Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"One does nothing who tries to console a despondent person with a word. A friend is one who aids with deeds at a critical time when deeds are called for." ~ Euripedes

What a crummy week I had! Perfectly CRUMMY! I lost all hope, all balance, all understanding. I was just miserable. Life had punched my lights out, and my mouth couldn't smile and my eyes couldn't see any brightness and my ears couldn't hear any kindness, anywhere.

Now, don't you dare feel sorry for me! I don't deserve it a bit! It was my lucky lot to be born in a free country, to have a good husband who is still with me after all these years, to have such good health that all I need to do is lose some weight. While half of this world is hungry and so many people in this world have no clean water, my "problem" is a "vanity!" And, no, I won't reveal it to you because I'm ashamed of myself.

Gotta give you just a sampling of 5 minutes of yesterday, though... I was at the post office waiting in line to buy some of their darling padded envelopes to send some tidbits to my two sisters-in-law in Nebraska. The lady behind me had the same envelopes in her hand so, of course, we chatted. The lady said she was 86-years old, and as we talked, she kept looking at me very closely, but that was easy to ignore. She was 86 years old. She said that her daughter had just started selling Mary Kay cosmetics. 

"Isn't that nice," I said. "Does she like it?"

"Oh, yes. She really loves it." 

Then she stared at me again and snorted!  "You don't have to look as bad as you do, you know! I'm going to give you my daughter's card so you can get some of her Mary Kay products. She will teach you how to put them on your face. It would sure help you look better…" (her EXACT words)

"Oh, thank you very much, " I muttered like a frightened child… but she WAS 86-years-old, and it WAS the worst week of my life, so what else could I expect?  

Instead I want you to meet a very close, very dear, friend of mine who helped me get my balance back. She helped me see clearly again while her own eyes are nearly useless now.

Anna is an extraordinary teacher. Ask any of her students who now speak English. Ask any of her collegues who learned from Anna how to overcome the complexities of teaching non-English speakers. Ask the parents in her night-time parenting classes who learned how to be much better parents. Yup, Anna is extrordinary!

Every day at lunch time, Bob, an award-winning educator and all-around good guy, and I would meet in Anna's room and talk, and laugh, and tell each other the silly things that had happened in our classes that morning, or talk about politics or whatever else was on our minds. Oh, and Bob and I would reach into that huge jar of candy that Anna always had sitting there on her desk. Long, tall Bob only ever took one piece, if that, but I think every noontime I'd fill any pockets I had on me with those rolls of sugar called "Smiley's!" Gee, I loved them!

Now, every day, Anna liked to get her grading done and all the set-ups for the next day ready before she left for home after school was over. Bob was so organized and efficient that he wouldn't walk out of his door until all was perfectly ready for his history classes in the morning. I would gather up all the English essays I needed to read when I got home, clean the white-boards so there was no trace of the colored markers on them, revamp the chair arragements for the next day's first period class, and then head for home.

Each of the three of us had different parking places. Bob walked right out of his classroom's back door, only steps away from where his car was parked. I would walk down the front breezeway of our school, past the main office, and into the large parking lot where most of the teachers parked. But Anna always parked in a small parking strip at the side of the our school because it was so close to her room. 

That parking strip held 10 cars, at the most, and it bordered a very busy, very crowded avenue. It was so small that it looked to me like a parking lot on a very strict diet! The best part was that it was nearly always empty, except for Anna's car. It was Anna's own private parking area, thank you very much!

After school one day, Anna walked out to the parking strip, and balancing her load of books and her bag full of student work, she poked around in her purse searching for her car keys. When she got the door opened, she began the wrestling match to tuck her night's work into her car. Just a few feet away cars were speeding past her.

BAM! SMASH! CRASH! A car careened into the parking strip and hit Anna's car, twisting it until it came to a stop nearly touching the school building's wall. Anna was pinned to the blacktop, half-way underneath her car! 

The stolen car that hit her heaved itself backwards a mite, untangling itself from Anna's car, and squealed away through the massive jumble of traffic that had suddenly slowed down so drivers could gawk at the crash site. Anna was alone and stunned, too stunned to know if she'd been hurt. 

Magically, police arrived. An ambulance sped into the parking strip. Cars on the avenue began to move again. But all this happened in slow motion for Anna, and none of it made sense to her.

The truth of what happened doesn't make much sense, even now. A young man had "stolen" a car and was whizzing through traffic with his father chasing after him in the family car. Why he sped through the tiny parking strip is anyone's guess. The father, who must have seen the accident, came back to the crash site and explained it to the police who'd already caught the young man. Case closed. But not quite… 

Besides other injuries, Anna lost the sight in one eye. She could have died. But she told me later that just before it happened, she had both hands on the top of the open door-frame of her car. When the careening car hit her, all she could think of was "DO NOT LET GO OF THIS DOOR!" It was almost like someone was commanding her to "Hold On!" Obviously, at some point the twisting of her car ripped her hands off its door, and she landed underneath her car. But holding on as long as she did saved her from having the car wheels flatten her completely.

My friend Anna has one eye left, but that eye has only a narrow pin-hole for her to see through. Her eye looks well enough outwardly, but she can only see a fraction of what is there in front of her with no depth perception at all. Anna cannot distinguish colors, anymore. Things are gray or black and white, mostly, even though she had the best eye doctors in the country examine her weekly to try to save what she has left. Now, the hope is that she will have her pinhole vision a little bit longer...

And on Tuesday, the day we always meet for lunch, Anna was helping ME feel better! You see, Anna reads people and understands folks better than I ever can, and she is a "no nonsense" person, to boot. Never, in the 15 years we've know each other, have I ever heard Anna complain about HER circumstances, though… never! And her "ticking bomb" of an eye problem is no exception.

But yesterday at lunch, when I dragged out my distress with my "poor me's" and my "ain't it awful's," Anna told me something that I certainly never knew. As I teared up and whined about my unhappiness, Anna looked at me and said, "Cry, Terry… just cry. It helps."

"But you never cry, Anna! Wha…"

"Oh, yes, Terry. I DO cry… sometimes I cry a lot."      


  1. I am sorry you have been down, Terry. I didn't know! Let's meet for lunch, what do you say?

  2. Nice of you to ask, Cindy, but Sheila, my closest friend for 35 years, talked me through it. Between Sheila and Anna, I'm pretty OK now. But thanks for the offer.