The boy’s bedroom was basically simple. An old chair stood beside the boy’s bed.
“I Remember Dad”
By Richard Mabey Jr.
A short excerpt from “I Remember Dad”
Outside his bedroom window, the snow gently fell from the heavens. The boy watched the snow fall, while lying in his bed. It was his first day home from the hospital. The boy had spent over three weeks in the children’s ward in the big city hospital in Paterson. It was now the middle of January of 1966. The boy wondered how much longer it would be, before he would be well again. From somewhere in the back of the boy’s mind, kept surfacing the haunting question of whether or not he would ever get well again. It had now been six months of strict bed rest.
The boy’s knees were swollen from the strep infection that had attacked his joints and now his heart. From time to time, the boy would feel the intense painful cringe come upon his chest, as if an arrow had pierced his heart. The pain would last for a moment or two, then subside. At the age of 12, the boy wondered if he would ever ride his bicycle again, throw a baseball or go on a hike with the scouts.
The boy could hear the sound of his father ascending the steps of the old farmhouse. The family had just finished eating supper. It was time for the boy’s dad to climb the 15 steps up to the second floor of the homestead, to see how his only son was doing. As his father walked down the hallway to the boy’s bedroom, the boy wondered how much longer he would be confined to his bedroom, to the regime of strict bed rest.
“Dicky Jim, how you doing there?” the father asked his son as he entered the doorway of his son’s bedroom.
“I don’t know Dad. Sometimes, I get this terrible pain….” the boy started to tell his father.
“I know son, I know,” the boy’s father said in a tone of both compassion and sympathy, as he sat down next to his son.
Dick Meaden looked into the eyes of his son. He felt a frustration that wielded deep into the chambers of his heart. Dick thought to himself that he would give anything to see his son whole, healthy and happy once again. Dick wondered if his son would ever climb the knotted rope up to the boy’s old tree fort. Would he ever see his son go on a camping trip again? Would he ever again see his son run across Earl’s Meadow, the wide open field that lied a short distance in back of the old family homestead.
“Dad, I think Batman’s going to be on in a few minutes,” the boy said to his father.
“Yea, it’s Wednesday night. Let’s see, 20 after seven. Let me turn on the TV, let it warm up,” Dick said to his son.
Dick Meaden turned on the little black and white television. He clicked the dial to Channel 7. Then, spent a minute or two adjusting the rabbit ear antenna atop the little television set.
“You got it, Dad. You got it,” the boy gleefully called out to his father.
“That is pretty clear,” Dick said.
“Batman’s gonna fight the Joker tonight, Dad,” the boy said.
“They put the Joker on a lot, don’t they?” Dick asked his son.
“It’s Batman’s biggest enemy. There’s the Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman…but the Joker, that’s the main one,” the boy informed his father.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” Dick said to his son as he pulled out a rolled up copy of the latest Batman comic book from his back pocket and handed it to his son.
“Gee, thanks Dad!” the boy said to his father, in a voice that was filled with joy.
The boy began to turn the pages of the comic book. Soon Batman would be appearing on the television screen. But for that one moment, Dick Meaden looked at his young son as he lied in the little bed. Sorrow filled Dick’s heart. Standing beside the little black and white television set, Dick cited a silent prayer for his son to get well.
Then, in a flash, the theme song for the Batman television show blared out from the tiny round speaker within the little black and white television set. Dick returned to the chair, that was set beside the boy’s bed.
“I bet the Joker’s gonna get Batman in a real tough trap tonight, Dad!” the boy gleefully called out to his father.
“But, Batman’ll get out of the trap. Don’t worry, Batman’ll get out of the trap!” Dick assured his son.
As Dick Meaden looked into the eyes of his young son, he felt enormous pity for the boy. Deep inside his heart, he hoped and prayed, just like his son’s hero that his only son could escape this trap of this horrible disease of rheumatic fever.
Dick quietly thought to himself, “have faith, Dick, have faith.”