I’m up in the air, on my way to many meetings in the upcoming few days. I was up at 5:00 am today, said a prayer for my friend Laura who was running somewhere at about the same time, and headed to the airport.
Now at 38,000 feet and there is really sweet woman next to me, I’m guessing early eighties. She sees my Diabetes Research Institute Foundation pin and she asks me about it. We chat for a while. She knows a lot about diabetes.
I ask, “Do you know someone with diabetes?”
My head fills with all of the possibilities of heartache that could come with the word ‘did”. But then a half-smile comes to her face. The story is her speaking and this is just how I remembered the story as she told it. She began:
I met a boy at my summer home when I was 14. It was a home my mom and dad had for years. He was 16 and a tall skinny kid that could run as fast as the wind. He was only at the shore for that one summer. We all pretty much knew each other. So Matty stood out right away. He was a real charmer.
We spent a lot of time together and one day I came home and my mom said that I should not hang out with Matty anymore. He was sick. He had diabetes. She did not want me to ‘catch it’.
Problem I had growing up is that if you ever told me not to do something, you had better have a good reason and being sick was not good enough for me. So Matty and I stayed together all summer without anyone ever knowing. I never got diabetes. The last day of the summer he became the first boy I ever kissed.
When we started writing, my mother would take my mail and warn me that he was someone I should not be writing, “no future’, she would say.
So I just had him send my letters to my best friend Susie’s house, and that problem was solved quickly. As we got older the letters became less……and eventually stopped. I had read everything I could about diabetes. Of course back then you had to go the library to find anything out. I read and read and read. But we never heard from each other again, for no reason; just life.
My whole life was spent with my summers at our home by the shore which our kids enjoyed and then our grandchildren. One day, long after my husband died, I was at the ‘grocer’ (as she put it) and I was buying milk. I saw that face and knew it instantly. It was Matty almost fifty years later.
He was still tall and skinny and of course he still had diabetes and now we know no one can catch it and how silly that thought was.
She looked forward for a little bit. I could see her mind going a mile a minute. She slowly turned her head and smiled at me.
We were married six months later.
She turned her head forward for a long time without saying a word before looking at me again.
He passed away three weeks ago. And a big grin game across her face. He lived to be 79 and that was much longer than I imagined anyone thought he would. He told me he was waiting until he found me again. He was lying of course, but I forgave him. I knew a lot about what to do for him and with him but he was pretty independent with his diabetes and he always took good care of it even though he really never told many people he had it. He was a very private person. We had a great time right until the end.
We continued to chat about other things and she asked me about my family and I told her; and when she asked me about ‘my job’ I shared with her my story and why it was my passion more than ‘my job’. The plane landed and we deplaned. As I was waiting for my luggage, she came up to me.
Your kids are going to be fine; I just wanted you to know that. They have someone watching out for them now.
I hugged her and we parted.
I have no reason to doubt her.
I am a diabetes dad
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