“…Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”               Lou Gehrig

If I didn’t see my life with my own eyes I might not believe it. Once again the blessings have blown me away.

These have been nimble days. The game plan had been to see the doctor on Wednesday and have a heart cath Thursday. Alas, men plan but God laughs!

Last week’s hospital release came midway through Margie’s Chanukah party. As such, there’d been no way to keep the lid on things. Walking into a house replete with caring family and life-long friends, what might otherwise have stayed quiet became, at some level, a communal concern.

“What will happen,” asked Hal, “If you have pain in the middle of the night?” (For days, then, I slept in their home).

Even Aunt Helen got real. Hours earlier it was forced on her.

“I can’t get your chicken,” I told her from the hospital. “I’m stuck here.”
“I hate to ask your brother,” she purred, “Can you phone a friend?”
(Who did she think she was—Regis Philbin?)
“I’ll call Weiskopf,” I relented.
“Ed, I need you …”—I said at 2:25 PM—I was laughing too hard— ”I need you to…go to Boris for Aunt Helen.” Even before his response, yet another call was coming in. It was Helen again.
“Tell him to hurry. They close for Shabbos at 3.”

Last weekend dragged. There was a tick-tick-tick to it all. From meeting to meeting I went, keeping busy, waiting…

My phone rang…alot:
“Who’s going with you next week?” “You can’t drive alone.” “What can I do?”
Friends and family reached out.
“I’ll be fine,” I said.
“Take a notes.” “Write everything down.”
“OK.” “OK.”

We met Wednesday, (the doctor and I). Succinctly he explained the procedure, when to arrive, when I’d leave—I wrote it all down. Then, with a handshake and a “See you tomorrow” he moved to another patient, leaving me to check out at the window. It was there that the wind shifted.

“We took you off the list for tomorrow,” said the lady at the window. ‘You don’t have insurance.”
“That can’t be,’ I said. “I told them that last week.”
“Sorry—it’s just the policy.”

By now my cell was dying; sleeping out had meant errant charging patterns; one bar remained. Relentlessly Michael’d been calling about my health I owed him a call. I didn’t, frankly—at that very moment—know whether to spit or go blind.

“The procedure’s off,” I rued from the hall outside the office.
“What are you going to do, Dad? You’re a time bomb.’

(I’d made one interim call, just before Michael. It was to a friend…a “program guy”, someone I’d friended driving Meals On Wheels a Thanksgiving, years ago. He worked at that hospital and he, if anyone, would know what to do).

“I’m off today, “ he said, “Don’t move! Go sit in your car, juice up your phone, and wait for a call.” CLICK

Minutes later he rang back. “I’m coming up there. We have an appointment—let’s see.”

I recalled being a kid at my draft board physical; this was different. Over sixty now, we were talking about my heart. This wasn’t, (as they say), a dress rehearsal. Sitting, waiting, fearing…

I dare say what followed next, (for me at least), tops the ending to “Field Of Dreams” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” combined.

There we were, sitting upstairs in this ivory institution, talking hard dollars and cents. The issue wasn’t: am I a nice guy, or what bills I have or don’t have, or why I don’t have insurance. The lady was nice enough; she was trying to help.

My friend, methodically, kept prodding, asking about programs for this, avenues for that. And then, with a swoosh, it happened. They spoke of deposits; they spoke of payments; they spoke to funding. And they found a way.

Game on.

I’ve felt for some time now that there are no coincidences; there are no accidents. Something special’s going on out there.

What other explanation is there? A decade ago me a nice, Jewish boy from Cleveland meets this tough Catholic from The Hill. Years later they deliver meals together, ONCE. And today, even more years later, the kid from St. Joe’s is paving the way for my heart catheterization?

I can never repay the gratitude I feel today…for the family and friends, from the core to the coincidental, each of whom remains steadfast. I see people on the street, at the coffeehouse, or anywhere. Invariably I’m asked generically, “How are you?”

My answer, you should know, is always the same:

“Better than I deserve,” I tell them.  “Better than I deserve.”

3 Responses to “ONE WEEK”

  1. m says:

    Hal picked up the chicken. If Ed wants in on this game then he can pick up the chicken every other week. Welcome to the family Ed.

  2. Up From Dysfunction says:

    Ed doesn’t want in. I’m thinking Maynard needs to step up OR, if he really wants to sit next to her next Chanukah, perhaps Jeff Robbins.

  3. Stuart says:

    Happy and healthy new year to all. Actually, Bob has privately expressed left out when it comes to Aunt Helen. He would gladly volunteer to do the chicken run once a month.

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