A Visit with a Dear Friend

I walk into the locked memory care unit. The coded doors are for safety, but I don’t like them. The ladies tell me she is in her room. I’m puzzled. She’s never in her room. I knock and gingerly open the door. When I call her name, no one responds. Her room is empty. As I step out, they tell me she is on the porch. That’s more like it. She’s rocking by herself, and I announce my presence with a hug. Her face lights up. She returns my embrace.

We talk. Small talk. It’s always small talk now, but it’s good. She asks me where I’ve been, and I tell her about my travels; Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan to start. Then on to what she really wants to hear: my motor home travels to far-away national parks. I tell her about riding in the snow in the Grand Canyon, and that she was my inspiration to buy my motor home. She says something unintelligible about Thomas and her traveling all over the country. I used to love to hear those stories.

When I tell her about my $800.00 motor home repair bill, she says, “You need to have a Thomas around. He fixes all that kind of stuff. I can’t think of anything he can’t fix.”

My friend tells me about the time she bought this place.

“It was a big commitment, but I knew it was the right thing. It is a lot of upkeep—not sure if I will sell it, but we know we want it to stay in the family.” As she waves her hand over the expanse to her right, she tells me she mowed that part yesterday.

“I have to break up the back these days. It’s too much to mow all in one day anymore.

I usually take care of these shrubs,” she says, “but if I can’t get to them, the guys will take care of them. They are good about that sort of thing. They help me with the weeds too.”

We agree to take a walk on the track around the pond. She walks at a comfortable pace for me and all my injuries. I reminisce about how, through the years, it posed a challenge for me to keep up with her pace and her sister’s, too. Her chuckle makes me smile.

“I slept through that storm last night. How ‘bout you?” I say.

She giggles. “I didn’t know it stormed. Alma was the one who hated storms. She got that from our momma. Momma didn’t like it when Daddy called her Margrate.”

“Wasn’t that your Momma’s name?”

“Well, he wasn’t saying it in an endearing sort of way.”

My friend of 20 years mentions several family members by name, but it’s more like “name dropping” than stories. When we sit down at the first bench along the trail, I ask her how she met Thomas.

“Well, you know. He was just one of those guys. You know, he was . . . We met, and then I just . . . He was a hard worker.”

I realize I have strayed from small talk and attempt to return to the landscaping discussion. We continue our walk and I compliment her manicured lawn.

She responds with, “Do what you need to do and then sit back and relax a bit. You don’t need to keep working all the time.”

“Good advice,” I say as we hug and my to-do list fills my head.

I’ve got to go mow my lawn and pull my weeds. I don’t have “guys,” but I do have a friend; a friend in Joan. A dear friend who is still giving me advice neither of us follows. Do you have a Joan in your life? I’d love to hear about her. Please comment below.