Excerpt from “Indelible” (memoir in progress):
Another Christmas. I put up a tree while I was alone in the house and didn’t cry.
The nursing home halls were ornately decorated for the holidays. “Jim stopped his merry walker in front of Santa,” the charge nurse said pointing at a wall hanging of the jolly old elf. “Then, he stopped and said, ‘Hello, Santa.’” She held up her hand as if to swear it was the truth.
“Wish I’d seen that!” I said. Jim spoke so rarely.
Among the Christmas decorations, was a flag made with cutouts of children’s hands. It had been hanging on the wall since a few weeks after the September 11 tragedy.
A few days after the Santa incident, I noticed Jim stopping in front of the flag and tipping his cap. I thought maybe he was just adjusting it, but a few days later, he stopped in front of the flag and saluted it.
There was some discussion among the family as to whether I should bring Jim home for the traditional Christmas Eve gathering. My thoughts were that Christmas was for our family, and Jim was still part of that family.
I brought Jim home and helped him out of the van and down the walkway. He took his usual seat on the reclining section of the couch.
Rob and Colby were playing video games on the TV. Before long, he yelled, “Hey!” and jumped up and started going toward them.
“I wonder if he wants to play,” I said. At one time, Jim loved video games, and he played Mario Karts long after he was in the nursing home.
Rob ejected the game they were playing, and inserted Mario Karts into the Play Station.
“Here, Dad,” he said as he handed Jim a control. Jim didn’t seem to remember how to use it, so Rob passed the other control to Colby and helped his dad maneuver the one he held.
After a few races, Jim remembered how to run the car around the track, but the master of the game was not competitive.
Colby, in true Fisher fashion, bragged about winning. “I beat grandpa!” As young as he was, Colby knew his grandpa’s reputation for being a formidable opponent.
We ate dinner and Jim did pretty well. He didn’t try to leave the house; he just paced up and down the halls. We opened presents and, of course, Jim was not interested in that.
After the gift exchange, I took him back to the home. Jim didn’t notice the cheerful Christmas lights on the houses we passed. He did pretty well until we got about halfway back. He yelled and tried to get out of his seatbelt. I may have bundled him up too much trying to keep him from getting cold, and instead he was entirely too hot.
Copyright © December 2016 by L.S. Fisher