Friday, June 22, 2012

One Person Can Make a Difference ... I Did

I realized something the other day. I made a difference in someones life. 

This story goes back in time a bit, and may be longer than my usual posts, but I feel compelled to share.

When I was 24, and too young to have better sense, I left my beloved mountains. I was heartsick, feeling adrift in life. I had a friend who had relocated to Fort Pierce, Florida, about 50 miles north of West Palm Beach on the Atlantic coast. She invited me to visit her, and I left Virginia in the Spring of 1983. I would not live here again until the Spring of 2001. Eighteen years, and so very much happened to me during that time.

I met my first husband the first few weeks I was there, and was living with him soon after. Details are not important there, that tale can be told another day.

We were married in October of 1986. I was working at a large truck stop as a cashier and he had begun work as a heavy equipment operator for the state. Previous he had been a truck driver. In the course of his work he had become acquainted with a gentleman I will call MB. MB was a very likable person, and had come to Florida from Ohio to make a fortune in trucking, { Everybody thinks they can make a fortune in trucking, and it is not that easy! }

MB's business had fallen on hard times and he had taken to driving a dump truck for a local contractor. In Florida there is a tremendous amount of moving dirt and sand around from one place to another, dredging out swampy areas, filling in swampy areas, like ants in an ant farm. 

My husband came home one day and said a terrible accident had occurred. MB had blacked out while driving the dump truck and wrecked. He was in the hospital and it had been discovered that he had a brain tumor. Now I am not in the medical field, and do not have proper terminology or understanding, but I will try to explain the way it was explained to MB and his wife. This particular type of tumor was like a spiderweb on the surface of his brain. It spanned from almost the center in the rear, along the left side above the ear and over to just above the right eye. It was growing rapidly, like the tentacles of an octopus wrapping around the brain. Surgery was a necessity, not an option, and as soon as possible.

As I previously said, MB's trucking business had fallen on hard times and he had let his insurance lapse. He did not have health insurance with the company he was working for and his wife was on Medicare. 

MB was the kind of man who would pick up a strangers tab in a restaurant, pay the utility bill for a friend in need, give clothing and shoes to the homeless. He was a good person. People had taken advantage of his kindness, and prospered. Now he was in need. His wife was having a very difficult time, and getting doors shut in her face at every turn.

"Ellen, we have to do something to help them. They are decent people, they do not deserve this."

"What can we do? We barely make our own bills."

"I don't know. Put a jar out. Do Something"

So I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper.

They sent a reporter to interview me, ran the story, and I started getting mail. Letters, cards, plain envelopes. With checks, cash, money orders. I opened a special account for him at a local bank. I received an offer from a person familiar with 'the system' to help expedite his social security and Medicaid approval. 

He received enough in donations, five and ten dollars at a time, to keep a roof over their heads, cover the urgent bills, and keep the dark specter of worry from the door while he recuperated.

I made a difference. All I did was write a letter to the editor of the local paper, and I made a difference in one life. Not a big life altering difference, but enough of a difference.

I made a difference.

Anybody can. You can.