Chapter 12: WOMAN TO WOMAN

By Friday of that first week, Lu had settled into a regular routine at the clinic. She began each day with chat room at 7am, and ended each day at 6pm. She had made a promise to herself and her son that she would be home early each evening and not work long hours like she did back home in Philadelphia.

After supper that evening, Annie and Lu were in the kitchen cleaning up. The two women had talked very little, as each was busy with their own activities...Lu with the clinic and her son, and Annie with the demands of a husband and seven children.

"Any plans for tonight, Lu?" Annie asked, breaking the awkward silence that seemed to fill the room.

"No." Lu answered. "Why?"

"I thought maybe we could go out for a couple of hours. Just the two of us. To the Pool Hall. Matt said he'll take the kids to the Dairy Shack for ice cream, and Eric will stay with the twins. We haven't had a chance to really get acquainted."

"Okay. Yeah. Sure." Lu answered with slight hesitation. Ever since her arrival, Lu had had the uneasy feeling that Annie Camden was not pleased with her summer house guests. Annie smiled.

"Great. It's all set then."

"You might call this the Camden hang out." Annie said a short time later as she and Lu walked into the Pool Hall. "What would you like to drink?"

"Uh..diet pepsi will be fine." Lu answered, resisting the temptation to order a beer.

"I'll get them while you get us a table." Lu nodded as she headed towards a corner table. Annie joined her seconds later.

"How are things going for you at the clinic?" Annie asked.

"Fine." Lu replied. "I think I'm beginning to gain the trust of some of the patients. They're all concerned about the possibility of losing the clinic."

"I think what you're doing is wonderful. I know it must have been difficult for you to uproot your son and come here." Lu nodded.

"Yes, it was. And leaving my patients."

"What made you decide to come here?" Annie asked as she took a sip of her diet pepsi.

"I guess I didn't want to see another free clinic close. I was fortunate enough to have been able to move my practice to Rittenhouse. But if I hadn't, a lot of people wouldn't have had a doctor because they couldn't afford good medical care."

"Marc was telling us that you run an all night clinic?" Lu nodded.

"Every Wednesday. A lot of my patients are single mothers or their husbands work during the day so they can't come in until after hours. Marc stays with his dad those nights."

"Wow. That is really something. I've never heard of a doctor doing that." Lu shrugged, taking a drink of her diet pepsi.

"I need to do what is best for my patients. If my mother had had good medical care she..." Lu's voice trailed off.

"Marc seems like a wonderful boy," Annie said, changing the subject. "How do you manage being a doctor and a single parent?"

"It's never been easy, but I just do what I need to do. I don't have a choice. I had Marc when I was 16. I dropped out of school when I got pregnant. Abortion wasn't an option. I had considered adoption. But when I held him for the first time....I knew I couldn't give him away." Annie smiled.

"I felt that way with each child. I often look at them and wonder what I did to deserve those seven blessings."

"Marc is really my only family. Isabel, my grandmother who raised me after my mother died, lives in Puerto Rico. I was an only child. Marc spends Wednesdays and every other weekend with his dad and his family. He wasn't really around much when Marc was a baby. He ditched me when he found out I was pregnant. Said he wasn't ready to be a father. He wanted to go to college and not be saddled down with a kid." Lu bit her lip, wondering if maybe she was sharing to much of her life with this minister's wife. She took a sip of her soda.

"Well, I think you're doing a wonderful job raising him." Annie stated.

"Thank you." For a few moments the two women were silent, each with their own thoughts.

"Boy, this woman sure asks a lot of nosy questions." Lu thought.

"She must have had a hard life." Annie considered.

"Well, guess we'd better be getting home. I'm sure the kids are home by now."

"Yeah. I need to spend time this evening with Marc. I enjoyed our evening. Thank you."

"I enjoyed it too. We need to do this again." Lu nodded, then followed Annie out of the Pool Hall.