I’ve been trying to reach Joe for weeks, because I wanted to visit when he went in for surgery. He’d been talking for awhile about having his left foot amputated in order to potentially walk again (with a prosthetic) and leave the skilled nursing facility. Finally he called me yesterday, letting me know the surgery had just happened that morning, but he was still in the hospital (of course.) I told him I’d be there this morning.
So I drove up to UC Irvine today, thinking about the last time I’d been to that medical center. It was about nine months ago with my dad. We had gone for a kidney transplant orientation meeting that I’d been anticipating for months. I was told very early in the process that Vernon would be an unlikely candidate. That was a real turning point in the journey, but I didn’t realize then how little time he had left anyway.
Joe seemed happy to have a visitor. I hadn’t actually seen him since the memorial on Sept 11, though we’ve stayed in touch by phone. So it was great to catch up. I filled him in on the kids and what I’ve been up to; he told me how Mesa Verde has changed: who’s still there, who isn’t. Every time someone came in the room to check on him, he sent them away till later. “I have a special friend here, can it wait?” he’d ask them.
I didn’t realize at first that he had been waiting for me to be with him so he could take a look at his missing extremity. He hadn’t wanted to go through that alone. I was so honored to be there for that moment, which was a little strange for him at first, but with some humor and honesty we got through it. I joked about bringing him an eye patch and a parrot to complete his new look. “Your leg still looks pretty long from my vantage point,” I told him truthfully. “They didn’t take off as much as I expected.” He seemed happy about that.
“It’s already easier to lift my leg now, so that’s an improvement.” Joe said, showing me. Then he added: “Hey, do you still write that blog?”
“Yeah, why? Can I write about this? I’m sure people will be interested. There are a lot of folks who care about you.”
“I don’t mind. Yeah, let them know.”
“Ok. Mind if I take a photo of you with your leg?”
“Ah, what the hell. I don’t care who sees it. I gotta get used to it anyway.”
So here we are…
Please send your recovery prayers for Joe. He appreciates them.