Monday, June 29, 2009

Awakening My True Identity (part 4)

(continued from part 3)
Diane, the image consultant, had a form to fill out titled, Creating Your Personal Brand.

“So, what image goals do you wish to achieve?” she asked.

“I like to look good when I am speaking. I want to be confident, and feel good about myself so people will buy my books.”

“Well, that’s the most direct answer I’ve had all day,” she nodded as she filled in a blank on the form.

We covered key strengths and characteristics, desirable traits, my target market and my body image.

We decided my best hairstyle was a pixie cut with fringed bangs, golden red highlights, and longer fringes on my neck and in front of the ears. “Go to a good stylist,” she emphasized as she studied my $18 cut.

She judges my body type as natural, and told me what to wear and how to accessorize. She evaluated my voice, handshake and body language. Then she told me what kind of eye glasses to buy and how to wear my clothes, “Don’t tuck in the shirt.”

The branding was almost painless.

Diane’s image consultation is a picture of what Christ does for me. He awakens my true identity in Him. He’s given me simple, straightforward instructions.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you….Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:14,15,17 NIV

I have the choice. I can choose to do these things or not. And, why wouldn’t I? Instructions are worthless if we don't implement them.

To read more 'detail' about following the example of Christ...

The Blooming Book is Officially Launched

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Book Launch...all 12 of you. I had an enjoyable, intimate, evening and hope you did too.

Jesus launched the church with 12 disciples. Blooming is not the church, and I'm not Jesus, but His is an exhilarating blueprint to follow.

By the way, if you bought a book and would like it signed (just one of those details that got overlooked) let me know. I'll be glad to sign it for you. Also, if you couldn't get to the launch, but would like to purchase a signed copy of the book, feel free to drop by our house.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Blooming Book Launch

You are invited. Bring your friends. On Saturday, June 27th, at Calvin Christian School, 547 West Fifth Street in Hamilton from 7:30 to 9:00, I'm having a book launching party in the music room. This is ironic because if you know me, or have read my book, you know I can't sing or even play an instrument.

Join us for an evening of fun and laughter, cake and coffee, punch and cookies, cheese and crackers, and door prizes. I'll be reading a few pieces from the book and doing a signing. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Awakening My True Identity (Part 3)

(continued from previous post)

I returned to the Mitchell room, really the only obvious room for the consultations, unless I was in the wrong building. I thought the announcement said Century Lodge. Did I hear wrong?

Then I noticed some binders and a bill book on the love seat by the window. A pile of business cards and a pile of handbills advertising Diane Callender, image consultant told me I was in the right place.

The Century Lodge wasn’t my idea of a logical location for image consultations. It smelled musty and the lighting was dim. At least this probably meant we wouldn’t be dealing with such barely perceptible details as sprouting chin hairs.

It was now 6:25. Where was my consultant? Maybe I could spend the money on books in the bookstore. After all my fellow conference attendee had given me a glowing image consultation without charge.

As these thoughts were pinging through my head, Ms Callender walked in, noticeably startled when she saw me. Somehow this made me feel more confident. Turns out she thought our appointment was at 6:30.

We spend the next hour talking about me.
(to be continued)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Awakening My True Identity (part 2)

(continued from previous post)

At the writer’s conference, just before supper on the day of my appointment with the image consultant I changed into my favourite “Sunday best” blue clothes with my little pearl teardrop earrings, the ones Alice helped me buy for my son’s wedding four years ago. Yes I went all out.

During supper I kept an eye on my watch and took special care not to spill anything.

With the last bite of lemon meringue pie, I excused myself from the dinner table to head over to the Century Lodge for my scheduled appointment.

There was no one there.

Did I have the time right?

I dug into my bag for the strip of appointment paper. It said, “MARIAN DEN BOER you have an appointment with DIANE CALLENDER for an image consultation at 6:15 p.m. on FRIDAY.”

I walked through the Century Lodge looking for every possible area that might be used as a consultation space. I even checked the washroom. I met a fellow conference attendee. I asked if she knew where the image consults were being held.

“Like you need one,” she responded.

I wanted to hug her.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Awakening My True Identity

How did that get in there? I wondered when I opened my wallet to see a rather up-to-date picture of my younger brother. Hey wait, that’s not my brother—that’s me. I was looking at my new driver’s license.

I hadn’t taken the time to examine my license when it came in the mail. In a hurry, I had simply signed and stuffed it into the window slot of my wallet.

Could a picture lie? I did remember standing in front of the camera at the license renewal office. At the time, the girl behind the desk at the camera station didn’t show me my picture. She simply nodded approval. I thought that meant I looked good.

Well, at least I wasn't looking at a picture of my older brother, the one with the beard—a possibility, the way the hairs have been sprouting on my chin lately.

I turned the license over and buried it deep in my wallet.

But drastic situations require desperate measures. This is why I signed for an hour with an image consultant as part of my writer’s conference package.

Continued tomorrow

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Blooming Book Launch

I've invited all 93 FaceBook friends to attend my upcoming book launch on Saturday...this Saturday, June 27th, 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Calvin Christian School (547 West 5th Street in Hamilton, Ontario) in the music room. So far I have one confirmed guest--myself. Thirty-three have other plans and the rest are still making up their minds.

I'm also inviting you...whoever you are. It promises to be an entertaining evening. I'm choosing several amusing bits from Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress to read to you with dramatic flair and great expression. I'll even do requests for those who have already read the book.

And, you can thank my husband for this, I might have overlooked it: I'm also making squares, veggie trays, coffee, tea, punch....

So, feel free to drop by sometime between 7:30 and 9:00. There will be door prizes for the guest who comes from the farthest, the guest with the most creative reason for coming, and the guest who brings the most guests.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Would you buy a car from this person?

From the time Marty bought Betsy, our second-hand LTD station wagon, from a not-so-reputable, car dealership to transport our family of six, we slavishly met all its needs. The brakes needed new shoes; the gas-line leaked; the transmission died; the carburetor, alternator, gaskets, all these things and more had to be replaced. The almost monthly bills from the garage looked like order sheets for a parts department.

At first we looked at the expenses as incidental to maintaining a family station wagon, then we rationalized the expenses as investments, i.e., the more you put into a thing, the more you’ll get out of it. Finally, faced with another $2,000 bill and $8.98 in the savings account, Marty, the accountant, took stock. He went through two years of cheque records and found, as we suspected, Betsy was definitely a bad habit.

The decision was made. We took out a loan and within a week had a compact 4-cylinder K-car wagon in the drive. Betsy was parked out on the street with a “For Sale” sign in one of her windows.

To keep her from seizing up, I would take Betsy out to the grocery store once a week. She idled so high I could drive her all the way there and all the way home, with my foot on the brake. Driven as little as once a week, she was using as much fuel as our zippy little K-car which took us everywhere, apparently running on air.

We listed Betsy in the Auto Trader at $1,800 which seemed to be the going price (in 1989) for 1979 station wagons. After a week and only one call from someone looking for a little Honda, we reduced the price to $1,500. By the third week the price was down to $1,300 or best offer. We started getting calls. Of course, since I happened to be home more than Marty, I, who don’t know much about cars, got most of these.

First caller: “Is it a good body?”
Me (innocently): “Yes, it looks pretty good.”
Caller: “Just looks pretty good, eh?”

Second caller: “Does it have air conditioning?”
Me: “No.” I knew that.

Third caller: “What size is the engine?”
Me (stupidly): “Quite big. It uses a lot of gas.”

Fourth caller: “Could I come look Friday morning?”
Me: “Certainly.”
Fourth caller, again: “Could I come Saturday morning instead?”
Fourth caller, again: “I’m not coming.”

Fifth caller: “Does it have air conditioning?”

Fifteenth caller: “Would you accept $1,000.”
Me (eagerly): “Yes! Do you want it?”
Caller: “I’ll think about it.”

Nobody actually came to look. We decided to put an ad in the local newspaper for a weekend, reducing the price once more to $950 or best offer. Right away a dealer phoned: “I’ll give you $500 for it.” The nerve.

Then on Saturday morning, we got a real customer. He came over. He looked under the hood. He kicked the tires (real customers always do that). He went for test drive. Then he left to look at another car. We knew we’d lost him.

But two hours later he called, “I’ll give you $750.”
Marty: “$800.”
Real customer: “$750, cash.”
Marty: “It’s yours.”

For three days Marty and I held conversations interspersed with: “We sold Betsy.”


“We sold the car.”

Poor buyer; Betsy would eat up his savings; keep him poor; suck up his funds, poor man. How could we have done that? It doesn’t seem Christian.

Baby Elizabeth Decides to be Baptised

"I want to know in my heart, what I know in my head."

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Cranberry Village Conquest: Part 2

continued from previous post

"What do you think, Marian?" Suddenly, Marty, my husband, appeared to be in the Cranberry camp.

Now, I respect Marty, not only because he's my husband, but he is also my accountant. He is better at recognizing a good deal than I am. "Okay then," I quietly conceded.

Suddenly we were signing forms and initialing clauses. We shook hands. The battle was over. We were outmaneuvered, yet triumphant. Tony presented us with a leather cases full of holiday suggestions. The sales team said we would be hearing from them again very soon: there must be upgrade enticements in the works.

Three days later Tony and his fellow warriors sent us flowers welcoming us to the family of vacation ownership. The flowers were perfectly timed for our 33rd Wedding anniversary. Marty didn't waste the opportunity. "Happy Anniversary my dear," he proclaimed as he presented me with the most expensive bouquet he has ever given me.

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9.

Here's my question: was the Lord directing our steps? We had very deliberately prayed for wisdom (several times) before and during our adventure. We had even prayed that we wouldn't get talked into anything we might regret.

And, another question: are there any couples out there who want to join us for a one-week holiday in a six-star facility? We'll only charge you $100 a night and you can have the bedroom. I'll ask Marty to set up our tent in the living area. We can share the cooking and maybe even eat out once or twice.

The Cranberry Village Conquest, Part 1

continued from previous post

When Tony returned, we told him our final decision not to buy into the Cranberry Village time-share plan. “We are not doing this. It’s been great meeting you, but, no this does not suit our lifestyle.”

“Okay,” sighed Tony as he looked at his watch. I looked at my watch as well. It was 5:30. We had been there four and a half hours. Where was everyone? We were the only couple left.

Tony introduced us to Zelda. Zelda appeared to be quality control. She presented a questionnaire. “I just have a few questions,” she smiled. “Were you treated right?” “Yes.”

There were about eight questions along those lines. We answered, “Yes, of course,” to every question. We felt very agreeable. They were letting us get away and being surprisingly pleasant about it.

Suddenly Zelda whipped out one last offer: a one-bedroom for 30 years, occupation for one week every third year. The money upfront was minimal. My head was tired. Marty was smiling.

We'll finish this tomorrow.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Cranberry Village Campaign

(continued from previous post)
We were led back to our presentation table decorated with three balloons. Tony pulled out some papers and began showing us deals. There was the 50-year, two-bedroom, with a studio apartment on the side, plan. We said, “Absolutely not.”

There was the 50-year, one-bedroom deal. We said, “No, thank-you.”

There was the studio deal. “No, no, no.”

There were several variations on these deals. Then, I gasped as I heard my husband Marty say, “I don’t think we’ll be camping after I retire.” I glanced at him with shock. Was this my husband who wasn't going to sign up? Didn't he remember our strategy: we are campers, out-in-the-woods, next to the bears and coons, in a tent, campers? Was this the beginning of the end?

Marty looked at me and then asked if we could be left alone to discuss matters. Tony readily agreed. “What do you think?” asked Marty when we were alone. “No,” I said, “No, no, no.”

Part 5 – The Cranberry Village Conquest - Monday

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Cranberry Village Trap

Marty and Tony: practically brothers.

We assembled with a guide and other potential members in the “Family of Vacation Ownership” at the Cranberry Waterfront Suites which was a half-kilometer hike from the hotel where we were staying. I had left my very necessary photo I.D. in my purse in the car at the hotel. I dawdled on my way to retrieve my identity, and 15 minutes later when I got back to the meeting point (where Marty and the guide were patiently waiting), everyone else was well on their way into the trap. Marty and I were matched up with Tony, the new guy.

Tony was a fun guy (he called himself a mushroom). He allowed us to change the subject as much as we wanted. He listened cheerfully as we talked about our delightful grandchildren and the joys of camping. Our guard inched down: this guy didn’t want to sell us anything.

Halfway through the session, we were herded into another room to view a short video full of happy smiling families in shiny spotless environments.

Then we were given a tour of what could potentially be our own spotless environment with marble countertops and never-been-used, top-of-the-line fixtures and appliances. The table was perfectly set right down to the designer napkins. Tony nonchalantly presented the immaculate beauty of this “six star resort” as though it already belonged to us.

Part 4 - The Cranberry Village Campaign - tomorrow

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Cranberry Village Resistance Tactics

We were not going to buy into the time-share vacation plan. We had screwed up our resolve. Our willpower was strong, fueled by our lack of liquid capital.

Our strategy was simple: we were campers, out-in-the-woods, next to the bears and the coons, in a tent, campers. Killarney Provincial Park was our ideal holiday destination, just one step down from visiting the grandkids in prairie Saskatchewan. See if Cranberry Village could match that.

And, after the required two hours at the sales presentation, we would simply politely stand up and leave. That was our strategy.

In the meantime, we golfed, and played horseshoes, and swam and sat in the hot tub and ate gourmet food and hiked out to the water along the boardwalk right out onto the rocky breakwater, and we read and even had time to watch TV.

The two-hour session would be a small price to pay.

Part 3 – The Cranberry Village Trap - tomorrow

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cranberry Village Bait

We signed up for the promotion package on a whim at the local Home Show last winter. We were looking for somewhere to go for a few nights to celebrate the end of tax season. Two nights for $99, a free round of golf, and $60 toward meals: this sounded like an ideal getaway. All we had to do was promise to sit through the two-hour presentation.

We have friends who have participated in this time-share-promotion holiday at Cranberry Village in Collingwood and have come away bragging about their inexpensive and lovely two-day vacation. “The two-hour presentation was a small, albeit irritating, price to pay,” they reported.

We have distant relatives who have signed up.

We have a close relative who claims that no one can get out of the Cranberry two-hour session without willpower and a strong strategy in place, and even then, one slip and they’ve got you. “They’ll keep you there until they have you even if it takes four hours….”

We have an employee who just laughs and predicts, “They’ll get you.”

Could we 'getaway' without buying a package? Of course we could. We had willpower. We would develop strategy.

Part 2 – Our Cranberry Village Resistance Tactics – tomorrow

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

When Expansive Fairways Require Accurate Shots

The glossy handbill suggested, "Course requires accurate shots on expansive fairways." If the fairways were extravagant in scale, why was accuracy necessary? "That's some writer's hooey," I declared to Marty. We had just settled into our hotel room, and were looking forward to our scheduled golf game at the resort's championship golf course.

The next day, the golf Marshall teamed us up with Sharon and Jim. Sharon and Jim had real golf shoes and Sharon wore a golfer's glove.

"We're not great at golf," I mentioned unnecessarily as they glanced at our non-golf attire.

"We do what we can," smiled Jim.

"I golf every Monday with the girls," stated Sharon.

As the game progressed down the expansive fairways lined with sand and water and forests, Sharon's mostly accurate shots had her on the green with minimum effort. The rest of us were forever raking sand traps and looking for lost balls in the woods and the water.

My ball kept splicing off to the left. Marty and Jim were hitting to the right. Several times the Marshall came by to nudge us along.

I asked Marty to show me how to stand as I lined up my shot. He adjusted my angle to the direction of my ball's potential projection. We both knew this wasn't the way regular golfers stand.

Despite all that, we rather enjoyed the game. Sharon and Jim turned out to be easy going. The weather proved ideal. We saw a wild turkey. None of us took the Marshall seriously. And, we found a few balls to help make up for the lost ones.

The next day Marty and I signed up for a free golf clinic. The golf pro gave me a new back swing, showed me a proper follow through, and corrected my grip. No wonder I had been hitting left.

Bring on the game. I'm ready now.

"But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does." James 1:25

Could sound like a lot of hooey...but once you're on the course you realize how true it is.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Worthwhile Writer's Conference

Write! Canada is happening June 18-20. Write! Canada is a writer's conference for writer's who are Christian. Over the past quarter century this annual writer's conference has been my refreshment stand on the road to publication. If you are a writer, consider signing up for the 25th anniversary Write! Canada conference. Read how Write! Canada helped me.

Who Makes the Sun Rise?

“It's the chance of a lifetime!” I exclaimed as our two families sat around the campfire at Bruce Peninsula National Park one summer evening.

“It happens every day,” my husband Marty flatly pointed out.

But our enthusiasm did not falter. My friend Ellie and I were going to get up in the morning at whatever time was necessary to hike over to the bay to see the sunrise. It might happen every day, but I for one had never seen the sun rise over the water.

We laid our plans, ignoring our scoffing spouses who would be left behind. Someone had to stay with the kids anyway.

“The time the sun comes up is in the newspaper,” I said.

“Sorry, I used it to start this fire,” said Marty.

We decided to ask the park staff. “They should know what time the sun rises; it's part of park life,” Ellie reasoned.

The first ranger we asked said 5:20. His colleague thought 5:35, “...but, we're only on night shift, we don't know much about the sun.”

Ellie and I calculated a 45-minute hike out to Georgian Bay from our campsite. Considering the possibility of a 5:20 sunrise, we set the travelling alarm clock at 4:35. Full of enthusiasm, I volunteered to sleep with the clock and be responsible for waking Ellie and her 12-year-old son Henry who also wanted to come.

As a precaution, before settling down that night I asked Marty to please push me out of the tent in the morning. I knew my gung-ho evening self was no match for my groggy morning self.

At exactly 4:35 the alarm startled me from a dream. In the dream I had awakened to an alarm in the dead of night and had labouriously dressed item by item with all the frustrations of misplaced and ill-fitting garments inherent in dreams. I was exhausted from dressing and hadn't even dressed yet.

Ellie and Henry were just coming out of their tent as I approached. We set off on the trail behind the campsites along the shore of an inland lake. There was thick mist hanging over the water. We wondered if maybe it was too foggy to see the sunrise.

Tripping and stumbling over sticks and stones, we followed the trail away from the lake and through the woods to a clearing where it was light. My watch said 5:20. "Maybe the sun's up already. Maybe we missed it."

We ran across the clearing through a narrow stand of trees and came out onto the rocky shore of the bay. The sun was nowhere. The water was completely calm. There was a greyness over everything. The air was quietly lovely.

We sat on the rocks and waited...until 6 o'clock. "Maybe there won't be a sunrise today," I speculated. At 6:10 Ellie dug into her backpack for some juice.

Just then it happened. The sun began to rise. A sliver of pink peeked up onto the water's edge. Rather quickly the entire pink sun floated up above the water. Then the pink colour gave way to a red glow. The mist over the water dissipated as the sun’s glow changed again from red to yellow and a glittering reflection reached towards us across the water.

“Awesome,” sighed Henry.

I wonder how many atheists are still atheists after watching a sunrise?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

At the Edge of a Cliff

View at Dundas Peak, looking west away from Hamilton.

Mothers (or at least this mother) should not be allowed to visit Dundas Peak with the family.

Dundas Peak is a wondrous, beauteous spot: one which overlooks the entire town of Dundas, the City of Hamilton and the waters beyond. I spend my time there with a knotted stomach, eyes fixed on the edge of the cliff. The visit becomes especially painful when a child of mine (any age, be it 5 or 25) stands within three feet of the drop.

"Don't stand there! Be careful! Watch out, you are too close to the edge!"

Frankly, my chatter disturbs the peace. Do other mothers act this way?

Eagles have been known to toss their children out of a nest built high on a cliff. Of course, their children have wings. Maybe I should invest in parachutes or just maybe I should stop being so protective, and simply trust my children to be careful. I want them to take in the scenery, look at the horizon, dream big, trust God and accomplish much.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Don't Squash the Gift of Encouragement

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's encouraging, let him encourage." Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)

Marty had the squash court booked and was looking forward to a workout when at the last minute his opponent cancelled. Desperate to play, he asked me. For the love of him, I said, “Yes.” That's basically how inexperienced, uncoordinated I got into a squash court with a seasoned tournament player.

On the court which looks to me like a prison cell with a high ceiling and no furniture, Marty pointed out the red boundary lines running along the walls and the black boundary lines on the parquet floor.

He produced a little black ball with a yellow dot on it and explained, “The rules are simple. You stand in your square and serve off the front wall to my square. After that you may hit the ball from and to anywhere but the ball must hit the front wall between the red lines before it hits the floor. I'll warm up the ball.”

He whacked the ball at the front wall about 20 times. Wham, thwack, thwack, thwush, thwack, thwush. When he was done, the ball was definitely warm. We began to play.

Every time Marty served, my racquet swooshed the air, scraped the wall, or hit the floor but rarely touched the ball. I never seemed to know where the ball was heading until it was too late. When I served, I was lucky if the ball made it to the front wall and if it did get to Marty's square, he returned it easily to some place out of my reach.

“You're swinging wrong.” Marty shook his head. I could feel his disgust growing. “Move into the swing.”

I warned him to be nice. “Pretend I'm not your wife. Pretend you are young and single and you just met beautiful gorgeous me.” He was nicer after that.

Later in the hour when my arm was so tired it felt as if it might fall off, Marty checked the clock. “Time's almost up. We must be having fun,” he noted unenthusiastically.

He wondered if I would let him hit the ball around by himself for those last few minutes. “I want at least to work up a sweat,” he pleaded. I stood in the corner dejected. Thwack, thwush, thwack, thwush...the ball was warm again.

I slouched off to the women's dressing room where I met a couple of college students who had been using another court. “How did it go?” they asked.

“I'm probably the worst player, ever.”

“You'll get better.”

I told them exactly how awful I was.

“What colour was the dot on your ball?”


They showed me a blue-dot ball. “It's for beginners. There's more bounce; it's easier to hit.”

I tried hitting it off the dressing room wall. “You're right. It is easier.”

They told me about how they got started and progressed over the weeks and how I would be seeing improvement in each consecutive game.

After a shower I met Marty in the hall. I felt unbelievably encouraged. I told him about the college kids and the blue dot ball.

He apologized. He had forgotten about beginner balls and how he himself had worked up to the yellow dot from a red.

For a week my arm ached from fingertips to shoulder. Would I ever return to the squash court? Thanks to the encouragement from those college students, I just might–without Marty of course. I love him more than that.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Who Belongs to This Parking Ticket?

When I visited Mrs. Z. in the hospital on Saturday afternoon I purposefully parked in a spot designated as one-hour parking—that way I would have a reason to leave. With Mrs. Irene Z., I usually need a concrete reason to leave. The need to make supper for the family is a concrete reason, but probably won’t be as efficient as the need not to pay a ticket, I reason.

I decide to pull up onto the gravelly spot off the road beside the one-hour parking sign and next to another vehicle.

I find Mrs. Z. sitting in her chair beside her bed. She is surprised to see me. I had been rather vague on the phone when she asked if I could come to see her on the week-end, “possibly Saturday afternoon, or maybe Sunday afternoon.”

She wants me to help her walk up and down the corridors. On the weekend there isn’t a therapist available to do this. Mr. Irene Z. knows her body (which she tells everyone is 96 years old) must be exercised. We know her body is actually 97 because Nora has seen the official paper. Nora and I know a lot about Mrs. Z. Basically we know she is old, determined, bossy and stingy. Nora (who does much more for her than I do) charges her for everything—parking, mileage, time. Nora reasons this keeps the demands in check. I don’t charge. I reason this keeps me unbeholden.

Mrs. Z. knows a lot about her body. She knows she has to eat the four lemons she asked me to bring. She also knows how circulation works. She knows she has to move her legs up and down (as if she is pedaling a tricycle), before she can attempt to stand up to use the wheeled walker. She knows a ten-minute rest between two 20-minute walks is ideal—that’s what the doctor told her. She knows I have to grip onto her nightgown and the waistband of her pants in the small of her back as she walks: “No, not there, here you have to grab the”

She knows she has to concentrate on standing straight as she walks. She also knows I must remind her of this as we hustle up and down the corridors at an even clip, “Tell me, bellybutton in.”

One of Mrs. Z.’s roommates observes from her wheelchair in the corridor, “She walks very well. Oh, she is doing so well.”

“One more round, Irene, then I have to go, or I might get a parking ticket,” I tell Mrs. Z.

Once back in the chair, she isn’t quite ready to let me go. I sit on the foot of the bed opposite her chair. She has to tell me something important. She has to tell me that she might be moving to a new location soon, first a temporary location and then a permanent place.

The roommate, who has wheeled herself back into the room, interrupts, “She is talking about going to a retirement home.”

“You be quiet,” Mrs. Z. snaps sharply. “I have to think. This is important to say.”

I find out the roommate’s name is Nan.

Irene says she wants to go to a place close to Nora’s house on Rice Avenue.

“I used to live on Rice Avenue,” says Nan.

“Did you?” I ask.

“Yes, right on the corner by the hospital…”

Irene grabs my knee, “Don’t talk to her.”

“You don’t talk. I have company now,” she shoots at Nan.

Turns out, Nan wouldn’t tell Mrs. Z. what time it was last evening when she asked while Nan had visitors. Also Nan had told Irene to be quiet at bedtime, “You sometimes keep talking too long,” explains Nan.

I glance at my watch, “I have to go. I might get a parking ticket.”

Mrs. Z. grabs my knee again. She spends the next several minutes figuring out where I’ll be when, where she’ll be when, and how she is going to tell me where she is when she is there.

“I really have to go now, Irene.” I say as I stand to leave. “Just phone me.”

“Please, just pray for me, before you go,” she pleads looking at me with worried eyes.

I always melt when she gets to this part. She knows her body needs God.

I place my hand on her shoulder, “Lord, I pray that you will give Irene peace.”

“And, for my son,” she interjects.

“Lord I pray you will be with Irene’s son and give him motivation.” I also pray for the doctors and the move and I tack on a line about getting along with roommates.

“Now I really have to go. My hour is up,” I announce.

“Will you get a parking ticket?”

“If I do I’ll give it to you,” I joke.

As I approach my van, I immediately notice what I had been hoping not to see: the white piece of paper flapping under my wiper. I wasn’t that late. I check the charge…$26 for parking on a Boulevard.