In order to have a colonoscopy procedure done at the Veteran's hospital, the person you brought with you has to sign a form that they will drive you home. If you don't bring anyone with you, you're out of there and have to reschedule. Wouldn't it be awful to go through all that prep work and then have them cancel it?
Bobby was sixty-seven and had fought in the Vietnam Conflict. You know - the war they didn't call a war. His daughter and granddaughter were with him - the granddaughter was the designated driver. The waiting room was full except for one seat near the door which Bobby took and the other two had to stand in the crowded little room. It wasn't long before two people left and the seats beside me were empty. Their names were Jan and Melissa - Jan being Bobby's daughter. Jan rambled around in her purse and brought out a peppermint candy. She peeled the wrapper and walked over and gave it to her Dad. He had no more than got it into his mouth when the eagle eyed receptionist saw what she had done and said, "Sir, you can't have that candy" and began to explain that candy turns into liquid, blah, blah, blah. Bobby looked like he was going to cry. "Wish I was sitting over there", he said, meaning the seat far away from the receptionist. We all laughed.
Jan was bewildered. "What's wrong with a piece of candy", she said. I explained that since they couldn't have anything after midnight, even candy was off limits since it was a liquid. "I thought it meant no more jello or broth after midnight", she said. "No, the instructions say no food or liquid after midnight." Her mouth fell open and her eyes darted in every direction. "Uh-oh, he drank a few swigs of bottled water on the way here this morning". "You should tell the receptionist", I said. "No way", she said. "I would never get him to go through the prep again". I understood completely.
She and her Dad were talking and I noticed that she was filling in things that he couldn't remember. By this time, he had moved to a vacated seat beside her. He was talking about his late wife and was confused about what year she had died. His wife had died four years earlier at the age of sixty. She had been in the midst of re-decorating her bedroom when she became tired and laid down for an afternoon nap. She never woke up - it was a heart attack.
Bobby had been injured in Vietnam. He had just jumped out of a helicopter when it dipped back down and hit him in the head. He was in a coma for several weeks. He had fully recovered and had headaches often, but no other complications. Two years ago, he had started showing signs of dementia and was now to the point where he was going to have to move in with her. She wondered if it could be due to the old head injury. "Anything's possible", I said. "Talk to a VA advocate who will tell you what steps you need to take. If so, maybe he could get some sort of compensation so that you could get some daycare for him while you work". Jan was thirty-seven and was a teacher for Exceptional Students. She was still grieving over the loss of her mother and having to become caretaker to her father much too young.
Conflict or war - no matter what it was called, it was a tragic time for our servicemen. They came home to a public that didn't support what they had done for their country. Heck, even they themselves didn't know what they had done for their country or what they were fighting for. It seemed such a senseless war and so many lives were changed or lost. I am grateful to each and every serviceman who has fought or is now fighting to preserve our freedom. May the Lord bless them and keep them.
I'm amazed at what you can learn in a waiting room by just lending a listening ear and showing compassion. It's much more interesting than being a "waiting room snob" as I once was.
Stay tuned in the next few days for Part Four - The Sad One.