Published May 24, 2013
(In response to last week’s column)
It appears that the only way to know if a remedy will work for you is simple trial and error. We all react to things differently. I’m not sure if gin soaked raisins will help my knees or not, but it sure does sound yummy, so why not. I did, however, brush my teeth with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, water and toothpaste, and although it tasted like drywall, my teeth did look whiter.
Often you come across an old acquaintance, or meet someone, who has something different about them in regards to their health. Maybe they’ve lost their hair from chemo, or lost the movement on one side of their face due to a stroke, or maybe you meet someone new who only has one arm or is missing some fingers. I’m not talking about the woman who dyed her hair purple or the man with his new toupee - I’m talking life altering. I feel rude pretending like I don’t see it, where maybe it would be more comforting to just acknowledge the difference.
I was on an airplane the other day and sat next to this young gentleman 24 years of age. I immediately assured him I wouldn’t talk the entire 3 hour flight… I lied. I had a great time sharing my whole life story with him, and he seemed to enjoy it. He had the nicest smile that appeared to say “tell me more” - so I did!
When I finally took a breath I asked him what he does for a living. He informed me that he is a Marine and that was when I noticed he was missing a leg. I tend not to have a filter, so I blurted out, “Is that how you lost your leg?” I instantly looked to see if his smile disappeared. It didn’t. He told me the story of how he lost his leg in battle, how his biggest regret was having to leave his team behind and that he desperately wants to be back with them fighting for his country.
Suddenly, I felt silly for showing him where I was once bitten by a hamster (no lie). I was so proud to be sitting next to this war hero and I feel that I am a better person having heard his story, which I may not have had I not “blurted.” So, I ask you this, is it OK to acknowledge someone’s difference in appearance and possibly learn something great about them, or is it more polite to act as if you don’t notice until they bring it up?