i have a friend.
his name is charles.
everyone in my surrounding area knows him. he probably knocks on their door, asks to take pictures of the tires on their car - or he will make an appointment with you to come by his house. you can't come to the door or honk your horn. no, no, you must wait. very patiently outside, up to twenty minutes, and he will come out....eventually.
your treat might entail a snack size candy bar, a pack of movie popcorn, or a melted chocolate morsel he carried in his pocket for a few days.
he might call and ask to sing you a song, ask advice for an ailing knee, ask the spelling of something or ask for a friends phone number he assumes you know. he also makes the rounds around the neighborhood asking for a cheering section at his special needs basketball games. his dreams entail a full blown crowd of women adoring his newly acquired jazz uniform.
yesterday he called me. i have to be honest and say i ignored the first call, i was up to my armpits in butternut squash and apple soup. right in the pureeing process and felt too busy. he called back a few minutes later only to have little bud "e" pick up and say in his best speech impeded voice, "mom, it's sarles". i knew i needed to attend to this call, he's been known to call up to 40 times in an hour. this one needed no neglect.
i was being huffy and here is how the conversation went:
me: hi charles
charles: hi (long pause and a giggle)
me: what can i do for you today charles?
charles: um, i went to the dentist today. and there is something i need you to do for me.
unnecessary insert-this phrase from him always scares me. one day he was out of food and needed me to bring lunch NOW, other days he needs me to drop everything and take him to the library NOW.
me: what is that charles.
charles: well, on march the 4th, i am going back to the dantit. i need your whole family to do something for me. i need you all to nal and say a pear for me.
me: what charles, what are you saying. i can't understand you very well, i am cooking and have some noise here.
charles: (chuckles) on march 4th i am going to the DENTIST and i need your whole family to KNEEL down and say a PRAYER for me. i need heavenly father to come down and be with me, right there because it might be scary. so will you put that on your calendar for me. just mark it down. i just really need him there that day.
me: yes, charles, i can do that. you'll do fine and i am glad you know who to ask for help.
then, all day i felt like a slug. the other day he was at my house. he wants something "good to drink". he won't take me telling him what's in my fridge, he needs to stand there with it open for a while and look for himself. then, he wants something good to eat. always eying my fruit. he always comes before dinner, the height of zaney"ness" at my house. likes to watch me cook. he saved me from a house fire the other day as he calmly stated that my oven was on fire. some grease from the pan had spilled and caught fire. i didn't understand him at first and then at the third try i turned in enough time to see my oven a flaming. it occurred to me that day that inside his hands full of palsy, his mind trapped, limited and always going and his crooked smile that there was a perfect spirit in the midst of it all. one day, far in the future and in another place, something deep inside me tells me we will be friends.... still. i will have to account for how i treated him here. maybe he will ask me, why were you so snippy that day, i was just trying to show you love.
ahhh. i don't know why it seems to be a pain in my side sometimes, his calls, visits, requests. should be an honor to have a kid like that in my home.
he announced yesterday it was high time i invited him to dinner. after all he watches me cook so much, he's ready to try the food he sees me cooking.
and so i told him, yes charles, you soon will get a dinner invitation to this house. and we talked about his favorite foods and what he likes to eat. then as he was leaving, he said, now do you remember what we talked about today? do you remember what you are going to do for me?
yes, i remember and probably will never forget.....