In a previous posting I discussed the fact that I am unable to tune out conversations between others when I am within hearing distance, and I cited several examples of benefits gained because of my affliction—making new friends, learning things I didn’t know and passing time more pleasantly while in hospital waiting rooms. I’m using this posting to explain how I acquired a hand-knitted skull cap, a cap knitted exclusively for ladies that have lost their hair because of chemotherapy—oh, and at this juncture I must make it clear that I, the appointed and anointed King of Texas, am male through and through, neither female nor unisex—I’m not a woman, lady or otherwise, even if I am prone to don a bright red knitted cap occasionally.
Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas provides chemotherapy treatments for active duty and retired military people and family members. On a recent memorable morning I left the patient waiting area, took an elevator down six floors to the basement, negotiated seemingly endless winding corridors and finally arrived at the hospital cafeteria for breakfast. The cuisine there is only so-so in quality and presentation but the prices are—well, priceless, and they almost—not quite but almost—compensate for the lack of taste in the food. If you’re ever there for a meal, please don’t mention that I panned their kitchen or I may be banned from the facility.
In the hallway leading to the patient waiting area in the chemotherapy unit, there is a nice exhibition of knitted skull caps hanging on the wall. Dozens of beautiful caps of every design and color surround a mirror that interested ladies can use to see how the selected cap will look. The caps are made by a local ladies’ knitting club and are offered free to chemotherapy patients. I must hasten to say at the outset of this posting that I have the utmost respect for the group—I love ’em all!
When I returned from breakfast several women—knitters, if you will—were gathered at the wall display, rearranging the caps and adding new ones to the exhibition. As I neared the group I heard them discussing a planned flight to Las Vegas. I stopped and lounged against the opposite wall to watch them working on the display, and thus was privy to their conversation. I did not linger there with the intent to listen to their conversation, but because of my inability to tune out the speech of others I couldn’t help hearing them talking—it’s in my nature! For a detailed explanation of my affliction, click here to read, “It’s in my nature,” the forerunner to this posting.
One of the ladies said that she detested going through the inspection line in airport terminals. She felt that the workers were rude and made unreasonable demands such as ordering passengers to remove their shoes for inspection. She said that she was wearing sandals, flats I believe was the term she used, and she had to remove them and hand them over for inspection.
And in regard to that requirement, I can’t help but speculate that a goodly number of those employed at airport check-in lines are afflicted with foot or shoe fetishes, perhaps a combination of both. It could well be that the handling of women’s footwear and the sniff test the workers perform is not an attempt to detect the odor of explosives—it may be nothing more than the harmless actions of freaks seeking relief from the ho-hum mundane pressure of the job through personal satisfaction—so to speak.
When the speaker paused for breath I stepped forward and asked her if she planned to take her knitting on the flight, and she replied in the affirmative. I told her that it would not be allowed, that they would confiscate the items and hold them to be picked up on her return. She said, “Oh, I didn’t think about the needles—I suppose they could be used as weapons, maybe by threatening to stick a needle in a person’s eye.” I told her that was not the reason and she said, “Well, then why would they confiscate them?”
I told her—are y’all ready for this?
I told her they would not allow her to board the plane with her knitting paraphernalia because they feared that she might knit an Afghan. The group erupted in laughter and offered me one of the caps. I resisted but they insisted, and I am now the proud owner of a bright red cap with a tassel on the top—it fits well and I look great wearing it, and observers probably think that I am en route to the slopes at Aspen, or Vail perhaps.
I know, I know—it’s a dumb hokey joke with racial overtones, politically incorrect and certainly not original with me, but it served its purpose. The lady bemoaning the requirement to remove her shoes forgot all about the inconvenience and with a beautiful smile thanked me for making her day. As they made their rounds through the treatment rooms offering caps to the patients, they told the joke several times for the benefit of the patients, and each time laughter resounded in the rooms and into the hallway. My inadvertent eves-dropping on their conversation thus spread and helped brighten the day for more people, and as Martha Stewart would undoubtedly say, “That’s a good thing!”
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
July 1, 2010 at 5:46 pm
First off – were you visiting a loved one, friend or were you having chemo yourself? It’s a heck of a place to be for no cause and I’m sure you were there for a reason. I just don’t remember reading a post here that said anything about it. Anyway, if it’s you or someone you care about, I hope you/they get better soon and respond to treatment.
I’m very very anti-racist, anti this and anti that (too many things to list, really!), but politically incorrect or not, this made me laugh! Though I will admit to getting a sillier image in my mind of a knitted Afghan Hound! (Possibly because my sister had some for years. )
Good that it made the women laugh, too. People need to laugh – it’s good medicine.
July 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm
Hi, Val—no, I wasn’t having chemo—it was, and is, a loved one that takes the treatments. To date, those treatments have spanned almost eleven years since the initial diagnosis.
I’m very grateful for your lovely and heartfelt expression of hope. I’ll pass it on to the loved one.
For a goodly number of years I have served as chauffeur on trips to and from medical appointments for a beautiful lady, including appointments for chemotherapy treatments, and I also serve as her chauffeur on shopping trips, visits and vacations. I am her shadow—where she goes I go, often on very short notice.
I also do much—not all, but much—of her housework including cleaning the kitchen (she does the cooking), running the dishwasher, loading the washing machine and the dryer, folding clothes and making beds, mopping and vacuuming, and I do all her yard work including mowing, edging, trimming, planting and watering flower beds and lawns. I also repair and/or replace household items as required, and plaster, paint and rearange furniture as directed.
It’s a full-time job for me and I love it—I am graciously compensated for my efforts, but I am not paid in coin of the realm—the lady loves me and lets me sleep with her.
Oh, by the by, that’s her avatar in the photo with mine—that beautiful lady has been my wife for almost 58 years.
July 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm
I loved this story, Dad. Pretty sure you need to add the photo of you wearing the hat….it would make it all the more authentic.
July 3, 2010 at 4:46 am
Hi, Kelley—I have discussed sharing a photo of me wearing the cap with your mother and as you might expect, she thinks it’s a great idea, and also as you might expect, I don’t. However, I will consider it when and if I can find it. Janie says, “Oh, yes, it’s here—somewhere.”
July 2, 2010 at 4:08 am
I’m so sorry she’s been ill for such a long time. that’s a terrible thing for her to have to cope with – and you and your children too, though obviously in a different way. She’s a very lucky woman to have you, I’m sure, you sound a sweetie! I have a sweetie of my own who does a lot for me as well (while I don’t have cancer, I have always had poor health, since childhood, and don’t have the same energy levels as other people) and your situations is very familiar to me – he does a huge amount for me, too.
And I agree with Kelly – a photo of you in the hat, please!