Malva works at the pharmacy at the Harris Teeter in North Bethesda, Maryland. A couple of days ago an older man walked unsteadily into the store, blood streaming from his forehead, hands cut and dirty from cushioning a fall. “Could you direct me to the men’s room?” he asked her. “I need to clean up.”

Malva took one look, got a chair, sat the man on it, and said, “I’m calling an ambulance.” She made the call, then left for a moment to gather material to start cleaning his wound.

Other employees approached, asking the man questions designed to disclose whether he’d suffered brain damage. “They asked me what year it is,” he told UD later, “and I totally aced it.” (This was an odd moment because, imagining herself asked the same question, UD suddenly realized that she might have said 2021. A measure of her eagerness to see the back of a certain president.)

Malva asked the man for the phone number of a relative. She made the call, but this particular relative was recharging her phone in their bedroom while sitting in front of their house reveling in the remarkably strong sunlight in late afternoon in November in Garrett Park. With her dog quietly sitting next to her, her daughter working remotely in the house (visiting for the holiday), and her husband talking a walk, she breathed deeply, felt the sun on her face, and thanked whatever gods there be for a good life.

But now her daughter appeared next to her in the front garden, scowling into her phone. “Is he okay? What happened?” Malva told her her father had had a bad fall near the store, and that an ambulance had just arrived to take him to Suburban Hospital. She stayed on the phone as long as it took to calm UD‘s daughter down and give her complete information about Mr UD‘s condition, and as La Kid and UD prepared an overnight bag for him (two volumes on Kant from A History of Philosophy, pajamas, cookies), she called again to make sure the two of them were okay. She took a picture of Mr UD‘s wound and sent it to UD‘s daughter, so they could see exactly what they were dealing with.

The next morning, Mr UD in his bed recovering (the scan revealed a brain robustly able to assimilate Frederick Charles Copleston CBE SJ on Immanuel Kant), and UD preparing a special breakfast for him, Malva again called La Kid, wanting to know how Mr UD was doing. La Kid told her about his twenty stitches, and about how despite the nasty laceration he was able to keep his record intact: In seventy years of life, he has never spent a night in a hospital. (“The only possible exception,” Mr UD once said, “was my birth. I don’t know whether my mother stayed in the hospital overnight.”)

So today Mr UD, with his big white head bandage, looks like a mashup of Marat and Apollinaire. He feels fine.

And today – Thanksgiving – UD thanks Malva, who took one look at a hurting human being and was instantly in it for the long haul.

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2 Responses to “Thanksgiving: Malva: Last Name Unknown.”

  1. Stephen Karlson Says:

    Wow. Sounds like everything is fine for the moment. Best wishes.

  2. UD Says:

    Thanks, Stephen. At the moment, he’s just really tired.

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