My Day With Oscar
"Let me show you around," he said as we walked in the front door after the long trip. I had just driven my new 85-year-old friend from his daughter's home in upstate New York to his own home of 51 years on Long Island. He had stayed a week with his daughter^ She tried many ways to entice him to come live with her. She had a private room and bath prepared for him. '-We love," she said. "We want you with us."
He hadn't slept well that last night. "I love them too," he thought, "yet I can't leave my home." Would they understand? He doubted.
We began with the living room and the pictures on the wall. "This is my granddaughter and this is my son," he lovingly related as tales of their best moments ensued. "We used to entertain a lot in this room." The citation on the wall said he'd been "Senior of the Year" in 1976.
"Downstairs is really special," he said as the 85-yearold legs moved steadily and surely down. Magazines of slides and reels of film were everywhere. A large screen and projector were poised for use. "I organize my pictures here. All these boxes hold my work. I'm a pretty good photographer."
The bumper pool table was covered with plastic but not forgotten. "I've never regretted buying this even though we didn't have a chance to use it much,", he remarked.
Back upstairs, we proceeded to his "Darling's" favorite room. A bright and sunny spot, I saw the place where his wife loved to sit. The low oak cabinets held albums of records. "Opera is what I love best. I even have the great Enrico Caruso!"
Glose by was the music system that he described as being a "unique and compact" arrangement. "I have everything right here," he showed me. Sure enough, a turntable, amplifier, and AM-FM radio were stacked oh one another. The television sat close by, "It's my entertainment center; I designed it myself."
Deftly, up more stairs, I saw the bedrooms, bright and fresh as in daily use. "You're welcome to stay here anytime," he assured me. "You could have my daughter's room or my Darling's room." I said I'd keep it in mind and thanked him for the offer; "My Darling's dresses are still here. It's so hard to get rid of them."
We viewed the neighborhood from the window. "There lives ray neighbor who takes me shopping, and there's where I catch the bus to go to Senior Citizen meetings." As we proceeded downstairs, he reiterated what a long time 51 years had been.
The piano in the living room beckoned. "Do you play?" he said. I muttered something about knowing only White Christmas when the rugged old fingers began to glide up and down the keyboard. It was a lovely melody, played with intense feeling. His eyes were closed and he swayed to and fro. Perhaps a note was missed - I didn't notice. I looked at this young soul playing this beautiful music, and my eyes filled with tears. He was lost in his song; enraptured in another time, another place.
"Now can you see why I can't go live with Flora?" he said as he rose from the piano. "My life is here - with my things.' "Yes," I/said, I understand."
I thanked him as I headed out the door. "I should thank you," he exclaimed. "You shared your ride with me."
As 1 looked back and saw the content and life-stained face smiling in the doorway, I replied "But you shared your life with me."