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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)

TITLE: Bridget
By Melanie Kerr


You know what I hate most about this place? Itís the smell. Itís the strong mixture of pine disinfectant and dried urine. I hate that after half an hour you donít notice the smell. Perhaps the staff who work here, day in day out, donít notice the smell any more. The carpet feels sticky beneath my shoes.

I donít know how many patients there are. Some of them shuffle in pink cardigans and fluffy slippers, feeling along the wall with their open palms. Most of them sag in chairs, their bodies like deflated balloons. There is a television in the corner of the room. Scenes flash on and off and with the sound turned down low, no one is following the storyline.

You know what else I hate about this place? Itís the uncertainty. Just last week there was the court case of that nurse, in a home similar to this one, being found guilty of abusing one of the patients. Somewhere along the line, the patients she had been treating became something less than human. An old woman couldnít participate in a conversation, but sat limply in a chair, gazing at a television screen, taking in nothing around her. The nurse just feeds and wipes, and there is no cheerful banter. Could someone be?ÖI worry about Bridget, in a place like this.

She, like all the other patients, is so helpless. She doesnít chose what clothes to wear, or what food to eat, or where to sit in the room. Someone else dresses her, matching trousers and tops with cardigans and jewellery. Bridget never used to wear trousers.

And there is something else I hate too. The photo album on the bedside table. I have flicked through it once. A collection of pictures. The black and white ones show stern faces and arranged poses of Bridget as a child, and later a bride. The later pictures, bold and coloured, with grinning children fingers stuck up behind heads, are more recent. Bridget was so strong and vibrant, nothing like fragile woman curled up in the bed covered by a light duvet. I doubt that Bridget has ever flicked her way through the pages. She used to keep all of her photos in a drawer of the cabinet. Who is the album for? Not Bridget who doesnít remember any of the people in them. The nurses point to pictures in a sing-song voice ask about her sons and daughters, carrying on a one sided conversation.

Over the years, Bridget has stepped further and further into the web of nursing home care, needing more care and stronger medication since being diagnosed with some form of Altzimers.

I guess that what I really hate is myself. That I donít want to see Bridget like this. That guilt plagues me and sneers at me that I really donít love her any more. But this isnít my Bridget. This is not the woman I married forty years ago.

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This article has been read 1508 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betsy Markman07/17/08
This is raw and vivid. I've read a lot of articles today, but this is the only one that moved me to tears.

He does love her. He does. It's just hard to know what love can do for its beloved when she is there but not there, gone but not gone.

I hope in time the guilt will ease.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/17/08
You told this very sad story extremely well.
Rita Garcia07/18/08
A sad story told with grace!
As I brushed the tears away, I whispered a prayer for the many going through this very thing.
Sara Harricharan 07/18/08
Love the POV on this piece. I thought it was a child maybe, or some other relative, but I didn't think it was the husband. So well written, it's sad, but I can tell that he truly loves her. Nice job. ^_^
Joanne Sher 07/19/08
Excellent and poignant POV on this. This felt so real, so true. Wow.
Anne Linington03/08/09
Excellent twist in the tail revealing that the MC was Bridget's husband- and I didn't see it coming. It reminded me of my Challenge entry "Away in a manger".