Mixed Tales From Hither and Yon

by Lucky Garvin

Walking out from our ER, a small, old lady lends an arm to her husband, a little aged man. I pause and watch them.

Perhaps all of our lives are a story quilt; we move from one frame to the next; and then we are done. Perhaps the art of getting old involves the ability to sew things up; to mend our circumstances so that although not like new – not quite what we’d hoped for – they’re mended; pretty good. Pretty good for what we’ve got.

A friend of ours lost her mother recently. Our friend had bought her son a balloon; they were walking along. The son lost grip on his balloon; mother and son watched it soar out of sight. He turned to his mom and asked, “How long before it gets to grand mommy?”  A child’s gift; a child’s question.

They came home and the little one noticed for the first time his grandmother’s car parked in the road where it had been for several weeks. “I thought you told me grand mommy was in heaven; what’s her car doing here?

One of my receptionists told me this story. An elderly couple sat near her desk waiting to sign into the ER. The wife’s face reflected a cloying sorrow; the type never far from the heart; a `thing is coming, and I don’t want it to be, but it’s coming anyway’ kind of sorrow.

Her husband’s face was questioning, confused. As my receptionist listened, the husband asked the wife, “Tell me when we met. I can‘t remember.” Dark, lonely bells began to toll.

Who reasons closely on such matters? Well, I do for one. `Make a fool of yourself: try to answer the unanswerable,’ my mind says. Why should such things happen, I am drawn to wonder, at the same time overtaken with the futility of trying.

Durant cautions, “This feeble brain [of ours] that aches at a little calculus; see how it falters before the infinite.”

Then there’s me with this restless inquiry of mine – this petty conceit – needing to understand. Seeking final truths, we know little and believe much; we make the trip bare-foot; and most of the time, half-lost. Yet, there are those who need to try to put it all together.

“I believe in angels. It almost destroyed me when my dog died. I buried him just outside my kitchen window; just to keep him near me. I set up a small cross. That night, I went through the house to lock up. I walked into the dark kitchen to take a last look. A circle of soft moonlight cradled the grave of my old friend. And then, a butterfly lit on the little cross and just sat there.”

My friend paused in her story and asked me, “Lucky, when is the last time you saw a butterfly at midnight?”

“In every seed [and every person] lies the promise of a flower.”

This gives rise to the thought:  Be careful whom you ignore or slight. It might be an angel come to help you…… or an angel in the making.

There is a story told of an ancient monastery reduced from glory by time and dissent to a total population of five friars.

The head of this monastery went into the woods to seek the advice of a wise old hermit as to how best to re-invigorate his beloved order.

The old hermit told him that he [the hermit] had had a vision about the five friars. In that vision he `saw’ that one of the five remaining friars was the Messiah come back to earth.

The friar related the hermit’s vision upon returning to the monastery whereupon a wondrous thing began to occur:  the friars started treating each other as very special people, any one of whom might be Jesus as yet unrevealed.

The dilapidated monastery took on such a congenial and loving atmosphere that visitors began to come – and many of them stayed on – and the order flourished once again.

The story might be fiction; its moral most surely is not.

Look for Lucky’s books locally and on-line: The Oath of Hippocrates; The Cotillian; A Journey Long Delayed.

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  1. Hi,

    I picked up a Sentinel this afternoon (26 January 2012) and read your column. Absolutely hilarious -and very constructive feedback for people! Someday I’ll remind you of a certain ER doc who thumped me on the back of my head (with rolled-up papers) because I had removed my own sutures. (I WAS 15 at the time, and prone to impulsive behavior.) Not everyone can boast of getting beaten up by their doctor. That’s bragging rights!

    What can I say? Irony haunts me.

    Great article.

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