I'm still unsure of how appropriate this might be--but yes, I figured it would be lacking without....
shaking my head.
Here is my "deleted" post--as it were:
* * *
sigh. I'm just going to type these to keys if you please, and forgive me folks?
(Sure you will..)
Let's get this over with.
The first story that came to mind was a time I spent in the Emergency Waiting Room, of what is now University Hospital in New Orleans. My sister was undergoing surgery there, (she had a touch of cancer--and yep, that's how she describes it to this day--see? a bunch of stoics) and they were removing a tumor along with much of her womb that day as they performed a radical hysterectomy.
We were in a glass cubicle type sitting area.
(Yes. Nodding. We all know the kind.)
It was smaller than the usual hospital hospitality areas, and the seats were hard formed plastic, and trust me, after a few hours, I was more than squirming.
This was going to be a long wait and we came prepared. We'd packed my mother quite a lunch--she is diabetic and was also recently recovering from a heart attack. So we came armed with "plenties" to keep her happy, knowing the snack machine would be useless for her. We had brought things to read, and we came, stocked and ready to settle down for a few hours during my sister's surgery.
I couldn't read.
My mother, though, she can focus, dammit. And she sat there, and became engrossed in her novel--the clothespin that she uses as a bookmark moved closer to the last page with the passing of minutes into hours.
My father pretended to read, but I suspected he was watching me, just as I was watching him--watching the people sitting there draped within their private dramas.
We hadn't discussed it beforehand, but we alternated "smoke" breaks. He would go "take a walk"--and when he returned, I would then go off. We would smile in complicity, as if nobody noticed the cloud of nicotine that engulfed us. (Have you ever noticed how much cigarettes actually stink in a sterile environment?)
It was during one of his "bathroom breaks" that I began watching one particular couple.
She was a large woman, and the folds of her spilled over the formed chair, as she sat there, with her hands folded across her swollen belly. Her eyes were slits, half open aware, and I was sitting near enough to her to smell her gas eruptions, which were frequent, but gratefully silent.
I peered over one of my mother's "Star" magazines and observed.
She had worn a "houseduster" dress there, and slip on shoes, and her stockings were pale beige, showing her unshaved legs in curls.
The hair coiled under pressure.
Next to her was a thin man, and the bags beneath his eyes lifted up when we caught eyes--he smiled at me and I smiled back, but my mother frowned at me, so I returned my eyes to my magazine.
There was a talk show droning on the television that was positioned in the corner of the room and the woman began complaining to the thin man, who was apparently her husband.
She didn't have a pleasant voice, and her demeanor was abrasive as well.
Everything that came from her mouth, was an ooze of dark tar, and his response was always a steady, comforting,
"I'm sorry love."
My mother beamed and almost winked at me at me over her book.
(She loved him/hated her.)
I nodded slight and continued my pretense of reading too.
But then the woman became more and more barbed in her remarks to the man, and I could see my mom giving up the focus of her own reading agenda--this woman was pissing her off.
(This woman was unpleasant.)
So my mom ate her glad-bagged healthy snacks, and I think my father got alarmed at her agitation, because his inquiries at the desk regarding my sister became more frequent.
My mom then slid the brown bag of fruit over to me, saying "eat"--there was still a tuna salad and one of her prized apples, and a pear too! in the bag. I was hungry, but I couldn't eat.
I could hear the woman's stomach growling long before she complained of hunger. The thin man went off in search of food and came back, offering chips and soda.
Not good enough.
That woman tore into him, calling him names I can't repeat here, and his only answer was a question:
"Did you take your medication sweetheart?"
And she closed her eyes and replied, "I can't take it without food."
I wanted so much to hand her that bag, but my mother did not like that woman and I promise you, I didn't dare cross my mom.
I sat there quiet--staring at the floor then.
We got news of my sister!
The surgery was a success, and she was now in "recovery". We could see her...in a couple of hours.
My mom was ready to go.
"We'll be back." my father assured me.
Right now? We had to get my mom home.
She wasn't looking so good.
* * *
We left the cubicle then, as we bid relieved goodbyes to others there, still waiting.
As soon as we were out of earshot--my mother began railing on the woman.
She really was a bitch.
"But mom?" I said, "You have no idea if that woman was in pain sitting there or what--she could have been on medication..."
"There's no excuse for treating someone the way she did her husband..."
My mother was adamant.
"Well," I was being brave, "I remember when you were hungry in the hospital, and you weren't so sweet then either."
"And?" My father interjected. "She was too on medication."
My mom grumbled.
"Mom? Can I go back and give her your lunch?"
"I paid a dollar for that apple and she doesn't deserve it."
"But didn't you give it to me?"
My dad was smiling now.
"If you gave it to me, then it's my lunch now. Can't I give her my lunch?"
Now he was covering a laugh.
It wasn't two steps later she said, "Oh for chrissakes, go ahead, but I wouldn't do it."
I ran back to the waiting room while my parents continued walking to the car.
I walked in the waiting room and I told her, "Ma'am? I couldn't help but overhear that you are hungry, would you like this? There is fruit, and the salad is untouched."
And there was a moment when I saw the edge leave her eyes, and her chubby hand touched mine gratefully.
"Thank you, dawlin'." Her husband looked at me relieved. "I'm not myself today..."
Then I had to double-time it to catch up with my parents because my mom didn't wait for me as I did this.
(She would still grumble about that woman today, methinks.)
* * *
She looked at my empty hands, appalled.
"You gave her the whole thing?"
"You gave her my good "tupperware" too!" My mother shook her head.
But my dad reached behind my mom's back to pinch my shoulder.
I looked up and he winked at me.
* * *
He was proud of me.
Because I did what-I'm-supposed-to-do?
because that particular day, I did what didn't have to be done. Anyway.
* * *
Now that ain't something that deserves applause--it was a little thing to do--but when I was asked to think of a time when I was proud of myself, that was the first thing that came to mind.
It wasn't grades. It wasn't awards. It wasn't winning the lottery.
A simple act of humanity that oughtta be a given, but when I think about it now, I'm so glad I ran back. Had I not?
I'd have a very different memory.
I'd think even less of me than I do now.
*shaking my head*
"such a simple thing..."
But there ya go...