And then he kissed me…
I visited Geoffrey my friend — once tutor, colleague and champion when pitted against Church Authority — again today. The last time I visited the nursing home, I feared he was at death’s door. He had been asleep most of the time and looking terribly weary and ill, so much so that I rang the nursing home today to enquire if it was all right to visit.
I found the residents large sitting room remarkably quiet and noticed many of the chairs were empty. The few who were present were sitting in a circle having toenails clipped.
“Who are you?” Geoffrey asked, when I greeted him with a smile.
I sat down beside him and told him (with many interruptions due to his deafness) my name and how we are connected. While this was going on I noticed a wonderful change in him. His complexion was that of a young man, he was shaved and his hair neatly cut (I could not help but notice the size of his ears!). He was neatly dressed and looked younger than his actual years — well into his eighties. Moreover, his voice was strong and almost authoritative rather like the Reverent Doctor I have known for many years.
He looked around and said that it was a very nice room. Somehow the church was brought into the conversation and he said that some very nice people attended the meetings. I rather think he thought we were at a study meeting, which took place in people’s homes. He said something about various views expressed and I said something about it being good that different aspects of faith could come together. He said, stumbling a little while trying to remember the word ‘Anglican’, that the Church encompassed a wide spectrum of faith — or some such.
I was amazed that he had been able to draw such views from his memory and express them. He was in a cheerful mood, smiling when I smiled — such a charming smile too! Then he suddenly asked me if I was his wife (mentioning her by name). Again I had to tell him his wife had died. And so it happened a few times. Once he said, “Oh yes, I seem to remember being told that.” But then he looked at the women in the chair next to him and asked if she was his wife. He would not accept my answer and demanded to know who the lady was. I could not answer nor could the poor woman being addressed! I diverted his attention by telling him that it was good to see him looking so young and sprightly. My goodness, he beamed! His whole face became radiant. I had been touching his hand while telling him about his wife and likely what was left of his memory bank made him think of holding hands with her. I had often seen them sitting on their little sofa together, holding hands like a young couple in love. He asked me again if I was she. He found it hard to accept what I told him but moved on…
Finally, it was time for me to go. Smiling, he gave me half a wink and said,
“Come on then, give me a kiss before you go.”
I bent over and he kissed my lips. Was I again his wife?
Overflowing with joy, I left the nursing home, so pleased that he could still smile and laugh even if he did spend most of his life in a confusing fog.
I found my hubby waiting in the car, which was parked overlooking the bay. We drove just a short distance and had a little walk by the beach. Holding hands as we always do, and, hopefully, always will.