Things Could Have Been Worse

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2016

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

We mortals aren’t much good when routines–particularly those most mundane–are interrupted.

Men who refuse to accept this claim as “you-can-take-it-to-the-bank” stuff–or even to the pawn shop–are urged to take a simple test on which my case can rest: The next time you dress, try putting your other leg in first.

The probability of this claim playing out is greatly magnified at holiday time, when hurrying is exceeded only by scurrying. Some emerge unscathed, others not so much.

I’m going to cite three true-to-life vignettes, two that make eyes water and a third that awakens the “been there/done that” recesses of grandparents’ memories. (As if we don’t have enough evidence courtesy of our own bodies groaning about growing older, grandchildren come up with observations that nail facts down tight.)

To avoid embarrassment, I’m going to offer anonymity to the participants. (Except for a bonus vignette provided by my brother, who always has been guilty as charged.)

Trust me that the accounts are absolutely, hand-on-Bible truths, and, if pressed by compelling reason, sincerity or runaway curiosity, names can be provided later.

Scene I: A salesman, dreading a bumper-to-bumper kind of day, reaches for eye drops to jumpstart his vision. He grabs a cologne bottle by mistake, freezing in place after a single squirt, thus sparing the other eye discomfort. “I look for silver linings,” he said, “Folks at the office said they never smelled such a fragrant eye.”

Scene II: Since I experienced retina repair and reattachment to its moorings back in the spring, the following account hits home. It is a “there-but-for-grace-of-God” situation in which I could have had a major role–probably even a speaking part, if not a screaming one.

Another patient for the same surgery–a man about my age–fouled up early in an attempt to administer treatment at home. He reached for a tube of ointment, forgetting he’d used Super Glue on a home project earlier. (Again, readers, you are getting ahead of me.) Yes, he picked up the wrong tube, squirted and, you can guess the rest.

He was summoned immediately to his surgeon’s office, where his eyelids were unstuck without causing any damage.

Don’t tell me the surgeon didn’t thumb quickly through medical literature for “what-to-do-now” instructions, or maybe he simply Googled. However, if doctors have truly seen everything, maybe an eye glued shut is “old hat.”

I do know this: In the future, when I see pictures of glue claimed to be strong enough to hold a truck aloft, I’ll assume photo-shopping is involved. There’ll also likely be “do-not-try-this-at-home” warnings.

A young Oregon family doesn’t often get to see loved ones back in Texas. One such holiday visit recently occurred, and, as usual, children were farmed out to relatives for overnights.

The couple’s four-year-old granddaughter–forever clutching her dolly named Tammy–stayed with her grandparents. They were thrilled at the prospect of her visit.

After bedtime prayers, the grandparents righted themselves from their knees, only to hear their granddaughter say. “Tammy may be a little scared here tonight. This is her first time to spend the night with old people.”

And finally, this bonus bedtime account is remembered by my brother Fred. It was almost 40 years ago. First-born Alison had just finished her first day of pre-school. As he put her to bed, he wanted to allay any fears or concerns encountered at school. (Kids don’t realize parents are being introduced to a new playbook, just as they are.)

At the first pause in his blatherings, she posed a question: “Do flies have ears?” So much for the impact of his empathetic and insightful musings. Clearly, she had stopped listening several minutes before he’d stopped talking.

Wishes for a new year filled with good health and much happiness are extended to you and those you love.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: