A Conversation In Mobile

I was sitting on a bench outside the Mobile airport in Alabama, purse in my lap, suitcase at my feet, enjoying the autumn sun on my face when a small woman with silvery hair and gently lined face asked if she could sit down.  I smiled a welcome, said hello and told her my name.

“I’m waiting for some friends who are driving down from Nashville to pick me up.  I thought it would save them some time if they didn’t have to go inside looking for me,” I said.

Earlier in day I had flown out of DFW International, one of the world’s biggest and busiest airports.  The much-smaller airport at Mobile was a pleasant change from the confusion of the DFW mega monster.

“I’m attending a songwriters festival with friends,” I told her.

“Well, yes, we are fans, but they are working journalists and I am too sometimes, so it is also business.”

She said she had just flown in from the midwest.  Her husband is in a nursing home there.  She used to go see him every day, but little by little his mind has slipped away and he no longer recognizes her.

“He is lost now, somewhere in a time before I was a part of his life,” she explained.

I could see sadness and pain in her gentle eyes.

“Even though he won’t know who I am I will go back from time to time to cut his hair.  Before I  retired I was a beautician.   His hair is no longer a concern to him of course, but it is the only thing I can still do for him,” she said quietly as she searched my eyes to see if I understood the importance of her need to be needed, even in a small way by the man who had shared her life.

She looked down at her hands and for awhile we sat without talking.  I could see arthritis had made subtle changes in those hands…hands that had washed, colored, curled, and combed countless heads of hair for many years.

After a few minutes she said she had gone to her high school reunion a couple of years ago and met an old friend and they had been corresponding.

“I am waiting for him to pick me up.  He is  driving in from Austin.  We will be staying in a condo near the beach.”

She told me this private information in the way people sometimes do with strangers.  Laying bare parts of their soul that is kept private from friends and family.

We talked on until an older model green sedan with Texas plates pulled to the curb and parked.

“There he is!” she said, her face brightening.

She stood and began gathering up her things as  a tall, thin, slightly stooped man unfolded himself from the  car and walked, with the tiniest bit of stiffness, toward us.  He nodded toward me as he took her suitcases.

“I hope you have a good weekend,” I said as they turned to walk to his car.

She turned away from smiling up at him for just a moment and looking back at me said,

“Oh, it isn’t for the weekend.  It’s for the rest of our lives.

Copper Sunset

Dorothy Hamm ©


4 Comments Add yours

  1. janice hamm says:

    great story

    1. missourichild says:

      Janice, thanks.

  2. Elizabeth Branch says:

    Dorothy, you still have it! Loved your article about A Conversation in Mobile! Lord knows for some reason, I wanted to laugh and I wanted to cry at the same time! Keep up the good work!

    1. missourichild says:

      Dear Liz,
      I miss your beautiful face and your beautiful heart sooooo much.
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      It is a true story that played out in only a few moments of time, but the brief exchange has stayed with me.

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