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Be patient, Patient.

October 13, 2015

loveAs I’ve said before, waiting rooms are great for people watching. You might not think of them as interesting places, but if you pay attention, you’ll see what I mean.

Because it’s mostly quiet, there might be a false sense of privacy. Like, since we speak in hushed tones, we are only partly visible. Not only that, but if anyone talks in a regular voice, it seems especially loud. Often, I get to see people embarrass themselves. Other times, what I’m looking for is much more subtle.

Enter the sweet old couple. They are arguing. It’s a gentle argue, one that comes after decades of marriage, when you’ve learned there’s no reason to yell. Simple, pointed phrases and actions will deliver your point.

He says, “why are we still waiting? I’ll ask. This always takes forever.”

She says, “We’ve only been here five minutes, honey. Let’s give it another minute.”

He says, “I know how this goes. We’ll still be sitting here in half an hour, and you’ll tell me to wait yet another minute. I’m going to the bathroom, and when I get back, I’m asking that girl back there when we get to go.”

He goes to the bathroom. As quickly as he exits, she marches up to “that girl” behind the glass and warns her that he is growing impatient and doesn’t mean to be as ugly as he sounds. I wonder why she doesn’t seek answers, therefore avoiding his contact with that girl altogether, but she has her reasons.

It’s clear he likes taking charge. Unfortunately, it’s also clear that old age might’ve robbed him of patience when it comes to waiting in rooms. I get it. I have those days, too.

He comes back from the bathroom and goes straight to that girl behind the glass. He bypasses his wife completely, but never fear, she is right on his heels. “Excuse me, I know you people are closing soon, so will we even been seen today?” or something like that. That girl behind the glass, appropriately prepared, winks at his wife and assures him he will be seen before they leave. He’s satisfied.

He sits back down with his wife, who pats his leg and thanks him for checking on their appointment time. She thanked him. He took care of her, just like he always has. This time, she took care of him, too.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed this couple that day. Several others smiled as she patted his leg. I reflected on similar acts in my own marriage. When I was in labor with The Boy, I was temporarily unhappy with this particular nurse. Some might say I sent her out of the room. She would eventually become my favorite, but something about her “you’re staying and will need an IV” rubbed hormonal me the wrong way. I was mildly upset. I felt mildly upset, but I’m absolutely sure my delivery didn’t reflect my mood.

A few minutes later, the nurse came back in, with my doctor and calmly told me that she was sorry to have left me out of the loop, but the baby was ready to come. If I’d like, I could have an IV and later an epidural. I didn’t know it then, but my husband had gone to the hallway and smoothed things over. He didn’t take credit for it immediately. As a matter of fact, I went on and on about the nurse and how I, pregnant and temporarily crazy lady, had really made her listen. He smiled and patted my leg.

I quickly left my marriage-is-so-dreamy state, as my child emerged from his appointment. It was phase one of tooth removal in preparation for braces, and his mouth was overflowing with bloody gauze. He shook his tooth-filled plastic treasure box for all to hear. “Hey Girl!” He shouted to his sister. He was still delirious from surgery. “Look at all theth teeth!” His tongue was swollen and mouth nasty. The room turned to look. Patients laughed with fear and apprehension. Their parents nodded at the humor. The sweet old couple looked at each other, reminded of their once-small children. The woman patted my leg. What she said wasn’t new, but it stuck with me. “The days are long but the years are short. Have patience and purpose. Love your husband and show your kids that love. That love will teach them everything they need to know.”

** Originally published in The Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA on September 24, 2015

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2015 9:15 pm

    Welcome back!!

    • Jenny permalink*
      October 14, 2015 1:19 am

      Thank you! I’ve been in the paper, but I haven’t posted here in forever. Thanks for the Welcome.

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