David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Transplants, Travel, Umpires

Transplants

• In 2007, Stephen Wilson gave his sister, Andrea, a gift that will help allow her to see her children, Andrew, age 12, and Laura, age 15, grow to adulthood: He gave her one of his kidneys. Both Stephen and Andrea are from Westerhope, Newcastle, England. Andrea, age 42, said, “I’m just so grateful. I am forever in his debt. He’s given me a future with my children. We have always been close, but we have a special bond now.” Twelve years previously, Andrea’s kidneys were damaged during her second pregnancy when she suffered from pre-eclampsia. In 2006, her health began to rapidly fail. Andrea said, “The doctors said my kidneys were failing, and I was put on the waiting list for a transplant. They said the average wait in Newcastle was two years, but they had to find a kidney that was a perfect match and that could take much longer.” Every night for eight hours, she was attached to a dialysis machine. She said, “It was really scary. I was getting worried that I wouldn’t get one [a transplant].” Family members and friends volunteered to be tested, and Stephen turned out to be a perfect match. Andrea said, “He jumped at the chance to help me. I kept asking him if he was sure and saying he didn’t have to, but he was determined to do it.” She added, “If it hadn’t been for Stephen, I could have waited years and years for a kidney. And the longer you are on dialysis, the more ill you get.” Stephen said, “Having one kidney doesn’t make me feel any different, but I think me and Andrea are closer now because we went through this together. I have sacrificed part of myself, but after seeing how ill Andrea was and how worried her children were, it’s worth it.” Andrea said, “I want people to be aware that there is a real shortage of kidneys. You never think about it until it happens to you. But it can happen to any one of us. I feel so lucky that Stephen was there to help me.”

Travel

• Irish playwright Brendan Behan spent time in prison, and he liked gallows humor. He used to tell a joke about a lawyer who boasted that he had gotten a client a suspended sentence — his client was hung. By the way, when traveling from Ireland through England to France, Mr. Behan was arrested by the British authorities, who deported him — to France, not Ireland, and they even paid his fare. Because of this, Mr. Behan once described the English as “a humorous and decent people.”

• Before the First World War, Alexander Woollcott was shocked by the speed of the taxicabs in Paris. He once asked his woman taxi driver, “Is there no speed limit in this city?” She replied sweetly, “Oh, yes, monsieur, but no one has succeeded in reaching it.”

Umpires

• Minor league umpire Scott Chestnut respected some baseball players. Once, some grit flew in his eye during a pitch so he couldn’t see, so he asked the batter, “Red” Blume of the New Orleans team, whether it had been a ball or a strike. Red said it had been a ball, so Mr. Chestnut called it a ball. The catcher for Chattanooga was incredulous and asked why he had let Mr. Blume make the call. Mr. Chestnut replied, “Because I have always found Mr. Blume to be a man of high integrity.” When the catcher said that he hoped that Mr. Chestnut would let him make some important calls, Mr. Chestnut replied, “I will, as soon as you prove to me you are half the man Mr. Blume is.” The next pitch was a strike, and the New Orleans manager, Johnny Dobbs, complained about the call, saying that it was a foot outside. Mr. Dobbs turned to Mr. Blume for corroboration and asked, “Wasn’t it outside, Red?” Mr. Blume replied, “No, Johnny, it was right down the middle.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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