Enjoy writing and incorporating real-life stories with positive and inspirational messages for today.
One More Kiss
I was already in a foul mood; today was no different than any other day experienced over the last two and half years. My Alzheimer's stricken wife wandered. I would walk after her and endeavor to coax her back home. A few hours later, she would wander again. She was looking for her deceased grandmother. I was looking for my wife.
We were both prisoners. My wife imprisoned in a reality populated by people from yesterday and her far distant memories, and I imprisoned by the reality of loneliness with a wife who I remembered, but who did not remember me. Our worlds were constantly colliding.
This day, I had decided to treat us to Chinese food, an opportunity to escape momentarily from the hardness of life and enjoy the simple pleasures of walnut glazed shrimp, orange chicken, a spring roll and chow mien. However, even in this, the harshness of life intruded as we found ourselves at the chain Chinese restaurant greeted by an elderly homeless couple asking for a meal. They were strategically seated between the sandwich shop and the Chinese restaurant.
He was disheveled, hair matted, and wearing dirty oversized clothes. His muttered words drew attention to what decayed teeth were remaining. The woman was frail and disoriented. Her sunken eyes were void of life and light. An oozing sore near the corner of her mouth caught my attention. I could not hide my disgust -- a lost, wandering and hurting woman and man interacting with a lost, wandering, hurting woman and man.
Brushing by their initial request for help we entered the restaurant, ordered and ate our meal. More than enjoying the meal, I found myself consuming my wife's childlike expression that colored her face as she enjoyed the simplicity of the meal and the flavors that made her smack her lips. I was making a new memory.
Following the meal, I hoped to avoid the needy couple lying in wait, but if I refused their request for food or money, I would eat an unhealthy dessert of guilt. My many years of working with a nonprofit had ingrained into my emotional DNA the mantra that I should provide if it was in my power to do so. So, in obedience to my conscience, I went outside for a moment to ask the couple what entree they wished. They humbly asked only for orange chicken, but I ordered the two-entree combination with a double portion of their requested entree. The Styrofoam container was given to me in exchange for an additional charge on my credit card. I made my way back outside to deliver the food to the needy couple.
They smiled thankfully and said they would like to pay for the meal. I laughed inwardly, sarcastically thinking mean thoughts, negating any blessing I may have received from my act of charity. I responded, "That's alright. Keep your money."
The man said, "Oh no, not with money, but with this." He held up a dark vial containing some sort of liquid. I was repulsed at the dirt and grime caked on his hand as he held out the vial for me to take.
“It’s for Ceci, he said. How did he know her name? Had he overheard me mentioning her name? “It’s for her dementia.” What? How? My head snapped back and my eyes locked on to his. It seemed that he knew what questions I had and what I was thinking.
He simply added, "Just have her drink it."
Lost in the bizarre moment, I came back to reality as I realized my wife had wandered off once again. Chasing after her, I dared to look back at the strange couple to see if they were watching. To my amazement they were nowhere in sight. They had vanished. It seemed that the whole incident was just another cruel departure from reality. Perhaps I, too, was beginning to loose my grip on reality.
However, the vial was in my pocket. I guess I had slipped it there unconsciously in order to pursue my wife. I'll dispose of it when I get home, I thought. I don't want some strange liquid falling into the hands of some innocent bystander.
The rest of the evening proved to be uneventful. We ended up going to bed early. I squeezed medicinal drops into Ceci’s eyes for her optical maladies and placed a kiss on her forehead -- our nightly seal of marital vows. With a sigh, she turned onto her side and soon her soft breathing reflected her slumber.
Alone in the darkness, I reflected on the events that had transpired during the course of the day. I smiled as I remembered her expression of delight in eating the Chinese food. Suddenly, my drowsiness was interrupted as I recalled the encounter with the homeless couple and the vial of liquid that they had given to me. I rushed downstairs to retrieve the vial and dispose of it properly, but anxiously searching each of the pockets of my jacket and the floor of the car proved unfruitful.
Well, I thought to myself, that is that. I've got enough things to worry about without being concerned about some crazy homeless man giving a vial of liquid that may or may not have been poisonous. Dismissing the entire encounter, I made my way out to the kitchen realizing I had not taken my evening medication. As I reached for the medicine on the top shelf of the cabinet, out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a dark object lying on the kitchen counter.
Oh, there it is! I rushed over to where the vial was lying on its side, but as I picked it up, I realized that the cap had come off. Whatever liquid it contained had spilled onto our pale yellow tile counter top. At first horrified at what it might do, I noticed instead that the contents created a beautiful tapestry of blue swirls on the yellow canvas. With a sigh of relief, I reached for the disinfectant wipes, wiped away the blue swirls and removed whatever harmful contents the dark vial may have contained. After a second washing of my hands, I retreated back to the safety of our bed, listened for the comforting sounds of my wife's steady breathing and soon fell asleep.
Following a deep pre-winter's night sleep, the sounds of a bustling kitchen became my alarm clock. Gathering my senses, the long forgotten smells of bacon and eggs swirled upwards into our bedroom, stimulating my senses. I inhaled the aroma deeply. It was an aroma from the past, a far distant memory of the days before my wife's challenge that we were experiencing.
Quickly, I rushed downstairs. Was this my wife? Her vacant stare was now replaced by recognition. She greeted me with a strong embrace and a loving kiss that was no longer cold, but warm.
What had happened? Yes, there were times where she recognized me, but this was different. Perhaps this was another give and take stage from this disease of thievery? Cec hadn't cooked in over a year and here, in this moment, she was cooking! And best of all, she recognized me! She really recognized me!
As she served breakfast she apologized, "Sorry about that mess I made last night."
"What mess, hon?" I asked.
"From that small glass jar," she answered. "I found it in your coat pocket and tried to open it and it slipped out of my hand and all the blue liquid spilled out."
Horror filled my heart. "Did you get any on you?" I saw in her face that she knew I was concerned.
She replied, "I got some on my hand, but it didn't taste any good, so I just left it so you could see what I had done."
"So you just took a little taste?"
"Yes," she said. "Did I do wrong?"
"No, of course not honey. Not at all," I responded.
For one beautiful, harmonious hour our world's blended together as we talked and shared. However, a familiar enemy soon began to cloud her face. Abruptly, she said, "I am a little bit tired. Do you mind if I take a nap before I go home to my grandma's?"
I sighed deeply. "Not at all, hon, but before you go would you please allow me one more kiss?"
We were both prisoners...
© 2022 Brian Aird