Giving is the Best Medicine

In my previous epistles, you have probably noticed a high-flown ambition coupled with some negative emotional expressionism. You may have noticed for yourself my highbrow pretensions. In order to change this somewhat and to progress, I have stopped drinking espresso again, and I got sick for a couple of days. I had mentioned to you in my previous letter that I had been ailing, and this was the reason why. Now sometimes my mind will play tricks on me, an inner dialog whispering that I cannot do any creative work unless I drink my usual eight cups every morning, and I know for a fact that this is one big addictive lie. It had started out with only two cups a day. Immediately after I poured them into my stomach, I felt so high —Β it was as if I was in heaven!Β — but soon I had to drink more and more to achieve the same effect. The inflammation in my stomach was getting worse, and I began using abdominal pain to curb my appetite. Since I ceased this pathological behavior, I’ve been feeling much better and more at peace with the world. The nightmares have gone away, and I’m capturing more enjoyment now as I take trips with my bike upon the rural pathways, the days getting warmer now that spring is finally here. The wind in my face feels refreshing as I notice the trees and grass quickly turning from brown to green, with multitudes of yellow flowers blooming in vacant lots and on the roadside. I ride past homesteads and smell the aroma of newly cut grass. Off in the distance, I can see livestock grazing and I can hear the birds singing their numerous themes and variations.

In spite of all these resplendent sensations — of trees, grass, flowers, and birds — I have a tiny bit of hearing loss and I’m legally blind in my left eye. My medication causes me additional vision problems, and, over the course of several years, I began to notice this mole on my face, but I couldn’t tell much about it because I couldn’t clearly see it. Laura kept viewing it, telling me she thought the mole was growing. I went to the doctor and showed it to her; she gave me a referral to a dermatologist. When Laura took me in to see the specialist, the nurse who led me into the examination room asked me if I ever had skin cancer before. I told her no. The dermatologist came in and I showed him the mole on my cheek. He looked at it with a magnifier and immediately said it was benign. He took what looked like a small fire extinguisher, spraying a cold mist upon my cheek to freeze the mole so it would peel off. The mole stung me a little as it was freezing. While he was there in the examining room, I had him check all the moles on my chest and back. He went over them with his magnifier, saying they were all fine. The dermatologist concluded by saying that I did the right thing by coming in, because it was a mole which had irregular boarders and was getting bigger, adding that since I had trouble with my vision, I was welcome to come in every year or two just to get checked out for safety purposes.

The doctor shook hands with Laura and I as he was leaving; we checked out at the rear desk, then we left the building to go to Wal-Mart. After Laura parked her car in its massive parking lot, we were about to enter the store when we were approached at the front door by two young women soliciting donations for people with autism. I have to admit to you that I am tight-fisted when it comes to money — it seems like everyone wants some of it — as if holding onto it is tantamount to personal survival. I said, “No, thank you,” but Laura reached into her wallet and freely gave. The women gave her a pen and a magnet to go on her refrigerator. Laura made conversation with one of them, learning that her child is stricken with the disease.

It might be a flaw in my character that I feel uncomfortable in giving away money to charitable causes, but I feel differently when it comes to giving away food. Laura and I had lunch at the Robersonville Community Center the next day, and Laura got an extra plate made for my neighbor, Della. We arrived at Robersonville Manor after lunch, and I went into my apartment, taking out a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter, putting these into a bag, and took it over to Della’s. Laura and I chatted with her as Della was seated upon her couch with her tray placed upon the seat of the walker in front of her. Della looked a lot better today than the last time I saw her. She wasn’t spending all day cooped up in her apartment wearing pajamas anymore. She had been walking back and forth to the mailbox on the other side of the apartment complex, along the semi-circular sidewalk, using her walker and having her home health worker assist her. Della expressed her appreciation to us, and I could tell she was hungry.

I could smell a musty odor in her apartment, the residue of years of smoking, but Della had to stay with some family members after having breast cancer surgery, and they had forced her to quit and she never started back. In the course of our conversation, Della showed us her swelled up arm; she needed a brace on it, but Medicaid wouldn’t pay for this. Della spoke of a man she saw on television who won $750,000 playing the lottery. Oh, the things she would do if she won that! She could leave Robersonville Manor and not have to die there. She would buy herself a house. She would buy brand new cars for her grandchildren. But I reminded Della that the lottery is a loser’s game — the odds of winning is so small that there is no cause for any real hope, and in her heart, she knew this, too.Β  When Della had finished eating the chicken and ham, along with the string beans and collards, we decided to take our leave, and Laura leaned into her to give her a hug while Della reached out, giving Laura a big kiss on the cheek with her greasy lips.

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