When a Tree Falls...
It was the week before Christmas and a young, mentally challenged young man was admitted to one of our general services units. He loved to draw. The nurses found some crayons and gave him leftover computer paper. His pictures were taped to the walls in his room and all over the nursing station. He was able to walk and talk. He would come to the station to talk with the nurses and to look at his art work.
The only thing that competed with his passion for drawing was the artificial Christmas tree in the waiting area. It was an older tree. Its branches looked like dark green bottle brushes and the needles were just that stiff. It had gold tinsel with red and gold ornaments.
He would wander to the lounge and lean forward until he could touch the branches. Pointing with a finger, he would single out each ball as though he was counting them. He didn’t touch them, but seemed fascinated by their shiny surfaces.
Late one evening the nurses heard a crash and glass breaking. They rushed to the lounge to see what had happened. “What happened?” the first nurse into the room asked.
The young man was sitting across the room from the downed tree and was saying. “It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me!”
One nurse helped him back to his room while others righted the tree and re-hung the bulbs that were still intact. The ward clerk called for housekeeping to sweep up the balls that had broken.
As the nurses attempted to make order from the havoc, they noticed the “gifts” that were under the tree had finger n holes poked in the wrapping paper. (The gifts were just empty boxes that had been wrapped in bright paper and bows to add to the Christmas tree look.)
We were never sure whether he had tipped the tree while he was “counting” the balls or whether he knocked it over when he was checking out the gifts.