I went to wait with my father in the hospital while my mother was having cancer related surgery. Thanks to the crazy world we live in, there is tight security at the hospital. I walked up to the security desk with my limp and my cane. The woman who took my photograph asked, “Oh, what did you have, a hip replacement?” She was much older and very kind (I could just tell). I said, “No, I had a stroke when I was 35 years old, and pregnant with my son who is now 19 years old.” I always have to add that part to the story because otherwise people assume the baby died. Judy was aghast. She said she got the chills. She stood back and just looked at me. She was amazed I had walked into the hospital after having gone through that.
Judy then told me she lost her husband when he was only 41 leaving her to raise two little kids alone. I often find people are quick to share their own “war stories” with me after they hear mine. And every adult has at least one tale of death after a short illness, long illness, sudden death, disabling disease, marital strife, divorce, natural disaster, accident, and many variations of the battles we are forced to fight in life.
My 85 year old father pushed me around in a wheelchair (what’s wrong with this picture?) throughout the day in the hospital. I introduced him to Judy because I knew she cared about my family from the brief interaction we had. She told us she was 79 years old. She introduced us to the security guard. She told him to take in my “unbelievableness”. She admitted she just made up that word. They both stood and stared at me as if they were looking at a walking miracle. Judy gave me and my father passes for free parking in the hospital lot.
There is a definite reciprocity that goes on when we share our war stories with strangers. I am grateful to report that my mother is doing very well and there is no new war story there.