An Ode to Bob and Sue

mage Description: A cardinal is perched on a stump with trees and snow in the background. Public Domain.

I wrote this piece a couple years ago, pre-pandemic. I’m remembering it fondly again.

Last week, I spent some time in the waiting room for a doctor’s visit… like a lot of time. Waiting. Usually, it doesn’t take this long — something my doctor also confirmed once he was able to see me.

For a while, I just sat in silence. I brought a book, but I think I just needed a bit of time to decompress and think of very little. The truth is, I had had a lot on my mind over the last few days. All of that was still there, of course, so I sat there while silence accompanied my still emerging thoughts. That and daytime television.

Then a man approached my side of the room, and he sat directly to my left. He had a walker. I soon realized the walker was for his wife who came immediately behind him. She moved to sit directly to my right, so before she sat, I asked,

“Would you like this seat?” wondering if they’d rather sit directly next to each other.

“Oh no, honey, this is just fine.”

Suddenly, I was sandwiched between Bob and Sue, two older adults, who were much better at accompanying me than the silence. For the next twenty minutes, I honestly felt wonderfully grandparented, as they delighted in talking with me. Bob told me his creative strategy to get telemarketers to stop calling. Sue told me that she knows one of my neighbors. They both shared why they keep choosing this medical clinic. They inquired about me. I felt so enjoyed, and I enjoyed them too.

At one point, while flipping through magazines, Sue saw a picture of a cardinal and said, “Aren’t they so pretty?”

“Yes, I love them,” I said, thinking about the ones who fly into my yard and how they’re my university mascot as well.

“You know, I’ve never seen a baby cardinal. I wonder what they look like.”

“I’ll look it up,” I said, pulling out my phone.

They chuckled at the marvel of it, that we could look that up on a phone. “These young people know how to do it,” Bob said. I smiled, enjoying being relationally young, though I’m just a couple years shy of forty.

“Oh, here it is. Look at that!” I said. It turns out that baby cardinals are pretty cute. We passed my phone around to see.

A few minutes later, a medical assistant spoke their names, and Bob and Sue were called to the back before I was. When they stood up to shuffle to their visit, I felt different.

There are many ways that kindness and delight can show up, surprisingly, even in times of stress. We just have to show up to it. Or sometimes… let it just find us.

*I changed the names of this wonderful couple. I will remember them by their real names for a long time.

Renee Roederer

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