Here is the first example of two people who will get a Christmas Card letter this year.
This happened today.
I am in Chicago, on my way to see my beloved Cubs at the Mother Church of All Baseball, aka Wrigley Field, with my great friend Larry, one of two people in my entire life that have made me laugh just by looking at him. He is bothered by very little, a great quality for a guy who has to travel with me.
Regina sat down on the bench waiting for the Elevated Train, or the "L" to go from the Granville Street station to Wilson Street, four stops and ten minutes away. She walked past me leaning on a four point metal cane. Slowly. When I smiled at her, she smiled widely back.
Without teeth. So, naturally, I had to talk to her.
Regina sat down on the bench waiting for the Elevated Train, or the "L" to go from the Granville station to Wilson, four stops and ten minutes away. But the train wasn't coming anytime soon because of a long delay. So I sat down next to her.
"You were really motoring with that cane," I said, and she laughed. "Yeah, I'm getting better. But," she said with a sigh, "this leg isn't straightening out any faster." She pointed down to her right leg and her tibia (shin) was nearly at a forty five degree angle, no exaggeration.
"I was hit by a car last two years ago. Broke both my legs in three places. I spent eighteen months in a rehab facility, was in a wheelchair for seventeen. I just transferred to the cane last month, and now I'm riding public transportation." She looked down the track, back at me and said, "But I get down,depressed and all. It's hard for me. I didn't even put my teeth in this morning because I just didn't have the energy. Getting around takes it out of me."
She told me about the accident, her rehab, her "room over on Winthrop," just two blocks from the station, and how she was on her way to another doctor's appointment. She told me a little about her struggle, how she had to "keep getting up" every day if she wanted to get better. She shared the challenges of her life, and I almost fell off the bench from sheer awe at the burden she carried.
I told her that given the way she was walking, and the time it took her to move through the weather of Chicago, I was deeply impressed. Her tenacity, resilience and determination was moving, and I hope that we can stay in touch. She looked at me, smiled with her gums, and said, "you really think so?" I told her I did, bu that I have no reference of the pain, struggle, and challenge she's had to overcome. "Who you are is somebody I hope to become." I said that I was speechless, and that I was so blessed to meet such a woman of great strength as she. I gave her my card, and asked that she write me an email so I have her email address for further correspondence. She said she would, smiling with her gums. Then I asked if we could take a picture, and she said "of course." She said, "I'm going to smile with my mouth closed 'cause of my teeth." I told her that was just fine.
I was just so taken with this woman's matter of fact attitude about having survived a car accident that broke both of her legs. Her non-stop movement toward walking. Her ability to discuss her progress with a total stranger so openly and with such trust. Her depth of spirit gave me goose bumps. I won't forget her.
She's getting a Christmas Letter. Without a doubt. She's one of the twenty.