Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ben Cartwright

Two years ago my mom died. But this post isn't really about that, but it's part of it. She was sick in the hospital about a week before she died. She was in the ICU during that time.

The waiting room in ICU is... strange, for lack of a better word. Everyone is there because they're all facing a tragedy with a loved one. There was an Amish family whose son wasn't going to make it. There were a few folks who were in and out because their relation was having open heart surgery. There was us. Then there was another family.

Now remember, when my mom got sick, I was living in the Wild West. We just threw our stuff in suitcases and hopped the first flight possible. I never dreamed when I left that she would die. So I wasn't dressed up ever. I usually wore Wranglers, western shirts or long sleeve t-shirts, and a pair of pink cowboy boots. Yeah, you read that right, pink cowboy boots. I love them and I still wear them here. They're "dress" boots; think of them as Sunday Go To Meetin' boots, not for working in the fields or riding.

As I sat in the hospital waiting room, a man came in to join his family. He hugged everyone, spoke in low tones and then took his seat to take up his stretch of the vigil. He was wearing a pair of Wranglers, work cowboy boots, a clean flannel shirt, and a cowboy hat, which he turned upside down on the seat next to him, like a good cowboy does. He had a weathered face and white hair. He's probably about 60 years old. I'm gonna call him Ben Cartwright.

We made eye contact and nodded heads. Then he noticed my boots, and smiled. Then he grinned. And his smile got bigger and he finally walked across the waiting room and introduced himself and said, "I had to meet a girl who'd wear pink boots."

We chatted; his brother was having brain surgery. He was there with sister, and his brother wife and kids. I told him about my mom. Then we chatted about the Wild West. I told him about why I moved there, what I did and about where I lived. And irony of all ironies; he's a horseman who came to the Wild West annually to buy horses. And he came to the town that was only 61 miles from me, the closest town to me. He had even been to the tiny little place where I lived.

Add more irony, we were at a hospital in Northern Civilization, about 45 minutes from where I live. Come to find out Ben lives about 20 minutes from me in the other direction but his brother (who was having the brain tumor surgery) lived in the same town I do and his nephew (brain tumor guy's son) lived about 10 minutes from me as well.

Ben was funny and interesting. And because he had been where I lived, we really connected and could talk and talk. He was just a sweet and kind man.

Over the course of the week he and I would talk every day and got to know each other. His wife and I chatted sometimes but she was busy comforting Ben's sister-in-law. After mom died, I wasn't gonna be back to the ICU waiting room so Ben and I exchanged addresses and phone numbers; he was going to call me when he came to the Wild West again. His brother came out of the surgery and was doing really well. If all went as planned, he would be moved out of ICU and into a regular room 2 days after my mom died. I was happy that they had good news, ya know?

That year at Christmas, I sent them a card but never heard from them. I don't know why. I did keep his address and phone number. So, I guess we just 'lost touch' but for whatever reason he stayed on my mind often.

So last week, the nephew comes in the ice cream parlor. I was surprised because he hadn't been in at any time that I had been working all summer long. We recognized each other and he said he was going to tell his Uncle- Ben Cartwright- that he saw me.

Then a few days ago, who walks in while I was working? BEN CARTWRIGHT! It was awesome! After big hugs and kisses we got caught up. And I pulled his address out of my wallet and it seemed that I had written his snail mail addy wrong. But guess what he pulled out of his wallet? MY ADDRESS! It was just too funny.

We made sure we had the new info and that it was all correct. AND he called and sang "happy birthday" to me! It's so great that we've reconnected. And since he's a horseman, I have now a standing invite to ride (horses) anytime I want. It's amazing. How wonderful!

Something good can come out of something bad and here's the perfect example of such!

Still a little bit country whether I like it or not,
Maggie Mae

1 comment:

Kelly G. said...

What a great story! I've been spending a great deal of time in the ICU over the past two weeks as my father has been fighting for his life. I hate to say that it's a great place for people watching, because no one likes to see others in emotional pain....but it's certainly interesting, as depressing as it is.

There is one family in particular whom my family members and I became familiar with very quickly. I think they stood out to us, because while observing what little of their story we were able to understand, I think we felt as though we were watching ourselves.

Just as we do, they sit around the waiting room in silence. Sometimes there's laughter, sometimes someone falls asleep on someone else. They casually discuss where to get food from, then go immediately into planning funeral arrangements "just in case he doesn't make it". They step outside to argue, they step outside to cry on each other's shoulders, and they step outside to share funny stories.

We have no idea what is going to happen next with my dad, and we have no idea what the situation is with their family member. We are always simply too caught up in our own troubles to try and connect with someone outside our circle. I think that's amazing that you were both able to do this, and that you saw each other again 2 years later!

I'm so sorry to hear that you lost your mother. That couldn't have been easy to deal with. But I understand what you mean about good coming from bad. I won't go into details, but I'm actually experiencing some of that myself right now.

When I'm back at the hospital in a couple of days (when the husband is around to drive us down there), I might just be a bit more observant of the people around me.