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Mack Williams: More check-up ‘friends’

Mack Williams

We recently took my 91-92-93 year-old mother-in-law Doris back to her Reidsville doctor for another check-up. Her age discrepancy is due to my always thinking Doris is 91, Doris saying she’s 92, and Doris’ sister, Joan saying that on a recent visit to their mother’s grave, she determined Doris to be 93! I’m not sure if this was determined through numbers carved on the tombstone, or numbers revealed by Ouija Board (if so carried by Joan to the cemetery).
The first couple sitting on the couch opposite us was a red-headed woman, her grizzled-brown-bearded husband, and a redheaded granddaughter (not step child). The couple immediately recognized Doris as their tax preparer for many years, prior her retirement.
Bosses, ministers, teachers, the police (off-duty capacity, preferably) and the tax preparer always stick in the mind, excepting the undertaker (only if you’re already friends with him in the “here and now,” as I was with the late Roy Hooper, Yanceyville Funeral Director and native of Salisbury, who trained with Summersett years ago).
At the nurse’s summoning, the family’s departure through the hallway door was accompanied by the “antiseptic odor,” wafting (?) from the examining rooms beyond. Doris commented on the granddaughter’s beautiful red hair (Doris’ own hair, originally a strawberry blond).
While the couch across the way was unoccupied, Doris remarked, “The doctor needs a new couch. That one looks awful! And the clashing, striped, un-matching, central cushion (surrounded by paisley) makes it look even worse.”
Even though Doris is 91-92-93 (or whatever), she still has her faculties; and the couch did resemble others “to the curb set” (but not for “sitting”).
The next couple, seeming to halfway sink into the “flaccid” (perhaps there’s a better word) cushions of the old couch, consisted of a small woman with cherubic face, and a masked man (medical mask, Lone Ranger, nor “hold-up” variety). The gentleman was laboring to take deep breaths, and the woman revealed, almost matter-of-fact, that he was dealing with stage IV lung cancer.
After he rested, we all conversed, the subject turning to where they live: Caswell County’s Cherry Grove Road, near the site of Carlton Haney’s old Bluegrass Park.
The lady said someone was reviving the festival this year; and I thought: “Surely, pickin’, singin’, and I’m sure, the ‘grinnin’ too will once again be present there.” The lady said her husband sings in the church choir, and that when singing, it’s like he’s not sick. To me, people sound younger when they sing, so perhaps, singing has a rejuvenating effect upon that man’s ravaged “bellows” beneath his ribs.
I remember a rat-ravaged, Austrian church organ’s bellows having something to do with the composing of “Silent Night” (with age comes more associations and analogies). The lady gave me the web address of her blog; and I told her to check out my columns in the Salisbury Post.
Another Caswell County couple then appeared, the husband, a Caswell County School Board member. A part of Caswell’s Bartley Yancey High School is soon to be demolished and rebuilt; and I reminded the board member of a section of concrete at the school’s entrance containing inlaid specimens of rocks, crystals, and even a nice section of Hawaiian “rope lava.”
These were put in place by my late wife, Diane, her friend, Debby Clayton, and several other students in the latter 1960s. I mentioned to the board member that if this section were going to be destroyed, could he see if those “inlays” might be preserved in a case at the new school building? He said he would indeed look into it.
Your doctor’s visit may be “routine” to you; but on each of those regular visits, the assemblage of persons sitting with you changes. Be cordial, get to know them a bit, and you will learn more from each other than anything gleaned from reading months-old magazines, stacked on a table!

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