As we walked into the Physical Therapy room at the VA hospital there were some of the regulars that we visit on a Tuesday afternoon. Maggie and I made our rounds spending a few minutes with each person. I kept feeling a funny sensation as I made my way through the room and as I finished I noticed a gentleman sitting by himself. I approached him and asked if he wanted to pet Maggie. He didn’t respond, just stared at me. I figured he didn’t hear me so I repeated myself. Again he didn’t respond just continued to stare. I assumed he didn’t want to pet Maggie so I told him to have a good day and steered Maggie away.
I was bothered by this encounter the rest of the visit. Why was he staring at me? Did he want to answer me but was unable to? (I have learned to never ask about people’s ailments as this is not my business) But in the back of my mind I felt he was trying to tell me something.
Maggie and I finished our visit and left.
The next time we went to the VA hospital I ran into this same individual. This time there was a birthday celebration for one of the residents. In a room full of people eating vanilla ice cream there were a lot of happy faces. I spotted him once again staring at me and Maggie, so we made our way over to him. I smiled and asked if he likes dogs. He took his time answering and when he finally did he said “no”. Caught off guard I said “Oh, I’m sorry I’ll take Maggie away, but before I could move he said “I LOVE dogs!” Again I was caught off guard, but this time in a good way. He sat with a straight face, but his eyes changed. I noticed a shine to them. I asked if he wanted to pet Maggie. There was a slight nod of his head. I gently lifted his hand and placed it on Maggie’s back. Again his eyes changed. Maggie understood to stand close to him. I asked if he was enjoying the party and the ice cream. He slowly told me chocolate was his favorite flavor ice cream but vanilla would do. I could tell we would become friends.
After finishing talking with everyone in the room I waved goodbye but made sure to lock eyes with this gentleman as I was leaving and say “See you soon.”