The Canadian years, 65 ,the card

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 12 February 16:33

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The card

‘We need wheels,’ Richard said the next day, when we were having a coffee at Pop’s, with the boys. The coffee wasn’t all that great, but Pop gave a second refill free of charge. It didn’t earn the name coffee but we did not mind. ‘Yes,’ I said? ‘Man, like I have got something very nice arranged but without wheels we can forget about it. ‘Richard,’ I said emphatically, ‘I have wheels.’ ‘Yes, I know, but spinning wheels,’ he continued. ‘I have them,’ I said with emphasis, ‘including insurance and taxes paid.’ ‘Man, then we are game’, laughed Richard. ‘What's the plan, oh master, ‘Beverly said while bowing as a swami in Richard’s direction. ‘We,’ spoke the great leader,’ are going rafting.’ ‘Hey,’ shouted  Don out, ‘that's cool then Beverly can sit on my lap.’ ‘No, unfortunately for you,’ Richard said, ‘it is not that kind of raft.’  ‘Wait a minute,’ I said, raising my hand, ‘let the man speak.  ‘Richard, have you got a raft  and where are we going rafting?’  ‘We are going down the Bow river,’ answered Richard,’ on two mega tractor tires. They are inner tubes.’ ‘Oh.’ we said.

‘My uncle works at a garage and they have changed a few tires for a couple farmers. We may use two of those old inner tubes.’ Beverly wanted to say something, but Richard raised his hand, ‘let me finish and then I’ll hear if you find it a nice plan. We need a car to get the tires by car, the last mile from  the garage, down the stone path to Bearspawdam. The tires are huge. In the garage we’ll blow them up and transport them on the roof of our wheels. We take the tires off and the car returns back to the garage. Then we wait for the driver’ and he nodded at me, ’to join us and we set off.’

‘That sounds nice,’ said Beverly and we all nodded along, to show approval. ‘We’ll get off at the 14th street bridge and let the air out of the tires and take the bus back to Bowness to the garage where my uncle works and the car is.’ ‘Are we in for this boys,’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ we said and the Saturday was spoken for.

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When I got home, a surprise was awaiting me, because my mother was dressed and was waiting for me. She was brighter than I had seen her for a long time. ‘We are going shopping,’ she said, ‘and I need your help.’ ‘Where are we going,’ I asked? ‘I want to buy a card for your father, it will be father’s day before too long and I want to surprise him.’ ‘Let me buy that card Mom,’ I suggested. ‘No,’ she replied firmly, ‘I want to do that.’ ‘Will I take you by car,’ I asked? ‘No need,’ my mother said firmly, ‘we will take  the wheelchair. On the corner is a shop with magazines and cards I want to pick out a card myself’. She took her water glass in hand and swallowed a pill. I went to the workshop to get the fold up wheelchair. I understood, that my mother’s life had become a counting of the days.

Off we went, I pushed my mother towards the 15th street intersection and had to wait until the 'don't walk' man in red, changed into a green one. The store had a wheelchair-unfriendly door and I helped my mother up. It struck me that she weighed very little, the wheelchair I folded up. We shuffled through the displays to the checkout with turning racks with all sorts of cards. My mother had really undertaken much effort to buy a card, but maybe she thought it would be the last father’s day card, that she’d ever buy. Eventually she had three cards left. One that sported a happy-looking golfer, she studied the card closely and I noticed that she had to focus, the pill was getting to work.

‘This one won’t do,’ she said, after a while,’ I will never be able to play golf.’ The second showed a man who played tennis and with a keen eye he hit a ball. ‘She took a long time deciding between card 2 and 3. ‘Your father plays tennis very well,’ she finally said and I knew it was true, he had a devastating serve. Her eyes were now downright dreamy. ‘I'm not in it,’ she finally said. The last card was horrible. The scene showed a lavish floral garden with a pond and at the edge of the pond sat an old man fishing, cap on one ear. Over the top of a half door of a cottage-like house, a woman leaned out, waving. ‘This is the one,’ my mother said. ‘I want to grow old with your dad and he must fish in the garden, close to me and then when I've finished cooking, then I’ll call out to him and he’ll come and then we will have a lovely meal at the table and then he’ll go back to the pond. I want to be able to call him, right?’ ‘And then no one can take him away from me.’ ‘Of course,’ I said, and I saw that she had gone into a very dreamy state. ‘Let’s go to the checkout Mom,’ I suggested. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘because I want to be home before your dad comes in, it's a surprise’. Moments later, I pushed my mother back to our house and under the blanket that lay over her legs she clutched in her hand, the last card that she would ever buy.

San Daniel 2015

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