My friend Allen had surgery last week. It was more complicated than expected and he’s had a real struggle to feel better. He’s been in my thoughts and prayers ever since.
When people I care about are in trouble, it’s my nature to want to throw myself into high gear and drop everything to help. However, in this case I can’t think of a thing I can do.
Allen has an enormous family of siblings, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, not to mention an equally large family of in-laws, almost all of whom live locally. The usual helping-hand tasks in a tough time — grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions — can all be done by them. Making meals? His wife is a much better cook than I am. What’s left? I’ve been thinking that maybe I could muck out their goat barn…?
Allen has always been the one to help me, generally at the controls of a giant machine. The only thing I’ve really ever been able to do for him is make him laugh, and that has been mostly accidental. My amazing combination of ignorance and incompetence has kept him amused.
How many stupid mistakes have I made, only to turn and find him looking at me steadily — he has an impressive poker face, captured in this photo (right) — and then see the laugh-lines crinkle at the corners of his eyes? Allen laughs until he can barely catch his breath.
I remember the time I was in a hurry and ducked into his truck to borrow his brand-new Stanley measuring tape. I measured carefully, fired up the saw, and promptly sawed his beautiful new tape in half. By this time Allen knew me so well his expression barely changed when I yelled up to him in the excavator, waving the ruined tape. As I explained what I’d done, I could see his eyes start to twinkle and his mouth twitch. What an idiot. It’s unbelievable.
Nevertheless — “You ain’t really dumb,” he always reassures me kindly.
I’m sending healing thoughts to one who has become a dear friend. I hope I will see him again in the fall.