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See Dick Chat

The radiation center where my mom gets her treatments is very fancy. There is a fountain the entire length of one wall. Drinks and snacks are available for patients and their families. The chairs in the waiting area offer cushy and attractive places to sit and read, apparently a difficult thing to pull off given my experience in other hospitals.

I have not been back in the actual treatment area, but my mom says there is always a dog to pet and a person playing the harp. She says she could live without the harp music because it reminds her of angels and the pearly gates and all and she’s not ready for that.

I made a friend in the waiting room over the last two days. His name is Dick. We both like to read, so we compared notes. The day before yesterday he was reading the paper and I was reading Arabel and Mortimer. Yesterday, he was reading a Louis L’Amour and I was reading a Nicholson Baker, but it turned out he mostly wanted to talk. Here’s what I learned.

He was there with his wife, Dottie. Some years back, Dottie had colo-rectal cancer. She had a 17-pound tumor removed and then all seemed well. Now, however, she has bone cancer. The radiation apparently helps her deal with the pain. The doctors give her a year or two.

Dick and Dottie moved to Los Angeles from South Dakota, in part to get away from the winters. The day they moved, it was seventy below zero. The destination for their move was chosen because they saw on television some inner city kids wondering why they couldn’t get teachers to work in their schools. I don’t know what Dottie taught, but Dick taught history in Watts. They ended up in charge of the gifted and talented program.

Dick wrote his master’s thesis on emasculation in A Farewell to Arms and a western novel that I don’t remember the name of. It must have been something famous because Dick didn’t bother to tell me the author.

Now that Dick and Dottie have retired, they have a five-acre spread. They run an animal sanctuary, taking in the pets of Alzheimer’s patients and other terminally ill folks. The dogs and cats then visit nursing homes. Dick says it is why they were put on earth.

I’d know more, except that Dottie finished with her treatment and he walked out with her, slowly, taking tender care with her. I’m sure I’ll chat with him again today.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
joyliveshere
Jun. 24th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
I like this story.
jan_can_too
Jun. 25th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
Me, too. I saw him again yesterday and we talked about Leon Uris and finding out of print books. It was Dottie's last treatment for a while, so I won't see him again.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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