Clear Thinking and a Kidney

When I called my mother on her 98th birthday, she told me she was thinking about donating one of her kidneys. She had watched a tv show on organ donation.

“I  sit here when I could just as well be of some use to someone.” She went on to say that she’d had a couple of  surgeries over her lifetime and they weren’t so difficult. She’d probably be in the hospital a week or so. And if she died at the age of 98, well, that would be OK, too.

My mother had spent her life in selfless, giving acts, but this was a bit much. Before I had a chance to think how to respond, she went on.

“But I got to thinking about my surgeries. What were they? Yes, the hysterectomy…and then I remembered–I already had a kidney removed! I have none to give!”

She thought that was pretty funny, but I gasped.

“I don’t remember your having a kidney removed!” I had just a moment of panic wondering how I had missed that rather significant surgery.

“Mom, I think it was a gall bladder you had removed.” Silence for a few seconds.

“Oh, yes, I think you might be right. So I DO have a kidney to give!”

Usually lucid, clear-thinking and well-informed, Mom’s thinking process had become a bit muddled from time to time.

Our thinking through the pandemic hasn’t always been crystal clear either, and we don’t have the excuse of 98 years behind us. It’s in situations like a pandemic or widespread protests that it’s imperative that clear thinking prevail. We need logical, informed, educated people who are willing to talk to people, listen, read, and think things through. It’s not enough to use generalized platitudes and negative thinking.

“It’s always been this way. It’s never going to change. Why bother?”

“It’s just the flu.”

“It’s just a few bad officers–there’s some in every precinct.”

All kinds of possibilities exist out there and we have an opening now to explore them. Police and criminal justice reform, major efforts to re-build a first-rate public school system, healthcare reform, mental health funding instead of incarceration. Costly? Of course. But the cost if we don’t will be much higher.

I emailed my siblings that evening after our phone conversation. I told them to keep an eye on Mom or she might be short a kidney.