Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Good Deeds-do they sometimes go unpunished?

SO. I have managed, with very little effort on my part, to do a good deed. As I had mentioned previously, I have an 88 year old friend who's in hospital recovering from three surgeries on his head (all of which failed to remove the entire brain tumor.) As I had also mentioned, one night a bunch of his friends (people who had worked at his store and their wives, girlfriends and boyfriends) happened to be out having dinner and a few drinks and since it was close, we all went over to visit him (at 10 PM) and that this, surprisingly, turned out well. By "well" I mean that not only were we not ejected and told not to visit him again, but it was a good visit. One of the guys who usta work at his store (the store of my friend in hospital) is now a football coach and he asked didn't my friend play football in college and were there any pictures of him in his football gear?

I happen to work with a guy who went to the same college as my friend and so I asked him how I'd go about finding pictures of someone who graduated in 1943 (who was on the football team). It took me a few days to work up the courage to do this since I felt a little silly about the fact that I don't know how to find pictures of someone who went to *my* college in 1943 (short of showing up in Northfield, MN and going to the library or Dacie Moses House.) But my coworker pulled up an alumni directory and found my friend and then e-mailed some alumni affairs people. The alumni affairs people connected him with someone who offered to 1)photo copy pictures of the football team from the appropriate years for a nominal fee 2)scan the photos of the same or 3)send us the yearbooks for 3 out of the 4 years that my friend had attended this college for the price of shipping. We chose 3.

The yearbooks arrived today. The receptionist was puzzled at the package, but yet not at all surprised when I said "Oh that's for me." When I explained why I was ordering yearbooks from the 1940s all the young ladies of the office opened them up and leafed through them and helped me find and mark the pages with my friend's picture on them.

I took the books over to the hospital this evening (since my friend's wife and one of the guys from the store were there.) I can't really tell if my friend was happy to see these books (because he was exhausted from physical therapy) but his wife was very happy. And I was very happy to see his wife holding the book out for him to see and asking where to find pictures of him and his friends. Actually it was adorable.

But here's the thing. While it is possible that *if* I'd known where this guy went to school I might have used my coworker's help to look up pictures of him while he was healthy, it is unlikely. I made the effort (even though it really was no effort at all) because he's dying. And that fact sticks out like a sore thumb. He's a smart guy my friend-he majored in Econ and so even though he's to tired to talk he's probably not too tired to think.

At the very least I can say to myself, his wife is happy to see the pictures and she probably would have been in any case. She'd have been happy even if he wasn't in hospital because she can see pictures of her man at 18, 19 and 21. Think about it--don't you enjoy seeing pictures of your partner as a kid? Now let's say that instead of photos of your darling that are 20 years old someone brought photos of your loved one that were *60* years old. Wouldn't you be amused?

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