Thursday, June 22, 2017

Weldon and Maudie

After last week’s Danny and Sophie, I’d like to take a look at a twosome of another generation. Let’s watch as Weldon’s and Maudie’s lives take a profound turn.

Courtesy of Pixabay

          On a calm spring day, we sat side by side on a white-painted iron bench in a little park across from the institute. I could smell the lilac of her favorite toilette water even though fragrances from a nearby bed of flowers vied for our attention. The raucous caw of a hidden crow occasionally broke the silence.
          A pleasing pattern of wrinkles decorated the soft cheeks of the woman who had graced me with her love and attention for the past fifty years. Age accentuated the curve of her nose and drove the chestnut hues from her hair, but it hadn’t dimmed the blue of her eyes.
          “What are you looking at, Weldon Grey?” she asked.
          I put a lilt in my voice. “At the sexy gal I married.”
          She poked my arm. “Don’t be ridiculous. If I was ever what you’d call sexy, that was a long time ago.”
          “Not to me.”
          “Hush up, and don’t you dare talk that way in front of our daughter. Where is Mary Jane, anyway?” A frown rearranged her wrinkles.
          “She’ll be here soon.”
          “Not with that Lonnie Wilson boy, I hope. He seems nice enough, but they’re too young to get serious.” She laid a hand on my arm. “You’ve told her that, haven’t you? She listens to you.”
          I avoided her question by grasping her fingers and bringing them to my lips. That brought a nice smile before the frown came back.
          “Why are we here?”
          “Enjoying a beautiful day in the sun. How long has it been since we took time to do that?” I asked.
          “Awhile, I guess.” She turned to view the green lawn and multi-hued bushes shimmering in the light breeze and pointed to the nearby flower bed. “That’s nice. Someone went to a lot of trouble with it.”
          “Worth it, I’d say.”
          “I ought to be home doing laundry.”
          “You did the laundry yesterday. We made sure the day was clear for… for us.”
          “I did? But Wednesday is laundry day. Isn’t today Wednesday?”
          “It’s Thursday, Maudie.”
          “Oh, I can’t keep up with the days anymore.”
          I patted her hand and we sat quietly for a few moments.
          “Why are we here, Weldon?” Her voice was soft and querulous; the question plaintive.
          “Enjoying a pleasant day. Look, there's a robin. Pretty, isn’t it?”
          “Robin who?” She adjusted her glasses and glanced around.
          “A robin red-breast. You know, the harbinger of spring.”
          “Oh. A bird.”
          She blessed the bird hopping on the lawn with a beatific smile and sighed. “Is this Saturday?”
          “No, it’s Thursday.”
          “Then why aren’t you at work? Did you take a day off?”
          It was my turn to sigh. I had retired three years ago. “Yes. A day off to be with you.”
          “Nice of them to give you the day off.”
          We watched a blue Ford Fusion park at the curb and disgorge four people. Maudie glanced at me uncertainly. “Let’s give them this bench and go home?”
          “No need. We know them.”
          “We do?”
          I stood as a tall woman of early middle years brushed brown hair from her eyes before giving me a hug. “Hi, Dad. Are you ready?”
          “I’m not sure, Mary Jane.”
          “It has to be done, you know that.”
          “I suppose.” I turned to my son-in-law. “Hello Lonnie. Thanks for coming.”
          “Glad to help, Dad.”
          Maudie let out a cry and bounced off the bench, snagging a girl and drawing her into a hug. “Mary Jane! You look so pretty today.”
          “I’m Gretta, Gran’ma.”
          “And there’s that Lonnie Wilson boy. Weldon, you have a talk with him right now. Just like we discussed.”
          Fifteen-year-old Kenneth rolled his eyes. “I’m Ken, Gran’ma. Lonnie’s my dad.”
          Mary Jane brushed Maudie’s powdered cheek with her lips. “You look pretty today, Mom.”
          “Who are you?” The three words held uncertainty.
          My daughter smiled through her pain. “Someone who loves you very much. Are we ready to go now?”
          “Go? Go where?”
          “Just across the street.”
          “Are we going to eat?” Maudie asked. “I’m getting hungry.”
          “I’m sure they’ll have something for you.”
          I took Maudie’s hand and led the way down a slight hill and across the street. Mary Jane and Lonnie followed, trailed by our two grandchildren.
          My steps faltered as I approached the entrance to the building, but Mary Jane’s muttered “Dad!” prodded me along. The sign etched into smooth stone over the doorway seemed hateful rather than welcoming. “Woolridge Institute for Alzheimer’s Care.
          When I passed through the door, I had little concept of the radical changes my life was about to endure. That came later. I wasn’t prepared for how profoundly I missed the comfort of my dear Maudie. Of how lonely and frightening the nights became. How my flesh crawled each time I forgot and called aloud for my absent wife. Of how inadequate the presence of loved ones and old friends was in filling the void.
          I honestly believe our separation was easier on Maudie than it was on me. I’m certain that she missed me, but she was accustomed to living in a world of strangers. I was the only one who remained in her memory banks, and there were even moments when I wasn’t there.
          I visited her, of course, until the joy she evidenced upon the sight of me dulled into mild interest, and then merely acceptance. After that, there was no more Weldon and Maudie. There was only the Weldon living in the present and the Maudie living in my memory.
          And then came the day I answered the doorbell and found a woman of middle years standing on my porch.
          “Can I help you?” I asked.
          “Dad! It’s me, Mary Jane.”

Quite a difference between the two stories: One is a tale of a young man teasing his girl and the other is a story of life teasing a couple. Let me know how you enjoyed the story at the Email address provided below.

The following are some links to me and my writing. With the upcoming release of the City of Rocks, I’d like to change the DSP Publications links:

Don Travis Email:
Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

As always, thank for being a reader.


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