Friday, November 6, 2009

A day at the pharmacy

A Man Named John.
          Donna OShaughnessy

There is no picture with this post.  It wouldn't be right.

I was picking up my meds at the pharmacy recently and waiting patiently (hardly) while they refilled my meds, my husbands meds and my aunts meds. We don't take many prescription meds but when added together it can take a bit. Yes, I did call ahead for these refills, still issues happen. I was frustrated as I was running late for a play date with the grand kids and I wanted to have enough time to go to Big R for more chicken feed. Really earth shattering important stuff I HAD to do.

While at the counter I saw a man coming directly towards me with a walking stick, apparently blind, and "looking" for the counter. To avoid a collision, I said "well, hello there." He greeted me back and thanked me for the verbal notice. We started to chat. This is his story.

John was 11 back in 1951 and helping his father, a farmer, in their fields. They were trying to break apart large rocks in the way of their planting. His father planned to blast them apart and with Johns help they wedged 7 sticks of dynamite around and under this particular boulder. The fuse would not light so the two of them walked back to their pickup truck to get more matches. Just as they returned to the boulder it exploded. Apparently the fuse had lit after all. John's father was killed instantly. John suffered life threatening injuries including the loss of his left eye and major brain/skull trauma. He was knocked unconscious. Johns 5 year old brother who had been left in the pickup, was bright enough and brave enough to run 1/2 mile to a neighbors house for help. He managed to do this after seeing his dead father and horribly maimed brother.

John does not remember the two weeks after the accident but he does recall relearning how to walk, how to talk, how to deal in a sightless world at age 11, all while grieving the loss of his father. He told me of the many plastic surgeries he had to endure as well. He told me how he "doesn't really like" the time changes each fall as he is still walking around town doing errands when it is getting dark. He has enough sight in his right eye to see shadows and he uses the street lights "like stars to guide my way." He joked about how a street light will get moved by a city official in a village redesign or stop working all together and how that affects his travel. Could I even tell you where the street lights are located ? No.

He did now whine or complain during this time. He did not blame his father. He never ONCE mentioned the word pain. I would ask a question and he would answer it quietly, factually and with dignity. In the 15 minutes I spent talking with him (poor pharmacy staff were having a bad bad day) I learned once again what a self centered, self involved ninny I am. Eventually my meds were filled and John and I said our goodbyes. When I turned away from the counter I overheard the pharmacist greeting him and then giving him a bag of meds for someone named Bev. Imagine that, here is a fellow in his late 60's with multiple physical challenges and yet he is able not only to care for himself but someone else as well.

It is my hope that I will never forget John. When a tire goes flat on the hay wagon, or the bee hive is killed off by mites, or the price of corn goes up again just when the price of hogs goes down, or when someone hurts my feelings with an unkind word, my hope will be; please...Don't let me forget John.


  1. Nice Post. The important thing is not that God talked to you, but that you listened.

  2. Oh man Art, you nailed that on the head !

  3. Wow, we are blessed with a healthy family, aren't we?