Listening to an inner prompting I left early for my medical appointment. I tucked my small magazine into the corners of my purse and left with expectations of a relaxing read before the test procedures.
As I approached the lobby entrance to the clinic, I noticed a woman struggling with a cane as she opened the inner door. I hurried my pace so I could meet her at the exit to the outside pavement. I held the door open, but instead of leaving the building she paused, poking her head around me to look toward the curb.
“Oh thank you, dear. I think I’ll just wait a minute since I don’t see my ride.”
“No problem,” I said, letting the door slide in behind me. However, as it nearly caught its place clipping the cold winds into submission, she stuck out the tip of her cane to catch the door from sealing shut.
“My daughter should be here soon. Could you tell me the time, please?’ she asked while pulling my arm close to her face. “I forgot to look at the clock in the doctor’s office as I left. Is your watch correct?”
I thought she began to totter a bit as she tried to balance her cane like a doorstop while her hand sought my wrist. I pulled back my jacket sleeve, silently noting that I had twenty minutes until my appointment time.
“It’s 4:25. What time will your daughter be here?”
“Sometimes she’s late, sometimes she’s early. Oh that’s a cold breeze coming in,” she noted. Her hand left my arm, pulled on her scarf, and tucked her coat lapel close under her chin. All the while she grasped on the protruding culprit that allowed frigid gusts to gain a gateway to whistle past us. I felt compelled to brace my backside against the frame to prevent pressure on the woman’s cane.
“It comes in handy, “ she noted as she followed my focused frowning expression. “I find that I rely on it like a good friend. It works when my knee doesn’t!”
Suddenly the wind whipped loudly as a young fellow opened the door with a gesture to us to come to the outside. I waited, wondering what her reaction would be.
She wielded her cane like a traffic cop, directing the young man to the adjacent set of doors. “We’re having a visit while we wait, young man. Use those doors over there.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your knee. Maybe we should go back inside and sit down until your daughter arrives. I can watch for her car if you tell me what it looks like,” I offered.
“Fresh air keeps me going, and I need to keep going or my walking stick and I will have a hard time of it,” she tapped her cane back into its position just before the door closed again, and leaned toward me. “I like to make friends wherever I go, I’m Marie, and I travel everywhere with this contraption. I find it helps me meet people.”
“Nice to meet you, Marie. I’m Denise, and my middle name is Marie as well!”
“Oh my, we were supposed to meet today. A Marie always meets another Marie! I met my best friend many years ago because she was a Marie, too. We sat down next to each other on a plane trip, started talking about our families, and by the end of that flight we had become lifetime friends!”
“You never know how you’re going to meet a great friend until it happens. Then you both have to find ways to treasure that friendship. Marie and I travelled to see each other for as long as we could, until she passed away. Tell me dear, do you have friends that you must travel to visit?”
For the next few minutes I told her about my friends in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vancouver and scattered places throughout the United States and Canada. I briefly mentioned how I have always enjoyed letter writing but now am using the computer to stay in touch or to reconnect with friends. She chuckled, as she recounted the boxes of letters she has stored in her closets.
“I like to read the letters from my friends. When I can’t get out to meet people, I satisfy myself with that. I don’t have any room for a computer in my place. I’m going to be 92 this year. I’ve had wonderful friendships throughout my life, most of them have died now, and so I like to find other ways to meet people.”
“I’ll tell you a secret; my daughter isn’t late. My appointment ended early, so I knew I had to wait for her. I don’t like to wait alone, and luckily today I found you to wait with me. I hope I’m not keeping you from your appointment, am I dear?”
“No, for some reason today I left early, too. When you looked at my watch, I noticed that I had twenty minutes to spare.”
This happened exactly as I have retold it here. Her daughter arrived just before I had to take the elevator to make it to my appointment on time. I didn’t need to pull out my magazine, because my appointment followed a scheduled break time for the attending lab technician. I left the clinic feeling lighthearted and unstressed. I know I will be in and out of that building over the years for various routine or perhaps unsettling tests.
However, I think I shall always allow twenty minutes to spare, so that I can walk through those doors slowly, looking for an opportunity to meet a friend.