I’m just getting home from visiting my favorite curmudgeon. He’s been in bed today feeling woozy but I manage to make him laugh. We read and respond to e-mail and messages on Facebook. I freshen his water and find him straws — the bending kind. We talk about all the subjects which he and I always discuss. Our tones soften as I settle in the chair that would normally be his and lean towards his bed. I straighten his cover, take his pulse oxygen, and press my smooth cheek against his face with its lines and spots. He tells me it’s always good to have me visit. He teases me about my next career as a caretaker. We excuse any oversight or stumble with a shrug: I’ve got cancer, you know; he’ll say. Or I will buss him a bit and say, Oh, you’ve got cancer, that’s right, with a roll of my eyes. And we laugh. We talk about Game 7 of the World Series and we agree that the Royals simply must win. We set the TV on the pre-game show so that he won’t miss Ms. DiDonato singing the National Anthem. Then I tell him that I should go and he asks, in an oh-so-gentle voice, if my new glasses are working. I saw you doing this —- he says, gesturing, moving imaginary frames up and down on his face, in front of his own aging but wise and lively eyes. I lift my shoulders, drop them back. There’s not much to say. When do you see that specialist? he wants to know and I tell him. You’re going, then? It’s definite? He wants me to reassure him. I tell him yes, I’m going, and he starts to ask a question and stops but I know what the question is, and I explain the arrangements we’ve made for my travel. He gives one quick sharp nod; I’ve told him what he wants to hear. Then I lean over him again, and we hold each other, my favorite curmudgeon and me; and in a half an hour I’m home. I’m opening the mail. And there’s a card from my sister with a picture of a butterfly on it and I think: Images abound; they gather round; and I take their sign. And I am suddenly quiet, and then I go inside for the evening. And in an hour, I am standing with my hand over my heart and the flag is waving and Joyce DiDonato does more justice to our nation than I have ever heard. I picture my favorite curmudgeon, his son by his side, hearing this glorious rendition. I weep, but my tears flow from an abundance of love.