When She came down on New Year’s morning leaving him — her beloved mate of half a century, still asleep — the sun had yet to come out, and she feared that it might not come at all, and that it would be cold and gray until noon.

It had been for the most part a happy family Christmas, unless someone had thoughtlessly brought up the approach of the Jan. 20 inauguration, at which time the old man would proceed to empty every one of the guest’s wine glasses should they leave the table even for a moment, after which he would slump in his chair and fall asleep.

This morning, she tried to make the coffee quietly, so as not to wake the old man who had finished a bottle and a half of his beloved cheap wine late into the night, while watching “A Christmas Carol” with Bill Murray as Scrooge.

“My favorite!” he would shout, and then wake her with occasional shouts of “I LOVE THIS MOVIE!” (FYI, he always hated it.) It grew worse when he dashed up the stairs several times to sit by her bed, reciting bits of Murray’s lines followed by, “Isn’t that great? Do I have him down pat or what?”

But by 10 o’clock this morning he had not yet awakened and screamed down his usual complaint, “There’s no toilet paper, why is there no toilet paper?”

A bit concerned that he might have passed away in the night, she checked on him, only to find him tossing and turning and grumbling, “Recount, recount Michigan again,” or, “The electoral college is rigged,” followed by, “It was always the Russians, you know that.”


But he eventually went back to sleep, still clutching his childhood rosary in his fist.

She considered his deep sleep to be a Christmas blessing, for she simply could not face once again the inevitable mixture of wrath and day-long cursing, should he awaken suddenly only to realize once again that Hillary did indeed lose the election.

It was known by every pharmacist, gas station attendant and barista from Waterville to Freeport that the “crazy” old man had not slept well since that November 8th evening, when he knelt on his two bad knees in front of the television set saying Hail Marys over and over.

Christmas was sketchy, even though he got everything he wanted, including his own personalized Hatchimal, he felt that his Jesuit training was all for not, and that having been betrayed by the “Catholic God,” he called his daughters to proclaim that he was converting to Judaism. He dropped this when they convinced him that he would have to give up coloring Easter eggs.

She knew that it did not improve matters when he had to suspend his year-long habit of spending hours of continuous daily political shows: (Morning Joe-Chuck Todd-Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell, with intermittent breaks to go online and check Nate Silver and the Cook Report) to spend the cold December nights watching his DVDs of “The Bishop’s Wife” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

He did this over and over until he fell into a coma.


The old woman, who had spent five decades tethering her beloved madman to reality, began to have serious concerns about his mental state.

This because for many nights he would come to the dinner table reciting entire passages of dialogue in a perfect imitation of Jimmy Stewart’s scenes with Clarence the Angel.

Having faced 55 years of all manner of unhinged behavior in times of stress, she was sure that it would — like all the others — pass, even though her friends and her priest assured her that her only hope of survival was to abandon him to a nice institution.

But when he announced that he thought it might be fun to go to Christmas Eve Mass dressed as one of the Magi, she began to consider a family intervention.

Thankfully this did not come to fruition, as he eventually regained control of his emotions, thanks partially to larger doses of Advil and pinot noir. “All things come,” the Bible tells us, “to She who waits.”

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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