Here’s another short story (just the beginning – It is from my old journal – 2003 and the beginning is all I had. I will continue developing the story line & the characters as the story is still alive with me today.)
Here confined to my prison I ponder why my life is so lonely. The blue skies, the sounds of birds chirping and children playing outside adds nothing to my existence, yet here I am. For helplessly sitting in this cold steel chair, whose large wheels were intended to set me free, I find the opposite – I am planted and confined. The roots of my life have taken hold like a 100 year old tall, red oak, keeping me here and here is where I am intended to remain.
“What a pitiful situation” I’ve heard people whisper behind my back, but who cares what they think. Pity is for fools. They do not know me and do not know the roots my life has set! “Push me!” I command to my caregiver. As the chair rolls forward I roll in front of a large picture window. With a blank stare, I gaze the outside world passing me by. In an instant, that world wooshed by and the vertical slats of the blinds, like bars of a cell, smacks me in the face with the reality of my confinement. She continues pushing my wheelchair and reaches over with that soft, perfectly manicured, white-skinned hand of hers to cover me. “I don’t want to be covered!” I tell her, as I pull that quilt away from me. Again she reaches over me, this time with a soft, white linen handkerchief to wipe my chin. Arrrrgggghhh! “Let me be!” I yell at her. Why is she always so happy and upbeat. What gives her the right to spread sunshine where ever she wants? That fool – let me be! “Take me back to my room” I demand & just let me have my life!
Years ago I enjoyed the sunshine and those foolish kids playing, but now the years have dulled my senses & the lack of relatedness has weakened my spirit. Now I live my life as a realist! Sunshine is for those optimistic fools. Don’t they knew that life is just cruel & cold and that is what God intended it to be! Why else would He give me a life like this? “What did you say?” she asks. “Why do you think God did this to you? God is not that cruel, Kirk.” She questions me. “Agghh! He is the one who put me here!” I reply. He is the one who made my kids go away & the one who soured my Xmas forever! “Kirk, por favor! God is not an evil God, He loves all of us, especially now – we need to honor him.” She comforts me.
“Oh, that reminds me, Kirk.” Mercy rudely interrupts. “I need Saturday and Sunday off for the Christmas celebrations and don’t forget that Monday is a federal holiday – since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year.” What! you want three days off! Kirk snickered. That’s outrageous! I must talk to Bill! I don’t think he is going to like that idea. Get Bill on the phone… Craftfully Mercy changes the conversation just to get Kirk’s mind off the subject. “So, you were saying?”
The sun stopped shining for me the day my daughter & Bill moved away. They took my granddaughter away from me, Kirk explains. See they don’t come here to visit me anymore. Their lives are busy in California. They have businesses to run, several properties to maintain and the mortgages all needs to be paid. Who is going to pay those bills if they do not work so hard? The kids have afterschool activities that they need to be a part of. They are busy taking the kids to soccer games. My granddaughter is the captain of the team, you see. “kids you say? I’ve only heard you talk of your granddaughter.” Mercy adds. Yes, kids – I even have a six year old grandson that I’ve never met. His name is Timmy. They are just too busy, you see. You understand right? They’re just too busy! Kirk continues almost in a justifying tone of voice. It’s a very long flight to come to Florida and visit me, but that’s ok – I am fine with it, Kirk continues comforting himself. Don’t concern yourself – it’s really fine.
But I know this year, yup! This year my daughter & Bill will be here for Xmas! “They will bring the kids this year! – at least to see what they’re paying for” Kirk sarcastically added. “Oh! they love you very much. They will come SPECIALLY to see you. So tell me about your daughter in California.” She comforts him. Smiling, Kirk reminisces about Bill’s house.
Ah! They moved out to California in 1997 for Bill’s businesses. “1997? that’s the year my mother started getting sic..” Mercy tries to add, but Kirk rudely interjects his continuation. Bill has a big two-story Colonial out on the point, you know. The house sits high at the end of the cul-du-sac. Its yard and pool overlook the cliffs below and has a spectacular view, through the rows of Royal Palms, out to the blue ocean. They always have the best decorated house on the block. Tinsel on the bushes, lights on all the eaves, wreaths on every door and white rope lights around every tree. “The best for Christ’s holiday.” Mercy adds. Yeah sure – for Him, Kirk replied. They are very successful you know. Bill really knows how to run a business, unlike my other daughter & her no good husband, Carlos.
They had me over one year, to spend Xmas at Bill’s house. I helped Bill put up the lights. I even remember that Bill & I climbed up to the roof to put up Santa’s sleigh next to the chimney. Ahh! It was funny, I was holding Santa while Bill was tying Rudolph to the red-brick chimney, Kirk continues. As Bill came around to my side, he slipped on a wet roof tile. I instantly reached out, grabbed his hand and plopped him back up onto the ridge cap – all while still holding on to Santa. All this excitement, while looking out over the blue ocean and seeing the most beautiful red sunset I have ever seen. God, what splendor!
“Good save, old man!” said Bill with a sigh of relief. It was really funny! – after the fact…
That was the last time I was in California. “Why is that?” asked Mercy. I don’t know! We had a discussion. They said I was too frail & that the trip would be too tiring for me to endure again, continues Kirk. They were right. Don’t you remember, that following Autumn the doctors confined me to this God forsaken wheelchair.
Mercy always wondered what could have occurred that separated Kirk & his wife from the kids. They treat each other as acquaintances, not as family. Even when the kids call to see how Kirk is doing, they refer to him as “him.” “Hi Mercy, how is he doing? Everything is ok? Tell him I said hi.” Not as dad, pop or sir, just him – coldly. They ask about him, but usually do not speak with him directly.
Most of my stories come from my dreams. For this one, I dreamt that I was confined to a wheelchair and I remember the feeling of helplessness. It was the most pitiful situation, but I do remember being too self-consumed that I could not focus on the face of the woman who was helping me around. She seemed to be very familiar, but I could not make out a face. She was very warm, soft & helpful – like an Angel. But most of all I got the feeling that she cared more about helping me than her own needs. Lots like Mercy, but I could not feel her presence.
This story comes from a time when my family & I were visiting my mother-in-law at the nursing home. I would see old folks there who were lonely on the holidays – some of them did not have anybody to visit them while others had a very large family – but still no visitors. My wife and my son befriended a couple of them and used to bring them gifts for Xmas. I would see their eyes light up when my son gave one of them a brown teddy bear with dark brown button eyes. The joy they felt made my son smile.
So I’m posting this here to remember those old folks on this holiday season. And also to revive my writings that I have put off for years.