Zey Gesunt

The Guideposts editor-in-chief reflects on a phone call with a courageous fellow.

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The voice on the other end of the line only seemed familiar by virtue of its old-school New York accent. “Mr. Grinnan? I got your number from my friend Dick and hoped maybe you could help me with a problem.”

Her name was Lee Jacobs and the problem she had is unimportant, involving some details about shipping us materials she wanted us to have from a business she was dissolving following her husband’s death. What interested me was that she was calling from Sloan-Kettering, the famous cancer center in Manhattan. “I’m having my first chemo on Monday and I’m a little nervous.” 

A little nervous? Not the way I would sound nervous. There was a real bounce in Lee’s voice, an energetic upbeat vibe that sounded as if it were a lifelong habit. “I don’t even know what you do there, Edward, but I’m a big fan of GUIDEPOSTS. I call the prayer line almost every morning. I have for years. I don’t know what I would do without those people. Also, I have a copy of that book The Power of Positive Thinking right here with me in the hospital.” 

She went on to tell me about the business she and her husband had built, the two sons they’d put through Harvard, the little dog she’d recently had to put down after 14 years, all the broad strokes of a full life. And now she was battling cancer. 

“Tell you what, Lee,” I said. “We have something called Prayer Fellowship here on Monday mornings at 9:45. I’ll make sure we pray for you.”

“That would be a mitzvah, Edward. Do you know what that means?” I did. Yiddish for good deed. But it was the least we could do. Lee left me with another Yiddish phrase: Zey Gesunt. God’s blessings. 

I hung up thinking about the incredible courage people have, a courage so often rooted in faith and an unshakeable belief in the power of prayer. Lee has her chemo today. Let’s all do a mitzvah and say a prayer.

Edward Grinnan is Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of GUIDEPOSTS Publications.

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