Old Jim

Old Jim

“I’m grateful for the company
….sit down and I’ll make tea”
“It’s not often people visit
but, with the cat, us two make three”
He’s hiding somewhere here
He’s always there abouts
I just have to watch the doorway
I don’t want him to get out
We listen to the radio
Can’t afford to have TV
It’s really not a loss though
Since I now can barely see
Time it takes it toll on you
A little more each day
I wish there was a little pill out there
That helped keep time at bay”
“There’s the kettle, whistling”
I’ll be back with our fresh brew
The cat won’t drink it with me
So I’m only making two
I looked around the little room
All the drapes were closed up tight
It was sunny out and midday
But inside, it looked like night
There was one light in the corner
More for guests than Uncle Jim
HIs life was based on order
This room just wasn’t him
“Here’s the brew my boy” he said
“As he came back and sat with me
I watched him…two steps forward
One left,  then forward three”
He put the cups down gently
Didn’t spill a single drop
He’d memorized his pathway
He knew exactly where to stop
“I’ve got biscuits, if you’d like”
“Some Hob Nobs from back home”
“I break them out for company
“They’re too good for me alone”
I said that I would get them
and I exited my chair
He said they’re up on top
But I’d never reach them there”
He came and got a grab stick
He poked and grabbed them from the shelf
He said “This things a lifesend”
“I’d never get them by myself”
We sat and talked for hours
Talked of sports and music too
He said that with his failing eyesight
There’s really not much he could do
“It’s saved me money someways”
“And cost  more in others though”
“But now that I’m not driving”
“I no longer shovel snow”
Jim, worked hard for forty years
He was a foreman in the mine
He’d been working round the coal for years
In fact since he was nine
He used to run small errands
From the office to the men
He lied about his age though
Jim told them he was ten
He’d retired back five years ago
When it got hard to breathe
“It was all I ever knew boy”
“I didn’t want to leave”
Tons and Tons of coal dust
Must have filtered through his lungs
He was  dying slowly daily,
It started showing on his tongue
Small spots appeared which spread real quick
He started treatment right away
He knew the doctor would relieve him
Of his job, reduce his pay
“you know boy, there’s a tale they tell”
“of birds down in the mine”
“when the birds fall off the perch stone dead
“Then we men have little time”
“We have to get out quickly
“For the bird has shown our fate
“But think a bit, the gas got him…
“So for us …it was too late”
“We didn’t really watch the bird
“We listened for his song
“For when his voice was laboured”
We knew it wasn’t long”
“Dead birds…they meant dead miners”
At this my body jolted
“It;s like shutting up the old barn door”
“Even though the horse has bolted”
I finished up and said to Jim
I had to catch my bus
Jim said, “ok young man, be on your way”
” Now, it’s just the two of us”
“You’ll be back soon, I hope” he said
I said , “I sure will try”
“I like our little visits”
As he sat there and he sighed
“Just me and Tilly now” he said
As he saw me to the door
Stay safe my boy and oh….
He said “There’s one thing more
“when you get on home…please phone me”
“It will make this old heart sing”
“Just phone me up and when you do…
“Let it go for just three rings”
I said I would, “but why three rings”
I asked, not four or five
“Three rings” he said’s our signal
“In the mine….that you’re alive”
I left and headed homeward
But first I’d stop of at the mall
Then I went home right directly
And I then gave Old  Jim his  call.

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