Mr. Jim sat in his wheelchair by the plexiglass cage watching the rainbow-painted birds. Their vibrant wing colors stimulated his retinal cells hiding behind curtains of cataracts and took him back to a summer sky and its setting sun, all Heavenly-hued and haunting. Their flitting and chirping titillated his spirit and propped open his eyelids tired in their woes, sagging like a tarp after a season of hot rain.
A little boy, in tow to his mother, came through the doors to the common room. “Let’s go see the pretty birds, Mama!” Letting go of his mother’s hand, he hurried over to the viewing, yet hadn’t seemed to see Mr. Jim.
Mouth agape, the boy put his hand on the cage, leaving a bit of this morning’s breakfast to mark his spot. “Look how they hop around,” he chortled to Mother, who was now speaking with a staff person at the home.
Sensing a nearby friend, the little boy reached for Mr. Jim with his other hand. “Look at their bright colors,” he said excitedly, as he gripped Mr. Jim’s arthritic index finger.
Mr. Jim looked at the boy. Through the mists of time to the creek bank he turned, where he and his best friend, Tommy, searched for fossils. Sparrows and wrens hopped the branches overhead, as rays of filtered sunlight hit his retina through the sycamores and beech trees anchoring the bank to the ancient bottomlands of home.
Turning his gaze upwards to the birds, Mr. Jim slowly put his arm around the little boy’s back, almost automatically. The two of them, heads at eye level, sat silent and awestruck at what the moment keeps for those who stop to listen, look, and take a hand to hold.