By Clare Milton
"One o'clock at "The Bird" I say to my friend Duane Wheeler as he exits the front steps of his sister's house late Friday evening. We've enjoyed our "Friday Pizza Night " from Rita 's and are looking forward to our once a week breakfast out at "The Early Bird " in Oakland Maine.
I call it "The Bird" as I never arrived early!
ALL I WANT is to wake up on Saturday Morning with anticipation of good food,hot coffee, and friendly conversation at "The Bird." I want to put on my comfortable "Saturday Shirt" and jeans, feed the dog and fill the bird feeder while waiting for my roommate Lynda to finish dressing, While I announce the time to her repeatedly. I don't want to nag, so I adjourn to my bikini blue Jeep Renegade and listen to "The Beatles channel" and chill! I'm anxiously anticipating opening the door and hearing the hum of our neighbors chattering and laughing while savoring their meal.
Once inside, I search both sides for a booth. Oh, we spot a booth where diners are finishing up. When open, we rush to claim it. All the waitresses are scurrying around but find time to send a wave or shout hello. We see friends from across the room and send a greeting their way. It's about 1:15ish or so and they close at 2pm. Today we are "Lucky" that Gerry will be our server.
She is a seasoned waitress usually wearing fun socks or bobbling headbands just to cheer up our day. She gives us a quick witted remark and takes our order. Even though the end of her day is in sight, she and all of "The Girls" give their full attention to those late diners.. After taking my friends' orders, her eyes turn to me. "Are you having your usual?" she asks.
"Yes" I say happily. I'll have my 3 egg omelet browned, with ham, mozzarella, tomatoes, and sautéed mushrooms. I feel relieved that my order is in and my favorite breakfast is forthcoming. I have my trusty bottle of Mrs. Dash that I keep in the door of my Jeep to add the perfect touch to my meal. Yes, I do get laughed at for carrying it with me, but I don't care.
The crowd is dwindling, the cleaning is underway when our meals arrive. We take our first bites and sip hot coffee and realize all is well with the world!
Seems simple doesn't it? The beginning of an awesome weekend! THAT'S ALL I WANT!!!
Yet, since the beginning of March, this experience has been out of reach! Every week I check their status. Every week I'm increasingly disappointed! Another week, to remind us," Life is not Normal!" We worry about all of the older patrons who have relied on "The Early Bird" for their daily food and human contact. Local restaurants provide many services to our local communities. Providing joy, and well care checks on those of us that might be alone or sick.
It relieves anxiety knowing some things stay the same. The faces and daily specials run steady. THAT'S ALL I WANT!
Hope will come that one Saturday morning soon, I can put on my Saturday shirt, remind Lynda that it's time to go, meet Duane, who usually beats us there, and open that familiar door to experience a slice of normalcy, we so truly need!