A Short Story
I sit here everyday in this dining room, she thought. I sit with the same people each day. They know who I am but they don’t know me.
I can sometimes exchange a smile with them. On a good day, I can share a few tidbits of my life that I can remember. Most of the time, I’m quiet, lost in a world of thoughts that I can’t make sense of…it’s been like this for, well, I can’t remember how long.
Today, a much younger man than me, visiting his Mom, sat down across the lunch table from me. I couldn’t manage a hello as I was so lost in trying to remember my name. For some reason, he kept stealing a long look at me. He probably thought I was a bit nutty as I kept whispering to myself the names I thought I was.
I thought maybe I had a son his age, but I can’t remember for sure. I know I have a daughter, only because I remember her visiting me earlier this morning. I’ll have to ask her the next time I see her if she has a brother.
The young man kept staring at me. I caught him tearing up as I took the hand offered me from my favorite nurse who was passing by, and doing as I do, gently stroking her arm with my other hand. I was sorry it upset him so, but I think he knew that it provided me a comfort that can quiet my unsettled mind.
Everyday, they try to feed me. Sometimes, I can’t remember whether I like the food they present me, and so, I refuse most of time, knowing that I’ll get a protein shake instead. I do remember that I loved fried chicken but can’t imagine why I would have eaten something that would have messed up my manicured fingers.
The young man kept looking at me. I was not frightened. Being 87 years old and being where I am, there isn’t much to be frightened about, except not being able to remember your own name.
“Grace,” the nurse said, “this young man here is Jonathan – he’s your son.”
“Oh, hello Jonathan. I have a son named Jonathan.”
Jonathan said hello, with a bit of those tears remaining in his eyes. He told me that my hair was beautiful, and that I had a lovely smile and that he loved my name.
Grace. It is a beautiful name. I hope I can remember it. But my favorite nurse then sat down next to me, and held my hand again, while I stroked her arm.
And Jonathan smiled at me, with those tears still in his eyes.
Prokofiev – Romeo and Juliet Suite: “Friar Laurence” · Riccardo Muti – Chicago Symphony Orchestra