Notes from the Home XIV


Yesterday, on my morning jaunt around Covenant Woods I came upon Richie and his bulldog, Buddy. Any time Buddy spots the wheelchair, he pulls Richie over to it. Buddy and I get along, but we’re hardly close friends, and I doubt that he would bother with me if I didn’t occasionally drop food into the nooks and crannies of the wheelchair’s undercarriage. Buddy has found a few morsels on the buggy and is ever hopeful of finding more. He looked and sniffed, but didn’t find anything yesterday.
   But a woman, probably in her late twenties or early thirties, and her daughter, seven or eight, I’d guess, found Buddy. They had been visiting the woman’s grandfather and, judging from their outfits, were on their way to a swimming pool. The girl looked hopefully toward her mother, who asked Richie if the girl could pet Buddy. While the girl bonded with the dog, the adults talked about the weather for a few minutes.
   “Boy, you really have an accent,” Richie told the woman, as she and her daughter headed toward their car.
   “No I don’t,” the woman said. “Down here, you guys are the ones with accents.”
   Well, she was half right. Richie was born and grew up in Rhode Island and has spent all but the last few years of his life in New England. It does not take a trained ear to divine his Yankee heritage. I, on the other hand, speak English as God intended it to be spoken and do not have an accent.
  
   Last night at dinner, Lisa was remembering, and Herman was forgetting. Lisa’s sister died a few days ago. Lisa was born in Austria, married a GI, and came to the United States in the late forties. Her sister, and the rest of her family, remained in Austria.
   “We used to play school,” Lisa said. “My sister was older than me, and she was always the teacher. We had a lot of fun.”
   And Lisa remembered her father telling them stories. And she remembered beauty of the Austrian Alps, and going out to play on snowy winter days.
   “My husband was stationed in Germany for four years, and we were able to go to Austria and visit my family often,” she said. “And I used to go back to Austria every year, but I can’t do that anymore. I don’t get around very well.
   “My husband died twenty years ago, and I miss him. I wish I could go to Austria for the funeral, but I can’t. It’s sad. But, I’ve had a good life.”
   Herman and Joyce have two small dogs. Because Herman worries that the dogs aren’t getting enough to eat, he usually takes most of his dinner home for them.  Joyce worries that the dogs are eating too much, and that Herman isn’t eating enough. Several times during dinner Joyce leaned toward Herman and said something. Each time she did, Herman ate a little more of his dinner, until he had eaten it all.
   “You must have been hungry,” Sharnell, the server, said when she came to clear the table.  “You didn’t save anything for the dogs.”
   “We don’t have any dogs,” Herman said.
   Taken aback, Sharnell looked toward Joyce.
   “I told him we didn’t have any dogs so he would eat his supper,” Joyce said.
  
   Bethany called Tuesday. As usual, she was full of excitement about life, and sometimes in her excitement, the words came faster than her thoughts. In the background, I could hear Ken making little comments. Then Beth blurted out, “I’m married to a smart ass.” I told her that was only fair. After all, Ken is married to one too.
   That afternoon, Russ had to pick up some things at the supermarket across the street, and while he was in the neighborhood he stopped to see the old man. By the time he left, I was ready to write an angry letter to the people at the automotive department at Sears in the Ashtabula Mall. Not that it would do much good. The Sears in the Ashtabula Mall has closed.
   A week before I came down here, I took the Aveo to Sears for an oil change and asked them to check the brakes. Then the guy went out to check the mileage. When he got back, he said the tires weren’t worn funny, so the brakes were probably good. I asked him to check them anyway because we were going be pulling a trailer. Apparently, he didn’t. The brakes started acting up last week, and Russ took it to Sears down here Monday. The problem was the front brakes were rusted. “You bring this car down from up north?” the guy asked Russ.
   Fortunately, the brakes lasted this long. But I hope the guy at the Sears in Ashtabula is still looking for a job.

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