31. O Henry – “The Last Leaf and Me”

In this book, you will find many things that I have wondered about. By writing these short essays I am making an attempt to understand many things that I wonder about and by placing them within the covers of this book I can place them in front of the eyes and minds of the public in the hopes that by reading what was written others may be caused to search for answers that perhaps during their lifetime they have placed aside. I also with the use of various tales about my own life experiences have attempted to search out what has made me the individual that I now am.

Life’s experiences are a great teacher, however, I have found that much can be learned from other factors such as gazing at a sunset, perhaps walking on the sand of a beach and looking into the great ocean that lies before me. Music of all types have been a teacher for me as well and the opportunity to gaze at a painting or read as well. These actions have added much to my life and I have learned much from them. I have always enjoyed reading whether it be fiction or nonfiction. Short stories have been a most enjoyable read for me. I have been able to take from many of them concepts and lessons. Short story author’s that I have enjoyed and learned from the most were written by authors such as O Henry, Edgar Alan Poe, Guy de Maupassant and, Mark Twain. My favorite short story author is O Henry.

O. Henry (1862 – 1910) was born under the name William Sydney Porter in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1862. This Amercian Short Story writer has a rich canon and his short stories are well known throughout the world; noted for their witticism, clever wordplay, and unexpected twist endings. .My favorite O Henry short stories are “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Last Leaf.”

“The Last Leaf” is a short story by O. Henry published in 1907. Set in Greenwich Village, it depicts characters and themes typical of O. Henry’s works. It has a surprise ending and is concerned with common folks. In 1952 It was one of five stories adapted for a movie entitled O. Henry’s Full House. The Last Leaf by O. Henry has within its theme commitment, sacrifice, friendship, compassion, hope, and dedication. There was much to learn from the reading of this wonderful tale.Here I wish to tell of an instant that occurred in my life that causes me to ponder. This O Henry story is based upon a few interesting characters. In this tale, two young ladies live in Greenwich village in an apartment underneath a failed artist. The artist a very decent man who sees himself as a failure for he was never been able to sell his work for more than three dollars a painting. One of the young ladies in the dead of winter was dying from pneumonia.She got into her mind looking at a vine through her window as she lay in bed dying that when the last leaf fell from the vine she would die. I will let you if you please read this story since like many O Henry tales there is a surprise ending.

It was about 15 or so years ago that I was laying in bed with a catheter attached to me and getting over a failed cancer operation. The operation was supposed to take two hours however because the surgeon operating on me made a mistake the operation took eight hours. I was told when I woke up in the hospital that the surgeon said that he almost lost me a number of times. I was fortunate to have a friend, Donna, take care of me as I lay in my bed. The apartment that I was living in at that time had a glass door that looked out into the area behind it.

Now, although I was quite ill I never thought that I was dying. You know you can’t kill a cockroach easily. I’m not sure who it was it may have been me or perhaps somebody else but whoever it was found a  leaf and attached it to the class sliding window. As I looked through the window, of course, I could always see the Maple leaf as the character in the O Henry’s story had. I thought often as I laid in my apartment about the wonderful characters in his tale and he gave me much comfort. After a number of weeks I did heal and now at the age of 84 I am still moving ahead and enjoying life.

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