Life’s a Holiday

I was wandering the long hospital halls carrying one of those big mugs looking for an aide to help me. I just wanted ice to add to all the water Jim was drinking to stay hydrated, and I didn’t want the ten-minute trek down 17 floors in the elevator to the hospital cafeteria and back to fetch it myself.

Eddie, the guy who brought Jim lunch, stood by the huge tray cart.

“How can I help you?” he said.

“I’m trying to find ice.”

“This way.” He led me to a locked door labeled “pantry,” and poked in the code. “Help yourself, and look around for anything else he might need.” He turned and went back to his job of collecting lunch trays.

I filled the mug with ice and left the pantry.

“Thanks, Eddie,” I said as I passed him in the hall.

“It’s the least I could do,” he said with a smile.

That same smile was evident when he had taken Jim’s lunch order, and everything he said was positive. When Jim had asked for chocolate pudding with whatever was the day’s special, Eddie said, “Sure, we can do that.”

“If everybody approached their jobs like Eddie, the world would sure be different,” Jim said.

Jim’s a positive guy. He’s recovering from his fifth primary cancer (Vietnam vet, draft number 57), and this time it’s more of a struggle. He’s had some setbacks that have resulted in hospitalizations, but even from a hospital bed, his motto is “Life’s a holiday.”

I have not always seen it that way.

Was it John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans,” or was it Vladimir Lenin? (That’s how scrambled my brain is right now.) I like planning. I like organization. I like knowing what’s around the corner.

But as my friend Cheryl Harness says, “The future is such a one for keeping secrets, no?”

And as for those corners, I’ve told Jim each time he gets better that he’s turned a corner. His response, “We’ve turned so many corners, we’re going in circles.”

It seems we are caught in one of those new-fangled round-abouts and can’t find the right exit to go forward. But we will find it.

We will find it with the help of our family and friends, and we couldn’t ask for better support. Not quite a week after her son died from a heart attack, my sister traveled six hours to reach us at that giant hospital. Now that is love. Our sons have been with us every step of the way. Get-well cards stand on every surface of the piano. Messages have poured in through the limitless Internet. The pantry is stacked with now empty dishes to return to friends.

As I write this, I glanced out my office window at a freshly mowed yard. With Jim recuperating, for the first time in our lives we have hired a mowing service. The enthusiastic young men show up, mow with big machines, weed whip every time they cut the grass, and in an hour are gone. They are professionals, and we have watched how they tackled the job, not with dread, but with eagerness.

“Imagine this,” Jim said. “A mowing service. Life’s a holiday.”