Coming home from shopping the other day, a bit cranky from the heat and humidity that make me feel soggy all over, I saw something that absolutely made me smile. At the end of one row of the store parking lot was a truck. Leaning on this truck, in 80 plus temps, stood a male figure, not young but not necessarily as old as I am, dressed in khaki slacks and vest. In one hand he held a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The other hand periodically shaded his eyes as he scanned the parking lot. I was so tempted to stay and see the result of his vigil…..I truly hope the object of his efforts showed up and thanked him properly.
Of course, this got me thinking of what we do with love, for love, and because of love. The old “Love makes the world go ‘round” quip is something not said too often these days….lots of other, darker things can get in the way: poverty, war, general distrust of anyone we may perceive as ‘different’ all seem so much more apparent as we move through our days. And then we see a baby’s smile, hear a joyful laugh, watch two people begin a new life together, and love shows up in flowers and sunshine. It doesn’t take much to brighten someone’s day. A simple good morning or hello might startle them, but I’d wager they just might be tempted to say those same words themselves. Smiles? Even easier. No words needed.
Not everyone will stand near his truck with a bouquet for someone special, but we do other things just as meaningful. Bake a cake for a friend, offer a ride, offer your time….be a friend. Celebrate good things and share the bad things. Friendship is Love’s true companion.
I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. I’m not suggesting anything most of you don’t already do. We humans have a great capacity for many things, including love. But this little incident in the parking lot made me realize we don’t always take the time to see the love around us. We take it for granted or are so focused on other things that we simply miss the joys (and sometimes sorrows) that help love make the world turn a little more in tune.
What do we do because of love? Well Mae McEwan can give you all the examples you need. She gave up quite a bit to follow her brother Drummond from place to place, and sometimes she throws her hands in the air in frustration. But she loves her brother as only a sister can and will do whatever she can to protect him. Whether it’s from others or from himself.
It was another hour or so before Ray left the loft, with my warning not to do anything before letting Sylvain, and therefore me, know what he’d discovered. The only one who was happy with that order was me. Ray evidently was a take charge guy, and Sylvain already had an idea of what I was planning to do.
“You’re just asking for trouble, Mae. For both of us.”
“No one said you had to help. I thank you for getting the information I need but you can walk out that door and I will not begrudge you your choice. Drummond is my brother and my responsibility.” I knew it would be harder to do without Sylvain, but I couldn’t wait while he dithered over legalities and such. “Would you like more Earl Grey?”
“I’d like a stiff drink,” Sylvain said. “But what I want is you to be safe. Both of you. And it seems you’re set on muddying the Mississippi one more time before you journey North, so I’ll help. But we have to have a plan.”
“Like the last time?” Our attempts to rescue Celine and her new husband had met more than a few roadblocks. Still, luck and love had prevailed and as far as I knew so had the law. This time the law would have nothing to do with it.
“I’ll concede to your wisdom on that adventure, but I’m serious, Mae. We knew what we were …”
“What I was you mean.”
“What you were walking into last time. We’re blind on just where Begonia is and who is actually running the place. How do you plan around that?”
“Sit down,” I said. “Here’s your tea. Now listen while I give you my idea. It will work.” I poured me own cuppa and sat across from him. “And mostly legal.” Sylvain flinched at that but kept his mouth closed. “I’m a nurse, registered and all.”
“In Scotland maybe.”
“In Scotland true. But I’m a nurse nevertheless and I can pass muster. I certainly can do a better job than that nitwit of a woman in the clinic. What I need is a certification card. Or paper to frame. Something that says I’m allowed to treat patients in the state of Louisiana.”
“Of course, Mae. No problem. I have one in my pocket.”
“Sarcasm does not become you, sir. It would help if I had a background in herbal and holistic treatments.”
“And you think I can produce these documents at the drop of my hat?”
“I think you know someone who can produce those documents, and an ID stating my name is Mae Fitzgerald. I’m sorry but I need an address for them to check as well.”
“Not the loft. That’s non-negotiable.”
“And references. Or not. Those running this place might not want an upstanding member of the nursing community to tumble to their practices.”
“We don’t know Begonia isn’t a legitimate concern, Mae. Holistic centers exist in quite a few places. Alternative medicine isn’t a scam.” Sylvain emptied his mug and stood up.
“I know it isn’t, but legitimate places don’t grab patients off the street.” I looked up at my friend’s serious expression. “I can do this myself, Sylvain. Drum and me have been in worse places in our travels.”
“You’ve never lost him before.”
“Then you need my help. And I will get what you need. But before you head into wherever that den of kidnappers is, we need to have some safeguards.”
“Get the papers first, please. Safeguards come later. And I promise I’ll listen,” I added at his quick frown.
Bless the saints and all the angels, whether Sylvain hustled because he wanted this over with or because he was as concerned about me brother as I was, he and Ray were back at the loft quicker than fish can swim the Dee with several boxes, a gadget to seal things in plastic, and some green lab jackets with my alias, M. Fitzgerald RN, embroidered on the pocket of each one.
“Still need to fit your feet, Miss Mae,” Ray said. “Nurses don’t go places in what you’ve got on.”
I looked at my leather loafers and sighed. “Size 9. But would you find something I can use after? Like those Doc Marten shoes or…?”
“I know what you mean,” Sylvain put in. “We’ll bring those and whatever else you need.”
“I need a hairpiece or something to cover me locks,” I said quickly. “Don’t want to dye ‘em but this firebrand hair of mine is a dead giveaway. Maybe a few streaks of grey? Drum would be the first to know me and that would give the game away.”
“You’ve done this before, Miss Mae?” Ray grinned as if he already knew the answer.
“When I’ve had cause,” I snapped back. “Mostly I just try to mind my and Drum’s business. Which is what I’m doing. And could ye bring me some cards that have me name and title? And a phone you can track in case…”
“Already done, Mae.” Sylvain reached into the largest box. He handed me a small container, some basic business cards and a battered iPhone. “Same number as the one in your jacket, GPS set up, only any calls to it end up monitored by Ray’s men. We’ll know where you are all the time.”
“And the wee container?”
“When you get in, see if you can place its contents in one of the offices.”
“So I’m going to bug Begonia?” I had to smile.
“Only if you can. Ray knows some folks who might have an interest in the dealings of that Holistic Healing clinic.”
“Drummond first,” I said. They nodded. “Now get yourselves out of here. And bring me that hairpiece first thing. Who knows what the fakers are doing to me brother.”
I locked up tight after they left. I had lots of thinking and memory searching to do as I revisited my training as a nurse back in the days before Drum started his wanderings. I grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil and started scribbling. Begonia might be the home of medical fakery, but it could be real. Either way, I needed to know my answers before they posed the questions.