A bum knee, a blind woman and three toilets…

So I probably haven’t told you this but, I think I tore the meniscus in my left knee. I’m sure I did this while trying to tote heavy equipment up 3 flights of stairs. However it happened, it has left me limping like Festus on Gunsmoke. If I sit for any length of time, I have to really stretch when I stand up and carefully place weight on my left leg before I take off walking.

As you can imagine, this interferes with many activities…like the Seniors Hopscotch championships over at the clubhouse. It has also played havoc with my sand volleyball, LaCrosse and other sports I have never played but imagine I COULD play at 61 years of age were it not for the bad knee.

This morning I had an incident occur that should be the opening line of a bar joke, like …”a priest, a Pastor and a Jewish Rabbi walk into a bar…” only in this case it involved “a blind woman, a service dog and older gentleman with a torn meniscus walked into a Hardware Store…”. This is one of those blogs where the Godhead had purchased popcorn and was sitting back to be entertained.

I had entered into Lowes this morning in order to make sure I had all the parts in order to change out the worn toilet tank seal in our powder room downstairs because it has been leaking water. I had just dashed in, (well, hobbled in), to make sure the equipment I had ordered online was the correct one. As I walked down the aisle, I noticed a woman with sunglasses, a red-tipped white cane and a service dog with a handle on his vest for his owner to hold onto as they walked. She evidently heard me in the aisle with her and said, “Excuse me?” I answered her and said, “Yes Ma’am”? she continued, “I am wondering if you had time to help me at the end of the aisle? I have toilets I’ve purchased, and I was curious if you could take them down and place them on my cart?”

Having risen to the rank of Tenderfoot in the Boy Scouts at 14, I knew what my duty was. I accompanied her to the end of the aisle and listened as she told me the name, style, and model; it was a Kohler “Highline” Classic White. Scanning the shelves for the model, I saw one; just one shelf up…just at eye level.

In hindsight, I now realize the importance of telling oneself the truth in terms of one’s physical limitations. But at the time it looked like such a compact small box, that it’s deceptively heavy nature was hidden from me. But, these were needy times and she had no one to assist her and I had been there right when she needed me. Having assessed the situation, I pulled the box toward me until the full weight of the ceramic demon said hello to my left knee.

In moments like these, being Latin becomes both a liability and a blessing… A liability because there is this “Prove you’re a man” thing that is engrained in Latin men called “machismo” that will never ask another person for help… and it’s a blessing because I know how to cuss in Spanish.

So,, what did I do?… I ACTED LIKE I HAD IT ALL UNDER CONTROL! Staggering like a drunk sailor with a toilet in his hands, I weaved and huffed and puffed…two steps forward, one step back, three steps forward until the flat cart was finally close enough that I could put the toilet from hell on it.

Now don’t judge me but at that moment…I can’t believe I’m going to say this but… I was thankful that she was blind, so that she couldn’t have seen my drunk sailor routine and had missed seeing me probably wiping the tears out of my eyes. I stood there huffing and puffing like I had just run a world record mile. My hands were on my knees, when I said, “Okay Ma’am, there you go!”

She stood there, smiling and I could tell she was biting her lip to keep from laughing I asked, “What?” She burst out laughing, “Well, thank you, but…I need two more!” I looked back up on the shelf and two other Kohler toilets sat there on the shelf laughing at me. This time I knew I needed some help, and thankfully a Lowes employee was walking in the vicinity and came over to lend a hand.

The other two toilets and their tanks were loaded onto her cart and the employee said he would walk them up to the front of the store for her. As I turned to go, she addressed me and said, “Sir…?” I stopped and turned around and looked at her and again asked, “yes ma’am?”, hoping she wasn’t planning on going to the refrigerator department next. She thanked me and was fishing into her purse for money. I said, “Oh no ma’am, please…I don’t require that.” She stopped and said she really appreciated it and said to her dog, “Charlie, thank the man!” On command Charlie, a beautiful German Shepherd came up to me and licked my hand and then, licked my left knee… not once but several times. He looked up at me and licked my knee again. I asked if I could pet him and she said yes.

She told me her name was Beth and I walked her to the front and told her that I thought that my left knee had a torn meniscus. She shuddered and said, “Oh no, you should have told me…I would have understood!” I said it was really no problem and said the reason I even brought it up was because her dog Charlie had licked the knee that was injured. She beamed. “God has given animals and, “she stopped and petted Charlie and continued, “especially Charlie, with the ability to sense when a person is in pain. They just know!” I remembered my old friend Greg who has two border collies named “Abby” and “Lane” who go to Hospice and love on patients.

I thanked her and she thanked me, and I hobbled out to my truck. It was already noon and my knee throbbed, but as I drove out of the parking lot, I looked in my rear-view mirrors and saw Charlie and Beth with a third person and an employee getting the toilets loaded into a truck. I thought about Charlie licking my hurt knee and thought to myself, “God even uses His creation to let us know He cares about us.”

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