's hesitation, he picks up the larger "green tea cake," which is shaped like a heart, and places it beside me on the smooth white counter. Taken by surprise, with eyes wide, I say, "Wow, thank you! I didn't mean to..." He interjects, "hey, two cakes is too much for me, too decadent."

I nod my head slowly in a vulnerable "I guess so" sort of gesture, then offer my hand saying, "hey, I'm Judy." He shakes my hand and says, "Kenneth." We each enjoy a few sips of tea. Then he stands. He turns to go then turns back and asks, "hey, what's the other cake like?" I linger for a breath, remembering the taste of its candied kumquat center. Then I reply, "I like it. It's got bite." He smiles with a touch of mischievous recognition, slowly waves goodbye, then turns and heads for the door.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Move It

Passing through the the Peds (pediatrics) hallway at Hospital for Special Surgery, I hear a little boy say to his dad over and over, "move it move it..." Dad's typing into his smartphone. He says nothing.

Recognizing the boy's refrain, I turn to face him and with a big grin say, "move it, move it" as I shift my hips, dancing like the wacky lemur from kid-flick "Madagascar."

The boy smiles and joins in. Now both of us are dancing and going, "move it move it..."

Dad suddenly looks up and boy, he sure is smiling!