Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bootheel of Missouri

First, thank you for your concern the last couple of days. My surgery is over and pathology tests are benign. We are so thankful.

On Tuesday while I was having my pr-op tests, my husband met a guy in the waiting area who lives in the 'bootheel of Missouri.' His family usually doctors in Memphis, Tennessee, but his wife was referred to Mayo last year for a very serious heart surgery. They were back now for her one-year checkup.

Before she had surgery last year, the doctors told them to expect to stay for about nine days before she would be well enough to tolerate the 2-day drive back home. Well, they encountered problems and she almost died on the operating table. Before they would release her to go back home, four weeks passed. All the while the husband stayed at a motel, so one can imagine the financial setback that was for them. He works as a school custodian, and fortunately they have good insurance. Total cost of the ordeal was over a quarter of a million dollars.

Before this, we never paid much attention to the bootheel of Missouri, so I did a little checking and find that it is the southeasternmost part of the State and gets its name from the shape of its boundaries. It is flat and mostly agricultural, with rich soil well-suited for growing rice and cotton. It's also one of the more impoverished parts of Missouri. In fact, the guy was telling about a factory in his home town that recently closed its doors and left the local people practically in ruin. The business was moved down to Mexico.

A person couldn't help but feel the pain this couple was enduring. They were down-home common people taking the brunt of a lousy economy. The husband was patiently standing beside his wife during her sickness, he was doing all he could for his family, and I think he truly needed someone to pay attention to him for a just a few minutes. And, that's where my husband shines--he always tells me that no one is ever a stranger to him. I think it's a rare gift that not many of us are given.

More than likely we won't ever see these people again, but in that brief time our spirits touched and communicated in a way that was a notch above an ordinary meeting. What is that, I wonder. And, I wonder, too, if they feel the same way about us.

The guy's eyes were all watery as he waved his last words to us....."Y'all take care now."