They use to call my Dad Lucky and I still wear his old bowling shirt with his nickname embroidered across the pocket. It was a spring afternoon and I was sitting at my desk reading an email that came with a trail that was a mile long. It originated in the shipping department, had made a full circle around the world, then it went back to the shipping department again, and then it came back to me. I was just about to forward the message I’d initially typed, “The wood samples from Mexico have not passed inspection and until they do, I will not sign my John Henry,” when my phone rang. It was Angel in Human Resources.  She said she needed me to come to her office right then. Angel was the girl with the long dark hair and big brown eyes. She was twenty-five and her ample cleavage made up for any shortcomings she may have possessed.  I was old enough to be her father.  But I wasn’t. I’d only had one other unexpected visit to HR in my twenty plus years of service.  That was the day I’d ridden the bike that was the big prize for the United Way drive, through the maze of office cubes, ringing the bell on the handle bar and waving to my friends.  Everyone was doubled over with laughter, which is the way I like people the best. And it was well worth the tongue lashing that I received.  It wasn’t Angel then.  It was the middle-aged skinny woman with the shiny face and silver bobbed haircut that she spent too much time fondling during her presentations, whether it be a benefits meeting, a safety lecture, or a one on one talk, with me.  I can’t be sure, but I do believe that I detected a glimmer of a smile that day in the corner of her otherwise zipped tight lips. I apologized to her for endangering the lives of my co-workers and I signed a form that I’m sure had gone into an otherwise boring file.  The only other papers in it had to be job transfer slips that represent the bread crumb path of my life, from working on a hardware-line, to driving a fork lift, taking 1st place in the forklift rodeo by flipping a dime with one of the prongs, being a member of the Work Smarter Not Harder Committee and then becoming a Product and Inventory Control Specialist, finally with my own desk surrounded by drab gray walls, where a name plate hung that said, LUKE SPLITTER - MAILBOX 182. It’s hard to remember the conversation that I had with Angel as I sat in her office. My eyes were fixed on the gold heart locket that hung between her breasts. I signed some papers, handed them to John What‘s His Face, the head of Human Resources and then Angel walked me to the exit. She reassured me it was just about numbers, not me. She shook my lifeless hand and wished me luck. What I mostly remember are moments and days later. My hands were on the steering wheel, the windshield wipers were intermittently pushing rain drops around, smearing my already clouded view, parking my car at the doctor’s office and limping through the door, the look on Dr. Zander’s face telling me nothing and his words booming, “we’re going to have to take that foot, Luke.” I’d already adapted to losing a couple of my toes. The biggest inconvenience was not being able to put on a pair of shoes. I had to wear a “special boot” to keep my blood circulating in my bad foot.  They say I like shoes more than a man should. I can’t help how I feel.  "I’m a man who likes shoes."  There, I said it. “No more angioplasty,” Doc said.  “Your veins can’t handle anymore, Luke.  The diabetes is winning and it’s time.” Unfortunately, he was talking about my foot with all five toes. I wasn’t surprised. Why would I be?  My mother never thought I’d live to be forty and here I was almost fifty.  I never thought I’d be whole by this time.  Didn’t even think I’d be alive. “Then let’s do it,” I said.  I had no place to be the next day.  Luke Splitter-Mailbox 182 was in the trash.  Angel and her bosoms had taken away my purpose in life.  They’d tossed me out, like a piece of cold leftover pizza. I must have done some things in the few days before my surgery, but I don’t remember what they were.  I think I was on the phone a lot talking to insurance companies, the disability office, doctors, my mother, and of course my daughter. My daughter is the inspiration of my life.  There is NOTHING I wouldn’t do for her. She called to say she was getting married and would I walk her down the aisle?  I said no problem and broke into a cold sweat trying to picture how that was going to work. When I woke up in the hospital I felt right at home. I’d spent a great deal of my life there and they always loved having me. I’m a fun guest. Hospital food has improved over the decades.  Heck, now you pick up a phone and place your order for real food off a real menu when you are hungry, like a regular restaurant.  I remember back in the day when you circled three bland choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner the previous day and they brought it to you as soon as they heard you fell asleep. Leaving that building was tough. They threw me out in a matter of days and I was missing half a leg. There was a wheel chair and a walker in the trunk of my friend’s car that he carried into my house. Next he carried me in and left me on my couch with a cold beer and the remote control in my hand. Yes, it’s true, I still had sensations where I no longer existed.  Phantom pains are real. There were lots of phone calls to be made and papers to fill in.  My insurance wasn’t going to hold out for very long. I tried unsuccessfully to talk to a human being at the unemployment office for three solid weeks, not knowing how I would pay for all of my prescriptions and return trips to the doctor. Every day I circled a thousand jobs in the paper that I knew would never be mine and every day I sent my resume to them all. And then, just yesterday morning I received a call. It was from the Disability Office.  It seems that I finally qualify for something.  I’m disabled. As I sit here, now in the front pew of the church, I can hardly remember the blur of this last year. My eyes are welling up with tears of pride. If only you could see her. My baby girl is standing in front of the altar in a white gown with millions of tiny sequins sewn around the hem.  Her skin is smooth and bronzed and her shoulder blades could pass for little angel wings.  Her long blonde hair is swooped up and sitting on top of her head.  I don’t know how they make it stay that way.  She looks like a movie star. No, she is more beautiful than a movie star. Her man is standing straight and tall next to her, wearing a black tuxedo with a red flower. She just turned and winked at me.  The kind that is so cute.  I taught her how to wink like an owl.  The lid closes, not one other muscle on your face moves. I’m still shaking.  Like I said there is NOTHING I wouldn’t do for my girl. I walked her down the aisle on my very new prosthetic leg, wearing a very old pair of shiny, blue, patent leather, shoes that I knew would come in handy one day. Didn’t even use my cane. Yeah, I am pretty lucky. The Owl  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send Millie a Message!

Inspired by the blog, a story, or an artwork? Don't hesitate to contact Millie to discuss a writing or creative work or just to have an enthusiastic conversation about the world!

Get in touch

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.