Franklin and Rebecca

This is from my book, Old Friends. It is dedicated to everyone caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

 

FRANKLIN AND REBECCA

Franklin lived in 210.

Rebecca lived in 211.

It wasn’t always that way. But that’s another story.

They met in the hall one morning on their way to breakfast.

Franklin, on the arm of his caregiver, bowed his head slightly, smiled and said, “Good morning. Do you know you have beautiful eyes?”

Rebecca, on the arm of her caregiver, smiled back and said, “Good morning. Do you know you have a lovely smile?”

Franklin smiled again.

Nothing more was said until they reached the elevator, where Rebecca whispered to her caregiver, “What’s his name? He has a lovely smile.”

“His name is Franklin,” the caregiver whispered back.

“Who is she?” Franklin whispered to his caregiver. “She has beautiful eyes.”

“Her name is Rebecca,” the caregiver whispered back.

After breakfast, Franklin, on the arm of his caregiver, returned to 210. Rebecca, on the arm of her caregiver, returned to 211.

Franklin spent the rest of the morning very patiently unfolding the piece of paper he kept in a small wooden box by the window, reading it, then very precisely refolding it and returning it to the small wooden box.

There were nine delicately handwritten words on the piece of paper.

When I can no longer remember you … remember me.

Always the same thought ran through Franklin’s mind – remember who? Sometimes, like a faraway light in a deep, dark place, a thought valiantly fought its way toward him but just when it was within reach and he tried to grasp it, it burst like a bubble.

A man named Samuel had given him the box with the note in it, but Franklin did not remember that. Nor did he remember that Samuel was his son.

Across the hall, in 211, Rebecca sat in her favorite chair – a La-Z-Boy Veranda stationary chair. Rebecca didn’t know that. Nor did she know that Elizabeth, the woman who gave her the chair, was her daughter.

But Rebecca did love to sit in that La-Z-Boy Veranda stationary chair, as quiet as a dove on her nest, and stare out the window.

They met again in the hall on their way to dinner.

Franklin, on the arm of his caregiver, bowed his head slightly, smiled and said, “Good morning. Do you know you have beautiful eyes?”

Rebecca, on the arm of her caregiver, smiled back and said, “Good morning. Do you know you have a lovely smile?”

Franklin smiled again.

Neither caregiver chose to remind them that it was evening.

Getting onto the elevator, their hands accidentally touched.

Rebecca felt something – didn’t know what, but in the darkness, something seemed to be reaching out.

Franklin felt something – didn’t know what, but in his confusion, an answer seemed to be trying to make its way toward him, but just when it was within reach and he tried to grasp it, it burst like a bubble.

Nothing more was said until the elevator doors closed and Rebecca whispered to her caregiver, “What’s his name? He has a lovely smile.”

“His name is Franklin,” the caregiver whispered back.

And Franklin whispered to his caregiver, “Who is she? She has beautiful eyes.”

“Her name is Rebecca,” the caregiver whispered back.

After dinner, Franklin, on the arm of his caregiver, returned to 210 where he spent the rest of the evening very patiently unfolding the piece of paper he kept in a small wooden box by the window, reading it, then very precisely refolding it and returning it to the small wooden box.

When I can no longer remember you … remember me.

Rebecca, on the arm of her caregiver, returned to 211 and spent the rest of the evening in her favorite chair, the La-Z-Boy Veranda stationary chair, sitting, as quiet as a dove on her nest, staring out the window.

And so it went, day after day.

Franklin’s son, Samuel, visited his father often.

Rebecca’s daughter, Elizabeth, visited her mother just as often.

Sometimes they ate together, and always, Franklin would ask, “Who is she? She has beautiful eyes.”

“Her name is Rebecca, Dad, and you’re right, she does have beautiful eyes.”

And always, Rebecca would ask her daughter, “Who is he? He has a lovely smile.”

“His name is Franklin, Mother, and yes, he does have a lovely smile.”

Franklin was the first to go, passing quietly one December morning. Only a day later, Rebecca, in her favorite chair, closed her eyes and, like Franklin, gently stepped from this life to the next.

The notice in the newspaper said that Franklin and Rebecca had been married nearly 60 years, had two children, Elizabeth and Samuel, and more grandchildren and great-grandchildren than they knew of.

 

Epilogue

On a December morning, Rebecca found herself walking through a field of wildflowers, unlike any she’d ever seen. Someone had told her they were called Godsend. In the middle of the field, she saw Franklin, waiting to welcome her.

“Remember me, Franklin?” Rebecca asked.

“Always, Rebecca.” Franklin answered. “Do you know you have beautiful eyes?”

“Do you know you have a lovely smile?”

Looking around, she asked, “Is this heaven?”

Franklin smiled and answered, “It is now.”

 

Some Alzheimer’s support groups.

http://www.alz.org/apps/we_can_help/support_groups.asp

https://alzheimers.supportgroups.com/

http://alzonline.phhp.ufl.edu/

 

By: William McDonald/Author Old Friends (Endless Love)

Available at: www.oldfriendsendlesslove.com

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