Thread: New studio
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Old 08-24-2018, 02:29 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sarzana,Italy
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Default Re: New studio

The Purple Heart

“I am going away with your father for three or four days and you are going to take care of Uncle Earl while we are gone. He is a royal pain. Nevertheless you are to make sure he is entertained, helped to the toilet and fed his breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“Where are you going mom?”
“ Well it you must know we are taking a break away from him and I am allergic to that cat of his! He is a difficult man and a lot of trouble to care for. Do you think that you are capable of caring for him?”
Now my Great uncle and I hardly spoke, but that was fine with me. I was very happy to be free of both of my parents. I could sense the frustration of my mom and realized that this could be the right time to make some money from her agitation. After a quick calculation of the hours and possible money involved, I asked. “Are you going to pay me for babysitting uncle Earl? When I babysit for the neighbors they pay me a dollar per hour and I think it’s only fair you pay me the same.”
I am only fourteen but I have plans to make millions in the stock market and retire after I graduate from high school. To do this I save every cent I make , I have already two hundred dollars and sixty eight cents in my savings account and with the money I will make taking care of uncle earl I will have at least thirty more.
She said to Dad; "Do you know what that this boy wants? He expects to be paid for taking care of his great uncle. Can you imagine he would be so selfish with his own family?”
As I headed into the living room I said, “I am not going to take care of him without compensation mom”.
“James, Lawrence Whitehead, you are impossible. He is your great uncle. Have you no respect, no honor to your own family?” I could tell my mom was weakening so I said. “Ok mom, I was wrong to ask for one dollar an hour, you are right he is my uncle. I will take care of him and give you a 25% discount. How fair is that?” Mom threw up her hands, glared at me and yelled. “Fair? There is nothing fair about it, but I have no choice as our reservation and airfare are already booked. I will pay you when we return and see that your uncle Earl has been properly cared for.”
I was winning, and not about to give in.”No mom I want a fifty percent advance deposit, just in case he wants to go somewhere. A twenty dollar bill will seal the agreement. And I promise that I will take good care of him.”
I didn’t know a lot about my uncle except he had a blue eyed pet Siamese cat named Alice that my mom hated, and only one leg, and he had received A Purple Heart in world two from the Navy. It was four months ago that he was brought into our home when his sister had died and there was no one else to care for him.
He rarely spoke to any one, and refused to change his cloths. It seemed to me that all he did was sit in his wheel chair, smoking his smelly pipe and petting the cat he had brought with him. I knew that he had lost his leg fighting in the war against the Japanese when they attacked Pearl Harbor. His was very skinny, almost completely bald on top, never cut his white beard or the ragged fringe of hair he had left, and because he never took a bath also he smelled.
I went into the living room, the television was on. But he sat staring out the window with that pipe clamped in his teeth. He looked at me for a second then returned to the window. That is when I got the idea to take him out of the house.
“Well uncle, it is just going to be me and you for the next three or four days.”Without looking at me or taking his pipe out of his mouth he muttered. “I heard the entire conversation, I aint deaf, and I think that you should have held out for the dollar an hour. You sold yourself too cheap.” It was at that moment I knew I liked uncle Earl and I became determined to be the best care taker he would ever have.
Wanting to know him better I asked him what he liked to read. “Well I have always been interested in America´s history. Especially, the revolution, civil war and the period of the Indian war on the frontier and of course the Second World War as I was in it. I have collected quite a few things from those periods.
“Uncle, would you like to go outside, get some fresh air and maybe go to the park?”
He nodded then said “I would like that nephew, but what about Alice my cat; I can’t leave her here alone.”
“We can take her along, she will like the park. There are lots of pigeons, and squirrels for her to chase. Besides she needs fresh air too. Of course you will have to pay me for this extra service, also there are a few conditions.”
“Let me get this straight nephew, you expect me to pay, and submit to condition as well?”
“Yes sir, you said never to sell myself too cheap, so I am taking your advice. I want to be paid two dollars an hour, one dollar fifty for you and fifty cents for the cat.”
My uncle stared at me then took the pipe out his mouth and laughed out loud. ”Now, before I agree to that, what are the conditions you have in that shrewd mind of yours.
The Jacuzzi
I held my breath and waited after I said. “You need a bath, a change of clothes and a shave.”
He stuck his pipe back into his mouth, bit down on the stem so hard I thought it would break, and said. “To hell with that, I am not going to shave off my beard, I don’t like to bathe and these clothes fit me just fine.”
“I am sorry uncle, it is only because I want to introduce you to my friends and I don’t want them to think that my uncle who is hero and given the Purple Heart is just some old man who doesn’t care how he looks or smells.
He turned back to the window petted his cat, and sat in silence for the next ten minutes. Then he asked. “I smell? Never considered that,”
“It is true uncle you smell of old body sweat and musty clothes. I would be ashamed to take you to the park, and my friends would tease me forever.
I want them to see you as I see you: a proud man who lost his leg fighting for his homeland.”
“And how am I supposed to take a shower standing on one leg?”
“I have already thought of that. You are going to use the Jacuzzi. I will help you in, turn on the water jets and you will just sit, soak, and enjoy the water massage. Then I will wash your hair and beard. Please trust me, you will feel better and definitely smell better.
Will you please do it, just think of how the cat will enjoy chasing squirrels in the park.”
He sighed, smiled and said.” It has been a long time since anyone said please to me...You win nephew, never been in a Jacuzzi before, I will do it, but I will not shave off me beard.
Happy to have gotten him to agree to a bath, I promised that he could keep this beard. I did not tell him that I intended to trim his hair, and now that I knew he liked history, I also planned to trim his beard so he would look sort of like Abe Lincoln. As I filled the Jacuzzi with water I wondered if I was doing the right thing. He was 83 years old and literally on his last leg in life. What if he drowned? Or had a heart attack? I had never seen him naked. What if I fainted when I saw the stump of his leg? Was it all red and inflamed, did the bone still show? I heard him cursing as he undressed? “Damn old age sure is not for cowards. It takes guts to get here. Are you ready for this pile of bones to take the first bath they have taken in over a year?” All my doubts vanished when he said, “Thank you boy, you are a good nephew.”
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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