I went to visit a man at the long term care facility. When I arrived at the building where I usually go, they told me that he had been moved to a new building. It was pretty cold outside so I lingered for about a half hour in the common room where a few of the other residents sat. I wasn’t quite ready to go out to my car and drive to another building. I introduced myself to Daryl, a vet with a pony-tail and a lot of tattoos. Viet-Nam war veteran era. The time period when our service members did not receive a warm welcome home.
Does your family live around here?
Yes, about a half hour away. I used to be upstate but that was a four hour ride and it was too far for my family to come to visit…..except infrequently so when this place had a room open, I jumped at the chance to move closer.
Oh, that’s great. So now, you can go for visits.
No, no one can lift me. So I don’t get out to go for a visit.
We had a great conversation about my kids and his kids. And about music, and where he went to school and what he liked about the Navy……then I thought that I ought to get going over to the other building.
I gave him one of my Team of Angels pins. He put it on his hat.
Henry, I am sorry I am so late. I got tied up talking to Daryl in the other building?
Did he talk?
Oh yeah, we talked for the past thirty minutes.
I sat at the same table with him for two years and he never said more than four words!
Daryl didn’t smile but he talked. He seemed to enjoy the conversation. I wonder if there is a “Daryl” somewhere near where you live who needs someone to talk to about music and kids and where they grew up. Nothing really special. But you know what is funny. You know how you often share things with strangers, like people sitting next to you on a bus or while you are traveling far from home. It feels safe…you will probably never see them again. Well, that is what happened with Daryl and me. Funny, how that happens, huh? We talked about a time when he didn’t know where to turn, and how hard it is to live fearlessly and the days when he gave up on hope. And I shared my feelings on times in my life when I felt that way too. All in 30 minutes in the common room while the sub-freezing temperature kept me inside and not wanting to rush to visit the man in the other building.