A few weeks later Susan’s doorbell rang. A middle-aged gentleman stood there with a spaniel at his heel. “You must be Susan, the ever-so-helpful nurse?” he said as she opened the door.
Susan was somewhat taken aback. “Well, I am Susan and yes, I am a nurse.”
“Well, I’m James Maddox and I’m a doctor. In fact, I’m the Burchill’s family physician. Tom and Alice have told me all about how you arrived in the nick of time to save poor Tom’s life.”
“Er, well… It just happened that I dropped in. I’m sure Alice would have coped.”
“Well I’m not.” He gave her a big smile. “I think it was provident that you dropped in exactly when they needed someone like you. Since I live only four blocks away, I thought I’d knock on your door while I’m walking my pooch and say a special thank you for all the help you’ve been — and are being — to them.”
“I’m happy to do what I can for them.” Susan held the door open. “Would you like to step inside for a bit, Doctor Maddox?”
“Certainly, for just a moment. And call me James, please. We don’t need to stand on ceremony this morning.”
He turned to the spaniel. “Lie down, Fluffo.”
Susan eyes the dog dubiously. “Fluffo?”
James laughed. “I allowed the grandchildren to name her and that’s what they came up with. Now we’re stuck with it. Oh, well. Thankfully Fluffo isn’t the least embarrassed.”
During their short visit Susan told her caller, “You know, when I retired from nursing, I thought life would be so carefree, but I soon found that doing nothing isn’t healthy at all. I was feeling rather blue there for awhile. My life seemed so empty all of a sudden.”
James nodded. “Everyone looks forward to retirement, but many people find it quite an adjustment, especially if it happens all in one day. Some of my men patients have found the sudden jolt almost as hard to handle as an accident that would put them in the hospital for a month.”
“So here I was one morning,” Susan explained, “sitting here with nothing to do until I got this inspiration to go visit the neighbours. Yes, I believe it was Providence, as you say. And the feeling certainly paid off. The Burchills need me and I’m enjoying their friendship.” She smiled. “And Alice’s delicious baking. I’ll be asking you for a diet sheet before long.”
James chuckled. “Well, if you’d like more to fill your life with, there’s another elderly patient of mine not so far away who’d be happy for a bit of company now and then. She’s a widow whose children have emigrated to America and I know her evening hours get lonely.”
“So! This wasn’t an innocent visit. You had an ulterior motive.”
He laughed. “Just wanted to leave a suggestion. I hate to see a good nurse go to waste. But do whatever is best for you.”
Then he glanced up at the clock. “Now I’d better be on my way or Fluffo will get antsy. She gets bored, too, just sitting around. If you’re ever in Hickling Close, my wife and I live at #24. When I suggested to her that I might stop and say hello to Tom’s new nurse, she said to tell you you’re most welcome to drop in for tea any afternoon.”
Susan walked with him to the door. “Thank you so much. I may do that.”
James turned to her just before he stepped outside. “Oh, and I should warn you that you’ll probably get a visit from Pastor Cecil Smythe before long. When he finds out there’s a new voice in town, he tries to recruit it for the choir.” He winked at her.
Susan grinned. “Thanks for the heads up. I’ll greet him with a song; that ought to persuade him I’d be better off in the pews.”
She watched the doctor stepping briskly down her walk with Fluffo trotting at his heel. She chuckled as she closed the door. As a child she’d had a cat named Fluffo — a big gray Persian. Yes, good thing this poor Fluffo doesn’t know.