My friend Evelyn's husband had pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital last week, so my other friend Mary K and I decided to pay them a visit yesterday afternoon. We agreed to meet in the hospital lobby at 4:30 PM and walk to Rex's room together. However, hospital construction workers had other plans for us.

I left work around 3:45 to pick up Liberty and Kimmie and drive over to the hospital. There have been several town announcements regarding the temporary parking situation and alternative entrances to the hospital due to construction over the last month or so, but I have had no plans to visit the hospital for any reason. Therefore, I have not paid much attention to that information.

As I drove past the town square, I recognized Mary K walking towards a row of shops. I waved, but she did not notice me. I continued on my way to pick up Liberty, and I thought about where Mary K could possibly be headed. That row of shops includes a shoe store, meat market, bakery, Christian bookstore, sewing store, gift shop, home decorating shop, along with a cafe and other miscellaneous businesses. Keeping in mind that we were about to visit a friend in the hospital, I concluded that she must be stopping off at the Christian bookstore to pick up a card or a small gift. I enjoy puzzles, so I looked forward to meeting up with her at the hospital and finding out if my deduction was correct.

Liberty began dancing when I showed up at Chris's house to take her with me. She and I danced in circles together, and Chris told me how Liberty had tried to repeat every word that one of Chris's daughters had used that day. We laughed and talked for several minutes. Kimmie called to ask if she could go to her friend's house to work on a science project instead of going to the hospital with us. I agreed, and Liberty and I drove over to the hospital alone, singing at the top of our lungs all the way there.

Signs posted at the regular front entrance to the hospital guided me around the building to a back parking lot where Liberty and I parked. We entered through the back door and found a pleasant, smiling lady seated at a temporary desk. I told her who we had come to visit, and she immediately told me his room number. This surprised me. I had expected her to have to check her computer or call someone to find that information.

Small town. Stop being surprised, Missy. I told myself with a grin. Then I decided to further test her brain. "My friend Mary K is supposed to meet me here. Do you know if she's already come?" Without any hesitation, the receptionist responded, "She hasn't been here yet. Are you going to wait for her, or just go on up to see Rex and Evelyn yourself?"

"I'll wait." I decided. Liberty and I walked over to the waiting area. An older lady with curly white hair smiled at Liberty, and Liberty piped up with a bright, "Hi!" and a huge smile before running to the three wheelchairs parked against the wall. She happily climbed up and down in the chairs, stopping to greet cheerfully any person who entered the waiting area. She also made sure that she told them "Bye!" and waved if they appeared to be leaving. Of course, she was a big hit with everyone there.

Around 4:50, I decided that Mary K must have found another way in, and Liberty and I trekked up to Rex's room. Liberty LOVED traveling in the elevator. Her eyes grew wide with wonder when the floor felt like it was dropping out from beneath us, and the reassuring clunks and vibrations of machinery caused her to look at me for an explanation. I so enjoy hanging out with her!

Liberty stopped at every doorway and called, "Hi!" to each room's inhabitant. Some did not notice her, but the ones who did smiled and weakly waved back. At first, I worried that she would bother the patients, but I quickly realized that she was doing a great job of bringing joy. At Rex's room, we paused in the doorway and looked around. Evelyn was not there, and Rex appeared to be sleeping in his chair with the TV on.

"Hi!" Liberty called, but Rex did not stir. "Hello," I said cheerfully and knocked on the metal door jam. Rex did not stir. We took a few tentative steps into his room. I cleared my throat. "Hi, Rex." I tried again. No response. I stood uncertainly in the middle of the room. Would it be better to wake him up or let him sleep?

That's a no-brainer. In my house, I would ALWAYS want someone to LET ME SLEEP!

Together, Liberty and I tip-toed out of the room. The nurse at the end of the hall waved gaily at us as we passed her again. "That was an awfully quick visit." She commented, "Who did you see?"

"Rex," I answered, "But he is asleep, and Evelyn wasn't there."

"Evelyn's not there? That's unusual, she's probably just gone for a short walk. She'll be right back, and I know she'll be sorry that she missed you. As for Rex sleeping, he doesn't need to sleep when visitors are here. He's got all night long to sleep. You just march right in there and wake him up." She commanded us.

I hesitated.

"I'll wake him for you," she stated as she stood up from her desk chair. She quickly led the way back to Rex's room, and Liberty and I scurried to catch up.

"Re-ex!" she sang out loudly as she passed the threshold to his room. "You have visitors!" She knocked loudly on the door, then the wall, then the foot board of the bed.

Rex's head started up from his chest, and he shakily raised himself in his chair. "Hi," his gravelly voice sounded from behind his lips. He cleared his throat.

Liberty stared at him and immediately her thumb popped into her mouth. "Say 'hi', Liberty," I instructed, fully expecting a cheerful sound to emanate from her tongue.


"Liberty, are you going to say hi to Mr. Rex?" I asked.

She stared in silence.

She remained silent and immobile the entire time we chatted in his room...until she found his pink, plastic water pitcher resting on the rolling table. She began climbing onto the bed in order to reach the pitcher full of water, and I had to drag her repeatedly back down to the floor. Then she stood quietly in the middle of the room until I had been lulled into a false sense of security. Without warning, she dashed out of the door and was halfway down the long hallway before I could catch up with her.

I scooped her up and brought her back, telling her that she needed to stay inside the room. As soon as her feet touched the floor she had flown out of the door again and down the hall. I retrieved her. This time telling her firmly, "No. You stay here with Mommy and Mr. Rex." She complied.

For 28.3 seconds.

Which, if you are counting, is enough time for me and my pregnant belly to plop ourselves back down into the comfy chair and become unwary because Liberty is usually pretty obedient. But who's counting?

Eventually, Evelyn breezed into the room, and she and Liberty got along famously. This gave my now sweaty body a chance to dry off and resume a normal breathing pace.

When we got up to leave, Evelyn pointed to a plastic bag sitting on the bed and said, "Don't forget your bag."

"Oh, I thought it was your bag," I responded. "It was here when Liberty and I arrived."

Curiously, Evelyn and I peered into the bag. It contained goodies from the bakery on the town square, and suddenly, TRUTH hit me!

"Mary K has been here!" I gasped. "She must have come up before we did, and she left this package of goodies for you and Rex. He must have been sleeping when she showed up, and you were gone." I told Evelyn all about our plans to meet in the (front) lobby, and how they were thwarted by the posted signs that ordered us to go to the back. "She must have found a way to sneak into the front." I surmised. I could not wait to get home and call Mary K to verify my theory.

Over the phone later that night, Mary K and I giggled as we realized we had missed each other by just a few minutes on our ways in and out of Rex's room, and we decided next time not only to synchronize our watches, but also to pick a better rendezvous point.
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1 Response
  1. Tiffany Anne Says:

    Oh, I enjoyed reading this!

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