This is a completely reworked story that I penned a while ago and hope you agree it deserves a second shot.
Press here to join in and post your own story, to read all the others tap the blue frog over at Esme’s place.
At lunchtime Bob tied a napkin beneath her chin, he softly crooned as he spooned sustenance between her lips. With the touch as soft as mallow, he caught the spillage caring that none other could see. I watched Bob care for his wife over many years, he accepted help only when he had to. Milly would batt her lashes and flirt with Bob openly, I am sure she believed they were alone. Milly whispered and giggled, sometimes you could hear her singing to Bob. One summer evening through the window, I saw them dance, in some imaginary place they took to the floor; such an intimate sight.
What they had together was gentle, the connection was tangible, respectful yet fun.
Bob and Milly were the only couple living in the home where I work, Milly in the early days was fit and able, she took an active role in the running of the home. Bob for the first four years went out to work; until Milly’s episodes became continual.
When Bob was out or having a break we nurses, would cover our uniforms and distract her by being her guests. Me with a floral crossover pinny and a pink plastic curler in my fringe. In her own space she was calm and liked the familiarity, but she came alive, I’d say animated; when Bob was near.
Milly was failing fast and still, Bob continued with the rituals she came to expect. Many a day I came on duty to see his eyes cloud, his shoulders down; it took its toll on him, loving Milly. I went into their room with a tray of tea and cake, the intention was to assess discreetly the situation; to offer support. Milly was unresponsive, as If I didn’t exist. She lay very still, occasionally her eyes would flicker. Each time she heard his voice her mouth would lift and lashes would batt. He bathed and brushed, stroked, and dressed her. For six days he never left her side, the doctor had been and we all waited in a hushed silence for the inevitable.
Worried for him, I wondered how he’d be once she had passed.
I tapped the door; it remained closed, pulling a crack just enough to peek. I could see him, cradling her in his arms; on the bed with her. Bob’s face pressed into her hair, his cheeks glistened as he rocked her to and fro humming a long forgotten tune.
At the funeral I stood next to him; he seemed spent and sad. The small chapel was full of flowers, sun-streaked through the glass as bright as the cheerful hymns they played. kindly words and reminiscences were recalled. Bob stood at the pulpit and said his last goodbye.
Bob and five clients took the minibus back to Green Hays for Millie’s high tea. Once goodbyes were said and each person had gone, I sat in his armchair for the longest time remembering the fun that was Milly, not maudlin but good happy talk. I asked…
“How did you do it, Bob, where did you get the stamina to keep on for years?” He clenched his hands to stop them trembling. As if deep in thought, he slowly nodded. “Once her memories had disappeared, (his lip trembled) it was my place to make her feel love every day. So each day for her was our first date. Then whenever it was her time to pass, she would know… to-day she was loved.”
Wouldn’t you wish to be loved as much as Milly? Leave a comment If I touched that spot?