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Stranger at the Window

I looked into the room. Nothing had changed since last week. The bed was still exactly were it had been, perfectly made by a nurse. The nightstand was still right beside it, with almost nothing on it. The walls had no sense of personality, just their grey bleakness looking right back at you. The chair was still by the window, and an old man sat there, just staring at the people moving around outside.

I used to know that old man by the window, but I don’t anymore. He used to be my grandpa, but he isn’t any longer. The disease took that away from him.

About two years ago, my grandpa and I were very close. We knew each other like only best friends would know each other. Then he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He no longer remembered my name, or my mother’s name or that she was even his daughter. It hurt when that happened. I would walk into his room at the nursing home and he no longer remembered me as his granddaughter. We were total strangers. I used to give him hugs when I walked in, or say, “Hi Grandpa,” but he just got upset and sometimes screamed and cried like a little kid. I stopped hugging him, and I stopped calling him grandpa. I acted like a total stranger to him. Sometimes he would talk to me, sometimes he wouldn’t. Most of the time we would just look out the window, and he would ask me who I was and ask questions about himself like where did he live, how did he get here, all kind of questions like that. I really don’t know why I even came here anymore. I guess I just felt like it was the right thing to do.

Today he didn’t ask any questions and gave no recognition that someone was even in his room. He continued staring out the window, so I got a chair from the other side of the room and sat down with him.

“Hi,” he said. “Do I know you?”

“No”, I answered. Denying that I was his granddaughter was one of the most heartbreaking things of all.

We didn’t talk for a while.

“I see a bird”, he said, pointing to the bluebird on a branch.

“It’s a bluebird”, I told him.

“What is your name?” he asked.

“Laura”, I told him, even though that was a lie. I didn’t want him to know my name as Caroline. I didn’t want to fall apart as I said it, so I lied.

“What is my name?” he asked.

“Your name is George”, I told him. That wasn’t true either. I couldn’t tell him that his name was Joe. I couldn’t say Joe without breaking into tears. Plus, the man sitting beside me was not Grandpa Joe who laughed and played games with me. He was a sick man who remembered nothing of the world and people he had left behind.

We watched more people outside. Soon, a nurse poked her head in the door and motioned that it was time for me to go. I nodded at her, moved the chair back, and left. I never glanced back at my grandpa and I never said goodbye. He gave no indication that I had even left. He never did. Now, he wasn’t even my grandpa anymore. He was just the stranger at the window.



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This article has 11 comments. Post your own now!

Pumpkinscout said...
Sept. 15, 2011 at 5:26 am
Wow. This is great! It is so sad I was nearly crying at the end.
 
ExpRESsY0uRselF said...
Jun. 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm
This was a really beautiful piece...its the kind of writing that makes you want to sit on your bed all day and bawl your eyes out at the unfairness of the world. :) Lol, anyways, i really loved how the story line was something many kids could relate to. Great job! I think this was probably your best piece!
 
Wright1981 said...
Mar. 7, 2011 at 10:41 am

Great pacing in this story - creates an atmosphere of life slowing down as one gets older and the lack of sense of time when one loses their memory.  Beautiful in its poignancy and sensitivity.  Wonderful writing - keep it simple!  You have a gift!

Your proud, former English teacher.....

 
HorseLover said...
Feb. 12, 2011 at 8:45 pm
It is a wonderful story. It is very sensible and touchful. Congratulations!
 
AsIAm This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 31, 2011 at 9:56 pm
Wow. This almost made me cry!  I dread the day when this happens. :(  Amazing writing!  The only thing I would do was edit the ending a bit - in the words of the Mad Hatter, "you lost your.... much". :)  Splendid job!
 
MichelleK10 said...
Jan. 17, 2011 at 10:51 am
Alex, what a moving story! You have grown so much as a writer. Keep the stories coming!
 
Smyliee said...
Jan. 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm
I love how it's sad but it doesn't have a completely negative ending- it's kind of mysterious. Great job!
 
ckastens said...
Jan. 13, 2011 at 8:56 am
Great writing! Keep up the good work.
 
texasroad said...
Jan. 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm
Very good review of a difficult subject.  Suprised that you chose to use first person in making your review and placed yourself in the place of the grand child.  I hope this never happens in your family and that you will have many happy memories of all of your grand parents.
 
StephenK10 said...
Jan. 12, 2011 at 9:48 am
Interesting.  The story is very moving.  I wonder how she will feel if the disease lasts a long time and then she attends the funeral.  Good insght into the emotional issues of dealing with older loved ones.  Keep up the good work.
 
cookies said...
Jan. 12, 2011 at 7:00 am
it is your sis ........... post another thing!!!!!
 
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