Friday, December 25, 2020

Santa’s Midnight Ride

Today is Christmas Day, and the sleigh has been parked, the reindeer put away, and the red suit is getting ready to go to the cleaners.  It has been great fun, and although I need a long rest, I’m ready to do it again.

Each year this becomes more entertaining.  The kids always come up with something new to wish for, and Santa is becoming a bit more deaf.  Long ago I began to repeat to the child on my lap what they had requested from Santa, but between the mumbled words and my inability to understand well-enunciated words, repeating the requests became very interesting.

I still don’t know what she asked for, but I’m quite certain she said she wanted Alaska.  When I repeated Alaska, it drew quite a few giggles and laughs.  One young boy wanted a parrot named Polly, but I thought he said a pair of tamales.  Hatchimals are popular, I thought at first the kids were asking for Hannibals or Cannibals.  I've had requests for a stuffed hair (bear), a log (dog), skunk (trunk), brain (train), and mblfeez (mblfeez). 

Sometimes I hear correctly the request, and I wish I had misunderstood.  One boy mentioned he wanted to get his sister a wiener for Christmas.  His nineteen-year-old sister was obviously becoming his brother, and I wished I could unhear his request.  Another request was for a new shovel.  It seems he had been told he would grow up to be a ditch digger, so he wanted to start practicing.  (It makes me wonder how his family treats him.)  And one young lady requested a pair of matching shotguns.  When I asked what she wanted them for, she said she wanted to go to Afghanistan to protect her Daddy.

At the least my job is interesting.  It is also fun, but the nights get long, and the restrooms are few and far between.  I’m glad for this break. But I’ll start preparing for next year tomorrow morning.

I wrote these words a year ago (2019) not knowing there would be a pandemic known as Covid-19 virus.  This year (2020) I was unable to put on the red suit even once.  There have been years when I thought of parking the sleigh permanently, but being forced into retirement was not what I had in mind.  I miss this too much.  Next year I'll be back in the sleigh, and I can hardly wait.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Bob Lost His Keys

 Last year my neighbor passed away 3 months shy of his 100th birthday.  Bob was a big loss to our neighborhood, and he will not soon be forgotten. 

Bob had lived in his house more than seventy years.  Back in the late 1940’s he moved to California, got married, built his house from scratch, and raised a family.  Bob would never consider, even in the smallest amount, ever moving out of his house.  And he was true to the end.  Bob passed away at home, in his bed, surrounded by family.  Who could ask for more?

I was privileged to know Bob for his final 3 ½ years.  He was funny, generous, and kind.  Even though he was struggling to walk, he would often find a way to step onto his porch to greet my wife and I if we were outside.  Every Thursday he would have someone drive him to the local Senior Center where he would play Bingo for a few hours.  And every Friday he would find it necessary to tell me how much he won playing the game.  It was usually 2 or 3 dollars, and he played only 12 games (at 1 dollar per game) to win it.  But he had fun being the only man at the venue. 

During his last year, I began taking his trashcans to the curb each week for the sanitation engineers to pick up.  I noticed very little in the cans beyond ice cream cartons, so I asked the obvious question: "Do you need help getting groceries, or preparing food?”  To this I received 3 minutes of laughter as a reply.  It seems Bob decided that healthy eating habits were only for those persons hoping for a long healthy life, and he had already accomplished that.  At his age (98 at the time) he decided to eat what he wanted, and what he wanted was an unlimited supply of ice cream.   The only variance in his ice cream diet was found in brand and flavor. 

About 2 months before Bob passed away, I spend an afternoon with him on his back porch listening to the many stories he had lived through in his lifetime.  Neither of us really wanted to be sitting on his porch, but Bob couldn’t find the keys to his door, and managed to lock himself out of his home.  Spare keys had been hidden is very specific spots around his property, and I knew where most of them were, so I started searching. 

The first place I looked, Bob immediate informed me he had loaned those keys to his grandson.  So I went to the second place only to be told his grandson’s wife had those keys.  Number 3 went to another grandson.  Number 4 went to his daughter’s partner’s brother.  And so forth.  No spare keys were remaining.  So we sat on his back porch trying to call everyone with a key.  Not answering.  Out of town.  Lost the key.  Oh, I have a key?  Etc. 

For several hours I listened to Bob’s stories.  He spent World War II in Africa as a supply clerk near Casablanca where he went swimming in the ocean every afternoon.  When it was time to return home, he flew back in the open door bomb bay of a B-24.  He said he watch the Atlantic Ocean beneath his feed for the many hours of the flight, all the time hoping not to fall out.  When I asked him if he was strapped in, he replied, “Where's the fun in that?"  ‘Quite a character’ does not begin to describe Bob.

Finally Bob ran out of stories, and we grew tired of waiting for some of those persons not answering their phones to return messages.  Bob’s neighbor to the east (I live on the west side) noticed us and came over to visit.  When we told him the circumstances, he retrieved some tools from his home to break into Bob’s house.  In just a few minutes Bob was inside eating ice cream.  The next day I repaired the damage to the doorframe, and was handed a spare set of keys--just in case. 

Bob left this world a little over a year ago, and every day when I step outside the first thing I do is check to see if Bob is out on his porch to greet me.  I know he is no longer there, but I still see him every time I look at the house that Bob built.