‘Tis the season for recognizing people for their kindness. You surely have seen and heard reports of many. Someone dropped a gold nugget into a Salvation Army kettle. A woman donated a kidney to a stranger. An anonymous retiree handed out $20,000 to folks on skid row.
Then there are the high profile people who have been giving away hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the last few years it has been my good fortunate to witness extra-ordinary kindness and charity in Syracuse. The man who has done the giving will squirm when he reads this. He shies from publicity, shrugs off expressions of gratitude. The words “humble” and “humility” should be made part of his name.
He was married for many years. After they divorced he remained friends with his former wife. Not close friends, but friends. Several years passed. Then she, in her early 60’s, suffered a stroke. For weeks she remained in a coma. For months she flirted with death. For months she underwent rehab.
She suffered setbacks. Infections. Heart problems that threaten her existence. Endless depression.
John virtually moved into the hospital. He became her advocate extraordinaire. He prodded the doctors, worked with the nurses. He memorized all the data, grew expert in her drugs and treatment. He negotiated with insurance companies. He waded through the blizzard of medical paperwork. He helped maneuver her through disability payments. He helped her negotiate disability and retirement stuff with the company that employed her.
When finally she moved from the hospital he virtually moved into the rehab house. He supervised that rehab. He pleaded her case for more. He cajoled and lobbied whoever he could to get the most he could for her treatment.
When she was able to re-enter the world the rest of us enjoy, he moved her into his house. For months he devoted – and that word is inadequate – devoted his life to making hers better. She was confined to a wheelchair. Her collection of pills would rival a pharmacy’s. The scheduling of them would be a full time job for most of us. His days were filled with getting her to rehab and doctors.
Without his devotion she would have been trundled off to a home for the disabled. She would have been wheeled in front of a television and left for hours to vegetate.
I have taken to calling him Saint John, for a saint he surely is. His life is hers. He has set aside years of his life in order to give hers some meaning. And he has done this for a woman who divorced him.
Why do I write of him? I guess it is to remind myself and you that saints dwell amongst us. They give more of themselves to others than most of us can comprehend. While many speak of love, they know love to a depth beyond oceans.
This day, St. John will plan his day once more around the woman to whom he has pledged these years of his life. He asks for nothing in return. All I can offer is my admiration and the hope that his story might inspire another.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
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