TO BE… OR NOT… TO BE?
A true story and personal account.
Written by Samantha Elphick
I am often challenged by many people who believe that my unfiltered comments or questions should, would, or could, get asked differently. Throughout life my approach or style has offended some and contributed to many, God has us working through him in different ways. I want to tell you ONE of the hundreds of stories I had experienced over the last five decades when I spoke out. By doing so, it brought about change, growth, inspiration, and saved one unique life!
In the early nineties, I owned and ran the Boomerang Polo Ranch for eight years in Wellington, Florida. One of my polo playing clients became a regular at polo games that I held three times per week. I enjoyed getting to know this man because he was an Australian, like myself. We went out to dinner and yarned about good ole Aussie stories. Sharing a lot in common, over the months we became fond of each. One thing led to another, and soon we were enjoying a causal relationship. It wasn’t a typical relationship because he was a businessman traveling back and forth to the USA from Australia. We saw each other for a few weeks every 3-4 months. Naturally, we were affectionate, but I was disturbed by his bad smelling breath.
Finally, after six months (three visits from him) I decided to tell him that his breath offended me and could he possibly do something about it? He apologized, and over time he went to the top dentists and doctors in New York trying to take care of the problem, but nothing worked. The more I declined his affections, the more intent he was on correcting the problem with his breath. He was falling in love with me and wanted us to be together. However, I couldn’t as the experience was severe!
A few more months went by. I was planning on going home to visit my family in Australia when he invited me to see his cattle ranch in Northeastern Queensland, the town of Goondiwindi. I accepted and flew into Brisbane airport first, before flying south to spend time with my family in the Southeastern state of New South Wales, Sydney. He picked me up and showed me all around as we headed far North to his large, multiple acreage ranches.
For the next three days, we had a great time driving, or horse riding, over the barren, fertile, productive lands of Queensland, surrounded by the lush, ready to harvest, cotton fields. In the vast stretch of land, looking off thousands of miles away to the horizon, it is common to experience optical illusions or see mirages. What a fascinating experience for me? One difficult to describe, given the expanse of uninhabited land in the sunburned country of Northern Queensland.
Now, back to my story. . . Many qualities about this man I liked and enjoyed, the most tantalizing was our constant communication and his extraordinary knowledge of people, places, and things worldwide. He made the normal advances to me, yet I declined gently, his breath was obnoxious, or camouflaged by the strong-smelling breath fresheners and mints of all degrees. . . A unique man, undeterred by my outspokenness, or rejection of his affection, an individual who only sought to find a solution for us to be together.
We planned on driving south to civilization to participate in some polo games in Kooralban, one hour west of Brisbane. Before we began our trip, we drove through the quaint little town to purchase coffee and some of Australia’s famous meat pies. We were happy, connected in friendship, he looked over at me and grabbed my hand.
“I want to be with you, and I want more than what we have. Before we go anywhere, will you come with me now to see our little town doctor?” He expressed enthusiastically, with great hope.”
“Of course, I will.”
I stayed in the waiting room for almost an hour, happily reading polo magazines, when I heard the door open. What met my eyes was a man, ordinarily tanned and good looking, white-faced and looking like a ghost.
“What is wrong?” I asked concerned, not ready for the answer.
“The doctor found a big lump in my stomach and believes that it may be excreting bacteria, and causing my bad breath,” he stodgily replied. I knew there had to be more to this diagnosis given the effect that it was having on him. “There is more?” I inquired.
“Yes, the doctor wants me to go straight to the hospital, he is afraid that it may burst and cause dire consequences.”
I drove a visibly shaken friend to the nearest hospital where he underwent numerous tests that had been suggested by the little town doctor (God love him, as you read the rest of this story). After waiting with my friend and supporting him in between tests for three hours, we got told that his condition was severe and needed an operation immediately. I held him tight, and we prayed together, he got taken away, and I was left alone for what seemed like an eternity.
Sick with worry and afraid for my friend, I prayed a lot in those harrowing hours. Everything had happened quickly, and there was no time for me to find out his family connections and notify them as to what was happening. Finally, the doctor came through the door and addressed me.
“Are you the patient’s family?”
“N-no, I am a good friend, how is he?”
“Your friend is a lucky man,” he began, taking a deep breath. “He is in mid-term lymphoma cancer. If not discovered now, he would have surely died. . .”
I went up to see my friend. I reached out for his hand, he opened his eyes and looked at me in a way that he knew the horrible outcome, and so did I.
“Thank you, thank you, you saved my life. . .” he whispered.
Over the next year my friend underwent many treatments, he was the first person in Australia to experience stem cell reversal. The road was long and arduous for him, and after three years his cancer was in remission. Now, fifteen years later and a few scares of the cancer returning, he is vigilant about the follow-up and medications. Nothing came of us intimately. However, we are the best of friends, true soul mates, and see one another a few times a year, always traveling to Europe and some historical place. We make no plans and decide in the moment of where and what we will do. We know what it is like to live on the edge. He is always there for me and has my back, no matter what. There is not a visit that goes by when we don’t reminisce about that little town doctor, his bad breath, and my having the courage to speak out and tell him. He thanks me with his whole being.
After writing three novels, I re-invented myself as a ghostwriter, and on his suggestion and encouragement, I focused on life stories and memoirs. His was the first memoir I wrote…