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Chapter XXVIII - Nicola's Twilight

My husband's progress was very slow. He wanted very much to be able to write because he disliked signing his name with a cross. He would patiently practice in order to be able to hold the pen in his fingers. He had forgotten the alphabet. I started to coach him, first with numbers and then with letters. It was a hard task for him but he kept practicing. I would print his name in large letters and tell him to look at the letters and try to copy them. He worked hard but wasn't able to master the task.

Spring brought thoughts of a garden. He had been a master at it, and, under his fingers, everything he planted flourished. I talked to the doctor about it and he said he could do a little work but nothing heavy. He was not to bend, only squat. He was very happy at the thought of being occupied and wanted to plow the garden. I told him that he wasn't able to do that and he should let one of the boys do the plowing. He could do the planting and the caring for it.

He insisted that he was able to do it. He would do a little every day and then he would be ready.

I said, "It is too early. We may still get frost."

He was disappointed but understood my argument. Our boys came out and turned the soil while my husband protested and said that he wanted to do it himself. The boys assured him they were only helping a little and he could plant and care for the garden.

Easter, as always, was a very happy occasion. The whole family came over to wish us a Happy Easter and everyone had a good time, especially the grandchildren. Our household was relatively serene.

The first thing Nicola would do in the morning was to go outside and look at the garden, which was now planted. He enjoyed the work of his hands. By the end of May the garden was on its way and we were preparing for the shore.

Marie would drive us on weekends to help with the work at the shore and our other children helped too. By the fifteenth of June the store was ready for the influx of customers.

My husband would sit either in the back yard or the front of the store. Occasionally I would walk with him on the boardwalk and sit on the bench to look at the ocean and people bathing.

One day I suggested, after resting on the bench, that we should walk a little further and look at the games on the boardwalk. At first he did not want to go and I did not press him.

Then one day he suggested we try it. We went and I suggested he take his chance at a wheel by placing a dime on the board. He said, "No, no." He did like to play the wheels, but he was self-conscious about his condition. I encouraged him, the hand stopped on his number for the choice of the stand, and he was very happy to get a gift for me!

Summer is too short for business at the shore. Before we knew it Labor Day had arrived and summer was over. In the middle of September we would pack everything and go home. This was 1955.

Back in Irvington the days were filled with daily chores, writing to Richard in Japan, and enjoying my grandchildren who lived upstairs. At times I accompanied my husband to the barbershop. He protested that he did not need me to go along but I had noticed there was a very busy street to cross. He would look only one way if cars were approaching and it never occurred to him to look both ways.

After the holidays he became very restless and would walk back and forth in the apartment. Frequently he would suffer headaches. Sometimes I would find him at the window of the bedroom facing toward our church with his hands joined together in a prayer.

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