A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM THE DRAGON LADY Edward A. Joseph
My wife, Susan, was 3,000 miles away in San Francisco with our daughter, Amy, who was in the hospital recovering from a medical emergency. Amy was recovering, but the whole experience had left me drained and discouraged about the future because of Amy's recurring health issues.
It didn't help my emotional state that Susan's rental car was broken into the first night she was at the hospital. The thief took her GPS and Kindle, and scattered her clothes along the sidewalk.
When Amy left the hospital, Susan decided to stay with her to help in her recovery. Although necessary, Susan's absence increased my discouragement because she was the keystone of my support system.
When my mother had passed away many years before, I had gone on a day trip to the seashore resort of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, and found it to be a helpful, soothing experience. I decided to return there, hoping that it would help me feel better during the current crisis.
On the morning I was going to leave, I started to have second thoughts about going. My energy was so low from all that had happened; I just didn't feel like taking a long drive. However, I started thinking about a particular spot I had gone to on a man-made breaker in Point Pleasant when my mother had passed. I remembered being there for a long time looking out at the ocean and being comforted. There was a pull inside me to go back to that exact spot.
On the drive down, I started thinking about my mother. She was the head waitress at a busy restaurant, and because of her rather prickly manner she was called the "Dragon Lady" by her fellow waitresses. They loved her anyway. I know this because a number of them would periodically come over to our house to drink, play cards and laugh hysterically at life, at themselves and at a few "not for polite company" jokes.
I got off at my usual exit from the Garden State Parkway for Point Pleasant, but although I had taken this route a number of times before, I somehow got lost. I pulled into a parking lot and asked a man who was carrying a fishing pole for directions. He rolled his eyes and told me I was going the exact opposite way from where I was supposed to be going. His directions were somewhat garbled and I got lost again. By this time I felt exhausted and decided to forget the whole thing and just go home. When I saw a sign to get me back to the Garden State Parkway, I went in that direction.
But that spot on the breaker in Point Pleasant kept intruding into my thoughts. As I was approaching a traffic circle, I suddenly recognized the road I was on and realized that if I just went the opposite way it would take me to Point Pleasant. I hesitated, but finally took the traffic circle to turn around.
The parking lot near the boardwalk where I usually parked for free now cost $10, and I almost backed out to look for a free spot somewhere else, but I was tired and decided to just hand over the money.
It was about a mile walk on the boardwalk to the breaker. It was a warm day and I started asking myself, "Why am I doing this?" I kept thinking I should just go home, but something made me keep walking.
I finally got to the breaker, but to get to the exact spot where I had gone when my mother passed was tricky because I had to carefully walk out on cement blocks. I balanced carefully as I shuffled toward a cement column. When I got there I grabbed the column for support and looked at the water. At that exact moment a leisure craft was coming into port. On the side of the boat, in large script letters, was its name: Dragon Lady.
The hair on the back of my neck stood at attention. For a few seconds I just stared at the spot where the boat had passed, my arms still hugging the cement column. Slowly what had just happened sunk in. With all my delays, my wrong turns, my thoughts of turning back, somehow this boat was there at the exact moment that I could see it. I knew in my heart that things would be OK. The "Dragon Lady," my beloved mother, would make sure of that.
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