You’re Never Too Old for Love
He was getting on a bit in years, his eyesight was very dodgy, and his hip was definitely causing him gyp. His teeth were still okay; he still enjoyed his meat slightly chewy, instead of that pap that they gave the real oldies in this residence. And if truth be told, despite his advanced years there was still a little fizz left when it came to the ladies. In fact there was a rather saucy looking old gal in the residence four down from him, who despite the silver threads through her glorious mane of hair, still had a twinkle in her eye.
Making his mind up to make more of her acquaintance later when they were all out in the garden enjoying their daily exercise, he closed his eyes to have a quick nap before lunch. He dreamt of a luscious garden full of the scent of flowers, as well as the laughter of children as he chased them around the apple trees. Two hours later he woke with a feeling of sadness, knowing that he would never see those children again. They were grown now and had no thought of him as he sat alone in this place.
There were visitors who came from time to time, but this was a residence for the elderly, and whilst they were well taken care of with amusements laid on, and so called enrichment programmes, they all felt the loss of being part of a family. They would talk about it amongst themselves when they were resting in the shade of the garden; out of breath from their recent exertions. They had to accept that they were not going to see the outside of this place again and had better make the best of it.
One day they woke up to see the garden covered in snow and some of the more elderly residents declined the invitation to go out for their usual daily exercise; choosing instead to huddle under the blankets and watch through the windows of their rooms. He, however, was made of sterner stuff. He remembered the fun he had enjoyed with the children; lying in the snow whilst they covered him from top to tail until only his head could be seen. He was not sure if he lay down in the soft snow now, that he would be able to get up again with his dodgy hip.
Tired from his time in the winter wonderland, he returned to his room and settled down in the old chair in front of the window. For some reason he felt incredibly sad; for once his normally sunny disposition was overshadowed by grief.
The next day the staff could be seen rushing around putting up shining decorations, and the residents perked up knowing turkey and all the trimmings were imminent. You have to give credit to the woman who ran the place; she was a kind soul who was committed to giving her elderly charges the comfort and care they deserved. They all enjoyed her frequent visits to their rooms for a chat and a hug or two.
Somehow this year he found it difficult to get excited, despite loving the taste of turkey, ham and those little sausages wrapped in bacon. But his dreams each night of children’s laughter lingered throughout the day, and he felt incredibly sad.
The day before Christmas, he woke to hear people talking outside in the corridor. Not unusual certainly, but he kept hearing his name mentioned and there was something familiar about one of the voices… He moved closer to the door and tried to understand what was being said about him. He heard the click of the latch and hurriedly moved back into the room; watching as the woman who ran the place entered with a tall young man.
“Hello Jack is that really you.” He stared at the stranger who seemed to know his name. He edged forward to get a better look and a hand reached out towards him.
“We’ve been searching for you since Mrs Jones died and we didn’t know where you had gone, I cannot tell you how happy we are to have found you.”
We, what’s this we bit?
Suddenly two very young children pushed themselves into the room and rushed towards him, throwing their arms around his neck. After a moment’s fear he surrendered to the wonderful emotions that surged through him as he heard their laughter; feeling their small arms choking the life out of him.
He looked up through rather bleary eyes as the young man knelt down and stroked the fur around his neck, a familiar smell immediately unlocked the memories he had tried to suppress during his waking hours. Memories of this man as a teenager living next door to his mistress, coming over when he was a puppy and playing with him, rolling around in the snow and teaching him how to make snow angels.
“You’re coming home with us Jack, would you like that boy, would you like that?”
To say that he was out that door like a whippet up a drainpipe, despite his dodgy hip, was an understatement. He was helped into a large box that hummed, sitting between the two small children strapped into special seats. They both reached out to touch him; reassurance that it was going to be safe as they set off at an alarming rate.
So here he was on Christmas Day having just eaten a meal of chicken, basmati rice and vegetables with special gravy, no salt his new mistress said in her soft caressing voice. He had a lovely new bed in the same room as his two young friends, Billy and Grace. He lay there in the warmth listening to them breathing gently in their sleep, knowing that he was now their guardian. He was filled with new purpose and strength; even his dodgy hip didn’t hurt as much.
More than anything he felt young again and loved… You’re never too old to feel loved.
©Sally Cronin 2018
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