As I was walking down my street toward home, a silver Jaguar purred up alongside me. Since I only know one person who drives a Jag, I wasn’t too surprised when I bent down and saw my Russian nurse.
‘Hello Mizz MigLoud!’ he smiled. I smiled back. ‘You look great,’ he said. I realized that he’d probably never seen me in full stride before. But that day I was walking purposefully, and being decked out in knee high leather boots and grey peaked cap, I practically looked Russian. He, on the other hand was wearing a soft gray turtleneck sweater that looked like the underside of a rabbit. ‘You look well too, ’ I told him. He bowed his head slightly, in a bad attempt to be humble.
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I was going to tell Alexi about my last little surgery, but it didn’t seem important. I was also tempted to tell him about radiation, but it’s not something he endorses. Nor is he very enthusiastic about chemotherapy, or any of the aggressive western treatment on which I have been reliant. No matter what we talked about, I rarely had his approval. And I realized approval is something I want in the health care people who have surrounded me during canceritis. Even though it shouldn’t matter, it did. But as I was feeling less vulnerable, I was trying to break the habit of wanting to please.
Then he told me that his wife and daughter were headed to Brazil to see John of God. I’d first heard about this mystical healer from Alexi who had met him a year earlier. Apparently everyone in the world seems to know about him, thanks to Oprah. For many who do make the pilgrimage, it is as a last resort for a serious illness. In the case of Alexi’s family though, I think it was mostly curiosity.
‘I hope I never have to see John of God,’ I said, ‘I feel good’. Alexi nodded solemnly, ‘I am buhleezed to know that,' he said. Then he rapped his knuckles on the polished burled elm dashboard of his Jag. I told him that it didn’t count unless it was real wood. He looked horrified, as though he’d just witnessed Evengi Plushenko crashing down in the middle of a triple axel. ‘Of course is real wood,’ he said, ‘This is very expensive car!’
I remembered a remark I’d made about his ‘nice car’ last fall. He’d been defensive, saying, ‘Iz just car’. Finally! He admitted that it isn’t just a car. It’s a fancy car, befitting an international man of mystery, nurse, fashion plate, and holistic healer. And since he makes a living doing healing house calls, it's also a calling card.
Unable to think of anything to say, I said good-bye. He drove north, and I went south. And just in case he was watching in his rear view mirror, I marched briskly, just to prove how healthy I actually am. And that was me, seeking approval, hopefully for last time.