No long after I moved into my retirement center, I found myself visiting a new friend in the assisted living section. As he and I talked, a woman joined us. I judged her to be in her 90s, though she had the svelte body of a dancer and a pretty face. I asked if she’d ever been in show business. Her eyes widened. “Why yes. I entertained soldiers all over the world with the United Service Organization (USO) during World War II. I had so many lovely experiences.” Her eyes became dreamy as she sorted through her memories.
When I pressed her to share one adventure, a frown clouded her expression, not one of annoyance, but as if she realized she couldn’t remember any. “Oh, my story isn’t important,” she said. “Everyone has a story.”
I’ve heard her make that statement to others, many times since. She’s right of course. Everyone has a story. Today, I’ll share one of mine.
For some time, I’ve put off cataract surgery. My vision is so clouded, I need a telescope to tie my shoelaces. I don’t like the idea of a stranger, brilliant surgeon or not, cutting into my eyes. Nonetheless, I made a pre-op appointment the other day and at the appropriate hour, headed for my car, having given myself time to spare should there be a traffic delay. When I turned the key in my ignition, however, the car sputtered and died. “Dear, sweet car,” I thought. “You don’t want me to have the surgery, either.”
Determined, nonetheless, I called a cab, hoping it would arrive on time. While I waited outside, on the pavement, it occurred to me I should let the doctor know I might be a little late. Retrieving my cell phone from my purse, I found it was dead. The Fates were sending me a message.
Luckily, the taxi appeared before I could hesitate, and I arrived at my examination with a minute to spare. With the date for the surgery settled, I asked the secretary to call me a cab. The second driver was as timely as the first. But when I got into the car, I noticed he was bleeding, not a gentle trickle from his lips, but a gush that required him to chew on paper towels. I offered to call another cab, but the man said he’d be all right. True to his word, I arrived home safely. But I cringed as I left him, seeing a mountain of bloody sheets on his front seat.
Once home, I called AAA from the landline phone in my apartment. Again, the service was impeccable. A young man soon arrived and asked me to turn on the ignition. He said he could tell by its sound if the alternator or the battery was at fault.
I did as he asked and, to my surprise, the engine purred into life. I threw up my hands in dismay. The mechanic was nonplussed. He’d measured the battery’s strength and pronounced that in another minute, it would flatline. It did. After that, he installed a new battery.
Climbing into bed that night, I considered the obstacles I’d overcome to schedule my surgery. Apparently, I really did want to have my eyes fixed. Sometimes, facing a challenge head on reassures us that a direction we are reluctant to take is the right one.
As you read this blog today, I am probably under the knife. Tomorrow all should be well. Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours?