Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 8 - Invisible Mary

Yesterday I went for my annual physical.  I know that as my body ages (notice I didn't say I aged, my body ages) that this event becomes more of a life surviving and dreaded event. My doctor and I are approximately the same age so subsequently we compare notes each year.  It started with the need for new glasses.  We refused to get bifocals for a couple of years and both came to the realization that if we wanted to continue to read and see the food we ea, that we both got bifocals.  Then when we compared the fact that we weren't happy with the glasses overall, we both got LASIK the same year.  The next year we compared notes and had the same stories.

It is the same routine every year.  Mary meets me at the door, weighs me, takes my height measurements and escorts me to my room and exchanges pleasantries as she takes my blood pressure.  Over the years we have told each other about our kids.  My children go to this doctors office too.  She knows my sons and always asks about them.  She shares with me the story about her son being in Iraq.  She showed signs of fear and then the next year he was home and she was happier than I'd ever seen her.  I noticed this particular year that her body showed signs of aging.  Stress does that to our bodies.  The next year she explained her son had returned to Iraq.  She was worried and counting the days for his return.

So yesterday when I was in the shower getting ready to drive the sixty minute drive to get my annual physical, I looked forward to catching up with Mary and her family.  I prepared my list of physical ailments to discuss with the doctor.  I needed to do the right thing and schedule a colonoscopy. If Oprah did it then I knew I could too.  But the real test was to see if my doctor had done it too.  I just wanted to do it like Oprah though as she had a protein shake in a wine glass after the drugs wore off, that's what I was going to do.

I arrived at the doctors and as I registered  there was a piece of paper on the counter with Mary's face on it.  WHAT?  I couldn't believe my own eyes.  I couldn't explain my grief, Mary had died on Thursday, this was the following Friday and they had her memorial poem from the funeral printed on a book marker. I was called into the room by Melissa.  She was nice enough but it just wasn't the same and I broke down crying.  I couldn't explain my sorrow, I just knew I had lost a big part of my life even though I only saw her for five minutes a year.  It was surreal.

She had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in November, fought it with chemo and was responding well and had a heart attack.  Two and half months and that was it.  Mary worked in a doctors office and life had delivered her the most cruel irony of all.  It doesn't matter if you work in the industry, you have an aging body that fails us eventually too.  How is it that people who are in our lives for only a moment can have such a profound effect on us?  I think it has to do with their kindness.  Five minutes of kindness changes us.  So if we do the right thing and give others, even strangers, five minutes of kindness on a regular basis, we are making a difference.  I didn't realize how important Mary had become to my routine.  She was invisible and seamless in her job.

If Mary was gone, I guess the mortality of myself hit me like a brick. My blood pressure was high this year due to the extreme grief I felt. After confirming my doctor had had his colonoscopy too, I  will get mine scheduled too.  Only this year I wasn't doing it because my doctor did, or for Oprah or for Mary, I was doing it for me and all the people who were in my life who think that I'm invisible.

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