“Good morning Mr Nelson” the nurse says cheerily to the old man sitting in the wheelchair. “Would you two like me to open the drapes and let a little sun shine in? It’s another beautiful day.”
“Yes, yes, please do. We would like that Cindy. Violet has always liked the sunshine. Used to spend a lot of time in her garden don’t you know. Said it warmed her soul.”
“I’ll bet it was beautiful” Cindy says while tending to the lady lying in the bed. “How long have you been here” she asked.
“I don’t know. An hour, maybe more. Don’t like to be late. Violet looks for me and I don’t want her to worry.”
“Oh, I know she does. You haven’t missed a morning have you?”
“Not so’s I remember” Mr Nelson replies.
“How long has it been now” Cindy asked. “I know it’s been a long time. You were visiting her when I started working here.”.
“Oh, I don’t keep score” he said. I just like to keep her company. I think she looked at me this morning” he says as he gazes lovingly at the woman in the bed.
“Really. That’s wonderful. “I hear you talking to her sometimes. Do you think she hears you?”
“Oh yeah. I know she does. She doesn’t talk anymore, but she listens.”
“What do you talk about?”
“Memories mostly” he says. “I remind her of all the things we have done over the years. The good times. We have been married 57 years you know. We never had kids so it is just the two of us. Always been that way. Married her right out of high school.” he chuckles. “We have always been each others best friend. Seldom saw one of us without the other. Kind of like now” he says with a soft smile, all the time holding and stroking the woman’s hand. “Violet has always liked to hold hands” he says. “I remember the first time I got up the courage to hold her hand. I was so nervous. Afraid she would pull away. But she didn’t. Her hand was so soft and small in mine. She said I made her feel safe. That’s why I still do it today. I want her to feel safe.”
“Well, I’m sure she does. But, I’m afraid you will have to be going. She looks a little tired and we are going to have to feed her soon. You can come back and see her tomorrow. Do you remember where your room is?:
“Yes, I think so. I’ll let her get some rest now”. Looking at the woman one last time, he squeezes her hand and says softly “I love you Violet. I’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll visit some more.”
Cindy follows him out and watches as he wheels past the nurses station on his way down the hall. So sad she thinks to herself.
“I see Mr. Nelson has been down visiting Alice again” another nurse says. “Did you check on her while you were down there?”
“Yes”, Cindy replies. Vitals all about the same. She remains unresponsive. I sometimes wonder if she even knows that Mr. Nelson comes to see her every day.”
“I doubt it, but I’m glad he does. Dementia has robbed him of so much, it’s nice that, in his mind at least, he still has his Violet.