b>Tony’s a regular at the clinic.
He drives about 30 minutes from his home and business in the next state, 3 or 4 times a month. He owns and runs a busy sub shop.
Tony will ordinarily bust in the front door, chatting up his right-hand man Stu. Once in a while he’ll have his pugnacious wife Lorna by his side – a ‘hard legs’ as my mother-in-law would say. That is, she’s not someone you’d want owning a shit-list with your name on.
Last Monday both men walked in unusually subdued during an afternoon shift. We learned Tony’s 25 year-old son died of an apparent seizure earlier that day. Tony was visibly shaken.
After he managed a choked-up description of the days unfolding to our punk,Tracy, he and Stu circled into the treatment room. They sat side-by-side as they do most visits. Both men alternately cried and rested quietly over an hour’s time before heading back toward home.
Tony came back in the following night. He had closed his shop early. Alongside him was a woman I’d not met before. He asked our front desk staff if they both could get treatments despite having just walked-in and a packed schedule. We say yes, of course.
They both pick chairs next to each other. It turns out this woman is Tony’s office manager. She’d been the person who found his son, Paul, the previous day in her apartment where he’d been staying. Paul had evidently been in ill-health, struggling with serious weight and neurological issues for most of his life, but had recently been making progress in better directions. His death came as a complete surprise to his dad, though not necessarily to all in his family. This I learned from Paul’s uncle, who also gets treated in the clinic. Along with his partner.
Tony was beside himself that night, rubbing his forehead for most of the time he spoke, relaying all the various burial plans he had to make over the next day. In addition, it seemed elder members of his family were upset as he and Lorna chose cremation, as opposed to a more conventional open-casket wake and funeral. His mother threatened to not attend the services. Tony also needed to get the obituary together… and keep an eye on Lorna… and …“I still can’t believe what’s happened…”.
Within a few minutes he eased back and settled into a recliner in the north corner of a room full of people. He rested well during his treatment that night as did Crissy his office manager, who slept almost three hours during her maiden acupuncture treatment.
Tony opened his eyes and purposefully left his chair once needles were taken back, and tiptoed around among the fellowship. He found a place in the front room under a light in a big armchair. I noticed he began to write in a yellow notebook…he later told me during the hour he spent there, he began and finished his son’s obituary.
Two days later Lorna and Crissy came in together for a scheduled visit mid-day. Lorna and I said little to one another. She got settled into her treatment quickly. Crissy let me know she’d been sleeping ‘so much better’ and had lost the headache and sore neck she’d struggled with since discovering Paul at home. She mentioned a friend was coming in the following week with her for ‘stress and some other stuff’. I later met her friend.
Lorna appeared to rest steadily that day at clinic among many in the room, with her son’s funeral to follow the next morning. Paul’s uncle Tim was in a few days later for his bi-weekly ‘tune-up’. He relayed a particular part of the funeral service performed by a group of young singers – a group whom Paul had recently joined. He described the members standing shoulder-to-shoulder opposite the gathering of friends and family that did not include Tony’s mother. The urn that contained Paul’s ashes sat in between. Lorna had confided to Tim that she’d quietly wept for most of her acupuncture treatment the day before, and was ‘equally horrified and relieved’ at this emotional turn of events. They both agreed however, that it was probably for the best.
“You see my sister, she doesn’t cry. I’ve never seen her cry…she’s very stoic. ”, he explained, and then stopped for a long moment. ‘She and Tony made it through ok today’. He nodded and moved toward his favorite narrow, tan recliner.