Our next door neighbor, George, is 87. 

Just before Christmas, George hit a bad streak.

One afternoon, he described to me being run off a busy road by an aggressive driver. George’s car was damaged, but he had the car repaired and made no police or insurance report. All of this commotion happened too quick for him to process. I sense the events of that encounter lie in a state of confusion in his mind.

Then on the afternoon of Saturday, December 22, we were  hosting an engagement party for our youngest daughter and her fiancee. I don’t remember who, but someone at the party caught my attention and told me I was needed next door.

So, I walk over to George’s house. His old Ford station wagon is on the back of a tow truck. Our neighbor in all of his tall, lanky self sees me and starts telling me what has transpired.

It takes some doing, but we are able to get his other car out of the driveway, and the tow truck driver is able to back the wrecked wagon into the driveway.

Another neighbor, Barbara, is walking to our house for the party, and she stops to assist me in getting George settled and back into his house. A plate of food arrives from the party, we ask George for his assurance that he will eat, get some rest, and worry about sorting this all out on Sunday.

Of course, his stubborn mind doesn’t work that way, but at least we said it.

On Sunday morning, December 23, I have returned to our home  from opening up our church. The phone rings. It is George. He tells me he is having chest pains. He wants me to drive him to the hospital.

I make arrangements to do this.

Slowly, we make it out of his house and into my car.

The drive to the hospital is short. Immediately, the staff at the emergency room entrance respond to George because of the words—“chest pain.”

George has three children. I contact the daughter who we have worked with before in previous health situations. She makes arrangements to drive to Richmond.

Back in the Emergency Room, lots of questions are being asked and tests are scheduled.

Eventually, George is transferred to a room. His daughter is in route. By noon, I’m heading back home and to church.

George stays in the hospital through Christmas. I go to visit him the day after Christmas. Tomorrow, Thursday, I’m driving my 90 year old mother-in-law back home to Connecticut.

I walk into George’s hospital room. His mind is a restless whirlwind.

Apparently, the chest pain was accident related—chest hitting the steering wheel.

He wants to go home. 

The doctor wants him to do six days of rehab in a local facility. George is fighting this. A few years ago, he had a not so good experience at a rehab facility after cracking some ribs from a fall. Despite the disorganization in his mind, George hasn’t forgotten this experience.

From the soundtrack to the movie Midnight Cowboy, singer/songwriter, Harry Nilsson, had a hit record with his recording of the Fred Neil song—“Everybody’s Talking”. I feel like a line of lyric from that song characterizes George at this stage of his life:  “Everybody’s talking at me, I don’t hear a word they are saying, only the echoes of my mind.”

His daughter, the doctor, the nurses, friends from the neighborhood, everyone is talking at him, trying to gently persuade him that six days of rehab would be good. But, George isn’t buying this. He only hears the echoes in his mind of the not so pleasant experience from the previous rehab stint.

Somewhere inside of me, I sense that fear can drive stubbornness. George fears six days of rehab, so he becomes more obstinate, head-strong, difficult. 

Before, I leave George, his daughter and another friendly neighbor arrive. I encourage George to be compliant. I take his hand and offer a parting prayer.

“Everybody’s talking at me, I don’t hear a word they are saying, only the echoes of my mind.”

Fear continues to drive his stubbornness. 

Internally, he has made his decision. While driving my mother-in-law back to Connecticut, George takes matters in his own hands. He gets dressed and walks out of the hospital.

It is raining. A police officer spots him, stops, picks him up,  and drives him home.

Stubbornness wins. Love and its common sense fail. 

I love our neighbor, George. 

Fear fuels every ounce of his stubbornness.

And that dogged, determination to remain at home, to hold on to the last ounce of his independence is not going to be instantly tripped up by the love of his family and neighbors. 

“Everybody’s talking at me, I don’t hear a word they are saying, only the echoes of my mind.”

My hope for George is that with time, his hearing aids will allow him to truly hear. 

That will take lots of love to wear him down. 

Love grounded in patience and with a gentle energy that is just as strong as his unbending balkiness.

Psalm 56:3 states:  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

George and those of us around him need to find that trust.

5 thoughts on “FEAR = STUBBORNNESS”

  1. Made me cry and made me think of my parents as they dealt with these issues. Good message for anyone but especially those dealing with loved ones who are at that stage of life. Prayers for George and all of you helping him.


    1. Pat, as always, I am so appreciative when you take the time to read a post. We all can remember working through that journey with our parents. You were a big help to your parents. Stay warm, be safe, and thanks, Bill


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