Last week, a tidal wave of surprises engulfed an unsuspecting MSer in her home in the quiet town of Tecumseh, Michigan. No one was hurt, but the 54-year-old woman, Kim Dolce, who has had relapsing-remitting MS since 1999, says the experience has left her breathless and grateful. It all started when she suddenly found herself adrift in a raging sea of good feelings after visiting her mailbox one Monday afternoon.
"I pulled a 10 x 13 envelope out of the mailbox from some law firm in New Jersey," Kim began, "and at first, I thought I was being sued." But the envelope contained a legal document of inheritance, of which she is a beneficiary. Her father's aunt, who died in 2010, had left a sum to her dad, but his death in 2008 required that sum be split four ways between Kim and her three siblings.
"I knew I had something coming back when my great aunt died, but I thought it would be a few hundred dollars at most. I forgot all about it, frankly." Kim won't disclose the amount, but says it is under $10,000. When asked what she'll do with the money, she mentioned buying a new stove and refrigerator, giving some to her mother for a bathroom upgrade, and getting a few much-needed car repairs. Though she is deeply in medical debt, she said: "I don't think I'll pay off those debts, they'll just come back around again after the first of the year. Routine MS tests are expensive and they'll always be there. If I paid them off, it would be like flushing money down the toilet."
As if this weren't enough, Kim received a surprise chat message the following afternoon. An old friend living in Florida had snuck unannounced into the nearby town of Toledo, Ohio, and messaged her from the home of one of their mutual friends, suggesting that they all meet for an impromptu dinner in Sylvania. Despite her MS, Kim felt up to it and within hours, Kim, Larry, and Juli all snuggled into a booth at Olive Garden and had a chatty visit while enjoying chicken marsala, seafood soup and cheese ravioli, finally getting kicked out of the place at 10 p.m.
Ever since 2008, the year MS forced Kim to retire, spontaneity had become a luxury she could no longer afford. "Normally I have to plan a trip to the bank or supermarket days in advance, just to get mentally prepared for the effort," Kim told us. "But for this--I would have crawled on bloodied stumps to see my friends that day. It was downright inspiring."
Although Kim had planned the next day well in advance--a trip to the Ann Arbor Art Fair--she had expected this foray to be short, considering how insufferably hot and uncomfortable the weather had been, and how difficult it would be to walk from the parking structure to the streets and then to peruse the various art displays. "I haven't attended an Art Fair for 15 years," she said, "I couldn't get excited about limping around in the heat and humidity and worrying about where the nearest bathroom was." But it was friendship that once again inspired her to brave the elements after all those years. One of her MS friends whom she had met online but never in person, was an artist who had a booth there. Kim was determined to show up and support her friend, and wanted to meet her face-to-face, something she rarely does with her many online friends with MS.
"The temps that day were, thankfully, much cooler, and Laura's booth was in the shade," Kim told us. "A cupcake shop with a bathroom, directly behind her booth, provided instant refreshment and relief. We sat outside the booth and chatted for a couple hours, it couldn't have been lovelier." Lovelier yet was the fact that Kim, armed with an inheritance, could now afford to purchase one of Laura's etchings. "I'm thrilled with this piece," she gushed, "I hung it in my office right over my computer where I spend most of my day. Now I can glance up at it when I'm chatting with Laura, and I can enjoy it all day long and think of that special visit."
The next day, Thursday, was also planned. Kim's 21-year-old niece, Alina, had had maxillofacial surgery that Monday and was feeling up to having visitors. "I cried all day Monday while she was in surgery, I couldn't bear the thought of her being in pain. I just had to give her hugs and kisses and see that she wasn't suffering." Kim had expected Alina to be very swollen and bruised, but aside from chipmunk cheeks, she looked good. "The pain meds were making her nauseous and constipated, and she did throw up," Kim said. "But she's off the meds now and doing much better." Kim brought her mother, and they all had a great visit with Kim's sister, Dana, who is Alina's mom.
But the tsunami had thrown out a hint of its arrival several days before the Monday mailbox surprise. Kim's husband, Mark, who moonlights as a computer repair technician, visited a new client the weekend before. The client, who Mark had met while volunteering to serve free dinners at a local church four nights a week, turned out to be a millionaire who paid Mark twice what he had charged. When Mark came home, he handed Kim a one hundred dollar bill. "It might as well have been a one million dollar bill," Kim remarked. "We never have much disposable income after paying the bills. I tend to nurse along the $30 left in my checking account for four more weeks until my Social Security kicks in again."
The client wants Mark to fix his many computers at one of his plants in the near future, and to continue making house calls for his personal computer as well. "I'm gonna be this guy's bitch," Mark told us, "and I'm gonna enjoy every minute of it."
And that's the way it is for July 24th, 2012. A tsunami of good folks, paying it forward, inspiring each other, wreaking bliss wherever they go. I don't think we'll need to contact FEMA for this happy disaster.