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It started out so normally.

There we were, in Tim Hortons, which could have been any Tim Hortons in Canada. But it wasn’t any Tim Hortons. No, we were in a NOVA SCOTIA SMALL TOWN Tim Hortons.

So I’m munching on my apple fritter and Babby is chewing on a piece of bread from my BLT, and he starts making eyes at the old lady sitting behind us, offering her his gummy bread.

Babby is a massive flirt with the ladies and it is his newest trick to entice them over to him by removing food from his mouth and holding it out to them with an alluring smile. They always laugh, and smile back at him, and politely decline the slimy lure, and he returns it to his mouth with a resigned expression.

This lady was no different from the others. I exchanged a smile with her as she gathered up the detritus from her meal and walked towards the garbage can, passing us on the way. She asked the usual questions (“how old is he?” “does he have any teeth yet?” “Is he a good sleeper?”) and I gave the usual answers (“nine months” “yes, two on the bottom,” and “oh hell, no”).

“Wall, he’s a reel sweetie-poi,” she said in a thick Maritime accent. I thanked her.

“Oi have to get to the hospital naow,” she said conversationally as she moved towards the garbage. “Moi nointey two year oald husband broke his hip.”

“Oh, no!” I said politely, “I hope he gets better soon.”

“Oh moi, yesh,” she said, “But Oi’m jest determined to get ‘im hoam. Oi sez to the docter, Oi sez, ‘jest yoo let me get ‘im hoam and Oi’ll be the best pill yoo ever had!”

“That’s right,” I said.

“Wall, Oi’m going to go an see him naow, and hopefully Oi’ll be bringin’ him hoam!” she said again.

“I hope you do.”

“Oi WILL bring him hoam! Oi’m determined!”

She came closer and said confidingly, “Y’see, the docter was concerned, becuz he wuz on some heart medicayshuns. But I tole ‘im, I sez, “those wuzn’t foar his HEART, they wuz becuz he gets angshus. Cuz of hiz job that he had long ago, roight? He gets roight angshus an’ his heart starts goin’ that fast, but it ain’t hiz heart, it’s the anxiety, roight? Becuz of hiz job…”

She set her plate and garbage down on my table and began to tell me her husband’s entire medical history in detail.

Her green eyes held mine as I sat and tried to listen, realizing she needed to tell someone, and for some reason, I was that someone.

Like a wedding guest in a Coleridge poem, I was destined to hear the entire tale.

And so the minutes ticked by as I was held hostage. It was difficult to maintain strict attention when I had a sandwich waiting to be eaten, in-laws expecting me at home, and a fussy Babby on my knee, but I did catch bits of the story.

“…and it wuz a pink pill,roight, like a salmon coloured pill, and it’s to slow daown the heart, only he had it cuz he wuz a foir-man fer so menny years, roight? And he would get roight tense, and he couldn’t breathe roight, and his heart would jest race, loik a panic attack, roight?”

“…So after the sergery the docter looks at his chart, and he seez that he wuz on this pill, and he sez ‘Oi didn’t know yer husband had a heart condishun’, only Oi sez ‘it wasn’t FOAR his heart…'”

“…so wen he woak up he didn’t know where he wuz, roight? He wuz scared. He thought maybe he wuz in a hospital after a foir, cuz he was a foir man for so menny years, so he panicked, roight? And he troid to cloimb right out of his bed, and he wuz jest owt a surgery, roight?”

“… an the docter, he sez he wuz lookin’ all arownd, and Oi sez, ‘yeah, he wuz lookin’ for me, see?”

“…So then Oi come in, and he seez me, and his arms go owt loik this, woid, loik a little boy holdin’ owt his arms to his mama…”

“…and they asked him if he knew where he wuz, and he sez ‘camping!” cuz we wuz supposed to go, roight, but then he broak his hip, and the RV new and everythin’…”

“…but he ain’t the same, with them new medicashuns hez on, he ain’t roight… Oi keep tellin’ the docter, ‘you let me bring ‘im hoam, and Oi’ll be the best pill yoo ever give ‘im!”

“I hope they send him home with you today,” I said, nodding. Finally, FINALLY, she gathered up her stuff again and put it in the trash. Then she told me,

“Oi’m going to get wun of them ramps bilt on the house, cuz he’ll have trubble getting up them steps fer a whoile. Of coarse, he’ll be a big baby when Oi bring ‘im hoam. Men always are,” she said with a twinkle.

“But Oi’ll get ‘im fixed up. We’ll go on that campin’ trip later this summer, Oi think!”

“I’m sure you will, and I hope he gets well soon,” I said, trying to break eye contact politely. She started to head toward the door.

“Don’t yoo be feedin’ that baby lettis,” she called from the doorway, pointing at Babby who was happily gumming some of my BLT, “Moi sister in law she give ‘er baby a piece a apple, an she near ’bout choked on a liddle bit of apple skin!”

Oh, Nova Scotia. I did miss you.