It was a little over two years ago. My sister and only sibling, one of the best little sisters a man can have, was lying in a hospital bed in intensive care with a close cousin of Legionnaire’s Disease. My mother, aunt and uncle and cousin Theresa were at the hospital every waking moment, as close to my sister as the doctors would allow. I remember the moment as if it were yesterday. Mom was going to catch up the rest of the family on the latest status via cell phone and I had herded her outside to do so by making my “thrashing old lady in the hospital bed” movements, indicating to her the dangers of using her cell phone in the hospital. My aunt and uncle had walked her outside, leaving Theresa and I in the waiting room just outside of intensive care.
It was then that Theresa and I talked about the paths that make up life. Circumstances were making us both re-examine the “grand purpose”. You see, her oldest daughter had suddenly passed on at the age of 20 two days before the previous Christmas. As we sat in that hospital waiting room, it seemed like my sister was knocking at the same door herself. Theresa and I expressed that we both felt the need to do something meaningful with our lives, we both felt that we needed to a make a difference, big or small, by helping others. It was then that I felt like I was a little off my path, because I had just started a new job that while infinitely better than my previous job, still wasn’t quite fitting that need that was lurking in the back of my mind.
I admire people that go out of their way to make the world a better place, but then, who doesn’t? Earl does his part in many ways by asking questions and getting answers when a family member is at the hospital. He’s always the rock (at least on the outside). He’s a leader and that’s admirable. My friend Shirley donned her Halloween costume yesterday afternoon and made patients at the local hospital smile as she passed through the halls as a “free spirit”. I admire that. My cousin Theresa stands strong while the world is seemingly crashing down all around her. I find that amazing.
I guess I try to learn from all these people.
I also admire Rosie O’Donnell. Now I know that she’s a celebrity and all that, and I’ve never met the woman in person but I would like to. Not to be all star-struck and gaga and to hang out or whatever. I don’t want to tell her what a funny person I think she is. No, I just want to shake her hand. I just want to say “thank you Rosie”, for using her celebrity to make the world a better place, through her charities, Katrina relief efforts and for voicing her political views in a such a grounded, educated and yet loud manner.
Sometimes I feel like I’m not making a big enough contribution to the well-being of the world. When I express my doubts, I’m told that by just being myself and being who I am “out loud” that I’m making a difference in the world in my own way. But I wonder if that is enough. I wonder what if I could have made a bigger contribution if I had joined the Peace Corps or stayed working for ARC back in the early 90s instead of pursuing a radio career. Should I have stayed the course and become a teacher?
Working in tech support, I find it frustrating at work when a customer calls in and is absolutely hysterical because they can’t make their medical bill collection calls to those that can’t pay for healthcare. Or another customer can’t send e-mail to their co-worker that sits in the next cubicle over. What about the mother that can’t send e-mail to her son in Iraq because he’s out on the battlefield? What about the child that can’t call his grandfather because that month the grandfather had to make a choice – pay for the heart medicine or the telephone? I feel like so many people are missing the big picture these days.
So I’m going to do my part next Tuesday. I’m going to exercise my right as a U.S. citizen, study up this weekend and I’m going to cast educated, thought out votes. I’ve already told Earl that if our voting place is using electronic voting machines without paper trails that I’m going to request an absentee ballot. I urge anyone that reads this to do the same, get out there and vote, regardless of your beliefs and point of view. Just make an educated decision when you pull the lever or punch the CHAD or touch the screen next Tuesday.
As far as the rest of my journey in this life and helping others, well, I’m still thinking about that part.