The Changes to Come

For one year the relationship between Gunter and myself involved a combination of my efforts to document his life, pool (or billiards, as he liked to call it) in the building’s rarely used recreation room and endless games of Acey Ducey (backgammon with a twist).

For something different, once or twice I ushered my old friend into the closet sized computer room where I introduced him to the world of the internet aGurnter Kaufmann imagend email.

Gunter proved progressive with his willingness to take the giant mental leap in comprehending the process of receiving his first email response from his daughter who was in Thailand on holiday.

Yet, garnering an immediate response via an instant message (mere SECONDS after having pressed a key on the ‘electronic typewriter’) nearly did his head in. He just sat there, shaking his head incredulously with his palms turned up in a manner that suggested he’d be no less surprised had I just walked upside down across the ceiling.

But, in the end, I knew it really didn’t matter what we did. Gunter’s mental state, even at 92 years of age, was far clearer than many of the vegetative, 70 and 80 somethings he was forced to live with and my visits were a welcome distraction for him.

At the same time, it was a symbiotic relationship as well. My work environment was toxic and Gunter’s stories and smiles were powerful reminders my concerns were trivial ones at best. In short, we were friends. Very good friends. So much so, after my parents, it was Gunter who I’d first rush to with news of Bec’s pregnancy.

The fires that fueled his usual smile and sparkling eyes somehow managed to suddenly find a means to stoke themselves even brighter. Then, he tilted his head back and let go with a joyous laugh that seemed to originate not so much anywhere within his body but more like, from far back in time.

When the laughing subsided, he simply looked at me and said coolly with a grinning shrug, “Well, you do know now things will change?” Like duh! I remember thinking to myself, then.

Today, I now realize the ‘thing’ he was referring to, was me.

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