Time to Savor the Blossoms

Posted on Tuesday 29 June 2010

He was small, but tough. Very tough. And very small.

When they needed someone to crawl through unimaginably tight spaces and fix, find or forage for what might keep them all alive another hour, he was their man.

He was small and tough and very intelligent. He spoke with authority, certainty and complexity. He didn’t have to tell you he was right. He always was.

I never knew this brave, tough, smart-as-hell soldier who fought in a gritty war that occurred a generation ago. Others did, however, and I have gleaned from them sporadic, bright bits and pieces of his colorful past.

The man I know is small and sweet and never remembers my name. He re-introduces himself to me every 30 minutes on a bad night, twice a shift on a good night. Most nights he sits quietly beside his wife, drinking his beer and enjoying a plate of shrimp or chicken or whatever the night’s special is.

Now and then, this small, sweet man wanders off, which, in turn, sets off a flurry of mild panic as his wife and friends check the bathrooms and search the outside deck and parking lot. They always find him, however, and bring him back inside.

He mostly calls me “Princess” because he remembers that moniker, and he offers to get ice when I need it and take out the trash when the night is ending. At first, I refused his offers to help, but his wife begged me to allow him to perform a few chores each night, “Because it makes him feel useful.” So now I do. And he always does, with a smile.

Once when I brought the dogs in to say hello, he snuck a couple of fries and shrimp to each. “No!” cried his wife as she realized what he was up to. “Don’t feed that to those dogs, it’ll make them sick.”

I dug in my purse and pulled out an ancient bag of treats. “Here, you can feed them these,” I told him. His wife mouthed a silent “thank you.”

As I drove to work yesterday, I saw him walking along the side of the road. “Uh oh,” I thought, slowing down. Should I stop and pick him up? Did anyone know he was out on his own?

At that moment, I watched him stop beside a tree and pull down a branch filled with white blossoms. He held the flowery cluster to his face and breathed deeply. Then he smiled.

Seconds later, his wife walked out the front door of a nearby house and called to him. He waved to her. All was okay. I sped up and continued on my way.

What would it feel like to live every day when every day is timeless? I wondered as I faced the first of what is a long stint of 27 shifts over the next 21 days. What would it feel like to have all the time in the world to take as much time as you want to enjoy a simple flower?

In his case, he has earned this time. As for me, time eventually will tell.

14 Comments for 'Time to Savor the Blossoms'

    June 29, 2010 | 3:34 pm

    That was a beautiful piece RG.

    June 29, 2010 | 7:19 pm

    That was so lovely and so tender. In lesser hands that man would have come off as nothing but broken. You made him timeless. It’s a wonderful tribute.

    June 30, 2010 | 6:14 am

    What a wonderful entry, RG. My grandfather comes from one of the keys and fought in the same war. Now dementia has taken hold but the joy and simplicity he finds in things like you describe is immeasurable and I thank God for folks like you who would slow down just enough to make sure this man is okay.

    Restaurant Gal
    June 30, 2010 | 7:03 am

    Art–Thank you.
    Jennifer–Again, thank you.
    andrea–Because every Key and every neighborhood on a Key is a small world unto itself, there are many who would slow down, I am sure.

    Texas Fan
    June 30, 2010 | 2:12 pm

    Well done, RG, well done.

    June 30, 2010 | 3:39 pm

    Bless his heart and bless his wife for her understanding; she lives the “in sickness” part of their vows

    June 30, 2010 | 4:36 pm

    Beautiful – just like you.

    Restaurant Gal
    June 30, 2010 | 5:15 pm

    Texas Fan–Thank you.
    Jali–Thank you my friend. So good to hear from you.

    July 1, 2010 | 8:17 pm

    I’m watching someone I love disappear more and more into that abyss. I am grateful to those who take the time to love him as he is now, as well as those who knew and loved him before. It is a very long journey, but made much easier by those who show the kindness you shared with that man and his wife.

    July 1, 2010 | 9:13 pm

    Fantastically told. Thank you for sharing.

    July 2, 2010 | 8:10 am

    Many times, the only way we can survive is by living in the moment. If we think too far ahead, if we see the bigger picture, then we collapse under the weight of it all

    July 4, 2010 | 11:08 am

    Hit that one out of the park, RG.

    Restaurant Gal
    July 4, 2010 | 4:58 pm

    mur–So nice to hear from you. Peace and strength to you.
    Pepe–Thank you. And thank you for reading.
    Kim–More than you know, your comment was so welcome.
    DodgerGirl–So good to hear from you, too. Thank you, thank you.

    July 7, 2010 | 10:06 am

    I’ve often wondered about that. My friend says Alzheimer’s isn’t bad, everything is a new experience. But somehow for those around you it seems like the same bad dream over and over.

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