Saturday, November 14, 2009

Call me Bond, James Bond

Just weeks before we learned that my twin brother Paul had cancer, his case manager at the nursing home informed us that he could stay there indefinitely. This was music to our ears. This was the first place that treated him like a sick person (he had recurring pneumonia due to his emphysema - or so we thought) who happened to be mentally ill instead of a mentally ill person who happened to be sick. All of the staff members liked him. The head nurse nicknamed him “The Governor” because he said hello to everyone and shook their hands. It didn’t matter that he thought he was going to star in the next James Bond movie.

When we learned Paul had cancer, we bought him a portable DVD player and every James Bond movie we could find. We trusted that it and the movies would not get lost, stolen or given away, which we couldn't do where at the adult home where he had been living. Paul watched those movies for hours on end. We also bought him other movies. I bought him box sets of the Little Rascals and Spiderman (the original cartoon from the 60's) - shows we watched when we were kids. My nephew bought him a few Clint Eastwood movies, another one of his favorites. We made a list of the movies we were buying in order to prevent buying duplicates. In the end though, it was the James Bond movies I would always catch him watching when I came to visit.

This past St. Patrick’s day, I was at a fancy Italian restaurant for a business dinner. I had the Corned Beef and Cabbage special, of course. The next night, we went to the same restaurant, as it is my boss’s favorite restaurant in the area. We had the same waiter as the night before, and when he read the specials it seemed like he never stopped looking at me. It was a little hard to tell, though, because one of his eyes seemed to look in a slightly different direction from the other. However, everyone at the table made the same comment after he left, “Was that guy staring at you the whole time?”

The waiter had a thick Eastern-European accent, which turned out to be Russian. As we were leaving I asked him his name. He hesitated for a second and then said “James Bond”. I was floored. Of all the names he could have chosen instead of his own, which was very difficult to pronounce and which I now forget completely, he chose to use James Bond. It was the best reply I could have been given.

The year before, my family celebrated our last St. Patrick’s Day with Paul. He died six weeks later. It was the last time all ten of us siblings were together. I think that somehow, through this waiter, Paul was saying hello and reminding me not to forget about him. Like I ever could.


  1. Oh my - I do not know what to say, but oh my.

    And thank you.

    You are truly a light in the world.

  2. How wonderful is this? Really wonderful! I'm here because I am a friend of Fran's at Facebook and found her link to your letter to the President. And then I had to come to this entry, because you said to!

  3. I read this again and once more tears made their way to my eyes. You have given us such a picture... I am struck by the dignity given to Paul when he was at the nursing home. I am glad that he got to have some time there, in a place where he could watch his movies and be "The Governor." And I love the way you close this post.