Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eighty-Three, Ho-Hum

For what seemed like a long time, Denis Malloy saved his change. Well, it is a long time, fifty seven years and two months and some miscellaneous days is a lifetime to those less blessed. Malloy, a more blessed retired patrol car jockey, turns eighty-three tomorrow. Actually his mother, Fiona, would have begun to call him eighty-four, if her dear soul still roamed the neighborhood. She labeled age by the year of actual existence, for example, a newborn was one to her. Either way, Denis celebrates the day and the time of his birth with two shots of Tullamore Dew Original.

Indeed, Denis has two things to do tomorrow. At AM10:10 he will open his mother's two door oak crate cabinet and carefully pull out the Tully Dew. He'll methodically place the two jiggers side by side, right in front of the family pictures. The older, to the right, sepia shot shows Denis as a boy with his mother, his father, Seamus, and his older brother, Brendan. The faded color photograph to the left depicts Denis with a full head of brown hair along with his wife, Claire, and their child Connor. Connor has the devil in his eyes. In short order Denis will fill the jiggers to the brim and down the shots straight. Right first and then the left. As is his custom, he will say to no one in particular (since nobody will be there, all of them dead, even Connor, who was killed by a jealous husband), "Breithla shona duit". (Irish, Happy Birthday).

The second order of business will be the cashing in of the change. For the last fifty-six years, more or less, he has gone to the bank on his birthday, unless the bank was closed, and handed over his change. In the old days, for days preceding, he would count and then put the proper number of coins in the wrappers or sleeves (as Fiona called them). Rolls of pennies (50) 50 cents, nickels (40) two dollars, dimes (50) five dollars, quarters (40) ten dollars, and half dollars (20) ten dollars would be prepared and readied for transport.

Lately, things have changed. Denis need only haul the coins to the bank. With glee, he likes to dump the coins into the colorful lobby adorning Coinstar counter

and watch the numbers run. It gives Denis the same thrill as hitting a slot machine. Once all of the coins are tallied, Denis will deposit the money values into his saving account. Yes, the same account he has had for fifty-six years!

While it doesn't seem like much, having an eighty-third birthday is an accomplishment of some gravity. After all, most of the males born in the USA in 1927 are already planted. While having a couple of shots of Irish whiskey and converting some coins seems like a lame celebration, at least it's a celebration. Sadly for Denis, he has no other significant relatives except a nephew, Linus. Linus is Brendan's son. Denis and Linus used to see each other from time to time, but the tick tock of life and the lack of interest slowly eroded their relationship. When Linus retires from the force next year, Denis hopes he will be invited to the ceremony, but that remains to be seen. Besides, everybody Denis knew on the force is long gone one way or another.

It's PM5:15 on the evening before Denis Malloy's birthday. As he stands in front of his hallway mirror clear blue eyes look into clear blue eyes. A full head of mostly white, but not unattractive, hair is neatly combed and trimmed. Somehow, the octagenarian remains, if you will, handsome. Knock , knock, umm. Denis goes to the door and he is pleasantly surprised to see the neighbor widow, Anna Clancy, standing before him. Holding a heavy iron pot, filled with ballymaloe (Irish stew), she smiles. He smiles. And she says, "I thought you might like this..." And so it goes.

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