Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Meaning of Devotion

On this day of the celebration of the birth of Christ, I want to pay homage to caregivers of the world and highlight a very good friend's devotion to his ailing mother who recently passed by asking, "What would Christ want him to do?"

Some forty-plus years ago, on the campus of Howard University, Adrienne introduced me to her geeky friend, Brian Booth aka “Dr. Booth”. Adrienne was “Big-A”(literally) and I was “Big-M”.

The three of us always enjoyed hanging-out together on campus on Fridays at noon to look at the fraternity Greek Shows. Big-A was in love with Buddy, a Groove Phi Groove. Dr. Booth and I google-eyed the fine girls who were attracted to the Ques. In those days, Howard girls were so fine that whatever the Ques didn’t want, any guy would have been proud to be seen with their rejects….if Dr. Booth and I were only so lucky.

One day, the doctor invited us to his home where we met the petite public school teacher, the lovely Lena Horne-like, Mrs. Warfield. She put down her crossword puzzle and greeted us with her razor tongue and a rapier wit! She asked Brian, “Where did you find this bum?” I was taken aback. Not knowing quite how to respond, she immediately broke-out into a hearty laughter. And so began the exchange-of-wit relationship with Mrs. Warfield. Brian went on to Georgetown Law School and volunteered at the local Pacifica radio station, WPFW 89.3 FM, hosting a show called “By the Law”. I wrote features for the monthly station guide. Brian would discuss basic legal issues and played a little jazz from his collection. Developing material for a monthly station guide felt like a full-time job. I could only imagine what Brian went through to prepare for his weekly show. One night, I remember him asking me to call-in and ask a legal question.

“….but, Dr. Booth, I ain’t got nothing to ask. I don’t know what to ask”
“Look man, just call and ask, how do you form a LLC?”
“What’s a LLC?”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll explain it to you and everybody else when you call….okay?”
“Hmmm….okay. But don’t make me sound stupid”
“What are you talking about? You’re already stupid!”

That evening, I tuned-in. Dr. Booth was talking about forming business structures, a primer for budding entrepreneurs. He encouraged his “vast” listening audience to call-in with their questions. I ain’t callin'. Dr. Booth sounded like he was sweating bullets while trying to keep the subject interesting with his co-host, while they waited for some callers.
Like any dutiful loving mother who wants to support her son, Mrs. Warfield called-in.

“So, you think you know something about the law?”
“Ah, yes ma’am. What is your question this evening?”
“Well, I want to know how to form a corporation where I can put my son in who is a student, along with his up-keep, student loans and write the whole damn thing off so that I can live the rest of my days in the islands?”
“ah ah ma’am (nervous chuckle)………”

Over the years, Dr. Booth and I enjoyed jogging together. We eventually ran 10K races and went on to do the memorable New York City Marathon. Wobbly-legged from the 26-mile endurance course, Rachel, Dr. Booth and I met Rachel’s law buddies at a restaurant in the Village and, later danced to hip-swiveling salsa music at a Latin club. It was about this time that Dr. Booth began taking his handle seriously. He talked about the lactic acid that had built-up in our legs that caused the wobbly-leg. He talked about the supplements that we needed to take and the stretching we needed to do.

From that point on, I can’t remember a conversation we had that health issues was not weaved into it. He became such a health fanatic that Big-A dubbed him “Dr. Wackko”. My wife, Alfreda, is a crazy health nut too. She enjoyed talking to Dr. Wackko, sorry…I mean Dr. Booth.
It was not until Mrs. Warfield took deathly ill that we took the knowledge that Brian had garnered over the years with some importance. The medical doctors at Washington Hospital Center had, essentially, given up on her. I remember visiting her one afternoon and seeing her lay motionless in bed. I tried to get her attention, looking for that spark in her that I knew so well.

“Mrs. Warfield, it’s the bum! Can you hear me?”

I called my father, Pastor Ray, to give her last rights or something. I then, called Brian to get his butt up here immediately! The doctors were, eventually, able to bring her back. A few days later, Dr. Booth said that he had to do something drastic for her…..Hyperbaric Chamber!

“.....a hyper what?”

In those days, there were only two states that had this contraption: California and Florida. Brian’s sister, Marsha, lived in California. He packed-up the bare essentials that were needed and flew with the ailing Mrs. Warfield to California. He started the non-insured and expensive Hyperbaric Chamber treatment for her immediately upon arriving in California. He called me a few weeks later and told me that she was responding to the treatment. After being on the west coast, now for months, Mrs. Warfield had come back to life. Her tongue and wit were sharp as ever!

Dr. Booth asked Dot, his classmate at Georgetown, and me to pack-up all his remaining possessions in D.C. and place them in storage and to sell his mother’s home. California is where she can receive the care she needed was the thinking.

Well folks, that was twenty years ago? Brian is one of his mother’s three children that took on this awesome task. It is because of what he did for his mother that showed me how to be the son that my Alzheimer’s-diagnosed mother needs right now. He, literally, snatched his mother from the jaws of death and gave her twenty more years of TLC, sacrificing his personal goals and ambitions.

Dr. Booth, I salute you and love you for showing all of us, in life, the meaning of the biblical passage that states “honor thy father and thy mother”. Our prayers are with you and our doors are open to you. And when you are ready, we will take that long over-due vacation you need.

God bless you!

1 comment:

Hans Olav said...

That is a beautiful story. It´s also a bit troublesome. I´m from Norway where health-care is more or less free. On the other hand there is no way to do like your friend and sell your house and get the ones you love the best possible care. You have to do with what is available, and the Norwegian doctors have social-economical issues to concern themselves with. Both systems have their advantages I guess, but when your in that situation where a loved one is seriously ill, then you wish you could pay what it takes to save them. Here ´s my blog if you want to have look.