Friday, August 25, 2006
Still at Cannon Beach, we've been driving into Portland frequently to visit my mom and my aunt. Yesterday my aunt told me a story I hadn't heard before, and it moved us all to tears.
She has a friend who had a heart transplant, nine years ago. He'd been an Olympic-class athlete, and now, with his new heart, he's again able to climb mountains, run marathons. In fact, he's participating this weekend in the annual and insane run from Mt. Hood to the Oregon Coast. A team event. But still...
Before his transplant, he'd come very close to the end. My aunt describes the two months he was hospitalized, awaiting a heart: she visited regularly and saw more machines and hoses than she imagined possible (I infer he was hooked to a ventricular assist device). All the while, the man maintained humor and optimism. When the heart arrived, it had come from a young college student, killed in an auto accident. It was a perfect match in all senses of the term.
My aunt's friend came to know the mother of his heart donor. They've become extremely close, and visit with one another regularly. He, my aunt says, is a big guy, six feet five or six. The mother is tiny, less than five feet. The three of them -- my aunt, the man, the mother of his heart -- spend time together frequently. My aunt says that when they meet, the mother -- whose ear is chest high to the man -- always leans to him, wraps her arms around him, ear to his chest, to hear the sounds of her son's heart, beating inside the man and giving him life.