House Calls

It’s three in the morning, and she is alone in bed, not the bed she shared with her husband for sixty-one years, no, not that bed; never again that bed for her, Now she rests in the hospital bed in the front room, the one that used to be the living room. A few weeks ago, her husband woke up in the bed in their bedroom, but couldn’t speak. He couldn’t move his left side either.

He was strong, his right side anyway, and emanated a look of frightened authority as we lifted him from that bed and put him onto the stair chair and carried him out of hislonely home. The stroke happened sometime during the night, the damage too severe, comfort measures only at the hospital. He had a good run, eighty-nine years, but never expected to go down so suddenly.

He died a few days later, and his wife left his bedside, and went home. But it wasn’t home, not really. Memories can only do so much for a grieving spouse. The familiar footfalls, the routine, the smells and sounds that come from a living, breathing mate can never be replaced by a memory.

So we come back to where she lives, the place she used to call home, and this time take her away. The anxiety of living there, alone became too much. She would stay awake all night, in the hospital bed in the front room, and listen for the familiar sounds that were no more.

Home is where her husband is. It won’t be long before she joins him.

1 Comment

  • Alan Yates says:

    For too many elders there is no support system that reaches their need. I have seen this scenario often and it is not far from any of us. Baudelaire said, “I have felt the wind of the wing of madness pass over me.” In dealing with dementia patients, as many become after the death of a beloved, the contact, the voice, the breathing often hold a tenuous grip on sanity for them and once that leaves so soon does reason follow. I have had many Alzheimer’s victims, including my Mother and Grandmother, tell me that “I’m fine as long as somebody I know talks to me, but when I’m alone I feel lost and alone.” I have felt that wind…

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