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Marvin stages a comeback

Southern Oregon Journal columnist Peggy Dover

Marvin ventured forth into the wide world this week. I know this because I met him on my way back to the car after a walk. He wore a no-nonsense N95 mask and was looking for the “restaurant that used to be here.”

I assured him Crackin’ and Stackin’ was alive and serving, it was just one building farther down. He’d left his home for the “first time in two years,” and he wanted breakfast.

So, who is Marvin? I didn’t know until Tuesday. He’s 90 years young and quite obviously still in the game. We stood under a tame morning sun and visited for a while, because he’s been homebound for two years. I had work waiting for me at home, but he began telling me about his English ancestors and how his grandfather was one of the Founding Fathers of our country, a tad contradictory, but so what?

Even if my math skills had been up to snuff, I wouldn’t have questioned Marvin’s statement. I asked him what his illustrious forefather’s name was and he simply said, “Same as mine.” Of course.

He pulled out his two-dose vaccination card and we swapped needle tales. Come to find out we’d both done business at The Expo, our first shots hurt, our second shots didn’t. We had stuff in common.

He and his family were from the Grants Pass area. He used to raise show dogs and won three grand champion ribbons. He shared how diphtheria ravaged the generation before him. He’d lost two aunts to the wretched infection and didn’t find out until he’d grown. The realization hit him hard. The vaccine wasn’t widely in use until right about the time Marvin arrived on the scene. That may have explained his extraordinary caution. At 90, he’s learned the value of life, good conversation, and a store-bought breakfast.

When Marvin began traveling back to his Viking ancestry and how they stretched all the way to royal eminence, I had to excuse myself. My back was giving out, even if his was not. I kind of wish I would have invited myself along to celebrate his coming-out party. You see, Marvin is like a lot of folks out there — in need of company, an audience to tell his stories to, someone to call a friend, if only during a chance meeting in a parking lot.

I mentioned it was a nice day for a walk and asked him if he could make it over to the restaurant OK. I hoped I didn’t insult him.

He said, “Oh, yes. I’ve been there before.” I knew they would welcome him warmly when he walked in and told them what he told me — that this was his first time out since the pandemic bomb dropped. I hope to see him again to ask him about those Viking ancestors of his, as well as the Roman gladiators who may have eluded his memory. Speaking solely for myself, that was the best 15 minutes of the day.

Meanwhile, here’s an update on the feral kitty I’m trying to befriend: Though determined to not hang a label on her, since I’ve no idea what our outcome will be, the name Chicory keeps shouting at me in a scrappy young cat voice. So, I guess it’s Chicory.

I receive the benefit of her company in the early mornings and sometimes late at night. We’ve progressed in our relationship and she allows pats and scritches, but I have to watch her as she’s still a wild child learning to trust.

This morning she surprised and delighted me by crawling up into my lap and lying down as we communed on the back porch. Then she’s up and gone like a flash of furry spirit. I fear she crosses the busy street. I won’t see her for the rest of the day. Chicory doesn’t know I have an appointment for her with a vet. Shhh. A trap will play a part. She is also ignorant of how good life can be.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author/cat whisperer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.