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ralph robert moore


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ralph robert moore

Copyright © 2002 by Ralph Robert Moore.

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let's twist
november 2, 2002

Yesterday, Friday, Mary and I had lunch with my friend Dave, his wife Reid.

They're a great couple, a few years older than us. Mary had only met Dave once, briefly, and neither of us had ever met Reid, but it was one of those situations where the four of us clicked right away.

We met at their home in Oak Cliff, south of Dallas.

As I've written before, Oak Cliff is the nicest area in the metroplex. Much of it has been declared an historic district, so most of the homes and shops are from the nineteen-twenties or earlier. The streets are narrow, the stores two-storied. There's a real neighborhood feel. You can walk just about anywhere you need to go.

I got lost trying to find their home, naturally. Pulling over to the curb along West Jefferson, to ask different pedestrians, didn't help. Everyone was courtly in their desire to assist us, but no one had ever heard of Dave's street. Finally, I called Dave on our car phone. Dave's the nicest guy in the world, I really enjoy his company, but he's one of those people who can only give directions in terms of compass points. "Go three blocks north, turn east." "What does that mean? Do I continue on this road? Or make a u-turn?" "Well, you have to head north." I had no idea where north was. I'm thinking, do I have to find some trees, to see on which side the moss is growing? But we finally worked it out.

We ate at Gennie's Bishop Street Grill, one of dozens of family-owned restaurants in the area. At our request. Mary and I had seen several features about the restaurant on television, and Calvin Trilling had rolled his eyes back at how good the chicken-fried steak was. (For those of you who don't know, chicken-fried steak is a cube steak coated in batter, deep-fried, covered with pan gravy.) Gennie's is supposed to have the best chicken-fried steak on the planet. Mary's a big chicken-fried steak fan. I like them a lot, too.

Gennie's is a cafeteria. It's only open for lunch, and only on weekdays. You walk in off the street, grab a hard plastic brown tray, a knife, fork, spoon set wrapped in a paper napkin, and get in line, sliding your tray along the steel tubing counter that runs in front of large display cases, where the food sits in metal tubs, waiting for your pointing finger. The walls behind the people serving your pointed-at selections are filled with photographs of celebrities. I spotted George Jones, some TV actors, a few local politicians. "Keep serving it hot and spicy!", scrawled in black magic marker across a photograph of a smiling Gary Busey.

Every review I've read of Gennie's has raved about their peanut butter pie, so I asked for a slice (at Gennie's, you select your dessert first). I also got a ladle-full of greens, the server tilting the large silver spoon against the side of the metal tub to let much of the moisture drip out, and a scoop of a mayonnaise-bound cold salad of peas, chopped hard-boiled eggs and celery.

Although Gennie's is known to be busy, and we had arrived right at the rush of lunch hour, we were able to find a booth.

The chicken-fried steak was delicious, the gravy smothering it and the accompanying mashed potatoes full-bodied and surprisingly peppery. The greens were quite good, tangy and sour. The peanut butter pie, the first I had ever eaten, was light, creamy, wonderful. I tried a forkful of Mary's lemon meringue pie. It was great.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago Mary had an MRI of her brain as a follow-up to her post-stroke care.

We've received the analysis of the MRI. The analysis shows the original stroke in her brain. It also shows she's had no strokes since then, which is great news (stroke victims are most susceptible to a second stroke within the first few months following the initial stroke). The blocked artery in her brain which her neurologist believes caused her first stroke is still blocked, but he had expected that to be the case. The bill for the MRI, one hour, was five thousand, four hundred dollars.

(Mary's bills, for her stay in the hospital, her follow-up care by specialists, and her five days a week speech therapy for the first six months after her stroke, total over one hundred thousand dollars, a sum we have the resources to pay, but an amount that would have put a serious dent in our savings. Fortunately, after quite a few phone calls, Mary's insurance and my coverage have paid all but a couple thousand of that.)

I mentioned the amount to Dave and Reid.

Dave finished his beef tips, wiping his mouth. "The bill for my MRI after my kidney cancer was over ten thousand dollars."

I poured the rest of my Coke into my glass. "Did we ever think, in our twenties, that one day we'd be boasting about how expensive our medical treatment is?"

Lady's five kittens are three weeks old now. It is impossible to convey how cute they are.

Lady gave birth to them in the closet off our master bedroom, on the first floor, but then a week after their birth transported them upstairs, picking each wriggling kitten up by the scruff of its neck, trotting across the kitchen floor, dropping each kitchen several times, regrasping the back of the kitten's neck in her fangs. She could make it up about three carpeted steps going upstairs before again dropping.

We helped out, carrying two of the kittens in our palms, their blind heads questing left, right, their paws the size of fingernails.

Lady moved them to the worse place possible, behind a folded-up white wooden work bench in Mary's project room. After a couple of days there, she moved them again, to the closet in Mary's room. Where they are as of this writing.

All five can now see. Their eyes are incredibly tiny. They've started advancing out of the closet, when they're not suckling or curled up sleeping, into Mary's project room, falling over on their wobbly legs, tilting their heads way back, sitting on their haunches, to angle their eyes up, to look at us, trying to figure out who are these two massive shapes.

With their bobble heads and swaying bodies, every time we creak the closet door open to check on them, they look like they're doing the Twist.

Next Monday, Mary starts her outpatient speech therapy three days a week at a local hospital.

I had hoped she would start this week, but the delay was caused by my push to get her into a specific facility, known as being one of the best speech therapy programs in the nation. She's now been accepted into that program, the one therapists from other facilities go to, to learn the latest techniques in speech recovery.

Along with the work I'm doing with Mary at home, this new course of treatment should greatly speed her recovery. She's excited. So am I.

three-week old kitten

Sample kitten. At this point, each kitten is about as long as from my wrist to the end of my thumb.