The Echo This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

The nurses no longer look surprised when you say you are here to see your father. They know you now. You are the one who comes every day, despite the futility. They smile and tell you where he is.

“He’s doing better today,” they say gently, in that motherly way they have around you. You nod, smile slightly, but wonder what difference this makes when he will never be well.

You find him in the dining room, by the bird cage. His eyes, once so alive, stare blankly at the birds. He has a wary look on his face as if he is sure the feathered creatures are someone he once knew but can’t remember if they are his friends.

There is so little he remembers now. You weave your way through others so much older than him; he looks up when you approach but says nothing. He does not recognize you. Where is the man of your childhood, the huge man with bear hugs and a booming laugh? He is lost somewhere in the shell of this shrunken man whose thick hair is now gray and whose frail body needs help to walk.

You lay your hand on his shoulder and he pats it, a comforting pat. Even though he does not know you, he seems to realize how much it hurts for you to see him like this. You help him up and back to his room. The silence follows. He does not speak much anymore and there is little for you to say.

He sits calmly as you comb his tangled hair, so abundant even at his age. He is almost 68, and you think about telling him this, but decide against it. He will not understand, will not remember. It is strange to have him sit so still. Usually he bounces around in the chair, making brushing his hair an ordeal. You wish now that he was like that, if only so you knew he was still alive somewhere inside. You read to him but he is not listening. His eyes are fastened on a sunbeam escaping around the edge of the curtain. You recall your own inattention when you were young, his firm voice and stern gray eyes always brought you guiltily back to the moment.

You remember the twinkle in his eye as he read you your favorite story, letting you point out the pictures and ask questions. He does not remember and now you read to him.

There are no questions. He is lost in a world of dreams; you cannot wake him. You close the book and he notices you again. He touches your knee. You fake a smile. Does he know how much you want to cry at the sight of this poor man, once so close and now so very far away?

He does not remember he was once a man with a vibrant personality. He has withered under the strain of forgetfulness. You squeeze his shoulder good-bye. He smiles vaguely.

The next day he is in his room. You watch him as he stands by the window, looking out at the grassy yard. He notices you and he is full of excitement. You remember yourself so much like this, coming and laying your treasures out to him so he may examine every acorn cap and shiny rock.

“There was an echo here earlier.”

His voice surprises you; it has been so long since he has spoken. The thrill at such a childish and simple thing has made his voice strong again. You close your eyes and for a moment you can picture him as he was when you were young. The squeak of his cane on the tile floor brings you back from your reverie. He is pacing up and down, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, breathing heavily as his eyes spark with enthusiasm. He gives a cry suddenly and then waits expectantly. It does not come back.

His brow furrows and he does it again, lower and softer. He leans hard on his cane, straining to hear. The life goes out of him as he realizes his echo is gone. You lead him to a chair; he shakes his head in disappointment.

“It was right here,” he mutters softly. You touch his shoulder, your eyes filling with tears. Does he remember you are right here, desperately trying to bring him back?

But he does not remember. You wonder when the day comes when he will leave completely, will he recognize you enough to say good-bye? Will he recall what it was like ­before memory faded? And when it is over, will you be the only echo of him left?

Perhaps he will have a split second at the end where he is your father again.

Where he remembers …

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 54 comments. Post your own now!

mybestfriendisJesus said...
Nov. 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm
i like the way you wrote it tahat people will understand and not understand at the same time. but, it doesn't matter because the beauty of your writing captivates them! Good job!
u no it said...
Oct. 8, 2010 at 3:33 pm


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It happende today replied...
Oct. 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm
really....u didnt need to be that dramatic..just say what u need to say in a short and sweet format next time u want to coment
It happende today said...
Oct. 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm
perfectly written..sad in a it write more! u shall be famous!<3
krazyk said...
Oct. 8, 2010 at 1:51 am
This really was so sad.  I really like the emotion that you brought out in this.  Great job and keep writing! =].
inksplatters21 said...
Aug. 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm
Very sad well strung together, and overall is very saddening.  Would people mind reading/commenting on my work?  Thank you a ton
deardiary said...
Mar. 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm
aw so sad :(
MiyaQuille This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 7, 2010 at 9:24 am
I love this work! I wish there was a prequel, I'd love to know more of their relationship before the father began to lose his memory.
goddess_of_the_moon_123 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 6, 2010 at 7:56 am
This was beautiful, I would love to read more. And I hope you can look at some of my work, I would very much appreciate your input! You are amazing!
Chrissy_L said...
Nov. 29, 2009 at 10:13 am
This is absolutely amazing. I nearly cried at the end. I love it. (and I tagged it in my favorites)
Fredwardness said...
Sept. 28, 2009 at 7:42 pm
wow, my great grandmother didn't rememer me either, it makes people so sad, u caught the pain with ur words good job
poemgirl55 said...
Sept. 28, 2009 at 2:58 pm
Great work.
So sad...
Nicegirl82 said...
Aug. 25, 2009 at 7:59 pm
this touched me because i have a grandmother who never remembers me and every time i see her i have to tell her my name and mention my parents. but she never remembers me, sometimes i wish that she'd know me. so i think the hope and pain is very believable in your story and i really love it!!!
**Good Work!!!**
mybestfriendisJesus replied...
Nov. 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm
i'm sorry to hear that.. i've never experienced that, though, and i hope the Lord will be with you:)
Emily M. said...
Jul. 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm
wow, good job! i like the little bit of sad hope at the end, that her father might remember her for once, before he passes. a great story, your writing is remarkable! keep it up, i hope to read more from you!! :)
comiccreater said...
Jun. 28, 2009 at 1:15 am
This was an amazing story. You obviously have a lot of talent. I read all the other reviews and not one of them says anything negative. Way to go.
LikeWoah<3 said...
Jun. 24, 2009 at 4:49 pm
This story is simply amazing. Very sad. I love your use of details!
Valkyrie_123 said...
Jun. 24, 2009 at 5:10 am
this is sad but amazing work, well written!!! post more!!
<3::wish4wings::<3 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 5, 2009 at 1:13 am
this is really good!
its pretty sad tho:( but i like it!
thedaydreamer13 said...
May 16, 2009 at 2:13 am
that was... GREAT. you did a lovely job. wOw!!
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