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He was thin and his teeth were crooked. “I’m just looking!” he hollered out to me with a smile. “I got a doctor’s appointment,” he added.

“No problem,” said I, returning his grin. “What ‘cha looking at?”

“Thinking about getting me one of these,” he answered, tapping our most entry level bicycle. “But I’ll probably have to wait until after Christmas.”

“Okay. Well, if you buy it before Christmas we’ve got a little promotion going on. Buy that bike and get a thirty dollar gift card.”

“That’d be nice. We’ll see. I need me a bike to ride after I have my dialysis. If I ride then I feel a whole lot better than if I just go home and go to sleep. Wake up feeling all out of sorts.”

“How long have you been on dialysis?”

“First of the year. I’m on the waiting list. Think I’m gonna get me a kidney next year.”

As we chatted I shared with him that a neighbor from my youth had needed a kidney and that her son Stephen had provided it for her. I reminisced on how when I had told Stephen how noble it was for him to do that that he’d shrugged it off, saying, “Anybody would do the same.”

I’d looked at Stephen and said, “No. Anybody would say they’d do it. You did.”

The store was not busy so the thin man with the failed kidneys and I chatted. We were both born in 1961 and had both lived in Connecticut. He for many years, me for a far shorter time but we smiled as we talked and compared notes. His optimism was poignant.

At fifty four years of age he was facing a hard life. Dialysis, no car, no job to speak of. His upbeat approach to the obstacles that had been thrown in front of him was inspiring. Hope is a mighty power. I hope he’s able to buy that bike but even more I hope that his optimism and friendliness survive as long as he does.

As St. Francis of Assisi said, “God grant me the wisdom.” The skinny man’s shoes would be awfully difficult to fill.

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