2009/09/23

PROMPTuesday #74: A Day in The Life – Simon’s World

DaGoddess @ 04:51

The anti-assignment* begins like this:

Simon was angry. He didn’t understand why everyone was laughing…at him. At least, that’s what he thought. It ruined his song and his dance, which he thought was quite charming. It wasn’t often that he felt like singing and dancing anyway, but when the urge came upon him he figured he should be allowed to let loose. After all, if you can’t bring a little music into the world when you’re 89, when can you?

When he was a younger man, Si (as those closest to him often called him) had performed semi-professionally. He knew all the words to all the popular tunes of the day (and there were many “days” in there), occasionally picking up gigs with the big bands as they landed in town minus a singer. His subtle, but nevertheless strong voice was always true and clear. More than a few women had swooned when he took the stage with his dapper suit, slicked back hair, and his fancy footwork. Only one of those women caught his eye. Dearlie wasn’t the prettiest girl, nor the the best dancer on the floor, but she had a light deep within that would shine when she smiled. More often than not, he escalated his antics onstage just to see that smile. Between sets, he’d mingle, always making an effort to mingle wherever she was.

It took two years of late nights in clubs before Dearlie and Si had their first kiss. It only took another two weeks for them to get married after that. They knew, though. He sang and she appeared. His mingling took him closer and closer to her and they gently flirted, became friends, and before anyone could speculate, it was a done deal.

When Dearlie died three years ago, the light went out of Si’s world. Gone was his love, his light, his life. She was the reason he awoke each morning with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, a spring in his step. There were some mornings, while she was still alive when they’d dance their way to the kitchen, around the table, into the living room, and back to the table, where they’d sing their grace to their food. But when she died, getting up in the morning seemed pointless to Si. His daughter tried to convince him otherwise. So did his grandchildren.

Darlene was much like her mother in that she was not the most beautiful woman in a room, but somehow she still managed to draw attention with her effervescence and general kindness to all she met. She’d asked her parents to move in with her after her divorce under the pretense that she’d feel safer having them with her and the kids; but really, she wanted them close because she saw the gradual decline in their health coming and it just made sense to keep the family together where they could all look out for one another. Darlene knew the kids deserved a chance to observe a true loving relationship gone right.

Tonight: It was one of those family dinner scenes that started off with a little joke that led to another, which led to a song, and that, of course, brought on the dance. The laughter that built from the whole silly exchange was full of love and spontaneity that sometimes happens when all the stars align. But Darlene noticed the change in her father’s demeanor. Just a moment ago, he’d been laughing and having fun, too. Now, there were tears in his eyes and he was beginning to shake. Something was wrong.

“Daddy, honey, what’s wrong? Your stomach hurting from laughing too much?” she asked.

Si’s watery eyes cast a hurt look her way, and he said, “laughing! I wasn’t laughing! I was being laughed at! Apparently none of you appreciate the song my lovely wife loved most in the world; the same song we’d sing each morning as we danced about the kitchen. You were laughing at a stupid old man…”

“Daddy!” “Grandpa!” “No!” came the various cries from the family. “We were laughing because of the jokes you told and the song and dance were perfect! We could imagine you and Grams as if she were here, dancing alongside you.” “We were laughing with you, not at you, Dad!”

Somehow, that’s not how Si remembered it. Mostly. Or were they right? Seemed like he was reading situations wrong more and more often these days. And that made him sad. “I’m sorry, kids. This old man is obviously too far gone to keep up with reality sometimes. I’m going to head off to bed. Good night, my dear ones.” And he started to walk toward his bedroom.

“Not so fast!” his granddaughter Marla said, taking his hand in hers. “Would you mind if I danced you there?”

“I’d love it, Dearli…err…Marla. Thank you. Have I ever told you how much you look like your grandmother? You shine when you smile, you know. That ginger hair of yours is just the same color as hers when she was about your age, too. Are you sure you want to do this? Shouldn’t you be out finding a young man to love you and make you as happy as your grandmother and I made each other?”

“Grandpa, I’ll go out later. Right now I get to spend time with the handsomest singer and dancer in Baltimore. Why would I want to rush through that experience? Can you tell me? No? See? I’m right. Now let’s dance!”

Si reached out his slightly cold, wrinkled, thin, liver-spotted hand and Marla clasped it in her young, warm, flawlessly pale white, unblemished hand, looking up at her grandfather with the sort of adoration and respect you see only between the young and old who understand each other. They began singing Si and Dearlie’s song, dancing lightly about. Darlene instinctively grabbed the camera and took a few photos, knowing all too well that these moments were in short supply. Her father’s test results bore that out all too painfully earlier that morning when Si’s doctor called. Not entirely unexpected at 87, but shocking to a loving family who enjoy one another’s company.

Marla finished the dance and planted a gentle kiss upon her grandfather’s cheek, linked her arm in his, and led him into his room. As she walked back out, she saw the look on her mom’s face and a tear escaped. “More bad news…I can’t do it, Mom. That man deserves some peace, doesn’t he?”

“Shhh, shhh, honey. We’ll talk about it later, when he’s asleep. For now, let’s upload these photos to the computer. I think I got some good ones. For his birthday next month, I want to print out the best and make a book of them, along with all the old photos my mom saved. What do you think?”

Marla hugged her mom tightly, “Brilliant! He’ll love it. And you’ll have to work in the lyrics to their song, you know…”

“Exactly what I was thinking!”

And for the next hour, while the rest of the family cleared the table, mother and daughter worked side-by-side looking through photographs and planning a book for the man who made them laugh and cry and laugh again. Their hero was going to have proof of their love, the love of his family…those physically present and one present in spirit.

In his bedroom, Si combed back his hair after changing into his pajamas, did a little quickstep followed by a ronde de jambe, and then folded himself into bed, taking care to not wrinkle the sheets because it had always bothered Dearlie to have the covers yanked quickly. She wasn’t here, but some habits are formed in love and remain in love. Turning out the light, Si whispered, “I miss you, my love. I miss you. Great family we have here, taking care of us, of me now, but I miss you. I hope you don’t mind if I hang on here a bit longer. I think they need me still. The doctors don’t think I’ll last more than a few months, but I’m here until I know Darlene can manage on her own. I know it’s okay with you, but I have to check anyway. That’s how we’ve always done it, haven’t we? God bless you, my dear. In the morning, we’ll sing and dance some more. I love you.”

In the darkness, he thought he heard her say, “I love you, too.”

* Obviously the real assignment didn’t have anything to do with this or with me. But I did include a computer. So I think I deserve bonus points for working it in on a story of an 89 year old man.

7 Comments

  1. Beautiful.
    The sort of family one might be jealous of.

    Comment by De — 2009/09/23 @ 05:21

  2. While I’m mightily aggrieved that you made me cry… it was beautiful and moving.

    Dangit!

    Comment by Pam — 2009/09/23 @ 07:18

  3. You should take up writing – you never know your luck and you’re pretty good at it!

    Comment by The Gray Monk — 2009/09/23 @ 12:52

  4. There just may be more writing happening very soon.

    Comment by DaGoddess — 2009/09/24 @ 05:24

  5. Thank you for such a great story. I’m all teary-eyed now. Reminded me of my parents foxtrotting in our living room!

    Comment by Mary — 2009/09/24 @ 21:25

  6. Mary, that is so sweet!

    Comment by Da Goddess — 2009/09/24 @ 21:34

  7. Wow.

    Enough said.

    Comment by San Diego Momma — 2009/09/29 @ 12:15

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