Topic: "Worth Waiting For?"(5)
Several years ago Frodo and Bilbo sat down in front of a microfilm reader in the genealogical area of the local public library. Together they searched the US Census Records extending back to the first Census of the United States in 1790. Frodo demonstrated to Bilbo the trek back in time to the last clearly-identified ancestor which began with Bilbo's mother's father. At one point, Frodo could say to Bilbo "Meet your great-grandfather, and his family," and he could see Bilbo's face light with excitement at finally learning the names and ages of people with only prior suspicioned existence.
Frodo paused and said, "I'll be damned, look there Bilbo, your great-grandfather owned three slaves. It says so right there in the 1850 Census."
"He did not!," said Bilbo a little too forcibly for the environment. Heads raised all about. "No relative of mine would have ever owned a slave."
Frodo was more than taken aback, and committed the foolish act of trying to reason over the honor of a previously unknown genetic line. "But Bilbo, until this very moment you didn't even know the names of these people. How can you make value judgments about their behavior, or their needs?"
"I just know that they were farm people, and farm people didn't own slaves," argued Bilbo.
"Well perhaps your great-grandmother needed a wet nurse, or required help in the kitchen. Not every slave was a field hand," attested Frodo.
"I just know," said Bilbo.
Frodo has told that story many times to those who know Bilbo. It always elicits laughter, and an appreciation for one who has always been sure of self. A few days ago, Frodo recounted that story for Bilbo. The event was denied, as if it had never taken place at all. "In fact," Bilbo claimed,"Frodo has never kept his promise to research that side of the family. Frodo always takes the side of others, at my expense," said Bilbo. Frodo could only look upon the unplugged personal computer and attempt to comprehend the hours they spent together, inputting names, birthdates, anniversaries, of Bilbo's family.
Bilbo then launched into a tirade about Daniel Boone, Bilbo's perceived ancestor. "Bilbo," said Frodo, "don't you recall that the names are spelled differently, and that THE Daniel Boone was born 150 years and almost a thousand miles from anyone related to you? We established that together a long time ago."
"No we didn't. I know what I know. You always take sides against me," said the tearful, yet increasingly combative, 91 year-old. "You know my sister has been taking things of mine, and you defend her."
Frodo realized that to simply stand, to stare, and to say nothing, was the wisest course of action.
The vitriol reached epic proportions, predominantly directed at family members, illegal aliens, and almost anyone else who had ever invaded the spatial claims of one suffering oxygen deprivation. For the plastic tubes which contorted all about Bilbo's feet, followed everywhere, mixing reality with imagination, were erasing all sign of she who once held Frodo en lap. Although the level of "gesund" is enviable for most, it is far from a blessing to Bilbo. Bilbo seeks pity, claiming a life too long, and boredom with the routine of the daily bread. Frodo, with Sam holding him in check, could say little that would not precede another shower of tears, anger, and resignation.
Bilbo had recognized that going home was not a realistic expectation. A fall, and the total destruction of the distributor, all cables, and electric wiring, by rabbits, in her idled motorcar, left Bilbo with no such option.
The Assisted Living Center is first-class. The food is good, the accommodations are ultra-modern and spotless. The staff is highly professional, and they take an obvious, and clear-cut interest in Bilbo. Bilbo has sufficient resources to stay on, full-time, until age 105. That, Frodo supposes, is what pisses Bilbo off. Bilbo has to work hard in order to make people feel sorry for the present state of affairs. Bilbo sits in bedroom, hour-after-hour, refusing to "play in any reindeer games," or to give any indication of interest in others. "It might mean I catch cold," alluding to the inevitable return to pneumonia, and a life-threatening illness.
Frodo leaves with the nagging nabob of "bad son" in his ego. Understanding why the best of circumstances is trivialized before him by a chemical miasma representing none that Frodo has ever known is confounding, and it is not subject to clarification. Frodo knows, with dread, that his heart will break again, and again. It is Napoleon at Waterloo, in saddle, twisting with hemorrhoids, unable to get a clear view of Wellington, struggling with a battle already lost. Peace will come, but the price will be high, and history will demand more than tales of heroism and celebration. For once, Frodo will do everything he can to erase history, and to give special emphasis to the moments that all who have ever known Bilbo do indeed cherish.
Until then, Frodo needs to contemplate cats in hotels, and whistling sea breezes, dear reader. Like President Obama, he needs time to make sure he knows of what he speaks.