My good friend, co-worker, and sterling supervisor, Karl, posted a wonderful entry at his blog today concerning life and death. In said posting he noted a lunch date he and I and our friend, Lulu had with a mutual friend, Miss B.
Miss B. is one of those old school types you rarely see anymore: tough as nails, heart as big as all outdoors, and at seventy, and after several life-threatening illnesses, could probably still kick some serious ass.
Some years back Miss B. had open heart surgery and Karl and I went to see her at Jefferson hospital in Philadelphia. She looked drained and weak, yet was alert and cracking wise when we went into her room (“Where is that bottle of scotch you were supposed to smuggle me in?” was the first thing she said to me when we got there). As much as she seemed to be putting on her game face, it seemed apparent to me that she was really in for a fight … deep down, I assumed that she was going die very shortly and sadly I resigned myself to this.
Several weeks later, we went back to see her and she was almost back to her old self. She looked and sounded great and we discovered that she was going to be checking out and going home shortly.
A few months later, Miss B stopped into the office (she used to work with us) and she was brought in, in a wheel chair and attended to by an aide. I joked with her that she was finally getting the royal treatment all queens deserve. She laughed that throaty roar of hers and something told me that this old broad had a few tricks up her sleeve still.
Every time after that first office visit, Miss B would show up a little bit more solid. Next time she was using a walker, the time after that a cane and then, finally, getting about on her own steam.
Over the years we have kept in touch through visits and e-mail (she refers to Karl and I as her “other sons”) and while she’s had ongoing medical problems, she still remained active; kept her own home, worked part time for a hospice and got politically aware(god love her, she’s a dyed in the wool liberal democrat!!).
So anyway, back to that lunch on Friday.
Miss B. shows up looking better than ever, great color and full of piss and vinegar and I say, “You look great!’ and she says, “It’s the oxygen”. It’s then I notice the tiny little oxygen bottle she is carrying around sort of like a second purse.
At lunch she announces that she is going back to the hospital in October for open heart surgery to replace some of the artificial valves she had put in while in Jefferson. – and while I found this news somewhat alarming, this time, I truly believe that the old girl is going pull through this one and come out just fine.
Driving back to the office that afternoon, I thought about Miss B. and wondered exactly what it is that keeps her going. Karl says she’s like the Energizer Bunny, and I agree, but still I wonder what it is that keeps someone who’s been dealt such a lousy hand going so strong and defying all the odds…
I don’t know the answer, but I do know that I have a bottle of good scotch waiting for Miss B. and we will be toasting to her health sometime in November.