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Care, Cure and Condolence.
I walked over to the window as soon as I woke up. After drawing the curtains aside I witnessed the most beautiful moment. The sun was back, shining brightly where it should be. The sky was clear of any threatening gray cloud which would cause any type of rain. I opened up the window glass and fresh, warm air touched my skin. I exhaled with relief. It feels so good to have a normal pleasant weather after such furious down pour since a couple of weeks. The constant heavy rainfall was very depressing, as I was unable to go to the library. This new weather brightened my mood as I hurried to get ready.
When I was done I headed downstairs. Greeted my mom who was reading the news paper and stirring her coffee.
“Mum can I go to the library now?” I asked.
“Okay, but wear your boots and be back before the sun goes down.” She replied with a bit concern.
“I’ll be fine mum. I love you”
“Love you too”
And with that small exchange I left my house, feeling happy. The roads were still pooled with water from the rain. I do not live in the most posh area of the town so roads over here are not as well drained as they are at other places. I cautiously made my way to the 30th street where the local library is located.
The lane leading to the library is usually abandoned because people here do not visit the local library that often. All of the children living here attended Hampton high school and do not find the need to visit the local library. One of the main reasons for this is that the library at their school is pretty much well stocked with the latest books, compared to poorly stocked library three streets away.
You must be wondering why I go to the library regularly. This is because I do not go to school. My father passed away when I was just 3 years old. I have no other sibling or any relative who was kind hearted enough to take responsibility of me and my mum. So from the very start my mum (who is my whole life now) and I faced some very severe financial constraints.
Times were so bad that we didn’t have money for twice a day meal. Then my mother started working as a waitress. Even now we have financial problems. But my mum still refused to turn to the welfare centers. She strongly believes that as long as she is living she will work in order to earn money instead of depending on someone. That’s probably what I got in heredity form her. I too, hated being dependant on someone.
Well, due to our financial status, I was unable to enroll in the school, so from the very start I started going to the local library and tried to achieve knowledge on my own. When I was young Miss Beth, the librarian used to help me out. But now I alone learn what there is.
I entered the library and the bell on the door noted my presence. Miss Beth looked up and smiled. After greeting her, I went upstairs to continue with my studies from where I left a couple of days back. As I was looking for the book, from one shelf to another I heard someone’s cough.
Usually the place is pretty empty and at that time I didn’t expect anybody to be there. I found the book I was looking for and quietly crossed the room to check who it was. As I turned the corner I saw a man sitting on the small, wooden chair. The table was covered with heaps of books and he was so busy reading one of the thick books that he didn’t even acknowledge my presence.
Standing there, it gave me an opportunity to look at him careful. He was 65+ and has a little shabby beard which too was gray in colour just like his hair. He wore spectacles and had numerous wrinkle lines on his face. His clothes however were fairly normal. Brown khaki pants and white button down shirt. As long as I have lived in this town I have never seen this man.
As I was standing there, both my hands holding the book and staring at him, he looked up. I quickly dropped my gaze to the brown carpeted floor, embarrassed. I could feel blood rushing from the back of my neck to my cheeks.
“Can I help you? “ His husky voice questioned me.
I had to make eye contact now. I looked up and saw something I didn’t see before. He had blue crystal like eyes. Behind the thick spectacles I could see the friendly twinkle in them He wasn’t annoyed that I was standing and staring at him like an idiot. Relief washed over me.
“oh, um…no. Actually I…usually this place is empty…I heard your cough so I got curious and want to investigate who it was.” I replied. Even though his eyes were friendly, I did get nervous.
“Oh okay. My name’s David Stanly. I’m a retired professor. And I came here to do some research.” The friendly man replied, giving me sufficient information about him.
I introduced myself in the same manner, we shook hands and he invited me to sit with him. I dragged another chair from the nearby table and sat across him.
We didn’t really talk much. I was still a bit nervous. Having human contact with no one else but my mother and Miss Beth, I felt a bit uncomfortable talking to a perfect stranger. I started studying from the place I left off a couple days back.
He didn’t talk to me either. I assumed that maybe he was busy doing his research or didn’t want to talk to me. I didn’t really care. Soon it was ten minutes to six. I got up quietly, went over to the rack where I picked my book from, put it in its place and returned to David.
“Sir, I’m leaving. My mother told me to be back before 6. So it was really nice meeting you here. “I said politely.
He looked up. Feeling a bit confused and then he acknowledged me.
“Oh...yes...me too. I am sorry I wasn’t a nice company.” He pointed towards the book and said “Doing research you know.”
“Oh…yeah no problem” I replied politely.
He nodded and I turned around to leave. It didn’t take me that long to reach my home and accompany my mom in house chores.
The next day, I returned to the library, weather was still in my favor. No rain. We talked a bit more that day. Feeling a bit comfortable to each other’s company. He asked me to call him David instead of sir or Mr. Stanly. I was absolutely fine with that.
From the next day onwards, when ever I used to go to the library, I used to see him. It felt like he never left the library. He had the same heap of books in front of him, but different clothes on. From his clothes I got the idea that he was not that rich, but not as poor as me.
He asked me about school and my family, and oddly enough I confided him with everything about me. He told me about himself too. He told me he’s doing a research on a very rare disease. He wasn’t much open about what the research was about, so I didn’t question him much. He told me about his family. He’s a widow with no children.
The way he talked about his wife, I got the feeling how much he loved her. He always used to get this twinkle in his eyes. And usually he used to get carried away in his thoughts.
Over time, we actually became friends. He used to help me out in my studies as well. He told me about his school life and how he got married. He told me about kids when he used to teach in the university. We had a very unique friendship.
Over the years I never had a firm relationship other than my mother and I felt happy at this new situation. I didn’t notice at first, but since the day I met him, till date, David got weak. It was very gradual at first, but them I started noticing his boney fingers and his veins bulging out of his hands while teaching me. It got me worried. I asked him about it, but he never seemed to tell much and changes the topic.
Also over time I noticed that he seemed to forget about usual things. It was weird. But what ever I did, he never spilt the beans about what’s going on. Instead he carried on teaching me as much as he can and helping me with my everyday lessons.
Its was a chilly September morning when I entered the library, and came across his absence. The heaps of books and his papers, all of them were still scattered over the table, but the only thing missing was him. I walked down to the librarian, to ask where he was.
“Oh honey, Mr. David expired yesterday night. The funeral is going on right this minute at the church across the lane” librarian said with great sorrow.
At first I kept standing there dumbfounded, staring at the librarian like she has spoken pig Latin. And then, my brain took charge and I dashed out of the library. I ran all the way across the lane towards the church. I could not think, I could not feel anything. When I reached there, the ceremony was still going on. I took a seat at the last row, trying to catch my breath without attracting attention.
It was finally a time for farewell; I picked up the rose and walked over to David. Tears welled up in my eyes when I saw him, resting peacefully. I would have never thought that I would be witnessing this painful event. At the time of my father’s death, I was too young to feel any kind of emotion of be aware of what’s going on. But now I do know, and it’s agonizing.
With that I prayed for him and got out of the church. Outside there were some men, who were talking amongst themselves.
“Its very sad” One of the tall one said.
“Do you know what he had?” The shorter one questioned and I stopped in my tracks.
“He was suffering from Alzheimer's disease” The tall one replied.
“Oh that’s so sad, I believe his wife also died of this disease, two years back.”
That’s was it, I couldn’t hear any more. Alzheimer's disease, my brain repeated the guy’s words. I changed my plans and headed to the library instead of going home. I went over to the desk David and I used to sit every single day. I found out that all the books that I never questioned him about, were about medicine. I collected all the books and sat down on the corner studying them, one after the other.
“David Stanly was my core inspiration for this book. Actually he was a patient of this rare disease and so was his wife. They both were victims of it. I just tried carrying on David’s research and complete the work he started. I wish I would have been able to do this and find out a cure to Alzheimer's disease before he died. David was my only friend apart from my mother. I met him in this very library. He was my friend, my father figure, and my teacher. I would have not been able to do what I did if it wasn’t for him. Even though I do not go to a proper school, David taught me and brought the school to me.
He really meant a lot to me, so I dedicate this research book to him. Thank you every body for coming out here and supporting my very first book.”
And with that speech I got off stage, tears in my eyes and hugged my mother who was sitting in the front row. We both turned and walked back towards our house. People applauding me as we left.
After David’s loss, the only thing that kept me determined to carry this work and to find out the cure of Alzheimer was so that nobody should die from such disease which had snatched my beloved David Stanly. I was the youngest and the first girl who had found cure to such disease. The state honored me with Noble Awards and gave a lot of money to my mom and me. But trust me, neither the wealth nor the award mean anything to me. I lost him, I lost a friend, a teacher, nothing else could ever replace that.