Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Light

I gazed despairingly at the wine stained library book. I had finished it, and defiled it, and now, my conscience would let me delay no longer- I must confess my crime. I pictured going to the library clerks and handing them the book, shame dripping from every pore.
"Forgive me, Library, for I have sinned."
I just could not do it. I could not face their wrath as they first beheld the book that they had loaned me in good faith, the book that was brand new with the binding yet uncreased, the pages creamy white...until I had dripped upon them. So instead, I wrote a note. I tucked the note into the book and asked Asherel if she wanted to join me on errands.
"First, to the library," I said, "I am returning the book and owning up to what I did."
"You wrote them a note?" she asked, looking at the little paper tucked in the book.
"Yes, and I will put the book in the book deposit and they will read the note and decide what my punishment will be. Read the note, and tell me what you think."
She picked up the book, looked at the purple stain on the edges, and pulled out my note. She read for a few seconds and then looked up at me.
"Grape juice? You said you spilled grape juice?"
"Well if I told them wine they would think I was reading their book in a drunken stupor. Anyway, it was grape juice....fermented grape juice."
"You are going to offer them the book you wrote as payment for the stain?" she asked reading on.
"Yes, doesn't that sound like a fair exchange? When we get there, take the book just inside the doors and drop it in the adult book depository. Be sure the note doesn't drop out. I am ready to bear the consequences of my sin." As long as it doesn't cost me too much....
"Except, I have to do it?" she asked, as I nudged her out of her seat when we reached the library.
She sighed, picked up the book, and hopped out of the car.

Earlier in the day, I had gathered an assortment of Christmas cookies. My boys and Karissa wouldn't be in till the evening, so my day was free. I had called Comer at the assisted living center the day before. He was still feeling too poorly for our weekly outing, and Evelyn was still recovering from a bad fall. I had so wanted to take them out to see Christmas Lights.The nurses in the Alzhiemer unit felt it best she remain resting. But, I thought, I could still visit, and bring Christmas cookies.
I knocked on Comer's door. No answer. I knocked more loudly. Still no answer. I pounded on the door. Then I heard shuffling steps and the blinds peeked open a little. I jumped up and down waving at him.

"Well hello!" he said, opening the door, "What a surprise!"
"I couldn't take you out to see Christmas, so I brought Christmas to you," I said, handing him the cookies.
He smiled, and said, "Come in, come in!"
I sat on a straight back chair facing him as he settled in his recliner.
"How's Evelyn?" I asked.
"Not well," he said, his eyes misting, head shaking, "She's in bed now."
"Well take those cookies to her later and you two share them, ok? That will perk her up."
"You know she fell," he said.
"Yes, I know."
"She's gained a lot of weight. She won't eat anything herself, so I feed her, you know, coax every bite."
"Maybe you don't need to coax quite as much," I suggested.
"Yes, I have decided that," he agreed, "I can't pick her up when she falls anymore!"
"But don't stop coaxing till after she has the cookies. No one should diet at Christmas."
"It was just a question of time before she fell."
"Maybe she needs a walker," I said.
"Yes, we are coming to that conclusion. She certainly won't be dancing."
"Were you two good dancers?"
"Oh yes, won many contests. On a cruise ship out of hundreds of couples we won first place in the rumba."
He smiled with twinkling eyes, and I could tell he was envisioning his beautiful bride dancing on the polished floors as the ship swayed in the ocean.
"Do you have Christmas plans?" I asked. I knew that usually the two old people spent the holidays in the Home. Comer had told me before that the holidays were just another day in this place.
However, his sad eyes lifted and he said, "Yes! My daughter is coming to bring us to her home for Christmas brunch."
I knew that Comer had been there for Thanksgiving, but not Evelyn. I think it was very hard for the daughter to handle the blunt trauma of Alzheimers and as far as I knew, since being afflicted, the old couple had never been to the daughter's nearby home, but that once for Comer alone.
"Both of you?" I asked surprised.
"Yes," he said, beaming, "She is making Christmas brunch for both of us."
God bless you, daughter, I thought.

Having dropped the library book, Asherel and I continued on to finish our errands. We were walking between stores when a very thin and very old woman stepped away from the wall where she had been leaning.
"Do you have something to eat?" she asked.
My first thought was how much money we were spending with all the kids home and Christmas gifts, and Asherel's various lessons and activities. The woman looked at me, but I didn't get the sense she was seeing me. Her eyes looked empty. I glanced at the store we stood beside. It was the grocery store.
"No, but let's get you something," I said. Asherel and the woman followed as I turned into the store.
"What would you like?"
"Rotisserie Chicken," she said.
I smiled. At least she had not lost a sense of what she wanted. We went to the hot chicken and she chose one.
"Do you have a place to stay?" I asked.
"I am in the Women's shelter," she said.
"What happened that landed you there?"
"I lost my job two months ago."
"Oh, what did you do?"
"Computer chips," she said, then mumbled some other explanations, but I was busy trying to figure out the self check out system.
"Are you involved with a church?" I asked, handing her the chicken as we stepped out of the store.
"Yes, salvation army."
"Well God Bless you, and I hope you find a job. Jesus loves you."
Asherel and I walked on.
"I wonder if she really was homeless," I said.
"She had awfully nice clothes," said Asherel.
"Yes, I noticed that, but she was working until 2 months ago. I guess we will never know if she was just scamming us...but I figure if someone would stoop that low, they do need help. Maybe an act of kindness will spur them on to hope in something better for themselves."

All my children arrived home safely and we played Wii games, and lit the first Hanukkah candle. Karissa, my daughter in law, had never seen the giant book I had made when the boys were young that tells the Hanukkah story. She good naturedly read it out loud while my now grown kids submitted to hearing the story again, as I turned the giant pages with my illustrations in brightly colored markers.
"As we light the candles in this home," Karissa read, "We are reminded of how Jesus, Yeshua, was light to the world, and lights the soul of all who come to Him. We are reminded to spread the light."

Matthew 5:
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

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