Things were improving; Father was out of the rain and down from the rooftop. There were, however, a few loose ends for perusal. Still to address was the gaping cut in Thomas Albert's right thumb. And still to ponder was the comical condition of his Brother David’s (1846– to about 1900) clothes. Thomas, who had sliced open his thumb while attempting to rescue the carpentry tools from the flooded basement of his house thirty yards up hill, was not quite clear on how his brother had managed to ruin his (very expensive) suit. David also had some cuts on his scalp and around his eyes. He had wrapped a scarf, mumps style, around his head. What remained of his clothing was bloodied, muddied, and ripped. One of his boots was missing.
In spite of the brothers' condition, all attention was pivoted towards their father, Daniel Hersey (1797-1879). Thomas's second youngest son, Ernest (1870–1939) had managed to coax the old man off the roof, through the attic cubby hole, and down the stairs to the main part of the cabin. Daniel was seated in one of the wood chairs, head in his hands, trying to muddle through the events of the last hour. Daniel was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and, of course unknown at the time, had only one more year on this earth. His face was clouded with bewilderment and confusion, trying to remember how he had become soaked with rain and why his voice was hoarse. Very gradually, it was coming back to him. Ernest, age six, was helping him remember.
"You were high on the roof, Grandpa!!! You were magnif’cent!!! You were singing and yellin’ and callin’ to God to stop the flood. And it worked!!! The flood is almost gone!!! There is almost no more water on the cabin floor. You were just like Noah!!!"
Clarity began to surface on the old man's face. Ernest could see his grandfather's look of embarrassment and humiliation.
"Oh Grandpa, you were won’erful! I wish I could be on the roof in the rain! It looked so fun! Can we do it together tomorrow?"
The others in the cabin managed a smile at Ernest. The boy was so simple and full of life.
There were two Thomas Alberts in the cabin that evening; Thomas Albert Senior (1839–1910) and his namesake son, Junior (1864-1956). Thomas Senior was adept at getting things done. But it was inter-personal actions that stymied him. Both Thomases had receded into the kitchen area of the cabin and were being served pastry made fresh by the mother, Daniel's wife, Mary (1808–1888). It was David who excelled with people. David was the caretaker of the family. And Thomas was very happy to leave his father in Ernest's and David's hands at this awkward juncture.
David hovered over his father.
"Everything is fine now. You are safe"
"Was I really on the roof yelling?"
"Well, yes," he said softly. "But no one noticed," he lied.
"Are you certain no one noticed?"
Ernest had a puzzled look on his face. Uncle David was incorrect here. The whole street had noticed. Ernest opened his mouth to deliver the correction, but his uncle gave him a warning tap on his back-side.
"No one noticed, Father. How long has it been since you shaved or cleaned up?"
Daniel’s perplexed look answered the question.
"Let's get cleaned up." David helped his father to the basin and took all the shaving items from the small cabinet. He made several mental notes concerning the need for organization of his father's belongings. Mother kept the kitchen fair but father clearly needed more care.
David helped his father out of the wet clothes and, after examining the old man for cuts and sores, helped him into warm, dry woolen shirt and pants. He found clean socks and noted that he should later return to organize his father's clothing and other belongings (David needed things to be well-ordered.) Looking at his father's feet he realized the nails needed trimming. David washed and toweled his father’s hair then took the time to trim all finger and toe nails. He then carefully soaped and shaved his father's face. Mary cleaned the trimmings and took away the soiled clothing. Thomas Senior sat at the table, eating donuts and watching his brother's patient, loving movements in amazement. David was astounding. The family would not be able to function without him.
Daniel, wrapped in his sleeping jacket and wearing a warm night cap, was being helped into his favorite chair. He sagged, finally relaxing into the present. All watched Daniel's facial metamorphosis from confusion to absolute clarity. A fatherly look of condemnation took in David's appearance. Daniel snapped at David.
"What in the name of all that is Holy did you do to your clothing?? How could you let yourself get into such a ramshackle state?"
David's countenance froze into redness with this criticism. The others in the cabin hushed into silence, shocked at the harshness of Daniel's statements. They held their breath to watch David process the parental judgment. After a few breaths both Thomases quietly turned themselves slightly away from the others, returning their concentration to the donuts. Senior shook his head and rolled his eyes.
Ernest, always the one to sugar coat, jumped in for the save and dragged a stool over to his grandfather.
"Can I read to you, Grandpa? I have your Bible here."
"Yes, yes, I would like that."
The other characters in the scene, fathers, uncles, brothers, and grandmother watched and listened, enchanted by the moment; an old man under the care of a small boy.
"I think the story of Noah would be perfect! Genesis 6:9. 'These are the gen…gen…' what's this word Grandpa?"
Ernest started again. “‘These are the gen…generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.' That's you, Grandpa! You walk with God always!"
The child and the old man sat, suspended in timeless constancy.
"Yes," David realized the perfection of the words. "Father walks with God." Words David would remember.
Certainly not a case of Alzheimer's. Or perhaps yes, a case of Alzheimer's .
However it was David John that signed Daniel's death certificate, which is unusual in that David was Daniel's youngest child. This and other indicators have led me to the persuasion that David John, irregardless of his birth order in the family, was the individual that tended to take charge in family matters.
Another poignant fact is the wording on Daniel's grave marker. His stone is engraved with the words "He Walked With God." The stone marking Daniel's wife, Mary, who died in 1888 simply states "Blessed are the Meek." Eight small words that speak loudly to their natures.
Defines Debility : State or quality of being weak; weakness; feebleness; languor.
"Causes of Death in the Late 19th Century mentioned in the Register of Deaths, 1893-1907 by Karin L. Flippin, HIS 480, April 23, 1997"
States: "Debility - Lack of movement or staying in bed"