My Monday was heavily scheduled, and poor Little Bit was stuck with Papa, much to her glee. Our first stop was the doctor's office.
"Are you sick again, Papa?"
"No, Honey. It's just a follow-up on Papa's blood work." I had to explain it was nothing more than a chat with the doctor.
The River City was coated thick with smoke from numerous wild fires but otherwise we had a beautiful day to run chores. She sang, read to me on the drive. We parked at the center and hand in hand walked to the door. Inside, she stuck close to my side. Held my hand and whispered, "They're not going to give me a shot with a big needle are they, Papa?" I said no, but maybe they'd give me one. "Okay, it won't hurt, Papa."
She stood close by my side as the nurse took my blood pressure, weighed me, and then escorted us to the exam room. Little Bit found a Dr. Seuss book, climbed into my lap and read to me as we waited. Best exam room wait I've had in a very long time. Then the doctor arrived. He's a young man, kind, gentle.
We talked. Little Bit had taken a seat on his exam table. She paid close attention; didn't miss a word. After a few minutes she stood, stepped down and took my hand. I was aware of her warm little hand but my full attention was on the doctor and his numbers. Many of my numbers were very good, for the most part. The others, not so much, and it was these of which we spoke. Little Bit had begun to rub my back.
Forty-five minutes later we left. Outside she took my left hand in both hers and walked alongside in silence. In my truck she climbed into the back seat where she searched and found her blanket, and back in front folded and placed it just so on the console. After I reversed from the parking spot she took my arm, and placed it carefully on the blanket and began to rub my arm. I asked, "What's wrong, Honey?"
I knew better. "Honey, Papa's fine. The doctor just wanted to make sure I take my medications and enroll in rehab."
"Papa, what's rehab?" I explained.
We drove and enjoyed the day. But, about every other mile she'd ask, "Are you okay, Papa? Do you feel okay, Papa? Papa, do you need a drink of water? Do you need to eat, Papa?" So, I took her to lunch.
Our next visit was to my accountant. He's a nice fella too and his handle is 'Moose.' With Little Bit by my side, again, she paid close attention. We left. Moments after we stepped from his office she took my hand and jerked and said, "Papa, what are taxes?"
Down the road in light traffic with the sun bright in my vision I explained as best I could, in simple terms, why Nana and Papa had to pay taxes to the government. She'd ride and watch for a while and ask for clarifications of which I'd try and explain. Finally, she turned and said, "Papa, that's just not fair. Why don't THEY get jobs?"
I must admit, I didn't paint or gloss over the facts. Then, "Papa."
"Papa, I've got monies at home in my ribbon box."
"That's good, Sweetheart, and Papa wants you to save your money."
"Papa, do you and Nana need my monies to pay them mean 'ole democrats?"
Even a child understands....
Our plans for the evening were simple. The two of us would market for fresh seafood and prepare a nice meal for Nana. Even the best laid plans fail from time to time. After an hour at a local park where I had taken a seat on the park bench and read the tax file as Little Bit played and screamed, "Watch me, Papa," it was home for showers and a change of clothes.
Later, "Papa, I don't want to cook. Will you take me and Nana out to eat?" Like that, see, plans.
The cafe (it's small by most standards) is special. It serves only fresh local seafood. The shrimp are purchased from a tiny local fishing village called Mayport. Mayport is located at the mouth of the River, it has a ferry landing, a few houses and two or three fairly good restaurants. Not much more...it's a fine place to live. The Navy base and shrimp and fish boats keep it alive.
We order our meal. Nana has fish, grilled. I ask for the largest shrimp plate, grilled. Little Bit, against sound advice orders a cheese burger and fries. There is only one other couple in the cafe. It's quiet. My kind of place.
I had asked, over and over, "Little Bit, are you sure you don't want seafood?" Her answer was a firm but gentle, no.
"We eat here all the time, Papa, and I'm sick of fried shrimp." I explained I'd ordered grilled shrimp and I thought she'd like it. Their spicy grilled shrimp was very good. Still, she remained firm with, no. I told her I understood and dropped the subject.
Our meals arrived. The nice waitress placed each plate and asked if we needed additional condiments and I asked for Tabasco. As I turned back to my meal I found Little Bit leaned over my plate. She had a dream like expression on her face, with her eyes closed and her nose inches from my shrimp. She sniffed. Then, "Aahhhhh, oh Papa, that smells so good."
Me, "I know. Now eat your hamburger."
I tried to appear as nonchalant as possible. I stole glances at her as she sat and frowned at her meal. Every few seconds she'd peek over at my shrimp (the smell was great) and then look forlornly back at her over-cooked beef patty. She'd eat a french fry or two, and then look back over at my plate. I felt sorry for her and finally, without a word or glance her way, took two shrimp from my plate and gently placed them on hers.
"Papa, really, I can have them?"
"Eat, and enjoy," I said.
Softly, "I love you, Papa." Like a good Southern born lady, Little Bit took the shrimp, and by using the method long taught here in the South, grasped the tail and placed the sweet morsel in her mouth and squeezed and sucked which left the tail shell intact and empty. Her smile was equal to that of any Angel.
The waitress returned and I stood and whispered in her ear. A few minutes later a small dish of grilled shrimp was placed before Little Bit.
My reward was a loud scream of joy, then, at the top of her little lungs, she jumped and yelled, "I love you so much, Papa."
We threw the hamburger in the trash.
(I know I've written much of late about Little Bit. Please understand, I write this blog for her and my grandson. I beg for your patience.)