Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Pot of Gold

Jessica came running in a short burst down a slight hill in the park. Her right arm was raised trailing a string and a kite. Once the kite was aloft, she slowed and watched as a gust of wind took the kite and a hundred feet of string from the spool in her hands. Up, up it went into wild gyrations as she pulled this way and that. Her heart soared. She could not remember when something pleased her as much as flying a kite on a sunny summer afternoon.

Now she found something other than kites that pleased her in a different way. It was Frankie. He was slouching on the grass of the little hill in his un-athletic manner, watching her. They had little in common. He was a night owl. She always rose early. He exhibited little energy, while she bounced and ran at every opportunity. She wore warm colors and favored braids. Frankie wore black, black jeans, and a leather jacket. He even wore black underwear.

As she squinted at the kite crossing the sun she thought back to the time she first met Frankie. He had come to visit his grandfather Frank Riordan who was spending the last weeks of his life in a bed on the ward where she worked at the hospital. She took to Frank from the first day of his admission. Even though his body was ravaged by cancer, he had an almost jaunty smile that was genuine, not faked. She began to realize that he had smiled like that all his life, when he showed her a picture of himself wearing his uniform in the first world war. There he was saluting for the camera with that same smile. He must have been only eighteen at the time and now 75 years later he had the same sparkle.

The first relative of Frank that Jessica met was Carolyn O’Connor, the same Carolyn O’Connor who was a local politico, a member of the board of supervisors. She breezed in one day in a mauve suit talking 500 words a minute. After sitting less than a minute she bounced up to wipe something from her father’s lips. She cracked small nervous jokes and then laughed to cover her discomfort in the presence of eminent death. Frank didn’t mind. He just smiled. He obviously loved her and was used to her antics. Frank’s face beamed even brighter when in walked Frankie, his grandson.

Jessica at first thought he was a biker with all that black leather and chains. However, it was obvious that he never did anything as athletic as raising a leg to get onto a Harley-Davidson. Carolyn turned pale as she saw her unfortunate progeny. She checked to see if any of her constituents could observe that she had a relationship with this person before she began to talk. What she did say revolved around black motorcycle clothes, laziness, not going to school, and how she had to rush off to a committee meeting. In a purple puff she was gone.

Jessica usually stayed out of patient’s rooms when they had visitors, but she found herself drawn to this strange pair, the grand-father and his grand-son. It was clear that they loved each other. She felt like a thief who' d just discovered a pot of gold.

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