I have been in the nursing home a bit more than an hour, visiting with patients and staff, singing with the group gathered in the commons. A normal Tuesday morning for me, except this is the Fourth of July.
At the intersection of two halls where I will make a left and exit the building, I meet an old guy who is upright, walking without assistance and looking quite perky.
"Good morning," I say. "How are ya today?"
"Better than I have any right to be," he replied.
"I think I could say the same."
"My wife was killed in a boating accident."
"I am sorry to hear that. A tough thing for you to have to go through."
"Yes; they never determined who caused the accident-- twenty-four car pileup. Only found part of her body and never found my little boy."
He continued, "I was in hospital thirty-one months, in a coma for seven of them. Doctor said had I been put in a high speed blender the result would have been about the same."
At this point the gentleman started a litany of injuries, some of which I list here: missing left arm from elbow down, repaired by "the first-ever bionic arm;" (looked fairly normal to me, but what do I know?) Clavicle broken in four places, right ear missing, had to be rebuilt (did look a little different from the left ear); jaw completely shattered, had to be reconstructed; shoulder broken; leg shattered; and a few other particulars. "I was deaf, couldn't talk, blind, had forgotten how to walk," and so on and so forth.
Finally he told me "My therapist worked with me two years teaching me how to walk again. He was a saint. Had no legs, (the therapist, he means) but he never gave up on me."
I finally attempted a "goodbye" and he held out his hand and said, "I'm Bert."
I said, "I'm David, and it has been nice talking with you. Have a wonderful day."
[This is not nearly all the palaver, but you get the idea.]