09 March 2010

All the blonds I've loved before......

Bogard St., Charleston, S.C.

One of my buddies is failing. He's a ninety six year old gentleman who drove tanks in northern Africa and Italy in WWII. He has two bronze stars and two purple hearts in his cedar chest but brushes it off as, "it was nothing, what I did was nothing."

He had a medical procedure recently and hasn't bounced back the way he is used to. For the first time he feels "like an old man."

It's sad as heck. Anyone who has been out to the hospital I work at knows the gentleman I am talking about. He would have been there working every day if the police hadn't come to my office to take his driver's license away from him about five years ago. Meanwhile, he's had no trouble getting rides. He worked as a volunteer three or fours days a week until a few months ago.

Every year he throws my birthday party, talking his neighbor lady into making deviled eggs, cold cut sandwiches and red punch. Then he throws a party for himself and we've had to get larger rooms and bigger cakes every year for the crowd that shows up.

He confided this year his sadness that he didn't know anything about where his parents were from. All he knew was the name of a small town in Russia. I went online and found the town with a picture and contact info. I explained what I was looking for and a girl in Russia sent me three scenic views of his mother's birthplace. We had them framed for his birthday.

Now he sits in the fancy leather recliner he treated himself to a few years ago from South Eastern Galleries and looks at the door. Bored. Too weak to work.

Through the years I've noticed his particular fondness for attractive and gracious blond southern women. My gift for him at this stage of his life was to summon them all. I've emailed and phoned and called all the women he's had affection for and told them he needs visitors. Mary Ann, Jackie, Wanda, Jeanette and Brenda. One after the other they've knocked on his door carrying ice cream and pie, soup and banana pudding.

He just called to confide that things seem to be going downhill but laughed when I asked about his visitors. "You did good," he said. "You did good."

I may not be blond but I know a thing or two about picking the perfect gift. :)