Monday, September 2, 2013

One of the great things about Multiple Sclerosis is...

(I bet you thought there wouldn't be anything here.  If I wrote like that, I could get a job at Hallmark, as long as they gave me a blankie and pillow for "thinking sessions.")

Anyway, when the MS really kicks in down the line, you know that you've got just so much energy to work with each day, and each day is different in people contact, stress, and commitments.  You have to think low and then be pleasantly surprised that you've lasted into the late afternoon without looking like a Walking Dead cast member, like Milton here:

Actually, this was more my look after any meeting with a former Commissioner of Social Services who took your tax money and ran (you're welcome).  Otherwise, for the MS crowd, this might be us around 
oh,  three P.M. any Wednesday to Friday in the workaday world.

For those of us "retired" people, I can normally hold out pretty well if the day is not too loaded.  Otherwise I just mainline lattes.  Last Friday, family was dropping by and there would be a birthday celebration, and dinner out. I kept things cool, just nice and quiet, but getting too quiet and its blankie/pillow/nap time, even before the Hoda and Kathie Lee show starts, so I would do small things to keep active and once company came, be sort of in neutral.  My wife was concerned that was just going to "sit there."  It is always an option.  But I merely listened in to the conversation, glad to see the group, and we moved on to dinner.

Still idling, I read the menu, and nothing much struck me, but I ordered and sat back in the patio chairs at at outside venue in Saratoga Springs.  I do my level best to avoid Health/Horses/History town during the summer months as there are too many many tourists (and a good supply of "Those People" by which I mean wealthy and they know it boors who believe they own this area. Their wealth, real and external, is flaunted with BMWs, loud shirts, and loafers with white socks and they are also are glad to remind you who "pays your salary." End of rant.  Besides, if I was wealthy, I'd still be here with MS and white socks and loafers, but mine are cool).  So when company comes, they usually ask to go up to Saratoga so there we were.  I had a pear cider ale and a yum sandwich.  Nice job of ordering, me, I said.

At the entrance of restaurant a couple stood waiting for a table, and I realized that I knew the gentleman from my days working with Milton up there.  He had worked with me on the last project I begged and begged for and maybe that assignment was tossed at me as a bone, but we did make it work until I had to leave, and I was quite proud of it, and my staff.  The gentleman was a kind and considerate boss and even every now and then we did clash, things worked.

He retired a short time after my group began and it seemed I was the heir apparent to his job,  but it did not turn out that way, and probably for the best as MS was already invading my brain.

But on that nice last Friday afternoon I watched the couple make their way to their table and I just looked over now and as we continued our dinner.  I could feel the energy drain starting as the clock moved on toward five P.M.  The couple finished their meal, and got up. Then he saw me (you know that feeling - Did he see me? Do I want him to? What do I say? How can I-)

"Tom, how are you?"

There he was. Hands shaken, families introduced, want are you doing? I am not sure how far the DSS chatter box on old supervisors goes, so I just said I'd been busy writing, etc.

As they started to leave, I called to him.

"Warren, thank you for the best two years of my working life."

He stood there for a second, astonished, and then smiled and joined his wife.

And that is what MS gave me a chance to do that day, a chance to acknowledge to someone what their efforts had meant to me, and, I hope, the staff we'd put together.  I hope there are more days like that, and I know that time is short.  I got to think, slowly, ponder, what would I say?

And I said it.

And then it was time for cake.

Here's to you, Milton. And really, our Commissioner was more like this:

And another great thing about MS is, I've already got that shuffling Walking Dead step perfected. Look, just a little makeup, and easy-peezey zombie. Just waiting for that phone call.  

Thanks for reading. More soon. Heading to 5000.

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