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A Recent Friend

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I woke up this morning and rubbed my eyes. My lids were grainy because of the tears I shed yesterday. I looked in the mirror and saw how puffy my eyes were. Yesterday was hard. And this is what happened:

A month ago I had to be hospitalized. It was just for one day and I was back to normal within a couple of days. After my discharge, I had to visit my doctor for a check-up. I was feeling good and looking forward to getting the "you are just fine" report from my doctor. I was running a little late for my appointment and as I pulled into the parking lot, there was a car sitting right in front of the door. I waited for a couple of seconds and realized they weren't going to move for me so I frustratingly backed up, drove around the car and parked.
I walked in front of the parked car on my way into the office and I stopped because a very frail looking middle aged man was coming out with a wheelchair. I turned and looked in the car and saw an elderly woman sitting the back seat of a two door car. She was very overweight, was breathing kind of heavy and looked very uncomfortable. I looked at the man and without thinking I said "Do you need some help?" The look of relief on his face was instant.

I opened the door and introduced myself to the woman and to her son. Her name was Regina and her son's name was Raymond. Regina thought I was a nurse and I told her that I was just walking by and that I had some experience in helping elderly people. "Don't worry" I said. "Take your time. The doctor can wait. I'm gonna help you".

She was so embarassed because her housedress kept riding up and she was afraid her privates were showing. Because she seemed so embarassed and uncomfortable I tried to change the subject while getting her out of the car and commented on her perfume. It was such a pleasant smell. She told me her daughter always bought it for her and how much she loved it, as I was adjusting the seat and helping her legs out of the car. Raymond was near with the wheelchair and I helped him get it in position, all the while chatting away with Regina about her daughter and the sweet smelling perfume she wore. Raymond and I finally got her out of the car and into the wheelchair and he looked at me and I could tell he was so grateful for the help. When I first looked at him, he looked like he had no idea what he was going to do and within a handful of minutes, he was pushing her into the waiting room.

I was kind of amazed at the fact that I felt like I had known these people for a long time. Raymond and I were total strangers yet we worked together so well in getting her out. Regina talked to me about her daughter and told me that Raymond recently moved in with her and how much he helped her. It seemed very natural for me to say "Raymond, give me your keys and I'll move the car" and he immediately reached in his pocket and threw me the keys without giving it a second thought. I was a total stranger and he was giving me the keys to his car without even thinking about it.

I came into the doctor's waiting room, signed in, sat next to Regina and gave Raymond his keys back. She kept thanking me over and over and said she was so worried Raymond wouldn't have been able to get her in there because he wasn't feeling well himself.

We sat there and chatted while we waited for our names to be called. She was such a pleasant woman to be around. She wasn't well and she looked tired, but she had a sweet smile and a very nice disposition. By the time they called her name, we had probably spent twenty minutes together and I knew that we were going to be friends.

The nurse came to the door and announced her name. I stood up, kissed Regina on the cheek and said it was so nice to meet her. "Thank you, Sweetie. You're an angel." she said as she was wheeled down the hall. A few moments later they called my name and it was my turn. Because I just had a quick check-up, I was finished before she was and as I was leaving Raymond was still waiting. I walked up to him and threw my arms around him and he gave me a little kiss. He thanked me for helpingwith his mother and I told him it was my pleasure. I left the doctor's office feeling good. I felt like I did a good thing. I helped a stranger.

A couple of weeks later, I had a small complication and I had to return to the doctor. As I drove, I thought of Regina and Raymond. I wondered how they were doing and hoped I would bump into them again.

I sat in the familiar waiting room and waited for my name. The same nurse who called my name weeks earlier was working and took me back to see the doctor. It was sort of ironic that she told me that Regina was there just a little while before I got there. We had just missed one another. Regina was asking the nurse for my name and phone number because she wanted to contact me but because of Privacy Laws, the office wasn't permitted to give out my information. Regina wrote down her phone number and gave it to the office to give to me and said "if you see Joyce anytime soon", not knowing it would be the same day.

I took her number and put it in my wallet. I was anxious to get out of there, so I could call on my new friend. The doctor gave me a slightly disappointing report and told me I had a virus. She gave me instructions and told me watch the kissing and hugging for as I could pass it on to my family. I left the office and while in the car, I got Regina's number so I could give her a quick call.

She was so happy to hear from me. We laughed at the irony of us both being at the doctor's again on the same day and she sounded really good. "Come visit me. Can you come up today?" she asked. I explained to her about my virus and that I didn't want to expose her to anything. "Regina, I'll come see you in a week or two. I don't want to get you sick. I will call you again and we'll get together."

"Joyce, I'm going to let you talk to my daughter and I want you to give her your name, phone number and address, ok? I want to send you something to thank you for helping us." I told her it wasn't necessary but she insisted. Her daughter got on the phone and wrote down my information and I could hear Regina in the background saying "Get her birthday too!" and her daughter and I both chuckled at the firmness in Regina's voice. "Tell your Mom I'll call her again and I promise I will come see her when I get better." I said and we said good-bye.

Right before my husband and I were about to go to bed, our phone rang. It was Raymond. He said he just wanted to thank me for calling his mother. He said that she was so excited she got my information and that was all she could talk about. He told me he wanted to make sure I knew how important my phone call to her was before he went to bed. "No problem, Raymond. It was my pleasure."

That was a couple of weeks ago. Regina drifted through my mind yesterday and I called her. An unfamiliar voice answered the phone and I asked to speak to Regina. "Who is this?" said the woman on the other end. "Oh, this is Joyce. I'm a friend of Regina's. I met her a few weeks ago at the doctor's office." There was silence for a few moments and then the woman said "Joyce, my mother died last Sunday. We buried her today." I started to cry as I told this woman how sorry I was. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I knew she was in her 80's. I knew she wasn't well. But I was still surprised. I guess I just assumed that I would see her again. I guess I just assumed that we would become friends. But, Regina was gone.

"Joyce, I'm so glad you called because my mother talked about you every single day until the day she died. My whole family knows the story about how you helped her out of the car. That's all she could talk about. You gave her faith in humanity again right when she needed it most. Thank you so much!!!!"
Tears were falling down my face and I started to sob pretty hard. So hard that my son came up to me and said "big hug" to make me feel better. He gave me that hug right when I needed it.

"Joyce, I need to see you because my mother made sure she bought you that perfume you talked about. It's here and one of her last wishes was to make sure that perfume was given to you." I didn't know what to say. I was so overwhelmed by it all. A stranger that needed my help died and I find out that some of her last days were filled with thoughts of me. I was sad but also felt very honored. I told her that I would be in touch and we would definately get together.

I cried off and on all evening. I was only in her presence once. But I guess that was all that I was going to get in this lifetime. So now I can get the perfume and smell sweet, just like Regina.

Rest In Peace Regina. My Dear, Sweet Friend. Thank you for your gift. I will treasure it always.


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