Dear Mr. President,
We really do live in a remarkable country with advantages that other people, in many other countries can only dream of. A country where parents have a measure of control over what happens to their children. A country and a time where we’re not forced to make a “Sophie’s Choice.”
On the 14th of August I received a call from my son Jeff, not unusual for a Sunday, as that is the day he typically calls to chat. Jeff lives in Pahoa, Hawaii so we don’t get to see each other very often, but, we do have a special connection… 27 years ago I was able to donate a kidney to Jeff, and he is alive and well today.
Jeff was only 19 at the time he was diagnosed with total kidney failure… just starting his life really. He worked at the corner store, had lots of friends, played the drums, and had been trying to go to college… just a typical kid.
He started dialysis right away and we began the process of seeing who in the family was a match. Dennis, Jeff’s brother was in the Navy at the time, but he was able to send a sample of his blood for testing too. In the end it was my kidney that was a match.
Naturally, Jeff wanted to know one thing… “Why me?” He could name any number of others that he encountered at the corner store that were old, alcoholics, grouchy, unpleasant, or just plain mean. Why not them? To me it was simple… don’t those people have enough misery in their lives already? Who would be there to help support and take care of them? Even if they were miserable human beings by their own actions, would you want to trade places with them? Of course not, who would?
So after making arrangements for my friend Helene, to not only sub for me at my job for six weeks, but stay at my house to watch the other two kids, Jeff and I trekked up to San Francisco’s UC Hospital for the transplant procedure.
Twenty-seven years later I’m still grateful that we lived in a place, and a time, where all this is possible. Where a parent can actually save a child’s life without sacrificing another child in the process. A place and a company where you have a job that you can leave for six weeks without worrying about whether it will still be there or not. At a time when everyone in the company had insurance that paid for not just it’s employees, but our children as well. Yes, we have been very fortunate in every way possible, just living in America.
So every August 14th I get a call from Jeff saying… “Thanks for the kidney mom, I really appreciate it.” “You’re welcome,” I say… “It’s what any mother would do.” It’s what any mother would do if she is lucky enough to live in a time, a place, and a country where it’s all possible… a country like America.
Your Gadfly Granny