My Personal Perspective

Lawerence

I remember Lawerence.  His freckled chocolate cheeks scattered with the gray of his pesky stubble just at the base of his tall white cylinder hat.  He wore the same uniform each day, checkered pants with a white button up shirt that always hung off just past his lank shoulders.  His name was nicely embroidered on his chest, and he rarely smiled as he conducted his great craft in the kitchen of my summers.

I remember Lawerence took the greatest pride in his tuna sandwiches, placing one in front of me at least once a week.  I would scowl at the chunks of apple and celery that seemed to protrude out from the edges of my crust as he scowled at the disgusted look on my face; disappointed that in my youth I lacked the sophisticated pallet required to appreciate his talents.

I remember Lawerence vacuuming.  I remember as he spritzed the windows with Windex and oiled the fine wooden furnishings with a dirty white rag, all in those same checkered pants.   I remember when he would disappear in the garage.  And spending afternoons left in his care with my face pressed against the glass of the back door watching the smoke of his cigarettes swirl and gambol into the clouds as he sat by the pool side.

Then the cancer came.

I remember Lawerence chopping apples, chopping celery, now with only one arm.  His disgust to my disgust had turned from a special exchange to the disgruntled disposition he experienced any other moment of his day.   I remember watching half in fear, half in wonder as he still sprayed the windows and oiled the fine wood furnishings.  I remember when he would disappear in the garage and when I was left in his care how I would often find him with his head to his chest and eyes closed in the back bedroom.

“Don’t you tell Mrs. M,” he would holler as his groggy eyes found me quietly spying with great curiosity from the doorway, “you best not tell her I was sleeping back here Miss Jessica ma’am!”

I remember the rainy days, watching his unreadable expression as he sat drenched on a bench at the bus stop, another day he had forgotten his umbrella.

Then the cancer came, again.  And he was gone.

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17 thoughts on “Lawerence”

  1. I grew up with my grandparents most of the time, and so I grew up around old people in general, which meant a lot of wakes, funerals, etc. I find my friends who didn’t – who have only experienced a few deaths over their life, even at 30-something – they have flashbulb moments like this one you’ve written about Lawrence. A moment they remember as their first brush with sickness and death. I don’t think I have that, it’s odd.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I spent most of my time with my grandparents, I experienced wakes and funerals but they were for people who were old, they were for people who were their friends, who went to dinner with us, or the occasional luncheon.

      The strangeness of the case with Lawerence was that he was not old. Lawerence was not some friend, Lawerence was the entire heart and functionality of our household. It was a surreal thing, of course my own father did not follow far behind.

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  2. Lovely piece, Jess. Perfect job of viewing the experience through your child-eyes. I remember my first real experience with death, my grandfather. I was 5 and my sister and I were so worried because we couldn’t cry at the funeral that we put spit under our eyes and rubbed them to look red. It’s funny what you remember, and how your

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was very young. It was my first brush with sickness, real sickness. To watch a man who is such the center of your household dying and not understand fully what is happening really did open up a world of fear, epiphany, and shock that you never really forget.

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