Used to be Love, Flowers, and Goodbye
Tildie slowly exhaled and closed her laptop. Every morning after meditations, she checked her emails and social media. Now and then Tildie would come across the story of the eighty-year-old man who walked five miles to have breakfast with his wife in a memory care facility. When people asked him why he continued to go daily for so many years if she didn’t remember him; his answer always gave Clotilde “Tildie” Delsapo reason to pause: “She doesn’t remember me, but I remember her, and I haven’t forgotten how we used to be.”
Tildie dressed this morning with an old Barbara Streisand – Neil Diamond duet on her mind. The song, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” had taken on a new meaning for her. On rough days she would sing it fighting back the tears.
Today Tildie decided to stop on her way and buy fresh flowers from the garden nursery. She knew Sergio could still appreciate the beauty and perhaps the sweet fragrance would trigger a memory. She would make sure there were sprigs of lavender with hopes that somewhere in his new world he would find her.
At one time Sergio and Tildie were two spirits bound by love flying high above the clouds and earthly troubles. It wasn’t all rainbows and chocolates, but she had chosen to file the bad memories in a separate place. Tildie remembered the laughter, the tenderness and the adventures they shared. She remembered their late night talks. In her arms he was able to unlock the complex emotions he kept hidden from the rest. Tildie recalled how finding a smiley face on a post-it note in her notebook, kept a silly grin on her face for the rest of the day.
Sergio Miviere taught her many things about the world, about love, about herself. He helped her believe in her talents and pursue her dreams. Sometimes as they ate ice cream by the seashore, they would people watch. They would sit close together and whisper stories. They could build on each other’s imagination to create vignettes about their surroundings. “How do you come up with this stuff?” he told her often as he giggled like a small boy.
He had a scholar’s mind and could rationalize or give explanations in great detail about anything. Teaching was second nature, everything was a life-lesson, and she loved to hear him talk about the world around them. Yes, she thought, intelligence IS sexy.
She first started to notice a problem, when he talked to her of people she didn’t know, or he would say, “Remember the other day we were at …” but she had never been there. He had been there for business or with friends. She wanted to ignore the signs, but others started to ask concerned questions.
By far the saddest moment was when Sergio finally put aside his pride and acknowledged that his difficulty went beyond distraction or the stress having a lot on his mind. She watched him change before her eyes as he became angry and fearful of what was to come. Tildie promised Sergio all her love; to be with him forever.
In the years that followed they took extra care to cherish every moment. Every sunrise and sunset marked another day they were together. They received each day in gratitude, but little by little Sergio went down a path that left Tildie behind, alone to make difficult decisions.
The day Sergio moved to the care center was just another day of muddled talk and confusion for him. He stared at the ceiling as they helped him to bed unable to find words to ask questions. In that bed, Tildie left a shell of the man she loved, but also a piece of her heart. That night she couldn’t sleep, and the next morning she was at the Center by his bed before he awoke. He didn’t know who she was, but she knew him. She remembered who they used to be, Sergio and Tildie.
On good days Tildie thought there was a flicker of recognition. He would let her lay in bed with him. She liked to believe that his spirit remembered hers. She held him and sang to him “May I have this Dance?” until he fell asleep.
Today there was a vase of fresh flowers on the desk by the window with sprigs of lavender. Sergio’s eyes widened, perhaps in recognition of a memory they shared, but he no longer had the words. These moments had become Tildie’s life. How could she learn to say goodbye?
The more I write, the more I become aware of my process, and I’m beginning to see patterns in my writing. Even though I don’t post every day, I make it my business to sit down and work on something. I wrote this piece for my critique group this week. It’s flash fiction, and my challenge is trying to stay within the 750 words. I looked at some things in my drafts folder and started a few other stories, but nothing seemed to motivate me enough to put energy into it.
I went to see the new “A Star is born” last weekend. It was excellent on its own but some aspects still reminded me of Barbara Streisand. I started playing some of my favorites and was inspired to write this story with limited knowledge on the subject. It was well received in the group. Coincidently, another writer shared a personal account and a few poems about the same topic from a different point of view followed by some interesting discussion. I got some great suggestions which I will work on in the future, but it will certainly be more than 750 words.
(Pictures are not my own. Borrowed from Pexels on WordPress)