"Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give.
To guide us with the light of love."
Alabama wrote that. The band -- not the state. Actually, Don Goodman and Becky Hobbs wrote the song and Alabama recorded it -- but you understand what I mean. I've always liked the song and recently I was reminded that Mr. Goodman and Ms. Hobbs knew of which they spoke -- or wrote, as the case might be.
I have been sick for more than two years now. My health maladies started in October of 2010. I have good days and bad days. Last winter there were more bad days than good, and I was convinced I wouldn't still be around by this time of the year. Lately, I have had more good days than bad, other than the side effects of my cancer treatment, which I have come to accept will be a part of my life for as long as God chooses to let me stay here amongst you.
Yesterday, however -- well, yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day -- just like Alexander used to have, if you are familiar with kiddie literature, which I am, having read to my three children every day for forever.
Every cell in my body ached. My hair even hurt. None of my internal organs seemed the least bit interested in functioning properly and I didn't have enough energy to punch my way out of a wet paper grocery sack. I didn't want to get out of bed. In fact, I didn't, until after 9:30 -- and I am a 5:30 a.m. guy who goes to bed with the chickens and is up at the crack of dawn. Usually I fake feeling well. A wise man once told me not to tell your troubles to anybody because half the people don't care and the other half are glad you have them. Tuesday, however, I couldn't even smile and fake it.
I finally dragged myself out of bed, got dressed and went about my business. One of my stops was at the copy place. I had to get some promotional materials printed for the release of my most recent attempt at literary success. Like I said, I didn't feel like putting my best foot forward and when the lady in line in front of me asked how I was doing, instead of saying, "Fine! How're you?" I remained downcast and said, "I am having a rough time."
That's when the lady, who I learned was named Doris Blackwell and has lived right down the street from me for nearly 20 years, started uplifting my spirits.
It's funny, isn't it? I have lived a stone's throw from Doris and her husband, who is a retired Army master sergeant with more than 25 commendations, all this time and our paths had never crossed. At least not long enough for us to have a conversation. I learned that she knew more about me than I did about her when she reminded me that I was doing better than I wanted to let on.
"I see you walking all the time," she told me -- which was true. I do get out and walk a couple of miles most days and a lot of people would love to be able to do that. "Your color is good," she remarked, "and here you are."
She had a point, you know. Everybody has to be somewhere and instead of being home in bed, there I was. I asked my new friend a few questions and learned that she and I had education in common and had both worked in DeKalb County at the same time. I also learned that she does a lot of motivational speaking, particularly at churches, and so do I.
Then Doris reminded me that laughter is a powerful medicine and that one of the best ways to do battle with cancer and its ill effects is to keep a positive attitude and to surround one's self with people who have positive outlooks on life. She told me that the battle was 90 percent mental and that I couldn't choose whether or not to have a disease in my body but that I could choose how to react to that disease.
These were all things that I knew but things that I had chosen not to remember on this particular day.
Doris also gave me some practical advice. She told me to eat plenty of kale and collards. Now I eat collards -- almost every day -- as well as turnip greens. I haven't mastered the kale, yet, but will give it another try. And just to emphasize the message, when I left the copy place and went over to the hospital, God put me in the path of Mrs. Brandenburg, who has been giving me good advice about my diet and holistic treatments since I was first diagnosed. I believe that's what you call a God-incidence.
Alabama was right. There are angels among us. Doris helped me get through one more day and I am thankful for her words of wisdom. I hope our paths cross again soon.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.