Mark, the deer hunter whom Kenny alleged was "almost blind," but
who in fact is not at all visually impaired installed a 32" flat screen telly for our old friend. Kenny has never owned
a television in his entire life. So yesterday when I delivered his dinner and found him lying in bed staring at the
cobwebbed ceiling I questioned why he wasn't watching the news.
"There's a lot going on," I offered, relating the storm in Mexico, the absurd campaign fiasco and
a few other tidbits. "All sorts of trouble," I concluded.
That's when my friend whose normal speaking voice is soft and halting suddenly burst
Never trouble trouble ‘til trouble troubles you
For you're sure to double trouble if you do.
And the trouble that you're troubling about
May be nothing but a bubble with the rim rubbed out.
Needless to say I was taken aback! A new side of this old farmer is immerging. Last week when
I noted the signs of oncoming winter, he quipped.
The turkeys are fat,
So throw a coin in the old man's hat.
rhymes are original or not is insignificant. What is significant is that a persona has surfaced that no one knew existed.
Today I shall take him a book of poetry.
The moment my truck turns off the paved road and bumps down the rutted
lane to Kenny's house I enter an ethereal place; one of tranquil beauty and peace, but also one of impending sadness.
the truck right next to the house for there is no longer any discernable driveway, just grass and weeds and grab the basket
containing whatever I've made for his dinner that day. From the corner of my eye I see Ms. Kitty running toward the
house. For her and Kenny alike, my meals on wheels arrival is the highlight of their day. I push open the porch
door and step into the inferno where Kenny is imprisoned now that his driving days are kaput. As autumn temperatures
fall he has cranked the thermostat up to 80 F. and sometimes higher. It's suffocating to me, but to him it's just right.
The radio he
keeps next to his bed used to blare loudly with a sports announcer who must never have a day off.
you actually like sports," I questioned. "Wouldn't you rather have a news station?" He
said he certainly did not have any interest in sports and yes indeed he would prefer listening to the news. In what
was probably a futile attempt to convert the conservative who thought Rick Santorum would make a good president, I tuned the
Panasonic to WKSU-NPR.
Each day I clear the table of the previous days leftovers, empty jars and a plethora of odd-sized lids that
went to who knows what, then wipe down the chartreuse plastic tablecloth with its dizzying array of abstract flowers. After
laying out a proper place setting and dishing up his dinner I announce my arrival.
Most days I find him sleeping, his frail
body curled into a fetal position that looks like a pile of rags on the sheets. He's always fully clothed including
boots and sometimes a hat. He wears the Carhartt overalls and snap-button shirts 24/7 . One day I told him he
must put on clean clothes and bathe or no one would take him anywhere because he doesn't smell good and he became quite angry.
really tried to offer this advice delicately, but there really isn't an easy way to tell a person that he smells like road
kill. "These clothes aren't dirty!" he insisted. "They've been sterilized!"
put them by the door and I'll take them home and launder them," I said, embarrassed for both of us.
are you hungry? Dinner's on the table," I say in louder-than-normal voice for his hearing isn't what it used to
be. If he's sleeping, he stirs and smiles, but sometimes I find him reading one of the hundreds of books on natural
healing that fill every room in the house. That being the case he tells me of some miracle cure for the incurable, things
like John Ellis' 114 degree water or the little-known benefits of drinking peroxide each day.
One day in the kitchen I discovered a
large plastic container of homemade chicken soup and a ziplock bag with dinner rolls. Kenny told me "that hunter
fellow" had brought them for him. I don't know the "hunter fellow" who drives a big white truck that
he parks south of the barn, but I said it was very nice of him and that I had seen his truck, but had never seen the hunter
himself, the one who put up a tree stand several weeks ago.
"Oh, I guess he's hoping to shoot himself some deer
meat," Kenny volunteered, "but he can't see much. He's almost blind." The irony of a blind hunter
sitting in a deer blind escaped him.
As Kenny digs into his meal I step outside to fill Ms. Kitty's food bowl and bring
her water bowl in to wash and refresh. I plan to bring Kitty herself inside when the weather turns nasty. She
would be a nice companion for the old man, but it's doubtful he will agree. Before I can even suggest this furry housemate
to him I'll have to eliminate the dozen or so boxes of D-Con he's put all over the place although there's never been any sign
of rodents. There's also a lot of unidentified white powder that he's splashed in corners. Meanwhile the window
above the kitchen sink is abuzz with yellow jackets which I dispatch daily using the fly swatter that hangs on the dreary
"They won't sting you," says Kenny between bites. I explain that they will indeed sting and
that these evil insects have sent me to the ER twice, but he goes on to explain; "I've commanded them not to
sting and so they will not."
It seems the mysterious Jacob Miller, the Amish healer with the magic pain-reliever
machine gave Kenny "a prayer" to say which incapacitates the bothersome bugs. Thwack! I prefer to trust
the fly swatter over Jacob Miller's prayer.
Jacob Miller is a"choir-prakter" who operates out of his cellar and Kenny
places a tremendous faith in him. I've learned never to confess not feeling well or having an injury myself for doing so would
encourage Kenny to introduce me to Mr. Miller.
After a bit of small talk I eagerly leave the stifling kitchen and sit on the plastic
chair in the yard. I pick up Ms. Kitty who is such a dear sweet cat and together we cherish the tentative peace and
beauty of Kenny's farm. I look at the laden Chestnut tree, the vast fields of Chuck's Monsanto corn and just-harvested
soybeans, the barnyard where the weeds are thigh-high and wonder how much longer will we have this sanctuary.
People have some peculiar ideas about the power of prayer, but I think
old Kenny can top about any of them. Upon delivering his dinner I was immediately set upon by a bothersome fly in the
kitchen,definitely intent on checking out the meal I was putting on the table for my hungry diner. I reached for the
fly swatter, but Kenny had another solution.
"Oh, it will be okay. I'll just pray him away like I did all the others.
There were lots of them (flies) in here earlier, but that's how you get rid of em; you just pray them away," he assured
put my ‘faith' in the yellow plastic fly swatter and sent the pesky insect off to heaven or wherever flies go when they
leave food prep areas. I didn't ask how he'd come up with this pest eradication plan or why he's not using it for the
yellowjackets that have also invaded the kitchen. Those he smashes with a huge graniteware spoon.