On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

We went to Bonham Wednesday so David could get his annual check-up at the VA facility. It’s a 150 miles round trip, but it’s a lot easier than driving to Dallas and fighting the traffic. Bonham is almost ten times bigger than Emory, but it still has a small town feel. Residents, especially the teenagers, probably feel like there’s nothing to do there, but there are lots of characters and lots of stories.

David was scheduled for lab work, a chest x-ray, and an ECG between 12:30 and 1:30. He didn’t want to fast that long, so we arrived mid-morning. Unlike our experiences in Tampa, the waiting rooms were sparsely populated. The lab techs were undisturbed by David’s early arrival, and within 30 minutes, he was finished with his tests. His appointment with the doctor wasn’t until 2:00, and she was busier than the techs, so we had several hours to kill.

Following the advice of the lady in the ECG lab, we headed for the T N T Café. It was reputed to be a great place to eat, plus they served breakfast all day. We found it easily enough, but there were problems. Problem 1: There was a big sign scrawled across the front window in yellow marker that said We don’t take credit or debit cards. We only had $11 cash between us, and according to our GPS there weren’t a lot of other eateries nearby, so we went in search of an ATM. Problem 2: David is very frugal and refuses to pay a fee to access his own money. We couldn’t find a machine that honored his Delta Credit Union card, so we went to Walmart, bought some wasp spray, and got cash back. There’s always a way.

We returned to TNT and were hit in the face as soon as we opened the door with Problem 3: cigarette smoke. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in a restaurant with a smoking section, so I’d forgotten how pervasive the odor can be. And this “section” was not closed off but rather one end of a long open room. We’re not super-sensitive, though, and we were hungry, so we stayed.

The food was good and affordable, and the clientele was entertaining. We saw one gentleman David recognized from the VA. He looked like a fugitive from Florida with his button-up, short-sleeved shirt, his Bermuda shorts, his black socks, and his dress shoes. Another couple looked like regulars. They both read books they brought in with them, and the waitress stopped to talk with them every time she passed their table. The most interesting customer was also a little unnerving. He walked in with a gun strapped to his hip. He wasn’t in uniform and wore no badge or sign of official office, but we hoped he was part of the local Constabulary.

After breakfast, we found the local library and took advantage of their WiFi for an hour or two before it was time to return to the VA. Unlike the Emory library that has a high bistro table with two stools and a couple of chairs against the wall near the electrical outlets, Bonham had a two study rooms with real tables and chairs. We felt like we had been upgraded to first class.

When we got back to the VA, I had some time to kill in the waiting room. My laptop battery won’t hold a charge, and I didn’t want to search for an outlet, so I took my book in with me. It was quiet enough to read, but I couldn’t help noticing some of the others in the room. One man was sipping coffee from an insulated mug and reading a well-worn Bible with lots of markers sticking out of the top. It looked like he was studying Revelation, and I wanted to ask him about it, but he never looked up or gave me an opportunity to start a conversation.

A couple sat off to one side, her arm linked through his, their heads close together, chatting quietly. I’m not one to eaves drop, and I was pretty absorbed in my book, but something grabbed my attention. I don’t know if it was the emphasis she placed on the words or the words themselves.

“Marry me,” she said, and then repeated herself several times in rapid succession.

“I love you too much to marry you,” he said with a smile in his voice.

This exchange was repeated a couple of times, and then their conversation subsided to its previous low levels. I got the feeling it was a conversation they had often with the same results. When the nurse called him back to the examining room, she went with him with her arm still linked through his.

David came to retrieve me shortly after that, and we made the 75 mile drive back home, watching the clouds and speculating whether it had rained on our garden while we were gone. The outing took most of the day, and for anyone who’s not a collector of characters and stories, it might have been boring. But I find life pretty entertaining, and it’s a good thing. David has to go back again in three months.




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