In haunted harmony
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come..."*
I drop off the books to my book buddies at the assisted living facility and head to the office. I pull onto Ocean Street and head toward Highway 1, my view awash with sun and sky.
Then I see it, what I saw a week before while cleaning the windshield; what I heard two weeks before while we drove back home from the emergency trip to Visalia: the chip in the top right corner, bleeding tiny spider veins its center.
One of my book buddies - a melancholy man of 82 with no children, living family or close friends - told me today he didn't belong there, that there's nothing to do, that all the residents are senile or sick, that I should keep working and never retire, that I should never be alone; even reading doesn't fill his emptiness.
He suffers from depression. He takes meds that don't work. He's lays there on his small bed, telling me these things, nothing else in his room except his floor lamp and an dark green recliner, which isn't his. Prior to this visit he didn't say much while sharing a somewhat sunny disposition with a wink and a smile and a "thank you, I haven't read that one yet."
I tell him my baby is turning one. He smiles and tells me how great that is. I tell him he should get out and walk in the sunshine, because he can. He smiles and says, "I'm not interested, but thanks."
He says, "I have no incentive to live. I'd be better off if I had passed away. I don't belong here."
No mention of God, of love, of hope. No elevate patch.
I start to say something, then pull my lips together and nod. Then I say, "You should get out and walk."
He nods politely. I wish him well, telling him more books on their way soon.
I pull onto Highway 1, the windshield's upper right corner mocking me, reminding me of imperfection, of falling apart, of an old idea whose time has come.
It's last Friday and I put on Bea's shoes. We go outside and she walks unsteadily but
determined, grasping two of my fingers to balance her stride. I have to bend down slightly so as not to pull her arm up too much.
I tell her, "You're going to help daddy water some plants."
She babbles and says, "A-da, a-da, phhrrumph."
I smile. She smiles, trips and twists. I grab her other arm quickly to prevent hurting her, and then we're on our way again.
Bea in one hand and filled watering can in the other, I proceed to water.
"How's my baby?" I ask. She babbles and woots. I smile.
The pepper tree we saved from certain death almost two summers past grows tall and lush in the upper right of the backyard, its leaves bleeding spider veins from its center. To the right of it is where a future Bea fort will stand, where she'll play and dream and grow tall and lush.
Bea woots. "Da-da, a-da."
We enter the garage, open the door and walk down the steep driveway. Bea staggers forward but doesn't twist or fall. We water a few more plants out front then walk slowly back up the driveway.
Once inside, she babbles and woots some more. I take off her shoes and she toddles off for her fuzzy.
She takes it gingerly, plunks her left thumb in her mouth, then rotates the fuzzy until she finds the best corner of all time.
Comforted, I smile. Bea turns one very soon, and we didn't break her. Phew.
"A-da," she says. Babble. Woot.
Then she trips over her fuzzy and falls.
Today I am haunted harmony. Today I am alive.
I long for Mama and Bea.
*Lyrics from "Family Tree" by TV On The Radio