A Home By The Lake
The lake looks unusually blue today. Never seen such a stark contrast between the blues of the sky and the lake but there it is. The sun bounces off the surface of the lake like as if it were a mirror. I set my lunch on my bench and put on my wife’s straw hat so I can save my big head from burning.
I hear the new couple that I just passed in the lobby talking in hushed voices about how beautiful this place is. ‘Lakeside Care for the Aged’ really is beautiful. Whoever they plan on bringing here was going to love this place. This place was meant for everyone.
I smile at the prospect of a new mate soon, close my eyes and dive into memories, something I’ve been doing religiously everyday.
I am 87 years old, married for 65 years. I was 20 and Julie was 19 when we decided to officialize our love that birthed when I trained her softball team in school. The feisty girl with a thick ponytail that wouldn’t listen to her seniors caught most people’s eye, mine included. But luckily for me, I had caught her eye as well.
Julie suffered from dementia- you know that thing where the doctors tell you she may wake up one day and not remember you? Or the kind of thing you see in movies after a kiss in the rain on the beach? Right, that thing. So it happened like they said.
One day, Julie woke up in bed next to me, wide eyed and sweaty. She’d forgotten me again. It wasn’t new to us. She would freak out one minute and I’d calm her down the next. I used a new technique each day.
However this time, she wanted me out of the house. I remember how it felt. I felt like an intruder in my own home and an attacker to my own wife. She sat at the corner of the bed, knees drawn to her chest and violently shaking out of fear of finding someone in her bed. It didn’t help that I looked tired and worn out and properly fit the image of a burglar.
After nearly yelling the whole place down and knocking me out, she ran straight out of the house. It was a bad day for Julie but it was not something I wasn’t used to.
You know how they say ‘When it rains it pours?’ Here’s an example.
That day, after years of staying away, my son returned home. Talk about perfect timing. Julie who had forgotten me, ran to our son and pleaded and begged for me to be taken away. James and I don’t get along well, thanks to his swindling and gambling ways. Since we don’t have family in the town we lived at, we chose the next best option. And so, that very afternoon I was driven to Lakeside Care for the Aged.
I didn’t fight James or Julie. I didn’t want to, not because I didn’t care but because that morning was traumatizing to Julie and this was the least I could do. A new day and a new technique. She watched me get out of the car, just a stranger that she had helped re-home. I knew I’d be back with her tomorrow. This whole facade was to calm her down as best as possible.
It was just one night at an old age home. One night at a place I swore I’d never set foot in. But what helped was, I knew I was going back home the next day. I’d be back with Julie the next day.
In my case it didn’t just rain and pour that night, it hailed.
My return never happened. The night I left, she had returned home without me and cried to sleep because she felt lonely and she didn’t know why. She cried until James had to hold her and put her to sleep. And that was the last time he held her- she had passed in her sleep.
I had two options the next day, either stay in the house I used to share with my wife or set up my room at the old age home. I chose the latter because Julie felt lonely and died not knowing why. I didn’t want to feel lonely and die knowing exactly why in that same house.
Long before I had married her, I’d told Julie that our retirement funds would go into building a house for us by the lake, something I’ve always wanted. She quickly got on board with that idea seeing that I was extremely passionate about it. However, in between funding her medicines and treatments and my gambling son, we were left with no funds to manifest our final dream.
Now what do they say about rainbows after a shower?
The last thing Julie did before she left me was to put me where I wanted to be.
A home by the lake.