Monday, February 27, 2012

Looking Forward

“Ann, would you mind topping off my water baby?” Jim asks from the corduroy Lazy-Boy that he always tries to pivot, painstakingly, toward his daughter in the kitchen.

“Yeah daddy. Just give me a second to put this food up,” she replies from across the bar that divides the kitchen and the den.

It’s a dreary Friday evening, just after a light supper. An old war film is on the television. Jim peers over at the screen, squinting with his powder-blue eyes to try and read the closed caption.

“Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier of WWII,” Jim claims. “Did I ever tell you that?” 
James Talley Sr. is a 91-year-old World War II veteran and former Coca-Cola man of 45 years. The former First Sergeant and Assistant Sales Manager at Coke now spends his days in his recliner watching old movies and working word-finds. A survivor of the Great Depression, a war, a heart attack, and the death of his wife of 55 years, Jim always acknowledges how lucky he is to have made it through so much.

“There aren’t too many of us left.”

He alternates between watching his movie and dozing off, only to be awoken by the barking of his golden retrievers or by his live-in daughter giving him his nightly pills. He wears a Coca-Cola diner hat and a black windbreaker, with a throw blanket covering his lower half. On the end table next to him lay several odds-and-ends: a flashlight, a roll of paper towels, an atomic clock, and an electric razor (for when company comes over).

“When do you go into work today?” Jim asks his grandson who is sitting on the white leather couch across the den. “You see what you have to look forward to when you retire?”

- Nick Johnston 

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