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I had been sick. I mean really sick with a cold. I don’t usually bemoan those little blips in health status. I just weather them and move on. I thought I was doing that this time around too.

By Monday of this week, I was sipping tea at the breakfast table and congratulating myself on apparently turning the corner on this bug. I hadn’t completely left it behind, but I knew I was heading on my way to good health again rather than the other way around.

And then it hit me.

I knew I had an appointment with a dermatologist last Friday (I go in every six months so she can cut something off of me). I had confirmed that I would be there. But with a panic, I realized I hadn’t bothered to show up. I had, in fact, completely forgotten the appointment.

So I dashed to the phone and called the appointments desk. I didn’t have to pretend to be apologetic. I was just sick about it. This is a doctor whom I respect and it was ill-mannered of me at best to just blow her off.

The appointment person at the other end of the line seemed to take a long time to find me in the system. “Spell your last name again for me,” she said. I patiently spelled Anderson “with an -o-n” and then she was quiet. She confirmed the rest of my name and my birthdate. Then she was quiet again.

Then she said, “I see here that you called at 8:30 on Friday morning to reschedule that appointment. It is now set for March 9.”

“I what?”

“Yes. It says you called Friday morning and rescheduled.”

“Oh. Well, I’m sorry to bother you then. Thank you.” (I’m just paranoid enough to believe that upon completion of our conversation she made a note in my file that said something to the effect of, “This woman is losing her mind.” Or perhaps she was just thanking God I didn’t show up when I was so sick.)

And I sat puzzled. I have absolutely no memory of placing that phone call on Friday morning. I’m really glad I did it. I’m glad I didn’t stand up the physician. And I was glad I wasn’t going to get charged for a visit I didn’t make. But I have no memory of making that call.

As it sunk in, it made me realize that I must have been even more ailing than I even thought. Maybe I was running a fever. I don’t remember anything about that day at all, except maybe sleeping through most of it with a cat on my lap, the TV droning in the background, and wondering, once again, why God invented snot.

It reminded me of my favorite episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” It was the one where well-kept, hair perfectly coiffured, makeup artfully applied Mary Richards had come down with a cold. It was a bad one – like I had. And while Mary was intent on muscling through her day and evening, nothing went right. She looked awful. I recall an eyelash hanging askew, hair bedraggled, clothing in shambles. She was completely opposite the Mary we had all come to know and love and even she couldn’t stand herself. But there was nothing she could do about it other than just give in and get well. All of us who watched must roared with laughter, not because we were hooting at her misfortune, but because the character was played so well that most women could find a piece of our own identity in her.

I see this and I think, gee, Mary looked good even when she was sick. Nonetheless, as I recall in this episode, she was struggling with a cold, a sprained ankle and a stain on her dress. [Internet photo]

I took a lot of solace when I first saw that installment and each time I have been fortunate enough to see it in re-runs. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” began its run when I was still in college and continued as I made my own venture into the world attempting to make it on my own. The character was a role-model for me as she was for so many young women. But it was that particular script that really tied me to her. As I have watched it over and over I have come to understand that try as I might, there’s no way I could always successfully put on the best appearances all of the time (and, Lord knows, I never hit it out of the ballpark 90 percent of the time as she did). Nor did I have a wardrobe and makeup department at my disposal to make me presentable each morning and for each moment of chaos that might pop up during my day as Mary Tyler Moore did have in real life.

But there were two important assets for Mary in that episode of the show: she did try to keep her head about her, and she was surrounded by people who cared about her. When she got so sick and push came to shove, she ultimately had to collapse and rest because she had no alternative other than to work on getting well.

I don’t remember making that phone call on Friday to cancel that appointment and move it to another day, but I’m glad I somehow kept my wits about me and did it before I went to sleep. I knew I had a husband who would be looking after me and friends near and far who care, even resonating on social media with my struggle to alternate nose-blowing, sleeping, sneezing, coughing, and waking in the wee hours of the morning and finding it difficult to get back to sleep. Friends nearer even delivered homemade soup to the front door.

I’m just wondering now what other calls I made last Friday that I don’t remember. I’m hoping I didn’t sign anything important. Or say anything I would regret.

All I can do is ask forgiveness and try to be more forgiving of myself and others. And thank God to giving me the strength to get well to face another day and another challenge, perfect hair and face or not.


31             For who is God except the Lord?
And who is a rock besides our God?—
32             the God who girded me with strength,
and made my way safe. – Psalm 18:31-32

 1              God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1

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