Post Title: A Wintry Night Out with my White Cane
An Abrupt Leaving
My older brother popped into my place. “Ready to go?”
I looked up from my computer. “Go where?” Oh! His birthday celebration. I was taking Mike out to eat. “Yeah, Go ahead. I’ll be right down.”
Purse! Shoes. Where are they? Just use those black slippers. They look like shoes. No one will know.
A steel-gray sky and a blast of cold air greeted me as I climbed into the passenger’s side of the car. Typical January in Northwest Pennsylvania. I glanced in the back seat. Yes, my white cane stretched across the seat. I couldn’t bend this one so I kept it back there most days.
Outside the restaurant, I retrieved my cane, felt for my mask, and told Mike I would meet him inside.
I shuffled into the restaurant. My slippers made my pants hang down too far. Ohh, don’t trip on the hem.
Inside, the aroma of seared beef and other heavenly smells surrounded me. We had almost no wait before an attendant guided us to our table. She took Mike, I should say. I couldn’t see where they went. The interior, like most fine dining spots, was dark. I waited for a few seconds. I guess someone would realize I had not followed them and return for me. No use getting anxious about it.
To my surprise, a server found me first. “Here, take my arm, I’ll show you where they went.”
He said it so naturally, I didn’t feel the least bit embarrassed or put out that the attendant didn’t notice I was not following them. I smiled at the waiter, and took his arm.
It takes real observation to step in without hesitation as he did, to lend an arm. I liked that about him. It turned out he was OUR server.
We both ordered steak, Mike T-bone, and me Sirloin, grilled well-done. I preferred it medium but how could I check it to see if it was properly cooked in the dim light?
A basket of fresh rolls and whipped butter sat between us. I wolfed down the first roll. And another. Scrumptious.
When the waiter brought our steak, he waited for us to cut into them. “Perfect,” I said. The truth: I couldn’t see a thing but I guessed it was fine. “Can you bring me steak sauce?”
Mike finished his salad and began to eat his fries and steak. He looked over at me. “What are you waiting for?”
“The steak sauce.”
“It’s already there. Right by your plate.”
“Oh.” I laughed to cover my confusion. I had not seen the waiter bring it at all.
ROLL With the Rolls
When the waiter returned, I asked for more steak sauce, sour cream and another roll. I usually don’t eat this much but I had waited all day for that meal and boy, did this food taste good!
This time I saw the server deliver the extra condiments. But I was so busy cutting steak and my baked potato, I didn’t notice the missing roll.
I checked the basket where our one remaining roll was. “I think we should ask for another roll. He must have forgotten it.”
“Yeah, let’s give one to Michele.” Michele was Mike’s girlfriend who had just been transferred to a nearby nursing home after surgery.
When the waiter brought the bill, I reminded him of the extra roll.
“Yeah, I can bring you another,” he said, then left.
I reached into my wallet to pay since it was my treat.
Mike drank the last of his sweet tea. “Amy he already brought it.”
He pointed to a spot on the other side of me. “That.” On the other side of me was a new basket of FIVE rolls.
“Where did that come from?” I never saw the server bring the basket. He must have given the rolls to Mike, who set it down. I made a face. “Ah, sorry.”
The waiter returned, this time with another FIVE rolls.
I giggled. “Oh, dear. Sorry, I meant just ONE roll.”
I could hear the smile in the waiter’s voice, “On the house. It is the gentleman’s birthday.” From the playful tone of his voice, I could tell he knew all along I had not seen the basket he had brought earlier. Now I had ELEVEN rolls to take home.
I thought, well, just roll with it.
The Nursing Home
Being a new arrival at the nursing home, Michele was quarantined. We knew we couldn’t visit with her in person. We had to speak through a window.
While Mike parked the car, I rang the doorbell of the establishment. A nurse wearing a mask peeked out the door.
I told the nurse we had come to visit with Michele and I gave her the last name. “We b-brought a box of rolls and s-some snacks for her.” I had only worn a fall hoodie. My teeth chattered as I tried in vain to warm up in the frigid January air.
“I’ll give her the treats,” the nurse said kindly, “but you’ll have to speak through a window.”
“Yes, we know.” I thought the nurse would open the door and let me in. But she didn’t. “Brrrrr!” I said, shivering.
“It’s the eighth window.”
“Eighth window?” I asked, not understanding. “Ohhh. Outside?”
She nodded from her cocoon in the warm nursing home.
“I’ll have to wait for my brother. I can’t, no, I can’t, um, see the windows.”
The nurse suddenly noticed my cane.
My brother arrived and she repeated herself.
Mike moved onto the sidewalk and began counting.
I felt for the sidewalk and slowly followed, nearly tripping on the bottom of my pant legs. These pants! I should had them hemmed a long time ago. What a night to wear slippers. I had never worn them outdoors before. I sighed, sweeping my cane to feel for the hard surface of the sidewalk..
When we arrived to the eighth window, we couldn’t communicate. Michele was in bed, awake, but she wasn’t looking our way.
I was expecting something like in a bank where you spoke through plexi-glass and there was a speaker. I must watch too many movies. Here we were, out in the freezing cold, talking through a double paned glass.
“Call her.” Mike sounded frustrated.
I had the nursing home number but the clerk said she could not transfer it to her room. Luckily Mike had a good memory. I put her on speaker phone so he could hear the number.
I hung up and he told me the number again.
Michele answered the phone, and I jumped up and down, and waved happily at her. “Hi Michelle.”
She didn’t notice. Wasn’t even looking our way. “Tap on the window so she knows we’re here,” I directed.
“Just tell her,” Mike said, sounding like he wished he were anywhere but in front of her window on a freezing cold evening.
She looked at us briefly as we talked through the phone in front of the window to her room.
I would have never imagined this crazy set-up. Another Covid-19 experience.
A couple minutes later, we ended the phone call and our strange meet up.
Mike and I don’t do a good follow-the-leader at night, but I told myself to turn on my sonar hearing like a whale. I sure wished I could glide on my belly to the parking lot. So much easier. I tapped and slid my cane over the squares of sidewalk, calling out to my brother every couple feet to keep him in my radar. “I’m coming’” I shouted, “I’m on your tail.”
“Keep going,” he called. “A little to your right.” And a short while later “There’s the curb coming up.”
We finally made it to the car. “Heat,” I ordered, “birthday boy, I want heat.”
The Best Birthday Gift
Once home and in my kitchen, I leaned my white cane against the wall. It had gotten me through another adventure.
After washing my hands, I unpacked the box of rolls. “Ah, that smells sooo good.”
Mike came to my place. “Ya’ got anymore of those rolls?”
We each took one. I pulled mine apart. Soft and springy, I slathered whipped butter on one side and bit into it. It tasted slightly yeasty and had a hint of honey. I handed the butter knife to Mike. He cut his open and added butter to it.
At that moment, I believe as we both savored those to-die-for dinner rolls, the waiter had delivered the most memorable present of all.
Share an unexpected gift you received at a birthday, one you gave to a friend or family member, or simply a fond birthday memory. (PG rated, of course!)
You have just read “A Wintry Night Out with my White Cane,” by Amy L. Bovaird © January 19, 2021. All Rights Reserved.