Saturday, January 17, 2009

Journal of a Living Lady #339
Nancy White Kelly

Martin Luther King’s birthday is my benchmark that January is half over. My friend Pat was born on MLK’s birthday. I never forget the date of her birthday though she has absolutely no genetic relationship to his family. Pat, who taught kindergarten when I was principal, wasn’t a racist at all. She loved all children, red, yellow, black or white. She never marched in Selma, Atlanta, or anywhere else on King’s behalf. That was not her style. Her only connection to Martin Luther King was that she was born the same day that he was in the old South. Because of that, Pat gets the day off work as a bonus. There is even a parade downtown.

Though Pat and I have seldom seen each other since our family moved to the mountains in the early 90’s, I think of her often. We became good friends. However, she never took the liberty of calling me Nancy. It was always Dr. Kelly, which is what the school staff called me.

Pat’s sense of humor is notorious. She knew how to short-sheet a bed at retreats. Once I paid her back by putting clear plastic wrap under the toilet seat lid. Probably Pat is still up to her pranks which included moving a large, black plastic rat to unusual places. If the event was formal or sacred, the better.

Pat could take a joke too. One April I gave her an urgent note to phone Ellie Font immediately. The number, of course, was to the Atlanta zoo.

Pat took a special interest in Bobby, the foster child we adopted at the age of ten. Charlie, our biological son, got plenty of attention as he was bright, played the piano extremely well for a child, and had an adult-sized vocabulary long before starting school. Bobby, who is the same age as Charlie, came to us at the age of five unable to count to five.

To Pat, he was the “under-child” and she made it her goal to make him feel special. One year she planned a surprise birthday party just for him even though she had a son of her own who was one year older.

Pat also found ways to make me feel special too. Just recently I discarded the pink and white, hand-crocheted afghan that she made me. I loved that afghan and toted it everywhere when I traveled. But, like a worn, beloved baby blanket, it had seen its best days and needed to be relegated to the past.

Time has passed swiftly. Pat is now a great-grandmother. Bobby, now grown, has two children of his own. Both have generous, tender hearts.

Bobby gave us a six-month -old German shepherd puppy for Christmas. Rocky is a nice dog. We have been busy making the house and yard safe, not only for Rocky, but for our twenty cockatiels as well as for Sam the cat.

Buddy bought a huge dog house that previously belonged to a pet goat. I found a large chain-linked pen to use temporally while we wait for warmer weather to fence the backyard. The Kelly den now has a huge crate which is Rocky’s sleeping quarters at night. One plus is that Rocky, comes from a long line of genuine police dogs. He will provide additional security for the Ye Old Coin Shop next door to our home.

I gave Rocky his final set of distemper shots, but he still had some veterinarian needs. I called the vet we have previously used, but his office charge, plus the heart-worm test and rabies shot was too high for our budget these days.

A church friend told us that there was a new lady vet in a Blairsville. She couldn’t remember the name. It just happened that I found a business card in a restaurant that week with a lady doctor’s name on it: Melissa G., D.M.D.


The next morning I called the phone number on the plain little card. A receptionist answered.

“This is Nancy Kelly. I was wondering what you would charge to check our young German shepherd for heart worms and give him a rabies shot.”

There was a long pause before she replied rather whimsically.

“Maybe we could check his teeth for you.”

I responded in puzzlement. “His teeth?” Dollars signs flashed in my head.

“Yes,” she replied. “Dr. Geesling isn’t a veterinarian. She is a dentist.”

It was one of those spontaneous laughs that lingers on and on. We both finally caught our breaths. Tears ran down my cheeks. A good belly-laugh can be a great eye wash.

Happy Birthday, Pat. Wish you could have been here.

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