• When it was time for the young Alicia Markova to learn to dance the adagio from Swan Lake, Sergei Diaghilev decided to have the great Matilda Kchessinska, of the Maryinsky Ballet, teach it to her. Later, Ms. Markova became ill with pneumonia and remained behind in Monte Carlo while Mr. Diaghilev and his dance company traveled abroad. Ms. Markova was feeling sad because she didn’t know anyone in Monte Carlo, but then Ms. Kchessinska and her husband, the Grand Duke André, visited her, bearing large gifts of fresh flowers and fresh fruit. Ms. Kchessinska had seen Mr. Diaghilev, inquired about the “Little One,” and had learned she was ill.
• Some people go to great lengths to protect the health of their pastor. Wesleyan preacher William Woughter once received a telephone call from a woman who wanted him to go to a hospital and pray with her father. The woman explained that she had gotten his name from a relative who attended his church, and she would have asked her own pastor to pray with her father — except that her father had a highly communicable disease that she didn’t want her own pastor to catch. (Yes, Pastor William did go to the hospital to pray with the woman’s father, and no, he didn’t catch the highly communicable disease.)
• Sir Rudolf Bing once had a problem when Birgit Nilsson made a huge success in Tristan und Isolde. Unfortunately, the three singers who could play Tristan to her Isolde fell ill. However, Sir Rudolf solved the problem when he discovered that although none of the male singers were well enough to perform the entire opera, each of them could perform one act. The audience laughed when they heard Sir Rudolf’s announcement about the three Tristans they would see in one performance, and the performance was a success.
• Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook was once ill in a hospital. He asked that the Shofar (ram’s horn) be blown at the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul so that he might listen to it; however, his doctor was worried that the sound might have a bad effect on the rabbi. Therefore, one of the rabbi’s pupils asked Rabbi Kook, “Won’t the sound of the Shofar disturb the other patients in the hospital?” Rabbi Kook thought a moment and then said, “Perhaps you are right. Do not blow the Shofar.”
• Once, the Dalai Lama visited the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Sharon Salzberg was standing at the back of the audience waiting to see the Dalai Lama and feeling miserable because she was on crutches as the result of a bad car accident. The Dalai Lama walked into the room, swept his eyes over the crowd, saw her standing on crutches, then came over to her, held her hand, looked her in the eyes, and asked, “What happened?”
• Mike Coglan was pastoring a small church at which he heard Jack, one of the parishioners, complain about back pain. Talking to Jack’s wife, Pastor Mike discovered that Jack had recently had surgery. Therefore, during the service, Pastor Mike prayed for Jack, asking specifically that Jack be restored to full function. Pastor Mike was mystified by the smothered laughter that followed that request — until he discovered that Jack’s operation had been a vasectomy.
• When Whitney Houston (not the female singer) was a child, he was ill in bed when the great dancer Fred Astaire came to visit his parents. Whitney was a huge fan of Mr. Astaire’s, and he asked Mr. Astaire to dance around his bed. When Mr. Astaire asked what he wanted him to dance, Whitney replied, “Anything from Top Hat. I’ve seen it 13 times.” Mr. Astaire very happily obliged and danced around his bed — twice.
• Early vaccinations sometimes left ugly scars. When Alicia Markova and other ballet dancers for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo received vaccinations before an international tour, they were given them in the leg. In Ms. Markova’s case, this was a bad mistake, as her leg swelled up in a reaction to the vaccination. Fortunately, she recovered and went on to extend her international reputation.
• A woman once spent years studying meditation in India. While there, she contracted hepatitis, worms, and amoebic dysentery, yet still wanted to renew her visa. A doctor heard about this and asked, “You had all those diseases and you were trying to renew your visa! What were you doing, holding out for leprosy?”
• Some people believe that God used AIDS to punish homosexuals, even though heterosexual women and babies get AIDS — and lesbians do not. However, according to Ellen Orleans, “AIDS is God’s way of testing straight people for compassion and intelligence in dealing with a pandemic disease. So far, society isn’t doing too well.”
• Baseball great Yogi Berra came home from the ballpark early one afternoon to find his wife Carmen and son Tim gone. When they returned, he asked where they had been. Carmen replied, “I took Tim to see Doctor Zhivago.” Mr. Berra asked, “What the hell’s wrong with him now?”
• When actor Frank Benson was seriously ill, he grew a beard. However, when he began to get better, his wife, Constance, ordered a barber to come into the sickroom and give him a shave — she was afraid that if her husband saw himself in the mirror, he might suffer a relapse!
• Sir John Gielgud once saw a performance of Richard Burton in Hamlet, after which Mr. Burton said he was experiencing a cold. Sir John replied that he would see the play again “when you’re better — in health I mean, of course.”
• The Buddha once addressed an audience and said that if anyone wanted to serve him, they should serve the sick. Nearly 500 years later, Jesus said very much the same thing.
• An old joke says that psychiatrists think that patients who arrive early for appointments are anxious, patients who arrive late are hostile, and patients who arrive on time are compulsive.
• While on his deathbed, Irish wit John Philpot Curran coughed frequently. When his physician told him that he was coughing with more difficulty, he replied, “That is surprising, since I have been practicing all night.”
• “Your health comes first — you can always hang yourself later.” — Jewish proverb.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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