A Christmas Moment in a Rest Home

Smiling wistfully she paused and then said,

– It was a moment.

I knew exactly what she meant. I looked into the distance and imagined the moment perfectly.

An elderly Chilean woman installed in a NZ rest home muttering in sibilant Spanish and spitting out blobs of non-descript greyish food. Enter Yuletide cheer on shaky, spindly legs. A vision of a Christmas angel in the hallway or perhaps what’s left of Mrs Hartley shrouded in her white nightgown on one of her nightly raids, deft as a bulldozer’s shadow. But hark! What have we here? A band of carolling miscreants arrived just in time for the trifle. What could that be on the wall? Jesus awaiting?

– Noche de paz. Noche de amor.

Julio sings to his mother. The lone chorister capable of singing in Spanish. The rest of choir sways in time, faces frozen in sagging empathy that seeps down into khaki and maroon carpet with the spittle, crumbs and urine. But Julio’s mother’s dark current like eyes are fixed on the wall and nothing penetrates that misshapen skull. Finally, she turns, who is this, this little man singing in Spanish? …. Ah! …… Determinedly Mr Fraser heaves and jerks his walking frame, dragging brittle bones after it, slowly, shakily, surely, he passes between the singer and the singer’s mother, just like a tortoise crossing the road, fixedly unaware.

An unforgettable moment.


Tags: , , , , ,

About duendest (Tina Cartwright)

Tina Cartwright grew up on the East Coast in the South of New Zealand. She lives and works in Melbourne. Her children’s picture book, Kiwi and Scorpion, was published with Penguin NZ in 2008. She edited and translated Taking Latin America Home – a self-published anthology influenced by Latin America which raised funds for the Sweet Water Fund in Nicaragua.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: