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.