One of my neighbors has what can only be called “True Grit“, the name of a 1969 western where John Wayne won his only Academy Award for playing Rooster Cogburn. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Phil Bond as a friend since I moved here in June, 2009. If I were to use one of the better known expressions of my generation, I’d have to say Phil has some “serious stones”. Here in SoCal it’s referred to as “cojones“.
Phil and I only peripherally belong to the same “generation” mentioned above. At his age 74, he was enjoying it for 11 years before I showed up to inflict myself on the world. Phil’s also a “poster boy” for the “Oh? So, you think YOU have problems?” delegation. He’ll show you by example why you need to zip your lip when you want to complain, but he’ll never say anything about it. To do so would be beneath him.
Phil was born in 1938 with only one arm, his right one. Helpless? Disabled? Unable to get out and run with the big dogs? Nope, that ain’t Phil Bond. He’s as spry and agile as most guys I know in their 30s, and I don’t say that to blow smoke up his rear posterior. While he does drive a burgundy van most days, he has a “muscle car” in the garage. It’s a 1968 Mercury Cougar, (a Ford Mustang with different emblems), with a big 390 V-8 … and a four-speed manual tranny! He used it to pass his last driver’s license test.
His left arm ends in a nub approximately where the elbow would be. The tissue built up over the years is no longer tender, so it’s hard to notice he has what most people would call a “handicap”. To know the man, as I have for so long, one might even feel compelled on occasion to remind him. “Uh, Phil, you’ve only got one arm. You can’t do that.”
His reply would be, “Why?”
I’ve never asked the question, however. His aura sort of prohibits it.
The man has developed a “problem” over the last 20 months. He gets itches. Itchy spots that cover not just his good arm. Not just a particular body part. No, they’ve spread over his entire body. Ever have a persistent itch? If so, you remember the tendency to scratch it, even when you know you shouldn’t, to the point it becomes red and sore. Maybe even gets a little bloody. Try to imagine that feeling over every part of your body except your palms and the soles of your feet. Yeah, even on the face.
His docs have been all over the board with the Prednisone pills. He saw a total of 40 docs just today at UCSD, including Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as most of the Medical Center’s staff. The max short term dosage is 60 mg every twelve hours. Phil’s been at 70 mg for 20 months. He puts up with an agony 24-7 that, even to me, would be worse than being married to all four of my exes at one time. Yet, even when asked about it, he almost never complains. Just says he prays for relief and thanks me for offering prayers on his behalf. I can only hope, after you’ve read this post, he’s in your prayers, as well.
Today I heard from Ruth, his wife, Phil said one of the most courageous things any man has ever said when faced with a dilemma. He told her, “I suppose it’s a good thing I was born with only one arm. It’s that much less skin where I have to ignore the itching feeling.”
And you think YOU have problems?
I’m just sayin’.
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