Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One afternoon, among the many that Scott and I have spent traveling back and forth to wound specialist appointments, we decided that it would be a fun change of pace to stop at one of the many ‘designer’ coffee houses. It was a lovely fall afternoon and a cup of coffee, under an umbrella, on a potted plant patio seemed like a serene way to end a day that had been tainted with freeway stress and doctors.

We decided to stop at one of the coffee shops that was near the University. We had fun teasing one another with the image we would create among the tense college students that gather there with their class books, yellow markers, open notebooks, pens, pencils and caffeine over-loads.

As we sat there quietly sipping our coffee my eyes were drawn not to the students trying hard to convey their dedication to learning, but to an old man that was slowly pushing his wheelchair onto the edge of the driveway that gave cars an easy access to the many shops that were in the area. I was worried that he was going to get clipped by a bumper as the cars tried to maneuver past him. But just as I touched Scott’s arm to alert him to the danger that the old man was putting himself in the man reached into a bag that was hanging on the side of his wheelchair and pulled out a harmonica and a tin box. He set the tin box on a tray that sat nicely on the arms of the wheelchair, much like the tray that is attached to a child’s high chair.

Having nicely set up his equipment the man put the harmonica in his mouth and started creating his version of music. The only problem with his version was that it only contained 3 notes. He blew into that harmonica with as much energy as the most noted harmonica player, but all he could produce was the same three notes over and over. Then after a minute or two of 3 note music he would start singing, in the same three notes, some of the songs that were popular in his day. He sang with the same gusto that he played the harmonica, but he was unable to pronounce most of the words so that they could be understood. What could be understood was his right leg bouncing up and down with the music that he obviously thought he was creating. His leg definitely had more then 3 notes going for it.

Over in the corner, sitting propped against a building was a beautiful brand new wheelchair. There was no one around that looked as if they needed a brand new wheelchair. The only people that looked as if they needed walking help were the old 3 note singing man and me, and we both were sitting in ’our’ wheelchairs. Scott and I were totally perplexed. Why would a wheelchair user abandon a beautiful new chair like that?

In the meantime, the old man sitting in the path of moving cars was very busy. Instead of getting clipped by a bumper, he was clipping the bumpers drivers. He was hauling in the money. That tin cup of his was almost full to the top ..... when all of a sudden from between some parked cars there appeared an old lady hobbling on damaged legs. She was focused on the old man that had stopped singing for a minute or two. He was taking a break to chew on a sandwich that one of the passing people had set on his tray. She approached him with a scowl on her face and although we couldn’t hear what she was saying it was obvious that she was giving him hell for taking a rest. She lifted the tin cup and poured the money in a bag she had hanging over her arm. Then she scolded him until he started singing again. She eventually made her way over to the propped wheelchair, pulled it out, and sat down for a rest.

Scott and I laughed until we could hardly breathe. Those two had a great racket going, but it was obvious that she had the toughest job. Keeping that old man singing, harmonica blowing, and leg pumping was hard work. Carting all that money on a bag thrown over her arm must have been exhausting too.

The hustle of those two people tickled Scott and I so much that we chuckled about them on and off all summer. We often wondered where they were, but we never saw them again.

Then last week Scott, John, and I were talking about how much money this current injury to my leg has cost me. It has really put a great big hole in my finances. Then there is Scott. He got hit with a surprise a few weeks ago and finds himself up against a financial brick wall. It will be a few months before he will feel he's even again. John feeling a bit left out opened a letter from his brother and discovered that he too has been sideswiped with a financial situation that he didn’t expect. Now what is disgusting here is that the three of us, on fixed incomes, have always taken care of the other two when there is any kind of money shortage. But money shortages have hit all three of us at the same time ... now that is just unfair! And that is when the memory of the old man and the old woman came to mind.

What I think we should do is this. Scott’s arm, from his surgery for the shattered elbow, hurts him all the time. When the pain gets to heavy he rests his forearm on the top of his head. He may look a little odd for a bit, but the pain subsides. And that is what matters.

It’s obvious what Johns problems are. His legs have become very weak and they often spasm as he is walking. The spasms in turn make his legs go in directions that he normally wouldn’t want to travel so he sometimes finds himself at the end of things that he didn’t want to be at the beginning of.

Me? I sit in a wheelchair. My leg is wrapped up like a mummy. My back sometimes feels like a horse has kicked me, which makes me sit on the front the chair like I am preparing to jump up and gallop away.

I think we should capitalize on these absurdities our bodies are putting us through. Christmas is so close that, here at least, you cant go into a store without being hit with carols, trees, baubles, and Santa’s. I want Scott to put his arm on his head and let me wrap gauze under his chin, over and around his head and arm. Then I am going to pin a Santa hat onto his upraised elbow. We’ll find him a red coat and a fake white wig and beard and he’ll be Santa Clause. He’ll blow the 3 note Christmas carols and stamp his legs in time with “Here Comes Santa Clause”.

John is the most obviously heart rendering. Soooooo, I’ll cover his rollator with Christmas garlands, put an empty Christmas cookie tin in his basket, and find him a green jacket and elf hat to wear. He’ll be Santa’s Elf. As he is the only one of the three of us that can carry a tune, he will sing the 3 note Christmas Carols. I am especially excited about his leg spasms. If they start just at the right time he’ll be able to dance as he sings. That’ll really get to the Christmas shoppers.

Now I really have the hardest job. I’m gonna wear a red dress, and I hate red, a red hat, and put tinsel and a garland around the mummy dressing on my leg. I’m going to be Mrs Santa. It’ll be my job to keep Santa and the Elf moving. It’ll be my job to collect the money and disperse it as I deem proper. And it'll be my job to see that Santa and the Elf don't stop to eat when they should be working. I'm gonna be exhaused!

And where I go the beagle goes, sooooo I’ll put a red hat on his head and hang some balls around his neck and he will be our Security Chief.

Then I think we should hit the malls. Cant you just see it! We'd be RICH by the time Christmas season was over.

Love, Pennie

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