From the Chair

Kuchka-Craig Column

Debora Kuchka-Craig, FHFMA

As HFMA Chair, I have the privilege of making chapter visits, which provide me an opportunity to learn from members across the country.

And as I discovered recently, some of the most memorable lessons come from the journey. My recent trip to the South Texas Chapter began with an extended, white-knuckle drive to the Baltimore airport in whiteout conditions. Once at the gate, the airline assured us that our flight would take off despite the storm. "Patience!" I told myself. "Think positive! It will take off." And it did ... 16 hours later!

After I had called many hotels in vain, my distraught expression caught an airport security officer's attention. David kindly invited me up to the observation tower, where stranded passengers were settling in for the night. He made a bed for me out of two comfy chairs, and encouraged me to relax, listen to my music, and "enjoy the beautiful snow coming down." Looking around, I observed families playing cards, women reading novels, and couples creating romantic moments. Was this really as bad as I thought?

My hero-husband eventually found me the last motel room in the area, which had no amenities-not even a TV. After a few short hours, I boarded the airport van and learned that my motel was the ONLY one around that had power and heat during the storm. Guess it wasn't so bad after all!

After yet another two-hour delay, I boarded the plane, sleep-deprived, and grumpy about missing my connecting flight. I was sinking deeper into my private pity-party when I saw a familiar face. Mary, a white-haired grandmother, had spent the night camping out in the observation tower, but she just beamed and said, "Last night was a wonderful adventure! It was my first time stranded!" Wow! So much for my pity-party. What a great attitude!

After another delay in Dallas, I was finally bound for San Antonio. I complained to Christy, my seatmate, about my delay. She smiled and said she, too, had had been delayed. "Was Baltimore your starting point?" I asked. "No, I began my journey in Afghanistan," she said. Christy explained that the Baltimore delay, though frustrating, was nothing in comparison to the two-week blizzard delay she had encountered en route to the States and the accommodations, which had consisted of Air Force tents.

After a nine-month absence, Christy was looking forward to coming home and surprising her two young children. But her two-week delay had caused her to miss a long-anticipated reunion with her Army husband, who was on his way to Kuwait. "I at least know we passed each other in the air," she said, holding back tears.

Christy was an inspiration. How blessed I was to have the honor of learning from her! Here I was, lamenting a one-night delay, a "no-star" hotel, and being away from my husband for three days. Talk about gaining perspective! What a wake-up this trip was for me.

My visit with the South Texas Chapter officers and past Chair, Richard Rodriguez, was wonderful-like my other chapter visits, well worth the trip. I am truly thankful for the extraordinary people I have met within HFMA-and for extraordinary people like David, Mary, and Christy, with unforgettable lessons from the road!  

Publication Date: Tuesday, March 01, 2011

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