A few weeks ago my Grammie was transferred to a nursing home. It was a big adjustment for her, especially due to the new presence of a roommate, but she understood the necessity, as her health had begun to rapidly decline.
Her room is set up with two beds arranged perpendicular to one another, divided by a curtain. My Grammie is by the window, which she likes, as the sun shines in and warms her cold skin during the day, and her roommate is right inside the door. One day, as my mom was en-route down the hall to visit, she saw a man in the doorway, sitting in a chair beside the roommate’s bed.
“Hello,” she said warmly as she approached him.
The man immediately jumped up from his seat to greet her, extending his hand kindly.
“Hello ma’am, my name is Mr. Day and this is my wife. I just want you to know that I will be looking out for Miss. Patricia here. I will make sure she is taken care of and that she is as comfortable as possible.”
A few days later, when I made my first visit to the nursing home, I took a seat next to my Grammie’s television and watched the sunbeams glide across her freckled arms. She said she felt pretty good that day, that her breathing was better and she had an appetite again. My mom reached into her purse to find the finger monitor she carries to check my Grammie’s oxygen level, and my sister talked about the talent show my brother was in over the weekend. As they talked, I glanced down at the dresser next to the television, noticing a few cards and a teddy bear holding a puffy, red, “get well soon” heart in its arms. Being nosy, I flipped open the tag attached to its ear and read the kind handwritten note addressed to a name I didn’t recognize. I then inched each of the cards ajar and noticed they too shared the same recipient, though according to the dates inside, some were given 4 or 5 years ago.
On my next visit, as my mom and I were en-route to the window side bed, we the familiar figure sitting in the chair by the doorway. When we reached him, Mr. Day again jumped up with haste to greet us. It was my first time meeting him, and as he shook my hand, he said, “You know you look exactly like your mother.”
That day, as my mom and I visited, I watched Mr. Day out of the corner of my eye. He sat very content next to his wife’s bed, watching football and holding her hand, but all I could do was replay the story my mom had told me in the car on the way over.
9 years he’d been doing this. Almost an entire decade. Mrs. Day had had a stroke in her mid-50s, and was later diagnosed with both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. For 9 years he had come to visit her, knowing that she would lay there asleep, being fed through a tube. There were so many things he could be doing, so many places he could be seeing, yet there he was beside her, as he’d always been.
What a love they must have had, I thought; though it was clear that to him that it did not live in the past. This woman, even while held in the clutches of tubes and wires, was still the woman he married, the woman who held his heart.
I thought of what my Grammie had told my mother the day before.
“Her feet kick,” she’d said between slow breaths.
“What do you mean?”
“When he talks to her; she kicks her feet when she hears his voice.”
Oh what a love they still have.
He, who has every reason to feel trapped or angry or resentful, looks at her like his own perfect Sleeping Beauty, and she, who has every reason to let go, holds on to hear that voice she knows so well. For even now in the worse, they still find a way to keep the vow from the better.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Moved to Tears”
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