SNAP: Stories for Living

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Story #10 – Selfless Love

It was an early morning cold damp day in Nov.; the streets filled with people in a hurry for what I had no clue. For me it was perhaps the end of the line, as they pulled to the corner of Bryn Mayr and Kenmore depositing me face down over a mail box, leaving me to vomit the contents of my stomach onto the thin white film of snow below, half unconscious I listened as they jumped back into their car never to be seen again.

I‘d been partying all night with a group from the suburbs (losers) who had come into the city to score some horse, and now having over- dosed, I was left to die which (finally) at that point felt pretty damn good.

I blacked out in a coughing fit (too much nicotine) only to awake in a hospital bed, tubes in my nose, down my throat, my arms and legs strapped to the bed. I lay like a specimen ready for dissection or worse for several days, in and out of consciousness (changing the catheter). When finally coherent enough to focus; (open my eyes) at the foot of the bed sat a silver haired elderly lady, finely dressed working what appeared to be a crossword puzzle smiling. “Welcome back” were her first words, as if we knew each other! It turned out that this woman had forced her husband to stop, load me into the back of their car and transport me to the nearest hospital, where it turned out she came every day after work alone until that moment sitting with my unconscious body.

Days later as I was being discharged, she was to take me home to her tiny apartment where I lay for days on her couch while she nourished my body back to health with hot, soup (potato) toast and tea. As an orphan I had never experienced such un-motivated (selfish) kindness or generosity, and though I was suspicious (paranoid) I was also deeply humbled (confused). Slowly over time (30 years) I accepted her compassionate/empathetic effort to help me.

For thirty five years after that she taught me through example of selfless love, to reach out and be a difference maker. During that time she nursed me back to a state of health from: gunshot wounds, the flu, prison and a myriad of other self-induced ailments, (alcoholism) never judging me by my failures (too many to list here).

All of the things I cherish today (being alive) are a direct result of the countless hours she spent encouraging (nagging) me to take the next step; helping (pushing) me into a different reality from a life of abandonment living on the streets, I was able to find decent employment (minimum wage) and thru her examples of relationship (divorce) I was able to develop a rudimentary form of social skills (staying out of jail) that led me to wife(s) a daughter and three sons. Most importantly of all she taught me; how to forgive others (then ignore them) through the examples in her own life the healing of her relationship with her daughter (lesbian/hooker) taking some 35 years yet she never wavered or doubted the outcome.

So difficult it is to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with. -John Locke, philosopher (1632-1704).

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