The older veterans were arrayed along the back parking lot, watching the construction of two tiny homes for Veterans Village. My mission, which I accepted, was to sidle up to one of them, the very elderly Frank, and see how I thought he was doing.
I reported back to Sarge: “Well, for starters, I couldn’t tell you the last time he washed his clothes or took a shower. Looks sad.”
Sarge nodded and stabbed numbers into his phone. I overheard his end of the conversation with his granddaughter.
“Baby girl, this is Granddad. You up for a spy mission?” He gave her the particulars, and when she called back 15 minutes later he put her on speaker phone.
“His wife has been in rehab for over a week, chest congestion, not COVID, getting better. Your guy Frank hasn’t answered his phone this whole time. She’s frantic and nobody at rehab will help.”
“Can you jump in?” he asked.
Sarge’s lovely granddaughter volunteered at the senior center and knew everybody. Even more valuable, she knew how to wheedle info out of people. Within 24 hours she called back with the sitrep: She’d paid a visit to Frank, and it was all now under control. Frank had been told he couldn’t visit his wife due to COVID restrictions. His wife had their only phone charger cord. The water heater had quit, and the repair guy was on vacation. And on and on. Poor Frank.
Sarge’s granddaughter took him home for dinner (her mom knew to never be surprised), made a grocery run, put Frank on the phone to his wife in rehab, gave him a spare phone charger and called another plumber.
Today she had a snarling conversation with the director of the rehab place, after which Frank’s wife was wheeled out to the sunlit inner courtyard, where she was allowed a socially distant half-hour with Frank. He was heard laughing.
Sarge’s granddaughter is 17 years old.
(c) 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.