We were both early for our eight a.m. blood work. I sat next to an elderly woman on a bench in the waiting area in the atrium. I smiled and said, “Good morning.” She returned a hello with a heavy Maine accent. I learned her name was Ruth. She was about five-foot-two, with short gray hair and a pleasant smile. She looked like she could be my neighbor.
“I have this medic alert,” she told me as she pulled it out for me to see. “It’s a great thing, I guess. But if I fall holding a grandchild, that doesn’t help the baby much.” We still had ten minutes before the doctor’s office opened. She told me she and her husband had been married for over sixty years. He passed away two years ago, when she was only eighty-five.
“Are you dating again?” I asked, kidding her. She burst out in a belly laugh. “Dating! Oh my God, dear, No! I’d never find another man like my husband. My sixty-year old son-in-law picked me up for this appointment this morning and a neighbor asked if he was picking me up or was he just leaving?” She giggled and I howled with laughter.
“Oh you are a going to get a reputation of being a floozy, girlfriend,” I chided. At eighty- seven, that would be a compliment!” We laughed more.
The office door opened and we filed in. By now two gentlemen had joined us. We learned they were both in the Marine Corps. One was in the Korean war. We both thanked them for their service as the same time. Ruth patted the Korean vet on the arm. He acknowledged her pat with a kind smile.
“My husband was a marine. He never raised his voice, We have five children. All he had to do was point his finger towards their room and they knew they were in trouble.” “I have five kids too,” I told her. “I wish my husband knew that trick.” She continued, “I was the screamer,” she told me, with her deep Maine accent kicking in. “You don’t look like a screamer,” I told her. “Trust me. Ask my kids. I am a loud screamer, but no one listened anyway.” She told me she was one of sixteen children. ” I had to learn to be loud, just to be heard.”
“Sixteen! Dear Lord! The woman never had time for a bubble bath!” I don’t know why that seemed relevant. I guess just imagining sixteen kids, I felt the need to lock myself in the bathroom!
We laughed at the memories of having little ones and then the teenager years. “I screamed a lot during those years,” she confided.
“Yeah, I spent a lot of time locked in the bathroom back then,” I reported. We laughed again. “I’ve never laughed so much at a doctor’s office,” she said. “We’ll have to schedule our appointments together,” I told her.
Ruth was called for her lab work. I was called right after her. We were across the aisle from each other. I popped across the aisle and invited her for dinner one night. She told me, “I don’t go out much. I don’t have friends. I used to watch all the great grand kids, but not anymore.”
“All the more reason, you need to come for dinner. I get a few of my girlfriends and we can have a nice meal and laugh the night away.” “That would be fun, but I don’t drive,” she said. “I’ll pick you up.” I told her.
I haven’t heard from Ruth yet, but it’s only been a few days. I’ll ask our doctor’s office to pass along a message to her.
I’m pretty sure we’re going to be more than “almost” friends.