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Happy Mother’s Day from a Swamp Thing Lawyer

by Jay Reeves |

This is a story about an infection, and how it affected a family.

Rest easy, it is not about coronavirus. This condition was minor – inconsequential, really, except for those few people involved. And it ends happily.

Yet it reveals a great secret, one of the keys to a happy and abundant Law Life.

It begins, as this type of thing often does, with a rash that wouldn’t stop itching.

Lazy Life at Litchfield Beach

This was 30 years ago, on the sunny South Carolina coast in June, where I was vacationing for two weeks with my extended family at Litchfield Beach.

I’d been stressed from day one.

My wife and I had begun these summer gatherings innocently enough. At first it was just one baby, our parents, and a long peaceful weekend by the shore. Now it was four children – two still in diapers, meaning ample quality time in the potty – plus a boisterous herd of siblings, grands, in-laws, cousins and uninvited guests on both sides.  

On top of this, I was stressing over a Board of Directors meeting scheduled for the day after we returned home. I had to make a big Risk Management presentation and was about half-prepared. My coping mechanism was to camp out at the beach, watching the children and building sandcastles and broiling on a towel in the blistering sun and basically doing anything to avoid thinking about, much less preparing for, my Board presentation.

The Week of Raging Impetigo

Then came the rash. We noticed it first on Mary Ann, a faint patch on her leg, and then on Rachel. There were no symptoms other than itchiness, and at first we thought it was poison ivy or maybe a reaction to something they ate.

“No,” said my mother, after examining the splotchy red blisters, which seemed to be growing in size, number and ooziness before our eyes. “That’s impetigo.”

She was right. In addition to being an all-around wonderful person, my mother was a registered nurse and kindergarten teacher who knew pretty much everything.

By that evening the impetigo had worsened, and I departed for home with the girls. There was no other choice. Not even the most doting relative wants to hang around children with unsightly sores multiplying all over their body.

Back home, after a quick doctor’s visit the girls were rapidly healing. No such luck for me.

Swamp Thing in the Boardroom

On the morning of my Board of Directors presentation I rose looking like a radioactive Swamp Thing. I had gotten badly sun-burned and had begun to peel. Half of my face was flaking off and the other half was flamed crimson and glistening under ointment. I shuffled painfully into the boardroom like the Walking Dead, in torture under starched shirt and strangled by necktie with a body temperature above 100.

“Well,” said the chairman, looking at me and grinning. “Looks like somebody’s been at the beach.”

This elicited chuckles from around the table, which I took as a good sign.

“Talk about risk management,” I said, and winced in pain.

Now they were all smiling, and I was halfway home for my presentation that followed.

The great secret is that a sense of humor is enormously helpful – some would say necessary – for a successful Law Life.

This of course is really no secret at all. Good lawyers know this. Sages tell us to keep our hearts light, and Buddha always seems to be having a good time.

A Mother’s Day Greeting

Like everyone, I’ve been thinking a lot about health lately, and how often I take good health for granted until it’s not there anymore.

Both my parents are gone now. Our family no longer convenes at Litchfield like it did. When I picture those days, I see my parents as old people. At-risk. And yet I am their age now. That blows my mind. How can that be?

As we approach Mother’s Day, I sure do miss mine. How I wish she were here now, cleaning up and taking care of things, making sure everyone is okay.

Author’s note: This is the last month I will have the pleasure of working with Samantha Cruff. Samantha made my stories better. For some, she suggested the prompt that got me going. I’ll miss her creativity and professionalism. Best wishes, Samantha, in your future journeys.

Jay Reeves is author of “The Most Powerful Attorney in the World.” Order it from Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart or Barnes & Noble. Or contact Jay for a signed copy. Jay runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers add purpose, profits and peace of mind to their practices. Contact jay@yourlawlife.com or 919-619-2441.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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