1/19/2010

Tuesday - Notes on a Brief Community


Today Jim and I were back at the Chemo Lab. Sun streamed in through the window-wall brightening the world. But the real light came through the people - the bantering back and forth between the members of today's impromptu community.

Two patients - a middle aged man and a young woman discovered they came from the same place far away, probably the same neighborhood. It was fun to listen to them walking the streets in their home-town by checking small reference points of a familiar landscape.

When I noticed a heavy gold ring on the right hand little finger of the large man sitting next to me I asked, "could that be a Super Bowl ring." He nodded, took it off his finger and held it out for me to have a closer look at the worn gold ring with two diamonds, dates, his jersey number and team name. It was heavy - it must be a daily reminder of golden days with team-mates. Within minutes the ring passed from hand to hand in the Lab. Women ah-h-h over it; men weighed it in their hand and smiled at him admiringly before passing it along - grateful for his sharing. One woman laughed, "never thought I would hold one of those."

It reminded me of the afternoon I was on a Shuttle Flight from Washington to New York. A man sitting across the aisle noticed that his seat companion was wearing a Super Bowl Ring. The same thing happened. The ring went hand to hand within three sets of seats near the owner - even across the aisle. I remember the feel of it in my hand. When I told the large man about that other day, he laughed, "well that was safe enough - the plane was closed up."

A white haired business man came in carrying his papers and cell phone. Rightfully he pre-empted me from a corner chair because the room was full. Once settled, ignoring the presence of everyone else, he continued his business-meeting-by-cell-phone in a loud voice that took over the room. Within minutes the easy friendliness was replaced by palpable tension and irritation. He did not notice. The nurse - a real take-charge lady - told him to cool it "you talk too loud."

Women talked about raising children; our mothers; our birth order and how it explains a lot. Three of us were oldest children, one an only child and one a youngest. Across generations and circumstances we touched the sameness in our lives and connected. This room is a level playing field where strangers are bound by the human condition.

One lesson I have learned since Jim began his chemotherapy is that Business-as-usual is an intruder in the Chemo Lab.

(art work: Mother, collage, e. schoettler, 2009)

4 comments:

ELLOUISESTORY said...
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93words said...
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93words said...

HI -- this will long remain one of my favorite posts of yours. The super bowl ring. The shared comraderie. And the intrusion of business-as-usual when everyone is there fighting for something much more important. There's a story -- and a reminder -- for all of us.

Thanks for posting the story.

Love,
Robin

Granny Sue said...

Simple human generosity and sharing, along with our curiosity, seems to be the message of your post, Ellouise--living together, caring and being interested in each other.

That poor business man doesn't know how to live. He's just existing.