Life's Rich Pageant
I have met professional athletes and multimillionaire CEOs who travel by helicopter, and some local and national political figures and TV newscasters. I have been face to face with plenty of death row and life inmates, battered spouses (men and women), people contemplating suicide and those who tried and failed. I've met every sort of drug addict and psycopath, hundreds of homeless scavengers, gypsies, and various people from probably most of the free countries in the world. And of course, plenty of plain folks like me. Everybody's got a story, and sometimes we both happen to have time to just talk a bit.
I am especially delighted to see someone really really old with all of their mental faculties intact, like the 95 year old woman I met tonight. Married 70 years, she was a former schoolteacher. She looked like she could still teach, if she wanted to.
I recently took care of a young man who was just released from prison at age 30. He has been incarcerated since he was 10 years old. Unfortunately, he was too intoxicated to tell me much, but I would have liked to hear some of his stories.
I recall one inmate I treated several years ago who was 40 years old, with terminal metastatic breast cancer. She kept saying that she wanted to get paroled so that she could see her children one last time before she died. I even wrote a letter to the governor, asking that she might be given leniency. A couple of months later I saw a story about her on a local TV newscast and learned that she was serving a life sentence for arson and attempted murder. She had set her house on fire with her husband and children sleeping inside.
ADDENDUM: During my arrangement of the post, I cut out (and forgot to paste) my mention of the camaraderie with the policemen, firefighters, and paramedics. They always have some of the best stories to tell, and most people rarely have the opportunity to interact with them outside of a professional capacity. Spending time with them when we have a few minutes to trade stories is one of my favorite pleasures. God bless all of them for what they do to keep us safe.