Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cielo

"My, you're tall and handsome. Will you be staying with me?"

She looks up at me from her seat next to the window.

"I'm the nurse and I'm just coming by to check on you. Besides, I'm married, and my wife wouldn't like it if I didn't come home." I sit down next to her on the couch.

She laughs. "What's your name again, my dear?" she says in Spanish.

"Keith," I repeat, for the third time in five minutes.

"Is it Christmas this week?" she asks. "Will you bring me a present?" Again in Spanish.

"No," I answer in Spanish this time. "This Thursday is Thanksgiving. Christmas is next month."

"Oh," she says, and takes my hand in hers. "Are you staying with me?"

"My dear," I reply, "I'm the nurse, and I'm just here for a few minutes. It's so nice to sit with you here and chat."

"What's your name again? You're so handsome!" She smiles at me.

"I'm Keith, and I'll be back to see you again next month, OK?"

"OK." Another smile.

We sit for a long minute or two, her hand in mine. Her live-in caretaker is frying eggs and sausage. The smell fills the room and I'm suddenly hungry. I think about stopping for a cup of decaf on my way to see my next client. Decaf with honey and cream.

"What's your name, dear?"

"It's Keith, cielo, and I'll see you in a month or so. Enjoy your breakfast and happy Thanksgiving." I stand up from the couch and I feel like a giant next to her small frame huddled on the couch below me. She seems Lilliputian, simply diminutive.

She looks up at me with wide eyes, her mouth open and smiling. I lean down and give her a kiss on the cheek. It's a risk since it's the first time we've met, but she's been flirting with me since I arrived, and a kiss on the cheek seems appropriate and safe. Her caregiver looks up from the stove and smiles.

"Happy Thanksgiving, dear," she says in Spanish.

"Happy Thanksgiving, cielo," I say in Spanish. ("Cielo" is "heaven" or "sky" in Spanish, and it's used as an affectionate term of endearment.)

I walk outside, and I look back at the window. She's holding the newspaper in front of her face, scanning the words and shapes in front of her. Can she understand what she sees? Probably not, but she's happy, clean, well fed, comfortable, and we had a thoroughly lovely visit.

Happy Thanksgiving, cielo.
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