Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wake up, Mr. Harris!

Elyce Feliz, photo
"I'm glad you stopped by," the man said, attempting a welcoming smile. "I didn't want to get out of bed this morning."

Shuffling over to the stove, he put the kettle on for some tea. I moved aside old mail and papers to place a vase of fresh lilacs on his table. His skin was pale, dry and translucent. The raggedy sweatshirt emphasized his worn, stooped shoulders. 

We sat on a bench under his mulberry tree and he told me his troubles with sleeping, depression and boredom with life. The fresh air was a treat after the stale odors of the house.

I had suggested on my last visit that he go to church and out to a restaurant during the weekend. 

"I decided to have a quiet weekend," he explained.  "It was a bad decision. I got pretty down and disappointed in myself. It doesn't take a whole weekend to rest up from doing nothing. I'll go out next weekend and find something interesting to do."

"Next weekend?" I objected. "Do something today."

He chuckled reluctantly. "Like what?"

Our neighborhood was waking up around us. We were entertained by children playing at the bus stop. Birdsong filled the air in the tree above us and squirrels were scampering up and down the trees. The sun was beginning to shine and the gray clouds were rolling away.

"Wake up, Mr. Harris," I urged as he followed me back into the kitchen. "God gave you today for a reason. Don't you want to find out what it is?"

I opened his windows to let fresh spring breezes waft in while he put on his walking shoes and combed his hair.

Walking through the neighborhood, he started a grocery list. He had once enjoyed cooking and would make a favorite recipe. "Oh, and I will pick up some of that newfangled almond milk I saw advertised. Craziest thing I ever heard. Must come from nutty cows," he laughed.

His dusty bread machine came off the shelf in his garage. A list of books he might enjoy from the library was jotted down on a note pad. He debated between Oreos and Fig Newtons, then decided he would bake his own cookies."

As I was leaving, he saluted me with his bottle of water and zipped up the front steps to "shower, shave and do a bit of spiffing". 

I know 'tis but a Dream, yet feel more anguish
Than if 'twere Truth. It has often been so:
Must I die under it?  Is no one near?
Will no one hear these stifled groans and wake me?
           ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

No comments:

Post a Comment