Friday, August 5, 2011

Images before him

My old friends weren't waiting on the porch of the Senior Assisted Living center when I pulled up for our weekly outing. I parked illegally and scurried in to find them. Comer sat by the window in his room reading his paper.

"Comer! Did you forget our date?" I cried.

Comer never forgets. His wife Evelyn, with Alzheimers only remembers me as the lady that takes them out for junk food and plays old songs we sing together. She never remembers...but Comer never forgets.

"OH,I thought you were out of town this week!"
"Can you still get Evelyn and go to lunch?"
"Yes, sure can!"

And then he gave me the briefcase filled with his poems. I had told him during our last visit, that now that I knew how, I could take those poems and make them into a published book for him. He showed me the scraps of old paper, with his neat writing.

"Here they are," he said, "This is my favorite." He pulled out a yellowed sheet.
"I can't read it now," I said, "I'm parked illegally. But let's put it on top. It's the first one I will read."

 I sent him off to get Evelyn from the memory care unit one floor below, and bustled out. As I passed his dresser, I noticed Evelyn's wig on a head mold sitting atop a shelf. Evelyn had worn this wig for 40 years, Comer had told me. She had only recently stopped wearing it- scalp issues I think. It was funny to see that while Evelyn herself could not sleep in the same room as her husband, for her own safety; he had the image of her always before him in that beloved wig.


As we drove eating Arby's roast beef , Evelyn and I belting out songs from Carousel, I asked Comer, "What do you want to name your book?"
"Oh, I hadn't thought about it." He paused in his chewing, and looked pensive.
"Well, think on it, and let me know. And what address should I use to send the royalties to?"
"Royalties!" he laughed, "Oh I don't expect to make money!"
"You might," I said, "You might be the next Grandma Moses...er Grandpa Moses."


After dropping my old friends back, I was busy all day with learning the arduous task of how to market my own book. I spent hours writing contacts, dog magazines, rescue groups, etc., and finally collapsed in bed. I never had a chance to start reading collating, and typing Comer's poems.


I don't know what I expected....but it wasn't what I finally sat to read this morning, when I  pulled out the poem on top. Comer's favorite.  I realized that looking at the frail, shuffling old man he had become, I had not expected much. Shame on me. Anyone who has lived 93 years has something worth saying. If there is one lesson of life I need to absorb, it is to learn to listen expectantly, respectfully, always. Sometimes God uses completely unexpected messengers.



 I will spend the day making my 93 year old friend his book of poetry. I hope one day, you all might buy his book.

Here is the first verse of my old friend's favorite poem, written many years ago:______________________________
Every life is many days, day after day.
We walk through ourselves, meeting ghosts
Giants, young, old, wives, widows
But always meeting ourselves.
______________________________

Joel 2:
27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
   that I am the LORD your God,
   and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.
The Day of the LORD
 28 “And afterward,
   I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
   your old men will dream dreams,

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