Stranger in a Clinic

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Grandma Chipps

What Stories Could She Tell

Do you really talk to strangers in the elevator or doctor’s clinic? It seems that many people just sit in the doctor’s waiting room never saying a word. Same thing happens in elevators. Not today, today was a good day. Today I cried.

Today, I started talking about how challenging it is to raise a 2 1/2 year old boy and the woman sitting next to just smiled and nodded. Before I knew it she was telling me about the recent passing of her husband, Unc, and how she just moved from Arkansas to Houston. She told me of how Unc was helping a young man who just received his CDC license to drive across country. There was a big storm, their trailer jackknifed ending up in the middle of the road at the top of the hill. Unc got out to see what he could do. The younger man, still inside their truck, looked in the mirror and yelled out “Unc, semi”. Unc turned to see, and yelled back “get out, get out” and ran towards their truck to help.

Seconds later the 18-wheeler hit. The old man died instantly. The woman’s eyes were filled with love. There was this light, some call it a twinkle. She and Unc had been married 37 years. He died on Christmas Eve 2011. The story didn’t end here. She continued to share with me how they met, how she didn’t want to date him because he was “chubby”. She called him a teddy bear. She told me how they had been texting each other all week long, and how throughout their relationship, Unc never just came out and said I love you. They teased each other about that too. That night, she remembered she had forgotten to say good night to her husband. It was late and she sent him a text message instead of calling. The next day she learned of his death. After hours of crying she checked her phone and there was a text message from Unc: “I love you”.

I was in tears. This kind and wonderful stranger stood up and hugged me. But the story didn’t end. She told me she discovered a lump in her breast and while non-malignant, she has not spoken to the doctors about the next steps. We talked about her daughters and grandchildren. We talked about starting over again, how she gave up her life to take care of her family, and now it was her time. We talked about many things.

I guess, there was a really good reason for the two of us to sit and visit for a long time. I’m grateful for the time I shared with a stranger in the clinic.

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