"Did you hear about 'Irene'?"
"No." (And don't ya hate it when conversations start like this?)
"She's in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant".
"She had some sort of congenital defect that's just fired up and gotten MUCH worse. She's in trouble if they don't find a heart for her."
I've known Irene 30 years. She's one of those people who never meets a stranger... a great sense of humor and a smile that lights the room.
She and her husband own a small business. I worked part-time for them for 3 years, but our relationship was never Employer-employee, it was always friend-helping-friend.
These two took over a business with a terrible reputation and worked like dogs for years to repair that damage. They worked together, sometimes almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to build their business and be successful. Their honesty, dedication to their customers, and in no small part, Irene's caring, friendly personality garnered them that success. They raised two beautiful daughters, bought a big, fine home in a gorgeous location, and, approaching retirement age, were able to begin to think about relaxing and enjoying the fruits of those years of hard work. Now... this.
I stopped by their place of business yesterday to fill in some blanks. Her husband had his priorities straight... he was with Irene at the hospital. But I got a chance to talk with their mechanic, also an old acquaintance, and get some details. During that chat there was this exchange:
So "Jack", how are YOU doing?"
"Well, my wife has breast cancer, but we think we caught it early. It's a helluva deal, isn't it? In the face of Irene's problems, realizing the fact your wife has early breast cancer is not such a band hand to be dealt!"
Reality check, folks.
What's goin' on in your life?
Tell me again...
How serious are your problems?