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Cousin Cindy and Roommate John

Cousin Cindy and Roommate John

    Cousin Cindy's Christmas card enclosed a salute to the season of the Nativity, under the theme of a blessed virus (think computer or flu), how said virus obliges everyone, Scrooges included, as December 25th nears, to manifest a brighter, gentler way through the day.

    I especially liked the Christmas Virus sign and symptom Cindy listed third: "Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation."

    Right on, Cindy, you've made my season!

    Because most of it has been spent in the confines of a hospital bed in a semi-private sub-acute unit seeking rehab for bilateral knee replacement surgery.  I have been totally dependent on others for everything needed or yearned for.

    And that's no picnic for old Bob the controller.

    But I was blessed with a wise and gracious roommate who showed me, without intention, without so much as a raised eyebrow, how to do it, get through a day of near-total dependency with equanimity.

    Roommate's strategy consists in two words: "thank you" (and saying it often.)

    My semi-private buddy is a ninety-three year old resident of a nearby assisted living facility.  He broke a second hip and, while it mends, takes rehab toward a goal of renewed independency.  It's been a long haul and, judging from overheard dreams, quite frustrating.  He's a fellow who has enjoyed his share of worldly success, and has served as a town selectman in Central Connecticut.

    That is, he's accustomed to positions of command and respect.

    Nonetheless, though accustomed to being given special consideration (you know, like pastors), he presents to everyone who comes his way a welcoming smile, a warm greeting, and, should you be anyone of the several aides and nurses and administrative personnel who attend to his needs (everything from serving him his nightly milk shake to emptying his urinal) he offers an enthusiastic "Thank you."  Sometimes for variation he'll expand it to "Thank you very much."  And he always asks for the name of each new server.

    He brightens the corner, the very restricted and frustrating corner, where he is.  And our room, which to me for the first nights seemed a dark and confining prison, soon began to look like the threshold of the kingdom of love and light, transformed by the magic of two little words repeated often by a nonagenarian and his septuagenarian mimic.

    Love may make the world go round, but it's appreciation, the "thank you's" of ordinary human exchange, that lubricate the spinning.

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