I’m scraping my left overs into the kitchen-scrap bin for my chickens. I smile sadly as I think of Coach. I wish it was his left-overs I was scraping …
As far as I can tell he has always commanded authority, even though he is the biggest kid on the planet.
I would watch his stooped form hobble into the front room, an iron-grip on his aluminum front wheeled walker. The caregiver has him firmly by the belt. She has finally learned to do it properly. When the caregivers first start, they inevitably pull his belt up as high as they can. Pretty soon his every step is higher and higher, driven by the abominable wedgy, until he is barely walking on tip-toe, then his legs are flailing about, trying to make up with the floor; and the caregiver, blood vessels pulsating on her temples, is about to strain bulging arm muscles from carrying a grown man by the waistline.
“Hi Trouble,” I tease.
He glances at me furtively, and chuckles. Just a few months ago he would have said, “I’m going to knock your ass to the floor.” I love it! Walking has become arduous now. He keeps shuffling along, as though fearing that he won’t start again if he stops. With every other step, the left Hush Puppies shoe rhythmically hits against the right one and his left knee buckles slightly. I watch with bated breath, willing him on.
Sadly, his speech is also failing him lately. I can tell by the gleam in his eye he is trying to tease me back and can’t. My heart breaks. I’m certain it would have been a good one. When he finally sits, exhausted, I bend over to wipe a little rivulet of drool from his dignified chin and plant a playful kiss on his forehead.
“Wow! THIS is the BEST comb-over in the world!” I exclaim and realign a stray hair. “I don’t care what anybody says.” He looks at me through brilliant blue eyes and smiles again. He tries hard to say something and then abandons it. Instead, he shakes his head in mock dismay. So I raise my eyebrows and shake my head slowly as I say it for him. “… knock my ass to the floor.” He smiles, trying to glare at me and settles for a fist.
We used to erupt in laughter at “the fist.” It was the formidable mechanism of knocking asses to the floor. One was liable to get it several times a day for one reason or another. A tear comes to my eye as I realize we are getting the fist less and less any more.
‘I’ll miss that someday,’ I think to myself as I clear his plate after breakfast. He did’t eat much, again. Nothing tastes good any more. I breathe deeply and stare absently out the kitchen window as I scrape the plate’s contents into the kitchen-scrap bin. Bacon, eggs, and rye toast. His favorite.
Today, I’m scraping my left overs… I wipe away another tear. I wish it was his left-overs I was scraping …