by Bob'n Around
Short stories to bring the spirit of the holiday back into your heart.
|It wasn't a good season for me. In Spite of all the holiday cheer, it was hard to want to get out of bed in the morning. Everyone has those days, but this depression had been going on for weeks. Usually, doing something for someone else would help me shake myself out of it. Nothing seemed to be working this year.
A concerned friend suggested visiting the retirement nursing home hidden a few blocks away. Before going, I stood in a long line of disgruntled shoppers and walked out of a nearby store with small scented candles to give away. It wasn't an unselfish act. The smell of disinfectant in the home is so cloying I'd have had to wear nose plugs otherwise.
They were shorthanded, as usual when I walked in the entrance. Worse, I hadn't called ahead so they didn't know what to do with me. I sat in the foyer while the head nurse made up her mind, my plastic shopping bag full of 1/2" candles nudged between my feet.
"You a relative? I haven't seen you here before?"
I look across at the oldest pair of eyes I'd ever seen. They were dark, rheumy yellow, so sunken in the withered face I had to strain to look into them. The wheelchair swallowed up this living prune. "No, I just had some time on my hands and ..."
"... and felt sorry for us so came over to spread some cheer." It finished for me. I couldn't tell yet if I was speaking to male or female. "What's in the bag, sweetheart?" Female then. "It's scented candles. The staff said I couldn't leave them here. Someone might actually light one and forget. That might cause a fire."
She nodded shakily, turning the nod into a Saint Vitis dance before her head finally came back to rest. "Hand me it. I'll see to it." Her hand looked like there'd never been any muscle between skin and bone. I looked around but we were as alone as if I were back sleeping day and night in my bed. I shrugged and put the sack in her lap. Candles rolled back towards me as she adjusted her bony knees to hold the sack.
This your nephew, Mrs. Carson? He looks just like you, dear. Just sign this release and she's yours for the afternoon, son." A new nurse spoke hurriedly, thrusting the paper-like white wings fluttering in the air towards my nose.
I had to move my feet or be run over by the old lady. "He's always late!" She snapped. "Come on, then. You don't have to feed me or nothing. I know right where I want to go... and it's somewhere you've NEVER been."
I was intrigued and found myself chuckling under my breath. Who was entertaining whom, here? "My car's that one." I pointed, following her through dirty snow that should have been cleaned off the sidewalk a day ago. It didn't take long to get her situated in the front passenger seat. She was as light as a bird. She still clutched the bag of candles so she didn't even smell that bad.
She pointed to the mountains about 15 minutes away and shrilled "There, Jack! And make it quick. I don't want to die on ya before we get there." I couldn't help asking "What about your nephew?" The rheumy eyelids twitched open wider as she poked a bony finger into my chest. "He's always late, sonny boy. He wouldn't appreciate what we're doing, anyway. Just leaves a bag a lemon drops, kisses the air and departs."
We'd entered the snow-packed mountain road so I had to slow down and drive carefully to prevent skidding off. No-one had called me sonny boy in years. I was almost sixty. It took a little getting used to. "This won't take long." she wheezed grouchily. "Head up yonder near that snowbank and turn around." I smiled tightly to myself. She was in a hurry, all right. Afraid her get-away driver might lose courage, maybe.
Snow had begun falling in big fat drops. "Park!" I did, leaving the engine running so the windows wouldn't fog up and the chill seep in. "See that?" She barked. She was leaning forward for a better view. I did too. Through the gathering storm rose trees like church steeples. The surrounding rock was practically straight up and down, with the heavens descending in grey mist. "Well?" She peered at me suspiciously. "What is it?"
"It's real pretty. I'm glad I could take you out. Must get kinda boring there all the time." I motioned vaguely towards where we'd been.
"Nope!" She pronounced with some satisfaction. "That's God's Living Prayer. Sit and listen to it for a spell." She slid back in her seat, doing just that.
"What?" I spoke before her needle eyed glance pierced me quiet. I wondered how many drill sergeants she'd trained in how many wars. With no more response from her... I settled down to wait her out.
Slowly, the whisper of falling snow changed the landscape, flocking the trees before our eyes, painting a fairyland picture of solemn beauty. "When you think there's no more good in the world, sonny boy. You come up here and listen to God's Living Prayer. It'll set ya straight for a spell." I nodded without speaking, letting the moment expand my soul, thinking about what she'd said.
God isn't Santa Claus, dropping finished gifts in our laps. He is a God of change. His living prayer is more than the ever-changing beauty around us if we but take a moment to appreciate it. It's the changes in our souls that happens when we do.