Proceeding with Caution is Prevention

When I think of my days teaching water exercise classes, I am immediately drawn to the humility of my students; many in the ongoing struggle to rid themselves of the pains of injury, disease and/or aging.  Proceeding with caution, they would make their way over slippery tiled flooring and enter the water.  We would usually spend the first few minutes talking about the temperature of the water; too cold, too warm, or that seldom heard, just right!  Group classes, at the wellness center pool, were often a collection of these amazing people, working so hard to perform. The goal: To maintain a semblance of pain-free movement in order to proceed with caution and live life.  Oh, the things I learned from my students!


And then there was George.  When I think of him I smile because he was always smiling; a truly joyful man. The first time I met George was one morning shortly after my daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia.  I didn’t know that George even knew my name.  He was performing his front crawl in his own way, at his own pace. He would lap swim, almost daily, so he was not part of the group classes.  That morning, I entered the pool area just as George looked up at me from the pool lane and asked me what my daughter’s name was.  I told him, “Kate.” And he said, “OK,” as he nodded and then continued swimming.  I had never spoken to George before that day. 

A few weeks went by and I noticed George sitting in the restaurant at the wellness center.  I walked over to him and mentioned that I was starting a new series of classes for strengthening and would he consider joining a twelve-week class, Progressive Strength.  He mentioned that he was having troubles with his knee and he would consider it. 

George did in fact register and never missed a class.  At about week three of the series, George stopped into my office and said, “I wanted to tell you that I have been thinking about the reason I signed up for this class.  I believe the reason is not only for my health, but to get to know you better.   How is your daughter, Kate?  I have 13 children and many grandchildren.  I pray for them while I lap swim and have added Kate to my prayer list.”  I was overwhelmed with appreciation and felt a sense of deep respect for George all at the same time.  I thanked him and reported that Kate was responding well to the cancer protocol. Then, he smiled, nodded and left my office.

 We did in fact become friends.  George confided in me about some of his concerns about one of his divorced children, right at the same time my brother and I were simultaneously going through difficult struggles with our marriages.  George and I would have some meaningful chats and he always left me feeling hopeful.  One day after class, he asked if I would meet him at his car outside in about an hour.  He had something to show me that he thought I might find interesting.  He said, “I think you will get it.”  I was curious to say the least.

Once in the parking lot, George opened the trunk of his beautiful white Cadillac and it was filled with printing boxes; not just any boxes, but the very company where my brother was working!  Now I was more than curious, as I watched George open one of the large boxes that was filled with small wrapped packages of cards.  There was a painting on one side and writing on the back.  Then, I saw the words, “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I place My Trust in You.”  The image was painted by an artist that George had commissioned due to a series of messages that he received in daily Mass. 

The artist was a man he had never met before and needed very little direction.  He painted a white circle and a heart with a crown of thorns, all hovering over a gold chalice with seven drops of blood dripping into it.  George obediently had the painting printed on cards, not knowing what he would do next.  After more prayer and reflection, he learned about The Miracle of Lanciano, The Real Presence.  George was dismayed at the statistic he had recently learned:  At that time it was reported that there were many non-believers in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  He was to distribute these cards far and wide.  He then gave me several packs of cards and a large poster size print of the front side of the card.  George said, “Please proceed to distribute these as you see fit.”

 I was again amazed, considering this honorable man, respectfully trusting that I would understand and continue his mission!  I gratefully accepted.  The next day, I was visiting my Mom and Dad and noticed a card, amongst the cartoons and photos on the front of their fridge.  It was the front side of George’s card, only there were no words printed on the front and the back was also blank!  I asked my Mom how long she had it and where it came from.  She answered, “It’s been up there for some time. Your brother gave it to me a while ago.  One of the clients at the print shop gave it to him and he gave it to me.”   I found out that George and my brother had met during the same months that we were meeting, and also were talking in depth about ‘proceeding through life’.

 As it turned out, George was the inventor (1950’s) of the flashing lights that are typically positioned at construction zones in order to alert people to proceed with caution.  George has since passed away.  He was a wealthy man in many ways. He left a large family behind and a legacy that will live on through S. C. F. 4700 Lyndale Ave. No.  Mpls, MN  55430. 

 Now, I find myself trying to promote The Well Place, a mission that has similar objectives.  Balancing our lives and finding the true meaning for what makes us whole.  Our desire to manage our day to day struggles and challenges, with courage; our good times with passion and gratefulness, gives us hope and meaning as we proceed with caution.  Are you listening for the messages presented in your life?  Being prepared and considering our well-being truly makes a difference for us and others.  The people we meet, the gems we discover and sharing our stories, makes considering our wellness journey more worthwhile.