Christmas 1998 - Part 3
"Jim, this box is special. Hide it under the armchair in the corner. It will be safe there and I'll know where it is when I am ready for it."
Jim took the box and headed for the chair mumbling, "Hide it under the chair! My back aches from carrying boxes and she wants me to bend over and put a box under a chair. What can be so special it has to be hidden under a chair; a box is a box is a box. Maybe next year I'll put HER in a box and hide HER under a chair."
I smiled. Jim grumled. The box got hidden under the chair.
The above 'Christms box' conversation took place two days before the house had become a faux warehouse. Since then my house had become a jumble of boxes, strewn unpacked Christmas paraphernalia, visiting family members, their dogs, and a prevailing aura of chaos.
My mother, the Director of Personnel, was in her version of heaven. She had two of her children, one grandchild, and two great grandchildren all in the same vicinity, and she saw a task that could only be accomplished with her amazing talents. The Director of Personnel knew exactly what was needed in the face of chaos........'direct direction'. And direct she did.
She directed my father and my eight year old granddaugher to put up the Christmas tree. "It's color coded Homer. Just match the colors and stick the branches in the holes." She directed Jim to open the shed, carry out, and re-stack all the boxes that she had directed me to empty. Jim was slightly peeved. After all, he liked being the Director of Personnel too. He did glimpse a way to salvage his pride though. He poured himself a cup of coffee and went outside and sat under a tree, away from the house chaos, and waited for someone to yell, "Another box is empty". Jim had become the Director of Outdoor Personnel. My son was directed to handle all ancillary tasks as they popped up, including doing something about providing lunch for the personnel that the Director was directing. My son thought that Taco Bell would work nicely and although there is a TacoBell less then a mile from the house he decided that the Taco Bell 45 minutes up the coast made better sense. Just as my brother and his wife were slated to receive their directions from the Director they remembered something that they had forgotten that they urgently needed to remember about something some place that was far away from this place and they grabbed their three dogs, ran to their truck, and laid rubber getting out of my driveway.
So the core personnel diligently set to their tasks while the Director of Personnel checked her blood sugar. "Where did David have to go to find lunch? I'm going to have to eat soon.' Director's need sustenance!
The dogs! My dog, Snags, is a spoiled 'only dog'. He has his own kitty cat that lives with him. They often share a bed. That shows that he is not totally selfish, but there is one area that neither man nor beast can enter without him granting permission. That is the area were he stores his tennis balls. Nothing or no one is allowed to touch his tennis balls unless he is of a mind to play catch and brings the ball to the chosen one. One of my parent's dogs, Barkly, used to be a farm dog. He was used to bossing all the farm animals. And he loved tennis balls too. He really felt that my spoiled 'only dog' should follow orders and share his balls. When Barkly came with my parents, what we used to call the "Tennis Ball Wars" would commence. So as the Director directed the humans the dogs were yipping, yapping, running through the aisles of boxes, growling, and scattering tennis balls all over what available walking space there had been.
The Christmas tree eventually got assembled with only one minor problem. Many of the longer branches had been inserted on the top and the shorter branches had been stuck into bottom holes. The tree looked like a color blind drunk had assembled it. But what the hell! The Director was satisfied, the assemblers were proud, and the tree would make a great conversation piece. The Director of Outdoor Personnel had wandered inside and taken it upon himself to pick up tossed paper, bubble wrap, packing straw, and various other discarded 'thingamabobs' in between his trips with the 'out' boxes. He also startedputting the lights on the drunk Christmas tree. My son found his way home from the Taco Bell, so lunch was served and the Director's blood sugar was stabilized. Things were beginning to come together. A semblance of Christmas cheer was evolving out of the chaos.
"Jim, now would be a good time for you to get me the box that you hid under the chair," I smiled.
"What box, under what chair?" was the confused answer I received. (This was the Christmas just before Jim was diagnosed with the on-set of Alzheimer's disease. My father and my friend were both losing their sense of themselves and their memories.)
I pointed to the chair that I had seen the box hidden under, but when Jim looked there the box was gone. Jim was confused and I was on the verge of panic. Where was the special box??????????
We looked under, over, around, and between everything in every room; no box. We looked in the recently trashed trash; no box. We looked in every empty box that we coerced Jim into pulling out of his efficiently stacked empty box shed; no box (Which, by the way, really disgusted Jim because, "I personally inspected every box that I put out here and every one of them WITHOUT EXCEPTION is empty, empty, empty!!!!!) We looked all over the backyard; no box. There wasn't an inch of the house and it's surounding grounds, or the people that were in the house that weren't searched and re-searched; no box!!!!!!!!
Either the dogs ate it, the kids broke it, mom swept it out, dad assembled it, Jim threw it in the trash, or my son hid it..............................But the box was GONE!
"Concluded in Next Entry"