Some things and some people don’t know when to quit. My gaze followed a line out my office window to a silhouette of tree branches filigreed against a gray sky, down to the tan lawn across the street littered with brown leaves, and on to my flowerbed where one lone purple coneflower insisted on blooming in January. According to the experts, coneflowers (actually hot pink instead of their designated purple) bloom from June to September. I realize this is South Mississippi, but we’ve had a couple of significant frosts by now. Blooming in January – really? The flower brought to mind some people who don’t seem to notice they have already met expectations.
On a long-ago night, I ate alone in the Bayne-Jones Army Hospital cafeteria at Fort Polk awaiting the next day’s surgery, nursing a pretty good “Poor Me” case. Al had gone home to get the kids fed and to bed as he should have, and I truly didn’t need anything, but still, there I was by myself. My surgeon, whom I had met only in a couple of appointments, spotted me as he came through the line. Bringing his tray to my booth, he asked if he could join me. Chatting like an old friend, he told me of his life’s journey from South America to study medicine at George Washington University and the subsequent interest that developed in the surgery he would be performing the next day. He was off duty just getting a bite to eat on his way home, yet he took time to see my loneliness and gave me confidence that resulted in a better night’s sleep and assurance for the next day.
I think of teachers without number, underpaid and overworked already, who dive into their own pockets to get supplies for the classroom or to cover the lunch for a child who has none. Stories abound until they are no longer surprising of off-duty policemen and firemen rising to the occasion to save a life when they happen across an accident. A family member or friend gives a kidney to another, and even more surprising, some give one to a complete stranger. A beloved family member dies and the family donates every possible organ so someone they may not even know can live or have a better life.
We live in a discouraging world, bombarded by anger and frustration, making it easy to overlook good happenings and really fine people who never notice that they were actually finished a while ago. I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I am going to remember the flower blooming out of season and try to notice those who keep going beyond anyone’s reasonable expectations.