And so I sit to write. It was a Monday like all the rest. I dig back through my memory bank of the last 12 hours and search for the one moment that signifies how it was different and what I learned, or felt, or smiled about. The smiling moments are the ones I want to capture and hold in my glass jar. The jar I will open on New Year’s Eve.
He reached up to pat my hand as I rested it on his shoulder. His bones clad in the rough wool of a plaid shirt. His hand was like warm bath water, his gnarled fingers wrapped around, enveloping mine and he smiled. “Oh, your hands are so cold. Did you walk all the way from your home to here?” the depth of his accent told me he and his wife had been conversing in their romantic mix of languages and his native tongue was front and center in his mind.
Our task, as his wife was off to shop and run errands, was to write labels for the jars of pears she had canned earlier. I wanted him to help me write the labels in his language. His accent softened as he slipped into English. He wanted to show me a brochure, in German, from a bank. He knew the principles of the organization and had tremendous respect for the corporation. He chatted, stopping occasionally to search for a word in English. I could see he was tiring. We moved to his room so he could stretch out in his lounge chair.
“May I read one of your books?” I asked once he was settled. His bookshelves are a wonderous world for me. Why is it books printed in this country have the title on the spine facing left while the rest of the world seems to read their titles from the right? His tomes are easily identified; those I can read and those whose words I can only guess at. I chose the Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain. It was beautifully illustrated and though the type-face was a bit tedious in the thin light of his room. I became enthralled.
Another part of my mind was keenly aware of his breathing, and any sign of discomfort. The hot water bottle I had prepared slid to his hips but I know the bladder cancer is there and perhaps the warmth brought some relief. The oxygen was at hand and running if he seemed labored. His legs were wrapped in a familiar Irish wool blanket.
Somehow, Samuel Clemens managed to create credible minds for two mythological humans, as I would imagine them. I sat cross-legged on his hospital bed and fell into their world.
Something roused him and the blanket slipped from his legs. He glanced, squinting across the dim sunlight, smiled and said, “Oh, You are still here! How wonderful! Is it time for lunch?” He pushed the sleeve from his wrist and checked his watch.
For three hours I had no watch, no cell phone, no sense of time except the now. I left Adam and Eve and their world of beginnings for the reality of helping him cope with the diminished world of his end. There is no greater gift than to remember that smile that marked today.
At first I couldn’t make out what I was made for, but now I think it was to search out the secrets of this wonderful world and be happy and thank the Giver of it all for devising it. ” excerpt From: Twain, Mark. “The Diaries of Adam and Eve. ILLUSTRATED.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=370187844
The farm hogs, Adam and Eve…