Call me Ishmael.
A few days ago, my cell rang. Area code 305...hmmm, a stranger. For some reason I decided to take the call rather than letting it go to voice mail.
"This is Ishmael from the University of Miami. I'm calling about Mary ████."
"Yes?" This was a bit odd, since Mary doesn't live in Miami, Florida, but across the peninsula in Tampa.
"Her husband, James, died this morning. She can't reach anyone in her family and she's very upset. I think she needs someone to sit with her, or at least call her."
"Jim is dead? I'm in South Carolina, so for now all I can do is call. Do you have a number for her in Miami?" My brain was racing around then, worrying about Mary alone in Miami. Trying to absorb the fact that her wonderful husband was dead.
"No, she's at home; hold on, I have the number here somewhere..."
"There's no need to look for that number, I have it. But I'm a little curious about your role in all this, since you're in Miami." A little curious? Bewildered is more like it.
"I've been talking to Mrs. ████ about organ and tissue donation. Right now, I'm afraid she's too distraught to give her consent. But my reason for calling you has nothing to do with that, I just think she needs a friend right now."
So far this is just a sad tale that many of us middle-yeared people have heard far too often. Hold on, there's a little twist. Ishmael was a little confused about almost everything but Jim's death.
Mary's mother was with her when her husband was pronounced dead of a heart attack at age 64. The consent forms for organ and tissue donation were signed before she left the hospital for home. She never talked to anyone from the University of Miami about said donation, and hadn't given anyone in the hospital my cell number - and that's been confirmed by her mother. Spooky.
I'll end this by saying, "Ishmael, thanks for calling me, whoever you are." Jim always loved a good story.