Tillie was running late for work when she hurried into the school building from the staff parking lot. She waved hello to the hallway monitor as she quickly moved down the hallway towards her office.
“Good morning, Lois,” she called to the department secretary as she entered their work area.
“Hi, Tillie,” Lois smiled, “Annelise is in the small conference room. She’s been working on a picture while she was waiting.”
Tillie took a moment to hang up her coat and put her purse away. When she was ready, she joined the little girl in the small meeting room.
“Good morning, Annelise, how are you?” Tillie asked.
“I’m okay,” she said.
“My name is Mrs. McGrew,” Tillie said, “I’m the school psychologist. Do you know what a psychologist is?”
Annelise shook her head ‘no’.
“I try to help people,” Tillie said, “I listen to them when they are sad or mad or upset. Sometimes people need to talk to someone, and it makes them feel better when they do. Do you know why you’re here, sweetie?”
She nodded. “I was crying in the classroom.”
“Yes,” Tillie said, “Miss Gleason told me, and we both talked to your Mommy. We all thought you might like someone to talk to. Would it be okay if we talked?”
“Can you show me what you were drawing?”
Annelise sat back from her drawing, and Tillie turned it so she could see it better.
“Where is this?” Tillie asked.
“The park,” Annelise said.
“Who is that sitting on the bench?”
“Grandpa Barney,” Annelise said, “He’s my friend.”
“I see,” Tillie smiled, “Is that a dog?”
“Yes and a squirrel.”
“Is Grandpa Barney your grandfather?” Tillie asked.
“No, he’s my friend and neighbor. He’s sick.”
“Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry to hear that,” Tillie said.
“He won’t get better,” Annelise said in a tiny voice.
Tillie put her arm around Annelise’s shoulders to give her a hug.
“He has Alzheimer’s,” Annelise said.
“I’m sorry,” Tillie said again. “Tell me about Grandpa Barney.”
Annelise talked about her friendship with the old man who lived in the building across from her own and how they had met while Barney was sitting in the park, enjoying the sunshine. Although Barney did not speak much, he was always glad to see her. He always listened to everything she had to say with a twinkle in his eye. She told Tillie how she saved her allowance to buy Barney ice cream cones and how he liked the chocolate ones the best. She also told Tillie how her Mommy was friends with Barney’s daughter, Chloe.
“They sound like a very nice family,” Tillie said, “You are lucky to know them.”
“Yes,” Annelise nodded.
They talked about Barney for several more minutes, and they worked on finishing Annelise’s drawing together.
“I’d like to meet with you again,” Tillie said, “Maybe we could meet a few mornings each week, and we could talk about Barney some more. Would you like that?”
“Yes,” Annelise said.
“I will work out a schedule with Miss Gleason,” Tillie said.
When Annelise had gone back to her classroom, Tillie went into her office to make some notes on their session together. She gave them to Lois to type up, and she asked her to coordinate with Annelise’s teacher to set up further meetings.
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