As I sit at the dining room table of my humble, temporary abode, and gaze out the north windows over the deck, and gaze across the two-mile wide marsh of the Wolf River, two sleek, white egrets sail along over the top of the reeds, and disappear down onto the river.
I have had the privilege of this beautiful scenic view since last Wednesday, when I drove Master Naturalist Buddy John to the airport in Gulfport, so he could fly to North Dakota with his brother, to visit an old friend and spend a week deer hunting in now what is a land of snow and cold.
John asked me to house sit while he was gone, and take care of his two ‘kids’, Emily, the Tree-Climbing Wonder Dog, and Haylie, the black tailless, Manx cat, who basically, I only see, when she is hungry and comes out to eat. So, here I am, enjoying the view, with Emily asleep at my feet on the rug.
Friday, at my weekday work, was one of the most memorable and special days in the nearly two years that I have been here on the Gulf Coast.
During the past year, whenever I would be working at my weekday job, I normally see and have an opportunity to interact with a number of the clients on the campus where I work, including a man who I will call “Fred.”
Whenever I do run into Fred, he always says to me, “New TV?” Quite a while ago, Fred’s personal TV in his room quit working, and since then, he would ask any of the maintenance men in the department I work in, whenever he would see any of us, in his own way, “New TV?” asking if he would be getting a new television to replace the broken one on his wall in his cottage room.
We would always answer back, “No, not today, Fred.” To which he would ask, “Tomorrow?” several times. When we would say back, “No, Fred, not tomorrow.”
He would then ask, “Next week?” And we would reply, “I don’t know, Fred.”
And by that time, Fred would continue on his way to his class in the Education Building.
These conversations would take place every workday, whenever we were close enough to say ‘Hello’ to Fred.
Well, last week, some extra money became available in Fred’s discretionary spending account, and a new, small flat screen, HD television was ordered for Fred.
When it came in, one of my co-workers, David, was assigned the Work Order to build a protective wood mounting enclosure and mount the new TV on the wall above Fred’s bed. David excels at that type of construction and was tickled that he would be doing this for Fred.
Yesterday afternoon, after David has finished building, sanding and painting the enclosure, he and I went over to Fred’s cottage to install the new color TV.
When we arrived at his cottage, we had one of the Direct Care Workers take Fred to a room in the other end of the cottage and watch TV there, and then we went back out to our trucks to get the TV, the enclosure and our tools to do the installation.
After about a half an hour, we had finished the installation on the wall, and tuned in the available analog and digital channels. The color on the set was gorgeous. We brought up the Cartoon Channel, Fred’s favorite, turned up the volume a little, and then David went down the hall to talk with Fred.
Of course, when David walked into the room where Fred was sitting, the first thing Fred said when he saw David, was, “New TV?” …meaning: “Can I get a new TV?”
I think David said, “I don’t know, Fred, why don’t you come and take a walk with me?”
Myself, Raymon, our supervisor, and two or three other staff members were down in Fred’s room, waiting in the opposite corner of the room from his TV, when they walked into the room.
Fred heard the noise from the TV over by his window and walked over towards it.
When we got over there, he turned to his right and saw the new TV on the wall, and literally exploded with joy, jumping up and down, exclaiming: “NEW TV! NEW TV! NEW TV!”
With tears sliding down his cheeks, he hurried from the room, all the while exclaiming, “NEW TV! NEW TV NEW TV,” all the way down the hall into the other wing, to tell all of his cottage mates that he had a new TV, and then back again, bringing several of them with him, to show them his new TV.
Those of us standing there, observing his excitement, I believe had a tear or two, also, seeing how very happy he was. Now Fred could watch his favorite cartoon, ‘Popeye,’ on his own TV again.
It will be interesting to see what Fred says tomorrow at work, when I run into him when he is on the way to class, to see what he says, now that he has a “New TV.”
What a neat, special, human experience to have been privileged to be a little part of.
I am so happy for Fred.