Waiting

By
The cool breeze blew through the naked trees. Leaves scattered across the road. The car drove aside the sky scraping building. Windows paneled the exterior of the Veterans Hospital. Upon the sidewalk, no crackling leaves blew past. The foreign building towered over the man and woman and children. The astounding fortress lay before them.
Framed glass doors creaked open as the children approached them. Amazement and wonder crept across the faces. The children glanced across the lobby at the vast and distant hallways. Doors bid them no entrance without the aid of a nurse. White hallways create the feeling of a prison, a solid, inescapable prison. At last, the desired door allowed them in.
Patients walked the halls. Shuffling and dragging their feet, men and women made their way around, searching for family and their relative. The hospital was full of people bustling about. Talking and laughing echoed from rooms far off. However, the silent fear hung over everyone. The fear that one day their relative would fail to recognize them; and that one day they would just be friendly people that came to visit.
Inside, the desk bustled with confusion—papers stacked at nearly every available corner. Nurses directed people this way and that. Day in and day out, the nurses monitor and observe each patient’s gradual progression towards the certain end that soon will come. Waking them up in the morning, putting them to bed at night, the nurses took care of these people every second of their lives at the hospital. They became the mothers and fathers of aged and war-torn men and women. Listening to stories of the good ol’ days and the unforgettable and everlasting war, the nurse come to realize that these men and women were true heroes of their time: a generation that is now often forgotten and regarded as futile. Irreplaceable are the stories told of their lives—but the end is inevitable and near for many.
Peering into rooms while passing, the children at last found him; and yet there was something obscure about the aged and fragile man. No longer the energetic, blithe grandfather they had known, but rather an imposter. He could not be the man the children knew and loved. Attempting to choke out a hello, the oldest daughter pleaded with God that he would remember her- but to no avail. Those familiar, friendly, deep eyes like oceans stared into hers. And yet, he failed to recognize her. Pleading with her father, she did not comprehend how he could not remember her.
He could not remember her. So familiar was that face, and yet his mind struggled to recall that face, so distinct; his memory failed him. She was so polite and kind; they all were. The little children that scampered about the barren room were also unknown to him. However, he felt like he knew them; somehow, somewhere he remembered. He talked with these people. They seemed to know who he was and why he was there. Try as he might, his frail and fragile mind would not allow him to remember them. Despite his dwindling memory, he recalled a limited number of faces, namely his wife and children.
The children explored the room. Opening cabinets and peering under beds, discoveries of socks and slippers were made. Excitement filled their hearts. An untrodden, barren floor surrounded them. Crawling and squeezing into spaces, not one corner remained ambiguous.
The father talked to the man. Recalling his son, the man remembered him. The conversation carried on for ages, talking of the most obscure things. It seemed that nothing had changed except the environment of their conversation. His father talked about his car dealership from years previous. Heartbreaking it was to hear him talk as though it were present. The conversation, however brief, was picturesque.
The children continued to frolic about the room. Unaware of the feeble man perched on the withered bed, the children crawled under and around the bed. The bed smelled of debility and bland detergent with no aroma. The smell was sickening, creating an empty pit in the bottom of everyone’s stomachs.
The family took him on a walk through the courtyard. As he sat and talked, he suddenly stopped. What time is it? Where am I? He had forgotten completely everything that had just occurred. Trying to reassure him, he settled comfortably in his wheelchair and began to talk and chat again.

The hurt she carried could not be contained. The tears fell. The man she admired was gone. Forgotten. Lost. Her hero, fallen. Alone in this desolate, barren room full of people; and yet she feels so lost. Pain crept into the very soul and would not escape. The mother comforted and dried the tears that fell like rain. Desperately, she attempted to flee the prison that held her captive. Only a few moments longer, the mother reassured her. Quietly, she kept to herself alone, isolated in a corner.

At last, the time had come. Good byes were exchanged. The family departed from the building. Across the parking lot rested the car. The children piled in and the family left the building, some of the children never returning. The long drive began, and all she could do was sit and contemplate her feelings. Never had anything affected her in the way. It overtook her whole body and she was filled with regret and despair.

She tried to remember the happy days of her childhood. We’re going to Grandpa’s house! She could remember running into his arms and swimming in the ocean pool. The stairs appeared to be mountains then. As she looked back on her memories of him, she could not help but cry.

The wind outside stirred. A new day was coming; a chance to forget the man who could not remember her, an opportunity to remember the man that had filled a childhood with laughter and happiness.

He sits in his hospital room now. He no longer remembers anyone. He cannot talk or take care of himself. He sits—waiting.





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