All That Really Matters

Old-man-on-phone

My “2013 Fall Farewell Tour” is finally over. Much of the last few months has been spent traveling for business before my retirement at year’s end. Whew! Being in and out of airports the better part of the last five weeks wore me to being almost numb. Time for rest, holidays and loved ones! However, there was an incident last week that bored straight through my fatigue.

The Chicago airport was crowded especially downstairs where the United commuter gates are. Sitting to my right a few seats away a man in his seventies was doing business. From what was spoken on several calls he apparently worked for a grocery supply company.

The last call the gentleman made started with “Hi this is ______ and I am calling to get the results of my tests from last week. Yes, sure I can hold.” He sat quietly and until he spoke I did not know someone else had picked up on the other end.

“Oh, that bad, huh. That’s not the news I had hoped for” was what I heard in a much more deadpan voice than the up-tempo salesman I had been listening to previously. In an even softer voice came, “Yes, I can come see the doctor next week. How soon does he want me to begin chemo again? I’m hoping I won’t have to start until after Christmas.” There was a pause as he listened followed by “I understand you’re just the nurse and can’t tell me. It’s just not the news I was hoping for.” Then came another pause before he said, “Wednesday at 2pm? Yes, I will be there. Thank you.”

He hung up the phone and just sat there staring down at the floor for what seemed like five minutes. As he raised his head up, he made eye contact with me and his moist eyes met mine. Without a single word, I smiled and he smiled a half-smile back. There was nothing else I could do for this perfect stranger who I imagine had just been told his cancer was back.

I won’t forget this experience. I will remember how good my life is and how blessed I am to have good health. My momentary airport friend will go through the weeks to come facing the specter of ill-health and the possibility of impending death. I hope for the very best for him and owe a debt of gratitude for being accidentally included in his life for a few minutes. I have so much to be thankful for!

You know,
all that really matters
is that the people you love
are happy and healthy.
Everything else is
just sprinkles on the sundae.
Paul Walker

About James Browning

A seeker working to grow each day and be a better version of my self. Through sharing I commit myself deeper to my ideals and beliefs.
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