It was brutally cold today as I pulled into the yard. The chickens were nestled around their coop in the sun, trying to avoid the wind blowing up their skirts. The cows, sheep and goats were amicably sharing piles of hay in the protected pasture between the house and the barn. The old trees in the yard twisted and danced with each gust. I glanced at the thermometer near the door and shivered.
Inside, the house was warm and silent. I called out my greeting and headed for his bedroom. It had been two weeks since our time together and I was anxious to see how he had fared over the holidays. His door was closed, so I knocked softly and peered in. He was in his chair, dressed in a soft plaid shirt and his flannel-lined work pants.
“Oh! It is you! I have missed you! Where were you yesterday? Weren’t you supposed to come?”
“I’m so sorry, it’s been too long and I missed you too!”
His face eased into a gentle smile and his eyes closed. I sat at his feet, massaging his fingers, then just sitting and silently holding his hands. Every once in a while his fingertips would slowly brush over mine and his eye-lids flickered in a dream.
Eventually the pins and needles in my feet were too much. I slid my hands away and stood to stretch. From his window I could see his lovely deep-chocolate colored cows, as they dozed in the sun. I looked around the room at things so familiar to me now. What was the history of each carefully placed memento? The moose made from a candy cane was obviously recent, but what of the glass, globe-shaped paperweight on the window sill? I scanned the bookshelves and admired the volumes; some with titles facing left (in English) and others facing right, all the more interesting because they are unreadable for me. They are in other languages, a measure of one’s ability to communicate.
We passed most of the morning like this. He would rouse from his dreams and smile. “Oh you are still here? Ah, good…” Back to sleep.
When he did wake, we had some personal things to attend to. As we were doing our “Shall we dance?” joke, his wife and the Dr. came in. I stepped back to finish tidying up while they spoke. Later he looked up from his chair and said, “They take their measures and say everything is perfect. I don’t like this perfect.”
The Dr. suggested more exercise, concerned his muscles had shrunk after the latest operation. His wife came up with an ingenious stretchy-thing and dumbbells. The stretchy-thing worked well until I realized his grin was due to the fact that he was rocking back in his chair rather than really working his arms. We moved on to the 5 lb. dumbbell competition and he beat me fair and square on the over-the-head lifts. At some point in our giggling I realized a 5 lb. dumbbell crashing into his head would not be a good thing.
With carefully measured steps, we headed to the kitchen for tea and to watch the birds. It was a long walk today and I thought of strolls we made on warmer days around the farm in the sun.