“Here, you read for a while. My eyes aren’t what they used to be, and your light is terrible. Forget to pay the electric bill?”
“You old people have a way of excusing yourself from things you don’t want to do, and blaming it on the ailments of age. Seems like the kind of thing that one day will come back, like the wolf story and bite you, Little Red Riding Hood.”
“Read! Everyone’s a philosopher these days.”
“Where were we?... you?”
“And the rains came.”
“You sure? That doesn’t seem to fit. You messing with me again?”
Her eyes are losing their ability to focus. She has been told it is the onset of glaucoma. Although it happens to millions of people she refuses to believe it is happening to her, or even the possibility it could be happening to her.
I’ve attempted, as have several ophthalmologists that the situation can be corrected, but you have to agree to the procedure, not argue the possibility “there has to have been a mistake made here.”
Nothing new, she has always been the directional arrow someone turned intentionally to watch traffic head down the wrong way of a one-way street, just to watch their reactions. Not just the reactions of the ones going the wrong way, but those heading towards them. The actions noted no doubt will be similar, but for differing reasons. The thought process after realizing the direction has changed, will not doubt turn to the initial condemnation of "the idiots," both groups in this case, going the wrong direction, but for different reasons. Those actions, and the reasons behind them, are what call her from bed each morning.
I use a metaphorical example beause she has not the temperament nor morality to endanger anyone or thing to garner understanding, to prove a point. Up to this point in her life she has managed to not cross that imaginary line from which there is no return. But, I worry as age has the ability to cause one to debate themselves, allowing both participants to win and lose, the possibility becomes more probable than possible.
The line has a tendency to fade, move, be moved, forgotten, and in the final act of rebellion against the conformity to norms, become invisible. It is not uncommon as one ages, to get what she refers to as “a flabby soul.”
She’s written several opinion pieces for our local paper which they refuse to print, stating “the paper is a not partisan purveyor of news, and does not wish to tarnish its image by insinuating unproven truths.” She has the response framed; it occupies the wall above the out of tune piano.
You can imagine what a task it is to not only find a book I believed she would, if not enjoy, tolerate. It is the reason I roam the used book stores, now a store, in our area in search of an obscure book whose cover gives it the potential, of although being awful, does so with the bravado of a fist fight between Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor; two icons of her past. I don’t personally have any knowledge of her liking or disliking either of them, but that only adds to the mysticism she has come to see as pragmatic prophecy.
“You planning on reading or remaining in that dream state you call recollection. I went to the bathroom, made a sandwich, drank two beers, and walked the cat while you were off exploring the simplicity of a world without the likes of me. I may not be able to see with an Anne Oakley eye like I once did, but I can still smell a redeemed prognosticator a mile away. Read, please, before I sober up.”
and the rains came. Father Diego Hotchkiss placed his bible of forgotten love letters on the bench next to the hand-hewn cross he received for his third birthday, a keepsake he’d carried with him through two wars and an insurrection. It was rumored by Monsignor Ginsberg, that the blood that continued to weep from the cross was certainly a miracle, and would one day be sanctioned by the Holy See as such. Saint Diego would no longer be an apparition of patriotism in the Army of Christ, but a monument to the bravery of a peasant boy who went to war with little more than a true devotion to his God, and a couple of crossed sticks. Diego was…”
“Who, if I may be so holy patriotic, writes this crap? My God, does the ability to pull someone off their sagging couch into the light of impeachment have to be so infused with religious nostalgia, that it makes my beer taste like water, and my fish sandwich begins to divide and multiply like a deranged math teacher? Where did you find this…whatever it is? And by the way, what does the rain have to do with a saintly cross, impeachment, religious nostalgia, and a backwards miracle. For God’s sake couldn’t this, I’m being generous, author, have turned water into beer just this once, and maintained a semblance of religious demagoguery.”
I assumed after her heartfelt diatribe that I had not chosen the reading material wisely. Perhaps I could rectify the situation. She is always the one going on about the fact one can always change if the prize and the means of attaining it can be blended to create a situation where each supports the other, and those asked to determine its success, are not paying attention.
“Perhaps the words are placed in a better light further on in the story. You know how often times you are thrashed by words assumed to be the values of one person, only to find out later they belonged to another. It is a common maneuver used in a lot of stories to keep the audience involved and develop a nemesis that is not as obvious as your walking the cat for nefarious reasons.
Let me randomly choose another section and read from it. What do you say. Give it a second chance to thrash your first impression? You rarely get a second chance to condemn a first opinion. ”
“You are the one reading to me. Go ahead, make me feel like an unappreciative fool.”
“Here, page 201, the chapter title,” To Begone or Be Gone, That Is the Question?”
“Hold it right there. Is that what it says or are you making it up? I’m no literary critic, but by God, what is that supposed to mean? I’m going to have to drink a lot more holy water before the words reach out and touch me. Be honest…is Saint Peter throwing Judas out of the Good Old Boys Club, or is Pontius Pilot attempting to pretend he “knew not what he was doing?” Please my sight is not what it was, but my ears still work and I’m not dead.”
After closely commiserating with myself, I have decided to return to the book store and find something less incendiary. I’m thinking a classic, like Tom Sawyer’s love exploits with his neighbor Becky, the little red headed girl, or Steinbeck’s story of the exodus from poverty to the barricades of segregation and bigotry of another desert, yet to be transformed by the grace of God into the new Garden of Eden. You can never go wrong with a classic, and beer that is made from presumably spring water, so pure you can walk on it.