Jeff and I pulled into the parking lot and parked next to the wrought-iron fence and waited. All of a sudden, the door opened. Finally, we were going to be helped. If you think hamburgers, fries, and chocolate milkshakes were being delivered, you would be mistaken. Coming out of the door was a young woman wearing a blue smock, matching rubber gloves and a fashionable white face mask. Our dental hygienist. This was curb-side service taken to an extreme. You see, Jeff’s 96 year old Dad had been with us for three weeks, while his brother and wife, with whom Dad lives, were in Arizona celebrating their son’s 50 birthday. A few days before, Dad started to complain about his gums being sore. We removed his dentures and examined his lower gum – they were a bit red and a little swollen. We didn’t want to take a chance of an infection so we called our dentist. Because of the COVID-19 fear, their mode of operation had drastically changed and both Dr. Randy and his son, Dr. Philip were only seeing emergency patients and swollen gums didn’t really qualify as an ordinary emergency. But then again, the Eckmans aren’t your ordinary, run of the mill dentists. They are exceptional people and excellent dentists – probably why we’ve been patients for over 30 years. On the phone, Dr. Philip thought for a minute and said, “Bring him in around 1:30 and park outside the front door. I’ll come out to the car and check him…and he and his hygienist did just that. Suited up in protective gear, they shuttled between the car and their lab checking and fixing his denture that turned out to be the cause of Dad’s distress. After giving him instructions, a sample tube of denture cream and thanking him for his service, you see, Dad’s a WWII vet, we pulled out of the parking lot while they went back into the office, disinfecting as they walked.
‘Thank you for your service’ is a common phrase spoken to servicemen and women you meet in the airport, railway station, restaurants or just walking down the sidewalk. Perhaps what we need during these pressing times for all those ‘stepping up to the plate’ are ‘moments of gratitude’. Words, phrases and actions that let them know WE ARE GRATEFUL to you for putting me before you, and going to work every day while many of us sequester at home. ‘Thank you for your service’, thank you for being here’ or just plain THANKS may mean little to us but may be just the right words at the right time for these heroes of the hour.
Lastly, when 19 is a faded memory and we’re out and about again and we’re touching without fear and not glued to our TVs watching the stock market in panic mode, let’s remember the sacrifices of those who got us through. Let’s be kinder, more patient, tip better, smile more, complain less and every day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, be grateful for all we have. Gratitude changes everything.