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The "Wu Word" Blog

June 2019

Grandpa Mike

At supposedly not even 5 foot in height, I am accustomed to neck strain from looking up at people.  It was extra neck strain when I met Mike.  He towered over me at over 6 feet tall. I had to stand at the very tips of my toes to give him a hug.  I am a hugger, but I am extra extreme all out and all in holder, hugger, and squeezer where everything from within me is rushed to my extremities in the tightest envelope of an embrace when I meet an organ donor family member.  Not only was Mike an organ donor husband, but he was a Korean War veteran, a father and grandfather of many, and heavily involved with charities and advocacy events.

I gave Mike my biggest and tightest hug that my small frame could manage.   He received and reciprocated my hug, leaning so close down to me that the fabric of his dapper grey suit rubbed against my cheek.  He looked down at me with a bemused expression on his weathered, wrinkled face that had come from such life experiences as the Korean war, his wife who died of a sudden heart attack who he immediately and did not hesitate to donate her tissue and organs, and his failing knees that forced him to lag behind all of us at an organ donor advocacy event that hundreds of New Yorkers united at in Albany, NY.

Grandpa Mike



When I saw Mike many feet behind us because of his bad knees, I returned to and fell into step with him.   I remembered all too well before my hip replacement when I was always behind, and there would be far too many people who did not have the patience to wait for me or walk beside me.  I always treasured the few people who would slow down their pace to be by my side.  Truth be told, I am always steps slower and behind everyone else because of my shorter legs and generally slower pace, but I also enjoy walking slow because that is how to see and savor more of the world all around us. 
I could tell Mike was stubborn and full of pride, so I made sure not to bring up his bad knees and fell into an easy conversation with him about our families, our everyday lives, and, most of all, what had brought us here together and in each other’s company.   He was the only man in our small gung-ho advocacy group.  In spite of his unhidden knee pain, he kept offering to hold all of our bags, opening all the doors for us first, and letting us sit down when we were tired.  He was a true gentleman.  
 
Mike and I instantly connected.  He immediately called me his adopted granddaughter.  I, in turn, called him my adopted grandfather.  Being with Mike brought back happy memories of my time with my own paternal grandfather who I shared a very special relationship with that revolved around poetry and paintings.  Mike and I exchanged contact information, but our contact information drastically differed from each other.   While I had my cell phone to text and the Internet to email, Mike did not do email and rarely ever used his cell phone.  He handed me his home address and home number.  I could not remember the last time someone trusted me to give their HOME address all written out to me.  Mike explained, “I’m in my 80’s.  I do not have time for all that tech stuff.  It’s too complicated, and it should not be made so complicated to keep in touch.  If you ask me, people have more methods of communication this day in age, but do not even communicate.” 

Grandpa Mike


All I had been wanting that entire day was to have a picture with Mike.  To me, he was a hero for serving this country AND for thinking of others when his wife died.  He gruffly said, “I’m not a hero.  It’s just about doing the right thing.”   I finally got my picture with Mike at the end of a very tiring and long day of us on our feet.  I promised him that I would send the picture to him.  True to my word, I mailed our hard copy photo to him in a carefully chosen card of three cats staring at the moonlight.  In less than a month, he wrote back to me with the most beautiful and simple letter that warmed me in ways that I could never explain.  We ended up talking on the phone and agreeing to try to meet before this summer comes to an end.  Before we disconnected, I asked Mike: “Mike, is it OK that I call you Grandpa Mike?”  He chuckled and I could hear his smile on the phone when he said, “The better question is why don’t you call me Grandpa Mike?”  

There are some people you meet in this world who profoundly impact and affect you.  It is in little ways that mean so much.  There are some people who you instantly connect with.  There are some people who you do not.  You cannot explain or fully understand it, but you certainly know when there is a something there to bloom from or nothing there only to have a quicker ending to a quick beginning.  There are some people who you dislike at the start, but who somehow grow on you or vice versa.   As humans, we are so keen on first impressions, but I think to have lasting impressions and leave imprints on people surpasses any type of first impression inkling. 

Grandpa Mike

 If Mike’s wife had not died and if I had not received two kidney transplants, would we have met? What were the chances that we ended up in the same small group to advocate for the same cause?  Did you ever stop to think what in life led you to meeting certain people and developing more or nothing developing at all? Who have you experienced an instant connection with and the relationship just bloomed from there?  Do you think it is somewhat ‘pre-written’ who we are to meet and connect with?  Is it fate?  Is it kismet?  Who have you connected with and who has left a lasting impression on you? 

Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary

 

Smoke Signals

I am a woman of my word.  When I make a promise, I keep it and will do whatever it takes to deliver.  One of my promises that I kept to my parents, but I more so kept to myself was that I was going to move out from their home before I turned 30-years-old.   This seedling promise of having my very own place and no longer living in my parents place was planted in the third year of college, and the reason this promise was made was because of the ‘smoke signals.’
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