The other day I visited a man in the hospital. He would have preferred a private room, but one was not available so he got the bed nearest the door in a two-bed room. A curtain separated the two patients.
The daughter of the man I had come to visit slipped her dad a note that informed him the other occupant was a black man. She didn’t do this because she had a problem with it; she did it because she knew her aging dad had racial views that had been birthed long ago in his past and had virtually no interracial relationships through the years to challenge those views. And, quiet simply, she feared he might use “the word.”
Gene, the white man, spent the night alone. Sometime about 4 a.m., the black man, Morris, left his side of the curtain and came to the side of Gene’s bed. The phone was ringing, and the white man had not wakened. Morris answered and told the caller that Gene was sleeping soundly and asked if the person could call back.
Morris was half the age of Gene, and the two men became friends of sorts over the two days they shared a room together. In essence, Morris looked after Gene. Both men liked to talk. By the end of their time together, the white man was getting the contact information of the black man.
It’s amazing what happens when two people, despite their differences, actually get to know one another. The differences that divide give way to the things that connect.