I met Wilford Brimley today.
Okay, not really, but I met a man who looks and sounds just like him. I swear this guy I met could be related to Wilford Brimley. So I’m just going to nickname him Wilford.
(You all know who Wilford Brimley is, right? He’s this guy.)
We were at the tennis courts where my kids and his grandkids take lessons.
Before he’d begun playing, Jack had tested his blood sugar, and Wilford had eyed Jack, as Jack was lancing his left pinky.
A few minutes later, when Jack was on the courts, I heard, “Yer son have diabeetus?”
“Sheesh,” Wilford said, shaking his head. “That’s a shame.”
Um, yeah, it’s shame, but you know, it is what it is, and I can’t dwell on the negative aspects of diabetes. Quite frankly, I’m grateful my kid is alive. I’m grateful he’s able to play tennis.
Before I could respond, Wilford told me, “I got diabeetus, too.”
“Type two?” I asked.
“Yup, type two.”
“My son has type one.”
“Yeah, well, that’s usually the case when they’re that young,” he said. “Let me tell you a story. I was born in 1939, but I got a friend, who was born in 1973. She’s got diabeetus, too. Type one, like yer son. I was there the day she collapsed.”
“You mean the day she was diagnosed?” I asked.
“Yeah, the day she was diagnosed. Well, she learned to eat only small amounts of food,” he said, showing me by placing his thumb and forefinger about a quarter inch apart. “And now she’s fine. That’s what yer son’s gotta do. He’s gotta eat only small amounts of food, and he’ll be fine.”
I wanted to run. But, I am polite, so I stood there smiling, letting the conversation take its natural course. But I seriously wanted to run...far.
“You got diabeetus, too?”
“No, I don’t,” I said.
“How ‘bout other kids? You got other kids?”
“I do. They’re out there on the courts, playing tennis, too.”
“They got diabeetus?”
“No, my son is the only one in the family.”
“Well, I’ll be…You know I retired back in 2007, and I just let myself go. I gained 50 pounds. That’s why I got diabeetus, but I started a diet program today. Yer son have highs and lows?”
Once again, I got the head shake and “sheesh.”
“Well, you tell that fella to watch what he eats, and he’ll be fine like my friend.”
At that point, I couldn’t take it any more. “I’ll do that,” I said. “Well, you have a nice day. Enjoy watching the kids on the courts. I’m going to run an errand now.”
I took off. I had to get out of there. I didn’t want to be rude, but I couldn’t listen any longer. Jack’s tennis coach has a brother with type one (yes, we got that lucky this year!), and we’ve trained him on how to care for Jack. So I knew Jack would be okay, and besides, I wasn’t going to go far, and his coach and the head coach both have my cell number.
I drove to a shopping center a few blocks away. I went into PetSmart and bought cat food and then into the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients for tomorrow night’s dinner. And then I sat in my car, playing Words with Friends, waiting for the tennis lesson to end, watching the kids from the parking lot, because that was better than listening to Wilford ramble.
Wilford meant well, but sometimes, a D mama just doesn’t want to talk about diabeetus.