As I sit down to write this introduction for our 3rd quarter newsletter, I’m thinking about the words we now regularly use to express how much our world has changed between March and July: unprecedented, unusual, difficult, interesting, and challenging. These words seem so overused, and at the same time not nearly strong enough to describe the times we are living in.
There are so many disturbing issues we face today, and I’m sure that they are topics of conversation with your family, friends and colleagues. At the same time, we’ve heard heartwarming stories of families and friendships both old and new. In this newsletter, I’d like to share some observations, and a personal story about the latter.
As many of you know, I’m an avid skier. Last February, my family and I were finishing a wonderful day on the slopes. I was heading to our meeting spot when a snowboarder turned and hit me—hard. The initial x-rays and exam indicated bad bruising, but no broken bones. However, by the end of March, it was clear that something was wrong with my shoulder. An MRI showed that I had a torn rotator cuff and needed surgery.
But this isn’t a story about my injury. Instead, it is a story of how strangers, family and friends in these unprecedented, unusual, difficult, interesting, and troubling times found ways to take care of me—and how I had to allow and accept their care.
First, in the moments after the collision, a nice young couple stopped to see if I was okay. As fate would have it, they were orthopedic surgeons. I assured them that I was fine and tried to get up. The look on my face and my struggle to stand prompted them to ask if they could take a look at my shoulder and leg.
They did a quick examination. The man gave me his coat because I was shivering; the woman told me a funny story about how he broke his thumb skiing the same run we were on. They then both suggested that it would be a good idea to have ski patrol bring me down the mountain. I did not want to ride the orange sled of shame! I’m a good skier—and I was sure I could make my own way down. But they called ski patrol anyway, and then called my sons to let them know what happened. The couple waited with me until ski patrol arrived.
I had surgery July 1st. Sean and Lucy (and Penny the dog) took the first shift, taking me to surgery and bringing me home. They made me comfortable, setting up a recliner and an icing machine that good friends lent me. Sean made sure I had my meds every 3-4 hours and changed the ice as needed. (Needless to say, he did not get much sleep for several days.)
Erik and Charlotte (and Zola the dog) took the next shift. I was feeling a little better by then, so they experimented with making homemade ice cream. Charlotte washed and blew dry my hair—I felt like I was in a fancy salon!
So many people have helped to take care of me. Friends lent me things to make the recovery easier. Other friends brought food, flowers, and smiles. My neighbors took care of my plants and gathered in the street outside of my house on nice evenings so that it was easy for me to join them to talk (practicing appropriate social distancing, of course).
The bigger part of the story, however, is that they offered love and help, and allowed me to accept that love and help. Like most people of my generation, I am fiercely independent. I’ll have to wear a sling for six weeks. Learning to rely on others (even my own kids) has not been easy.
Having a plan in place to manage the unexpected helps. For me, as I am sure is the case for many families, my family has been helping me at home. And at the office, we implemented procedures many years ago that have allowed us to work virtually anywhere we can establish an internet connection—which is pretty much everywhere. With the assistance of technology available through our broker dealer, Commonwealth Financial, we moved to a paperless office about five years ago. Having all of our clients’ information at our fingertips—and being able to communicate with each of you through online video meetings—has made the transition to working from home smooth and seamless.
The word that I find I am using most frequently right now is humbling. I’m humbled by the situation that Covid-19 has created. I’m humbled by the dedication and efforts of health care professionals and scientists. I’m humbled by the number of people who are standing up to inequality in our world. I’m humbled by the social and political activism we are witnessing. Most of all, I’m humbled by the love and kindness people are sharing. In my small part of the world, I am blessed to be surrounded by people with big hearts, full of love, who will help me as I recover from surgery.