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January 11, 2010

It Vill Be Okay

Another Manly Monday, brought to you by our friend William . . . and who says big boys don't cry?



BY Will Graham

The kindness of strangers….

It happens.  It happens all the time.  We’re just all so busy, so important, so on the go-go-go, so connected and networking, and in a rush rush rush, we don’t pay attention.

The single strongest memory I have of this is 1992, Vegas.  A frantic call from my brother; our mother had suffered a stroke, was in the hospital, and it didn’t look good.  I was on a plane five hours later, crossing my fingers and rediscovering prayer.

Got to the airport, my brother was waiting, mad dash to the hospital.  Mom was aware enough to know I was there, my brother and our father were there.  Her three boys were together again.  She couldn’t talk, I’m not certain she could see, but she squeezed my hand when I asked her to.  She knew we were there.

That very night, my mother had a massive stroke, almost flat-lining.  The doctor was an old family friend, and granted us the courtesy of no sugar coating; her brain was the equivalent of a cup of yogurt.

The biggest problem with a stroke is no one really knows what will happen next.  Patients can live a long time, or they can fade away very quickly. There’s no predicting.  None.

Nine days went by.  The three men were staying at home, and there was more testosterone in that house than should legally be allowed. (A former FBI Agent, a State Trooper, and me... you do the math.) I was in my childhood room, and it was a routine.  Wake up, get Dad up, head to hospital. Wait. Sneak outside for a cigarette.  Come back.  Bad coffee.  Cafeteria food.  Wait some more.  Talk with doctor, talk with nurses, talk amongst ourselves.

And wait.

On the tenth day, we were ragged from lack of sleep, nerves stretched from waiting.  The doctor came in, was brutally honest yet again.  Things had changed, things were going downhill, it could be minutes or it could be hours, but it was going to happen and there wasn’t anything to be done.  A discussion was held, decisions made.  None of us were doing too well.  I stepped outside her room for a moment to compose myself.As I came through the door with all the grace of a Navy SEAL in a major hurry, I almost knocked over a woman.  Tiny, maybe 4’10” tall, silver hair, nicely dressed.  I caught myself, mumbled an apology, and tried to move forward.

“Boychic,” she said, glancing into the room, then looking up into my face.  “It vill bee o-kay.”  Thick, thick Yiddish accent that I recognized from my years Miami.

I couldn’t stop myself, and blurted out, “No, ma’am, it won’t."

Without another word, this woman put her arms around me and hugged me tighter than I’d ever been hugged in my life.  “Yes, baby, it vill,” she said. “You don’t have to like it, but it vill be okay.”

I looked down at this little woman, a total stranger, and had a flash of pure rage.  Who the hell was she to tell me?  She didn’t know a goddamned thing.  She didn’t know me, she didn’t know my mother, who the fuck did she think she was?

She held on to me for another moment, then let go and stepped back.  Her eyes were bright and shining, she had a smile on her face.  “It vill, I promise you.”

I opened my mouth with every intention of blasting this nosy bitch who didn’t know fuck-all about me or my family right across the hall…. when I saw the tattoo on her arm.

Nothing fancy.  Nothing ornate.  Nothing special.

Just a series of numbers.  Six of them.  Almost faded away.

My brain locked.  The anger drained away.

I knew what those numbers meant.

I could not even imagine what this woman had been through in her life.  Yet she stood before me, bright eyed and smiling in a hospital corridor, reaching out and trying to comfort a grown man she had never met before and didn’t know who was trying very hard to hold on to what little shred of adulthood he had left.

She reached up, patted my cheek, said “You’re a good boy,” turned, and walked away.

My mother passed that very night.

I never saw the silver haired woman again.

Never got her name.

Never knew why she was there, who she was visiting, who she may have been in the process of losing from her life.  Again.

But I promise you this:

I’ll never forget her….


WOW!! Thanks for sharing and it's really hard to type correctly with tears in my eyes.

I agree 100 percent with Deb. I had to wipe the tears away before I could begin to type. WOW about says it.

William, this is so close to my own Death of My Mom experience, it's scary. Thank you for opening your heart to us.

Thanks for sharing such a personal and beautiful memory. l

Another tear-stained keyboard. Adding my thanks for sharing the moment. And grateful once again that my grandfather managed to get his family out of Germany in time.

The 12th would have been my mom's birthday and she died on the 29th of January 5 years ago from a brain aneurysm.

The woman was right but you can't see that when you're still dealing with it. My oldest was born w/ a blood clot in her brain. She has Cerebral Palsy, Seizures, a learning delay, and her right arm & leg do not work like her left ones.

We got through those first few weeks and she is about to turn 16 and wants her driver's license.

Thanks for sharing your story with us.

A remarkable story; I appreciate you sharing it. I sometimes feel that those offering comfort in the form of bright encouragement just "don't get it." I've learned to consider that maybe I'm the one who doesn't get it.

Thanks William. No doubt Elaine will remind us of the warning signs of a stroke some time today. Your story reminds me of so many things: My Grandfather, who volunteered at St. Johns Hospital for many years 'helping the old people'. He was upset that they made him stop pushing wheel chairs after his 80th birthday.; Molly's cousin Henry, who used the phrase "Hitler couldn't kill me, this won't." for many years.; And the death of my father in 2001 and the mad rush to the hospital that was too late.

Thanks again William.

No words.

Powerful, William -- thanks for putting so much in perspective. Bless her for her comfort and you for sharing it.
I'm sending a link to this to my friend Georgie, a maggid, because I think she'll like it.

Thanks for sharing the story, William.

I wonder what she saw that made her know you were there for your mother. Her saying "You're a good boy" seems to say that, to my interpretation.

This couldn't have been a better time for this story. My grandma went into the hospital on Christmas day and died new year's eve. I myself have been saying, "it's not gonna be alright, they have no idea"! Reading this makes me believe *they* do. Thanks.

Thank you, William.

Guardian Angels come in every height, weight, color, age, religion,and I believe with all my heart they are there.

William, this is beautiful. Don't ever think you're not a good writer - or a good man.

**NOTE to all - William is in court today, or I'm sure he'd be here responding. In case you don't know, William handles the computer forensic investigations for criminal and civil matters that most of us don't even like to think about. Bravo.

A powerful story, William.

Thanks for sharing your heartfelt story in such an eloquent manner. I am so sorry that you lost your mother. She raised such an admirable son and we are the better for it.

What they all said, William. Thank you.

Oh. My. Thank you.

Is he really a good boy? I mean, What Would Margie Say?

(We luv ya, William. You can't escape it.)

What a beautiful moment, thanks for sharing.

Thank you William. Yes, you made me cry too.

Just another voice echoing "Wow" and "Thank you". Suddenly I miss my mom badly, and that's okay.

Thank you, William. I lost my mom in April and this really hit home.

William? You are too amazing. And we do, indeed, love you. Thank you...

Thank you.

William - Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. HollyD, my mom died on January 29th 15 years ago, and William, it was like she knew that only her three daughters were in the room with her (Daddy died 13 years before). No hospice, no overnight careperson - just us. Thirty minutes after we were all together and by ourselves, she died. Though her death was very sad, it was an amazing experience to be with her then.

Thanks, William.

Georgy added another Wow. http://www.georgy-rock.com/

and Gerald reminded me that "angels are everywhere"

William, you have shared a most significant story, and you are indeed a good man.

Thank you so much for your moving and tear inducing blog. My mom's birthday was the 9th, and I think of her harrowing journey out of Europe, and the successful life that she made here. Although she died over twenty years ago, I still hold her with me, and the knowledge that she, and your unknown angel made a life, and it was okay. She showed me that love, as life, is many things.

I've had a seriously lousy day. Running around all morning, getting back late with tons of stuff to do for work, nothing working right, computer issues, demanding people, and, 1/2 hour ago, my daughter hit the side of the garage door with my car while trying to back out, damaging the fender, detaching 1/2 the bumper, and taking off the driver's side mirror.

Work will go on. Computer issues will be resolved. People will be people. My car will be fixed.

None of it matters, when you read something like this. Thanks, William - I really needed that.

William, I had a heavy heart all day and was reminded of the story that my daughter's mother-in-law related to me. She told me that her aunt and cousins were part of the Holocaust era. Her aunt and cousins chose to stay in Poland because they were afraid to flee the country and come to America. When I heard this my heart almost stopped. I looked at her and was in awe of the courage that it took for her mother to come here. My heart broke in memory of her relatives.Having lost my in-laws and parents I always miss them. It only became easier when the passing of time made it so. Life is precious. I try to remember that every day. God Bless.

. . . and no one is really gone as long as we tell his or her story.

Oh my. Wiping away tears here. Reminds me of the day my mother-in-law died and an anonymous nurse held me out in the hall. But more intense even than that.

My own mother died of an aneurysm July 2004. Death of mothers, no matter how they go is one of the hardest things anyone can get through. But we do. Thanks for sharing, and reminding us all that no matter what, we'll be OK. Eventually.

I needed this. Last week I took my mom to a nursing home with more guilt than a Jewish-Catholic convert. She'll get out of there one way or another, I know, and it vill be OK.

Somebody say, "Amen!"

Wonderful, honest, no-holds-barred story. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Holy crap William. As usual, you've managed to blow us all away with a great post. I'm trying to fight back tears myself as I flash back to my own hospital experiences. And thanks for such a powerful example of the kindness of strangers.

Coming in late here, but glad for your eloquence about perspective in a hellish place, William. When my mom was in hospice care, we siblings were having a hard time, reverting to our worst childish selves, and a seasoned hospice social worker said to us, "Everyone becomes a child again when their parent is threatened." It didn't necessarily make us behave any better, but it did make sense of the emotional chaos we were experiencing, and we did make it through . . . 'it vill be okay' was eventually right.

Is it just me or is everyone just a little in love with William?

William thanks for sharing your thoughts this morning. Of course the world is in a mess. We are not aloud to be naive anymore because the media makes sure that we are not allowed to live in lala land. If that is not enough sometimes we chose so-called enlightening Discovery channel documentaries that remind us of all the possible scenarios on the doomsday of 2012. Narrators telling us that we can still shop for Christmas even though December 21st is THE DAY. At the end the summation is that the worlds and suns may collide so don't worry aboutit. Now there's comfort for you. So you can live your life while tucking away all this information and continue to affect others positively. Meanwhile, William...you make this place a better place. Thanks!


Wow! What a moving, incredible story. "It vill be ok." Yes it will, but sometimes the waiting for it to be OK is awful hard. I can't imagine the sadness she had experienced in her life and yet, she has the hutspa to be optimistic. I admire her courage. I also believe God sent her to you because she was just what you needed in that moment. Thank you for sharing this marvelous story.

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