A man named Ed comes to my clinic every second Wednesday. He arrives 40 minutes before my afternoon hours begin. When I ask him why he arrives so early, he says he can’t keep himself away from me. Ed is 80 years old.
He begins each appointment by paying me, in case he forgets on the way out. Then he drops a bag on the counter, saying, you can eat these or throw them out, whatever you like. There is always an apple in the bag. The other contents vary. This week he brought a Kitkat bar and two doughnuts he’d made the night before. He’d prefer a fatter version of me.
After taking care of Ed’s remarkably healthy back, we come back to my front desk, at which point he pulls out his harmonica. He plays my favourite (You Are My Sunshine) and then whichever tune he’s been working on all week. He’s happiest if there are now people waiting for their own appointments. He’s best with a sizable audience.
I bought a harmonica two years ago, promising Ed I’d learn to play so that we could do Christmas carols together. It’s harder than it looks. I gave my harmonica to Ed last Christmas.
I told Ed last week that I’m closing my clinic soon. He didn’t say much. Well. I see. I see. When he played You Are My Sunshine he stared at me for all he was worth through his thick glasses. He said, I’ll see you in two weeks, and he left.
I’m telling you this for two reasons.
First, I want to share Ed with you before I leave my clinic. If you see him, ask him to play for you. He’ll be looking for a new venue.
Second, it’s tempting to shut my heart down, just slightly, while telling people I’m leaving. I love them, and I don’t love being sad, but I suspect it’s truer and healthier to let goodbyes stare us in the face and heart.
Thanks to Ed for teaching me that, and thanks to you for the conversation,