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Adventures of Ron Huckleberry…#29 Dad’s last few days in the hospital
Ron continues to describe some very special memories.
Aunt Anne, Mom and I visited Dad in his hospital room several times each day. One morning Mom was already at the hospital when Auntie and I got to Auntie’s office. Mom was very upset and crying. She and Auntie insured that I did not hear all of their conversations.
Later when I visited Dad I noticed for the first time that he looked very sick. His skin looked yellow and there were needles and tubes in his arms. He tried to be cheerful, especially with me, but everything was different this day.
Aunt Anne and I returned to her office and again I was kept busy. During the day there were more than normal family visitors to see Dad.
Dad’s cousin was one of the visitors and she asked me if I would like to stay with her for a day or so. I had visited her two times with Mom and Dad and I really loved her huge house and yard. She explained that she and I would come to the hospital twice each day.
It was about noon when Auntie Marie (she wanted to be called Auntie) and I got to her house. She drove to the rear of the house and into the basement garage. Her home was much like a mansion on a Southern plantation. They could park four cars in the garage.
The yards and gardens were huge and an older black man worked all year just caring for the garden and house. When it was time to clean the pool and rake the leaves he had helpers. Auntie Marie had a full time maid and a full time cook to assist her.
Soon after we arrived the maid served lunch out on the back patio, which was atop the garage area and adjacent the kitchen.
Half of the garage area was open to the driveway and it was here that the yard-man parked three gas-powered yard mowers. After lunch I went into the yard and walked with Mr. Brady as he used one of the mowers to cut the grass. He allowed me to guide this large mower which did not require any pushing and it had gears like a car. I watched as he gassed the mower and restarted it and this all looked very simple.
The grounds were kept beautifully. Aunt Marie had small flower gardens scattered along each side of the long curved driveway, near the pool and along the front of the house. She loved flowers and these little flower gardens were her dear hobby.
That evening her daughter, who was twenty and attending college, informed me at the supper table that she was excited that I was visiting and that I would share the big bed with her. “This is a big old house and I can imagine you might be scared if we made you sleep alone in another bed room”. She stated. “I’ve always wanted a baby brother and you and I can talk all night”.
I remember that I wanted to insist on a separate bed, but did not want to upset anyone. The bed and bed room were large and a small bath was located in the far corner. Later that evening when we did retire, she told me to change into my pajamas while she was in the bath room. Naturally I did the change very quickly.
When she returned she had changed into her long night gown and robe. She turned on my night lamp and hers and cut off the room light. She was soon sitting on the bed reading the paper. “I have some comics in the night stand drawer. Take out as many as you like”. She offered.
I remember taking a couple of comics and was soon sitting next to her reading. I was so nervous and embarrassed being in bed with woman and I just wanted the night to soon end. When she finished reading the paper she asked if I would like for her to tickle my back.
I moved quickly to the very edge of the bed as I said, “Thanks Miss Nancy, but I guess not”.
“Ron, why are you so shy? I’m not going to bite you”. She said as she insisted on tickling my back.
If I had moved away another inch I would have fallen off the bed. Some how the morning finally came and Nancy got up, showered, dressed. “Come on shy little brother, get dressed and let’s get some breakfast”. At the breakfast table she teased me again about being so shy.
Nancy soon left for school and Auntie Marie asked if I wanted to go shopping with her or play in the yard. I said I would stay in the yard and I went with her as she got her car. She noticed me eying the mowers. “Ron, don’t play around with the mowers. You can get hurt and Mr. Brady will be upset if you mess up a mower”. She said as she slowly backed out of the garage.
Mr. Brady had stated the day before that he would be cutting the front yard today. I looked for Mr. Brady, but he was not anywhere around.
I returned to the garage and went directly to the big mower that I had guided the day before. I knew well that I should not touch the mowers, but I felt certain I could do what Mr. Brady did when he started the motor. The mower had a starter and not a rope that needed to be pulled.
Luckily Mr. Brady had parked the mower with the front against a support pole. When I pushed the starter, the motor immediately started and the mower immediately pushed against the pole. I was able to pull the mower back enough to clear the pole and then the mower began to move forward. I was scared. The mower was powerful and it pulled me. All I could do was try to guide the mower as we headed out of the garage, up the driveway incline and into the yard. The mower was not going fast, but it was definitely in charge. I guided it around the house and towards the front yard area that Mr. Brady wanted mowed.
It was still morning and the grass was damp and slick. I did well for a few moments, but suddenly slipped and lost hold of the mower handle. That mower acted like it had a brain and eyes as it headed straight for Aunt Marie’s small beautiful flower bed. The darn mower went right down the middle of the flower bed cutting everything down.
At the far end of the flower bed it bumped into a tree and stood there waiting for me to come and do something. I felt sick and knew that I was in big-time trouble. I stood there holding the mower handle and looking for a way to cut it off. I had forgotten to learn from Mr. Brady how to cut the mower off. I’m sure I must have cried.
It seemed like a very long time before Aunt Marie came home. Mr. Brady was still no where around. When Aunt Marie drove up the drive way and neared the house she saw me standing by the tree holding on to the mower. She ran over to me, pushed a button and cut-off the mower. “Oh, Ron, I asked you not to touch the mower. Are you alright? How did you get up here”? She sternly asked.
“I’m very sorry Aunt Marie, but I felt sure I could do what Mr. Brady did. “I’m very sorry Aunt Marie”.
“It’s over with and maybe you’ve learned a lesson”. She sternly stated.
“It’s not over with Aunt Marie”. I softly said, as I pointed towards the house. “I messed up your flower garden also”.
She looked and then ran to the flower bed. “Yes, Ron, you did in fact do a very nice job of really clearing out some flowers”. I think I saw tears in her eyes from sadness and madness. “I should really be upset with you, but this isn’t the time. I’m just thankful that you aren’t hurt”. She almost quietly stated. “For sure you will go where I go in the future”.
Mr. Brady returned shortly and Aunt Marie told him to insure the mowers will not start when he isn’t around. Mr. Brady smiled and said, “Mr. Ron, I’m going to let you do some real work helping me rake up the mess you made”.
Aunt Marie’s husband, Uncle James, came home for lunch. After lunch he took me with him to his office. His office was on the top floor of his factory. The huge factory canned jellies and preserves and he spent a lot of time showing me the in and outs of the canning business. It was amazing how many different types of machines he had and how many women and men were working for him. I stayed with Uncle James until he went home for supper.
Soon after supper Aunt Marie, Nancy and I drove to the hospital to see Dad.
Mom, Sandra, Grandmother, Granddaddy, Aunt Jane and Aunt Anne were standing outside Dad’s room and they were all sad or crying. Mom held me tightly and explained that Dad is extremely sick.
After a few minutes four doctors came out of the room and told us that we could now go in and see Dad. Dad looked so sad, sick and helpless. He asked Sandra and me to come and stand close to him. He pulled Sis close to him and ran his hand through her hair. If he had the strength he would have pulled her upon the bed. He then pulled me close to him and asked me to give him a big kiss. I did and he held so tightly for such a long time.
Aunt Marie was soon telling me that we needed to go so Dad can get some rest. Aunt Marie and Nancy were very quiet as we drove home. Nancy explained that she had a date and would not be home before midnight. She also explained that she would not wake me up and joked that she would not tickle my back.
The next morning when I approached the breakfast table I noticed that only Aunt Marie was sitting at the table. She was crying. “Ron, come sit by me”. She softly said. I did.
“Ron, God took your Dad to Heaven at four o’clock this morning. I know you will miss him, but he is much better off now. You did not know it, but he had terrible pain for many days. The doctors could not help him”. She cried bitterly as she held me close.
After a while I walked into the back yard and stood near the flowers nearest the pool. For some reason I picked a very beautiful flower, held it close to my lips, kissed it and whispered, “Oh, Daddy, I love you so much”.
© GENE HUDGENS
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