By John Moore
People in the South check on each other.
I’m not sure if this happens elsewhere, but it’s almost innate for a person raised around where I was to check on folks.
In Ashdown, Arkansas, people left their keys in their cars, so they obviously didn’t lock their houses. So, if someone was checking on you, they would crack open your front door and yell, “Woo Hoo,” and wait until you yelled, “I’m here, c’mon in,” before entering.
When I say, “checking on” someone, I’m not talking about getting into other peoples’ business. That was the job of the older ladies in the church.
No, I’m referring to making sure that people you know are OK.
Some folks need checking on because they’re sick. You know these individuals need to be checked on because they made the prayer list at the church.
That is, if the aforementioned ladies in the church were on the ball.
Illness is an isolating thing. If you’ve ever battled serious health problems, you know this.
A person who has always been able to trust their body now has doubts. They aren’t sure if their health problem is a one-time thing or if this is the first of ongoing issues. They can be depressed.
These people need food and company. Even if you just drop off some biscuits and gravy and chicken spaghetti and watch Wheel of Fortune with them, they feel better when you leave than they did when you got there.
Some people need checking on because they’ve lost a loved one. There’s no better reason to check on someone than when they lose a family member.
I never minded going with my mother or grandmother to check on the sick but checking on people because of a death always made me uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to say, so it was awkward.
My grandmother told me that even if people didn’t seem appreciative when you go by to check on them during a loss, they do appreciate it. And that checking on people who’ve lost someone is about the most important kind of checking on someone that you can do.
I learned later that this was true when people came to check on my momma and me when we lost my sister and my father.
That chicken spaghetti came in handy. You don’t feel much like eating when you lose someone, but you certainly don’t feel like cooking.
Other folks need checking on because they’ve lost just about everyone and they’re all alone.
Time never moved slower than when I was a kid. I couldn’t wait to be in the next grade, or the next year older. Summers drug on and the clock always seemed to move slowly.
My great grandmothers had outlived just about everyone. When I would stay with them during summers, I could tell that time moved slowly for them too.
They would play dominoes with my sister and me. They always won because somehow they always knew what dominoes we had. But it was fun and helped pass the time.
I later realized that by my sister and me spending time with them, in a way we were checking on them.
There also were always lots of other good folks checking on my great grandmothers. I appreciate that.
Every now and then, someone we knew wound up in the hospital. Usually it was someone older, but there was always a baby being born, or sometimes a car wreck.
The hospital people always got flowers. We weren’t allowed to take them biscuits and gravy or chicken spaghetti. They had to eat what the hospital gave them.
I always thought the food I saw on the trays the nurses brought them was the best reason ever to sneak them in some biscuits and gravy and chicken spaghetti.
Hospital food can make a person want to make a jail break. Once when I was in the hospital, I tried to bribe a nurse for a cheeseburger. When that didn’t work, I snuck down to the cafeteria and ate a plate of beef tips and noodles, macaroni and cheese, and some cornbread.
When I got back, the nursing staff was waiting for me. I was reported to my doctor for being, “Less than compliant.”
That’s why when I’m checking on someone I know who’s in the hospital; I always sneak in some biscuits and gravy or chicken spaghetti.
There’s no sense in them being sick and getting caught sneaking out for real food instead of eating unsalted mush and Jell-O.
And sometimes, people just need to be checked on because they’re elderly. Lately, because of weather, authorities have encouraged folks to check on the elderly.
If you do, you can look around and see what needs to be done. Maybe their yard needs mowing or something broken needs fixing.
Whether someone needs help, something to eat, or nothing at all, checking on folks is the right thing to do.
Because one day, we’ll all need a good checking on, too.