“The house never seems tidy anymore,” Harry complained to his weary but smiling wife, Connie. “I hate all this clutter. The kids’ things are everywhere.”
“I never have time to clean the shop like I used to,” Patrick the neighborhood barber lamented. Two or three of his regulars looked up from their magazines and smiled. “Am I ever going to get a minute to catch up?” One of the guys held out a cup of coffee to him, and he took it, smiling, but impatiently holding on to his frustration. “Too many people,” he grumbled.
Darlene cracked the fifth and last egg into the mix and began to fry up the morning’s breakfast as the kids argued over the bathroom and whose turn it was. “Will I ever get a quiet morning and an egg of my own again?” she exhaled as she kissed her husband and handed him his lunch box. He headed out the back door. “Keep it moving kids,” she yelled, then sighed. “Moment of my own? Probably never,” she thought.
The dog cried her nervous whine and Clarence put the pillow over his head. He peered at the red numbers of the clock glowing in the darkness and rose angrily. “Five a.m.???” he bellowed as he stormed to the door and let the dog out into the swirling snow. Emma ran no more than 10 feet into the first drift. She squatted and relieved herself, then bolted back in the door. She shook the snow from coat and wagged her tail at Clarence, who frowned down at her. He then went to the bathroom himself, then headed back to bed. Emma curled up in a ball next to the bed, and Clarence soon fell back to sleep while the winds outside sang through the trees.
Harry splashed a little soap into his coffee cup and washed it as he looked out the back window at the falling leaves. He remembered how this time of year had always included getting school supplies and new clothes for the kids. He dried his cup and put it back in the cupboard – all the cups were aligned perfectly according to size.
He turned out the light and walked through the dining room into the living room, where Connie sat in her chair staring mindlessly at a game show on television. She gazed at him curiously, her dementia preventing her from fully recognizing him, but he seemed vaguely familiar and certainly not threatening.
“Remember when the kids were in school and they’d be running around here trying to find their homework before the bus came?” he motioned with his head. She nodded absently and paused, somewhat recalling something negative about this memory. She recollected his impatience with their messy disorganization. He saw her pause and frowned when he thought about his want for them to hurry and grow so his house and life would be organized again. How he wished those days were here again -- what was a little mess compared to all this loneliness? Maybe the kids would stop by this weekend … probably not.
Patrick swept the floor, then opened the blinds looking onto Main Street. As he leaned on the broom, he saw the people bustle by. His shop glistened clean behind him, as he had finally found enough time to clean the place and, given the slowed traffic into his shop, enough time to keep it clean as well. In all honesty, today’s appointment book was completely empty – not one customer expected.
He turned as the door bells jingled behind him and saw a sloppy fellow with a mop of hair that certainly needed cutting. “Need a trim?” he asked. “No thanks, old-timer, I just need to use the phone.” Patrick sighed and motioned, “Right over there.” He returned to sweeping, which was useless anyway as there was nothing to sweep but dust. “Old-timer?” he thought. “Well at least the place was neat and clean.”
Darlene cracked an egg into the sizzling pan. She stared silently as it bubbled and formed. She flipped it and heard the toast pop. The clock ticking on the wall seemed extra loud today. “TICK………TOCK……..TICK……..TOCK.” She went to the front porch to get the paper, but the boy hadn’t come yet. Heck, it wasn’t even light outside yet. This must be the quiet morning and “egg of her own” she had been waiting for. Well, it was here now. She stared at the bathroom door and the dark room within, missing the kids and their roars of laughter. She could hear her husband snoring in their room upstairs. They were retired now and the kids were scattered all over the country.
Clarence reached down and felt the sheets. He had wet the bed again. Since Emma’s passing, he was consistently sleeping later and unable to control himself without her awakening him for their mutual 5 a.m. “relief.” He stood, stripped the bed and stepped into the shower. As he bustled with the morning breakfast, he stared at a photo of Emma stuck on the refrigerator. “Miss you old girl,” he whispered. “I’m sorry.”
There will be a time when you have plenty of time, my friends.
Find the blessings in all you have today.
Don’t wish it away. There will be a time you wish you hadn’t.
Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.