This Particular Evening

“This Particular Evening”

A Short Story

***

She still had enough strength in her arms to get her wheelchair moving down the hallway. All she was hoping for was to get back to her room which was about a couple hundred feet down the hall.

It was evening or so it seemed to her. Dinner had been served and she had no idea who fed her, couldn’t remember what she ate and hadn’t a taste of anything in her mouth.  Her stomach felt full and she could hear her roommate at the end of the hall loudly complaining that she could still smell the fish offering from dinner.

She stopped pushing herself down the hall momentarily. She took her right hand, locating her wedding ring on her left hand. She kept looking for the hand that was always placed over her hand when she fiddled with her ring out of nervousness. It took a few seconds to come to understand, once again, as she had to come to understand many evenings before, that his hand was no longer there.

She’d lost track of how long she’d been here. She’d lost track of the meals she had eaten, the showers she had taken, the phone calls that never came and the visitors that rarely showed up.

Still, every evening, she hoped.  She hoped that as soon as she rounded the corner, making her way to the entrance of her room, that he’d be there, waiting for her, with that comforting smile on his face.

She was well enough to understand a few things, and sick enough not to remember much of anything. She had convinced herself that she had killed her husband and that was why he no longer came around. Her daughter had reassured her every night on the phone that her husband had died of heart failure, many, many years ago. She believed her daughter, at that particular moment.  Most other moments, she had forgotten she was ever married and forgotten that she ever had a daughter.

But this particular evening, she had a flash of a thought.  ‘I will not go to my room. I will not go there because my husband that I killed will be laying there dead on the floor.’

“Mary Ann,” the nurse called out to her, ‘you’ve got to get to your room.”

“Aw, crack off!” Mary Ann shouted back.

She used what strength in her arms to push herself out of her wheelchair, falling face first on the stained and stinky hallway carpet.

She lay there unattended, as the staff were busy with settling the other residents in for the night ahead…for some, it would be a sleepless night of unspoken terror. For others, nothing more than a drug-induced, coma of sleep.

“Mary Ann! Mary Ann!” the nurse screamed, running to her assistance.

“I killed him…I killed him,” she sobbed.  “I did it…I confess,” she sobbed, still laying on the floor.

Mary Ann removed her wedding ring and tossed it across the hallway. “I killed him and he is no more.”

“Mary Ann, it’s your dementia…it’s just a hallucination you’re having. Everything is alright…please…please let me get you back into your wheelchair.”

Mary Ann looked into the young nurse’s eyes. Eyes of kindness and compassion. Eyes she’d seen before, eyes she’d spent a lifetime with, and eyes of the love from another that was no more.

She looked into the nurse’s eyes of kindness and compassion and asked…”If everything is okay, then why am I still here where everything is so wrong?”

***

Tonight’s musical offering:

Bach: The Goldberg Variations (Aria) – BMV 988 – Beatrice Rana

Photo by Ivan Mani on Unsplash

8 comments

    1. Thank you for the comment, Carol. My dad has suffered from advanced Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia for the past 5 years, which has given me many, many opportunities to sit at nursing facilities and at times, interact, but mostly observe all these souls suffering. Sometimes, there is a brief moment where they have perfect clarity of thought…but mostly not. And so, like you, I too often wonder what they are really seeing, feeling, thinking and know. It all is very humbling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so sorry to hear about your dad, Decker. My mother had Alzheimer’s and spent the last 13-plus years of her life in an assisted living center. It is humbling to be witness to a disease that transforms people we love into someone who often doesn’t seem to remember who we are. Yet, as you point out, there are moments of incredible clarity. I remember one time when my grandson and I were visiting my mother. He was 4 at the time. My mother no longer really seemed to be present if she spoke, My grandson and I were both kneeling down on opposite sides of the chair where she was seated, gently holding her hands. I said to my mother, “This is Aadi, your great grandson.” She looked at me and said clearly, “Aadi.” I looked at Aadi and asked if he heard her say his name. He shook his head, “No.” Then my mother added “He’s such a good boy.” I look at Aadi, and asked if he heard her this time, and he shook his head, “yes.” It was a powerful gift that came from a woman who had lived her life with kindness.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, Carol…and I’m sorry to hear of your Mother’s sufferings. Mercy…13+ years in assisted living. How these suffering souls manage, well, it is mystifying. A most beautiful story your shared…thank you so much for sharing it.

        Liked by 1 person

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