The old man shuffled toward me in the dim morning light. The years creasing the skin of his face couldn’t quite mask the look of utter bewilderment and fear in his eyes. His brow was furrowed as a shaky arm reached out toward me, slowly and unsteadily.
I took a half step back and to the side of the large garbage can and noticed he was holding something in his quivering arthritic fingers. His feet never left the floor as his raggedy slippers moved him along at a snail’s pace that somehow also displayed a great sense of urgency.
I wondered if he had an important revelation to share with me from all his meditating he had been doing in the dark. His focus and yet glassy eyed look of a madman made me worry about what kind of morbidity was terrorizing his mind.
And then as his arm reached higher, all the way to his waist level, I could see he was straining with the weight of the world on his hunched over shoulders. His hand reached out impossibly closer toward me on his painful quest.
I looked from his doomed grey eyes to his hand and felt the carcass of a lost soul envelope the room. The ancient man had something to say of great importance. I braced myself for what I already knew as I saw the banana peel in his grasp.
“Son, what should I do with this?”
I looked from the banana peel to the large garbage can standing between me and my father. I so badly wanted to tell my daddy exactly what he could do with his old banana peel. As I looked him in the eye and he held the trash closer to me yet, I coolly stepped on the lever of the garbage can that lifts the lid.
Like a standoff in the old West, neither of us moved nor was a word spoken. Then the old man’s arm lowered along with his head and he continued his shuffle for the extra three and half feet to the garbage pail. He resignedly dropped the banana peel in the can.
“Good job, Dad.” I rolled my eyes and continued to make my kids lunch for school while being sure they were fed for breakfast, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, getting their homework in order not to mention getting myself ready for work for after I dropped them off in the next ten minutes.
As I toiled in the rising sun, I saw my dad slowly making his was back to his dark bedroom, like an old gunslinger without a sidekick to take care of him. My mom was in the shower and therefore was unavailable to throw out his banana peel for him.
I gave the old man an old West whistle and herded my kids off to school, banana peel deposited in the garbage can and father back in bed for a nap. He had an exhausting morning.