I’ve grown accustomed to walking into the VA hospital in Philadelphia and going with the flow. For instance, there was the time this past winter when we weren’t allowed to visit the 2nd floor because of a flu outbreak. There was another time when the physical therapy room was off limits because of a bug infestation. Maggie and I move from room to room and visit with whomever wants to visit with us.
The one thing that continues to throw me is when one of my regulars (someone that I see consistently every visit), passes away without warning. This week I learned it was sweet Stan.
Stan was soft spoken and he was confined to a wheelchair. I visited with on the 2nd floor right by the nurse’s station. He had himself parked there all afternoon because he liked to watch the comings and goings on the three hallways that converged there.
I came upon Stan many years ago. When I first approached him and asked if he wanted to pet Maggie he replied “I can’t move my arms.”
“Ok” I answered him and moved away. The following visit I noticed he watched me with his eyes. He paid attention to my interaction with his fellow residents. I decided to try again to engage him. This time I approached him and didn’t mention Maggie, but rather asked how his day was going. His response would be the same for the rest of our meetings,
“I’m alive, so I guess that’s a good thing.”
Our friendship began slowly at first and we learned to navigate through many topics. I found he was a news junkie and loved to talk politics. He told me his family visited every weekend. He was an optimist with kind blue eyes. He always thanked me for stopping by.
I was not prepared to hear of his passing.
Good-bye sweet Stan. I will think about you whenever I pass the nurse’s station.