With red, swollen eyes and an overused kleenex Susan walks into the hallway. Ed could see tears fill her eyes as if they were glasses being filled by a pitcher. “He doesn’t know me! He didn’t know my name! He don’t recognize his own daughter. If God takes away an old man’s memories what does he have left?”
Ed quietly places his arm around Susan’s shoulders.
Joe stands alone, as he watches his sister and brother-in-law walk down the long hospital corridor.
Moving his hands up and down his sides, glancing around but looking at nothing that is there. Joe knows it is time to talk to someone he has not spoken with in years. Finding a nearby couch Joe sits, rubbing his knees in a circular pattern, bouncing his legs, and his water-filled eyes look toward the ceiling, then down toward the floor.
Joe closes his eyes and begins a long overdue conversation.
“Dear Lord, did you hear what she said? How can you take Dad’s memories when that is all he has left? You took mom from him four years ago. You killed my wife and child on the highway thirty years ago and now in his final days you take Dad’s memories from him! I don’t understand why I am even talking to you? Are you even listening? Are you even there? How can you treat someone who has served you like Dad has this way? Memories are all that any of us really have.”
Without an amen, Joe rises and walks into the room. Blinking lights and beeping sounds penetrate the darkness around the silhouetted body in the bed.
“Oh Joe, I am so glad you’re here. I was wondering where everyone was. Where is Mother? It’s not like her, scampering off when someone she loves is in the hospital.”
“Um, Dad, she’s, um, she’s gone to take a shower and change clothes.”
“And your sister? Sue hasn’t come to see me once. How long have I been in here?”
“You’ve been here five days Dad, and Sue was just here, you must have been asleep.”
“I don’t believe you. You were always sticking up for your baby sister. I know you’ve taken the blame for her more than once.”
Susan walks through the doorway as Joe is trying to figure out if Dad was living in 2008 or 1968.
“Susan, I knew you would show up.”
“Daddy, you know my name!”
“What’s wrong with you? Of course I know your name. Is Mother with you? Joe tells me she went to take a shower.”
Tears of joy, fear, frustration and uncertainty run down Sue’s cheeks.
“Oh Sweetheart, don’t cry. I’ll be fine in a few days. Why am I in here anyway?”
Joe silently speaks to God again, “How do I tell a man with a Swiss cheese memory that he can’t remember anything? Will it do any good?”
Breaking the awkward silence by reaching for his daughter’s hand Dad motions to Sue to bend over and he whispers in her ear, “Have you talked to Joe about the Lord yet? I think he will listen to you better than he would listen to me.”
“Oh Daddy, I don’t know, it’s been years since Joe and I have talked about the Lord.”
“Dad, now is not the time or the place.”
“Joe, I know my memory comes and goes. It’s been three years since the doc told me I had Alzheimer’s and I’ve noticed things getting worse. I just may not remember anything ten minutes from now. If I live long enough there will come a day, I won’t remember you or Sue.”
Wiping the tears from her eyes and with love in her voice Sue tells Dad, “It’s already started.”
“Joe, God has Alzheimer’s”
“Dad don’t be silly. God knows everything.”
“Joe, if you put your trust in what Christ did for you on the cross then the Heavenly Father will remember your sins no more. God has allowed this to happen to me so He may show you what He will do for you.”
Sue raised her trembling hands to her face.
Running through Joseph’s soul are the emotions of anger, pity, confusion and remorse.
“Who are you two?”
“Daddy? Daddy I’m Sue. This is Joe.”
“I don’t know either of you. Get out! Get out of my room!”
With red, swollen eyes and an overused kleenex Susan and Joe walk into the hallway.
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