Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Depends on the hotdog

Even with Alzheimers battling for supremacy in her mind, Evelyn perked up when I told her we were going out for hotdogs. Most of her time with me is spent in silence, unless I turn on the music. Then she sings along, or more often now, mumbles along. If I sing with her, her words become more certain, more clear, and she smiles back at me while singing.
Comer, her sweet husband who seems to be slowing a bit more each day I see him, patted her hand, "We used to love hotdogs."
"Do they ever make them here?" I asked, pointing at the Assisted Living Home.
"Yes, but they are terrible."
"Well, I have heard that the hotdogs at Sonic are great. Have you ever been there?"
"No! Sounds fun!"
"Evelyn," I said, "We are going to Sonic to get hotdogs. What do you like on your hotdog?"
She looked at me, and wrinkled her forehead in thought. Finally she said, "It depends on the hotdog."

We pulled out our rock and roll CD from the 50's. As the wopdebops started belting out of the speaker, Evelyn and Comer held hands and Evelyn didn't sing.
"Do you know this one?"
"It's kind of wild," I laughed.
"Wild...." she said.
Comer patted her hand, "We're having a wild time today."

As we drove, Comer mentioned he needed batteries for his TV remote.
"Do we pass a drug store? I could run in while you wait."
Of course, that running bit was metaphorical.
"Of course!" I said.
Asherel looked crestfallen. It was already 1:00 and she was hungry. However, she didn't say anything.
I pulled up to the drugstore.
"Do you want me to run in?" I asked.
"No," he said, "I'll just be a minute."
Twenty minutes later, I told Asherel perhaps she should look in on Comer.
"I can't go in there," she said, "You don't know what people think about teenagers."
I stared at her, "What do you mean? Just go!"
She very reluctantly went to the door, timidly glanced in and then came running back.
"He's third in line," she said, "But I am serious about that teenager thing. A policeman at the States Contest for Science Olympiad screamed at us for sitting on a wall."
"What else were you doing?" I asked, "Were you doing drugs?"
From the back seat, Evelyn chortled. Even Evelyn, with the marching deterioration of her mind with Alzheimers recognized the irony of that sweet, good girl being accused of drug abuse.
"No," said Asherel, "We were just sitting there. He thought we might fall over backwards off the edge and he wanted us to be careful."
Evelyn was still chuckling.

Finally Comer emerged and we went on for our hotdogs. I read the huge list of hotdog topping choices. They both listened carefully. This was their first good hotdog in a year and they wanted to get it right.
"Chilicheese dog!" declared Comer.
"I believe I will have chilicheese dog too," said Evelyn.
They both finished every bite of their chilicheese dog. I guess it was the right choice.

As I returned them to the Home, I wondered where we would go next week. I am running out of new adventures. We can't go too far, and we can't leave the car. I wish I could do more. Yet, every time I drive up, I see them through the window, sitting side by side. They are always leaning forward expectantly, holding hands, looking so anxious and excited for our outing.

When Asherel and I returned home, we finished the true story of Amos Fortune. Amos was a slave who bought his way to freedom, and then became a very successful and well off tanner. He bought 3 different women their freedom, and was throughout his life, a devoted Christian, and a humble, good man. He recognized the injustice of his position as a black man in the segregated society he entered, but he also refused to be enslaved again. He would not be enslaved to hatred. At the end of his life, he had amassed a small fortune. He brought it to the executor of his will, and told him that when he died, he wanted the money given to the church and to the school in town. Both those places had made life hard for Amos. He could not sit with the white folk at church. He and his family were relegated to the unheated, cold balcony at the far end. In school, his daughter was taunted, and ridiculed. He had to bribe the teacher to let another black child remain in the school.
"Why Amos?" asked the executor of the will, "I thought those places gave you some trouble."
"That's why," he said.
Later, when his wife asked him with all the many needs he could have assuaged with his money, and with all his life of helping others, "You'd set all the world free if you could, wouldn't you Amos?!"
I love his answer.
"Just the part of it that I could touch. That's all any man can do."

Just the part of the world I can touch. Touch that part. Evelyn was right. You can't get all the toppings. You get the right topping for the moment. It depends on the hotdog God puts on your plate.

Exodus 4:15
I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do


  1. My favorite blogs of yours are about this couple. I love the stories. I wish I could see what they look like. Maybe you can do a video of them singing along with you in the car.

  2. I appreciate those comments Melanie! Thanks. Comer has a book now on Amazon, called Comer Lafayette's Poetry, and a picture of him and Evelyn is on the first page and on the back as well. I think you can see that if you go to the Amazon site, but if not, you can buy his book!

  3. Hi Vicky, Enjoying your blog as usual. When it became difficult to get Gramma in and out of the car to go to favorite restaurants at 98 years young, we began to have picnics in the car. Especially at this time of year, I would back into a parking spot with a good view and we could look at the leaves while we enjoyed take-out in the car. You and Asherel really make their week for them . . . God's hand and feet to Comer and Evelyn : ) Great example to us young and old.

  4. Thankyou. Those car .picnics do seem to mean alot to them