A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Reality Check

Anne Kerrigan

Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.
Mark Twain, American author,
1835-1910

The mind sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
Robertson Davie, Canadian author,
1913-1995

The month of October, 2018, has had its personal challenges as a series of incidents occurred which made me question reality.

My right knee, which had been behaving itself, had started to act up again. It seems that every motion resulted in an ache or pain. The knee was being very ornery. Of course, the orthopedic surgeon had told me months ago that the knee was ready for replacement since it was ‘bone on bone’. I had been able to ignore it because it hadn’t really bothered me, but, it has become clear to me that this particular piece of my anatomy does not like to be ignored for long. I guess I will have to make a follow-up appointment with the surgeon even though I am not mentally ready for a knee replacement. It seems that the steroid shots offer only a temporary solution. I had been hoping for a long-term solution, as in permanent. ‘Call the surgeon’ has just moved to the top of my ‘to do’ list.

Then, during the first week in October, I received an ad in the mail from ‘The Scooter Store’. The Scooter Store? How did they get my name? Does the whole world know I am over thirty-nine? Do they think I am unable to walk on my own? I will admit that sometimes I feel as if I could use a little help, maybe a railing, but not a scooter! Then, there are the endless telemarketers reminding me that if I need assistance at home, just give them a call. Now, I don’t answer any telephone number I don’t recognise. I guess I might miss out on something good, but at this point, I don’t care!

Just last week, my husband needed a surgical procedure on his heart. I was worried about him, so I stayed at the hospital all day. When I realised that he had tolerated the procedure well, and would be sleeping most of the day and night, I got up to leave. I guess my first few steps were a bit wobbly because the nurse asked me if I needed a wheelchair to the front door. A wheelchair? I was practically verklempt! I did manage to get to the hallway where I attached myself to the wall railing, thus avoiding the use of a wheelchair. I was beginning to feel well over thirty-nine. Perhaps my peripheral vascular disease has made me a bit more compromised than I had anticipated. The peripheral vascular disease is a gift from mom, along with her sweet tooth. Curses! I like to think I have also inherited many of her marvellous traits, but the history books will have to judge that issue.

Since I actually do have some difficulty ambulating, I am slower than I had been in the days of my youth. Tommy, my twelve year-old grandson, once observed that it takes me ‘ten thousand years’ to climb the seven stairs in my split level house! You get the idea. I am much slower than I used to be. No more stairs three at a time!

Recently, I had been shopping at J.C. Penney’s. As I exited the store, with one small bag in hand, I must have looked a little shaky on my feet, since a very lovely lady asked if I needed help. I politely declined. As I pondered so many of these recent incidents,  I must admit I started to question the sanity of the rest of the world. Then, just a few minutes later, as I was about to drive off, there was a knock at the driver’s window. It was the same lady who offered to help me. She smiled and handed me a business card. She walked away with a sweet little wave, and as I then reviewed the card, I saw that it was for a cleaning service! “Why,” I asked myself, “does everyone think I need help?”

Now, for the pièce de résistance! Just a few days ago, my own cleaning lady was here. I do admit her help is greatly appreciated and undoubtedly much needed. She is a very pleasant Spanish lady who is very animated when speaking. It seems she just recently had a car accident, and she was relaying the details to me. Maria was very excited, her arms waving to and fro as she verbalised the specificity of the trauma.

“Nobody was hurt,” she said, “but the driver was an idiot!” I just nodded as she continued in animated detail. “He was all over the road, and I don’t know why he was driving. He was a very old man!” Again, I nodded. I knew better than to interrupt her frenzied story telling. “After all,” she explained, “the man was born in 1938!!” She continued on about this doddering old fool who was born in 1938.

She repeated the year a number of times for emphasis. Since both my husband and I were born in 1938, I struggled to suppress laughter. I didn’t want to embarrass her by telling her that we were both born in that year, and so I just continued to nod agreement at her predicament. I wondered if that driver felt as old as Maria thought he was. Then again, maybe I am the one who needs a reality check. Lewis Carroll, the great English writer of children’s fiction, once said, Imagination is the only weapon in the world against reality. Perhaps he is right. Scripture reminds us that All flesh is like grass and all its glory is like flowers of grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall (1 Peter 1:24). I have to stop imagining that I am still thirty-nine! Time is fleeting.   


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