It's Not What I Wanted
It was several years after my wife had died, when Mindy’s common-law-husband also passed away. Mindy was a large and sloppy woman. She knew from being at the hospital so often that my wife had passed away. When she would see me, she would say, “I heard your wife died. I am so sorry!” and I was given the customary bone crushing hug.
When I found out that her common-law-husband had died, I extended my condolences to her just as she had to me, without the hug, the next time I saw her. Tears came to her eyes and she said, “I know you understand what I am feeling” and gave me a bone crushing hug. She was still dirty, heavy, and dressed in her usual Banlon shirt and double knit pants, but she was going through hard times and it was a tender moment. I wouldn’t allow my squeamish feelings of being hugged by her to intrude.
After that, wherever she met me, I was greeted with the same hug. I started to watch for her and run the other way, long before we came within arm’s reach. Sometimes she would catch sight of me and call out. I would only wave and do a ninety degree turn down a hallway or find another reason to get away.
This worked for several months, until one night as I was making rounds. I was in the main lobby waiting for the elevator. When the doors popped open, there she was, standing in front of me in all of her glory. I couldn’t avoid her without seeming grossly offensive and rude. I cringed inside, knowing that the inevitable hug was coming. And it did. We talked for a few seconds and I made the excuse that I was in a hurry and needed to finish my rounds. She waved to me as I walked into the elevator.
Much later that evening, I tried to put a pen in my shirt pocket and it snagged on something. Now comes the good part.) It was a folded piece of paper. On it was Mindy’s telephone number. “How did she get it there without me feeling it?” I thought.
This was just too much not to share with someone. I went to the medical records department to see a nurse with whom I had worked in the emergency department. He had transferred to medical records when he got “burned out” in the emergency room. He looked a lot like me and often patients would get us confused.
When we were still both working in the emergency department, Mindy did confuse us and sometimes she would call me Bill or call Bill by my name. That was okay with me. Maybe he would be blamed for something I did.
When I showed him the note, he said, “She’s all yours buddy, I’m already married.”