Mitch gestured with his hands as he spoke, his voice, as always, quiet and reassuring.
Amanda hugged the shawl around herself and sank onto the small settee on the veranda, tears coursing down her cheeks without restraint.
“Yes, I know. We've got to go now, you and I.” Mitch continued speaking, urgency creeping into his voice.
“I'm sorry, Rachel.” Amanda turned to look at her twenty nine year-old daughter who sat silently by her side.
Rachel nodded, her eyes fastened firmly on her father.
“Yes, the boy's gotten in trouble before, but we've always got him back to mowing the lawn and playing hop scotch, don't you know.” Mitch sounded more resigned with these words, his hands dropping into his lap. He remained silent for a while, as though listening.
“How long has this been happening Mama?”
“Started a few months ago. The doctors have a name for it. Can't remember such big words.”
“Any other signs than this?”
“Not that I noticed.”
“Well, did you get him?” Mitch inquired with his previous urgency. He peered at the man opposite with intense focus. “I say he's still out in the corn field. Did you look there?”
“Who, Daddy? Who's in the corn field?”
Mitch just looked straight ahead, still waiting for an answer.
“I don't know either, Rachel”. Amanda twisted her hands. “I'm at my wits end.”
“Not in the corn field? Down by the river then? Don't tell me he went there and got into a fish and swam away?”
“Mr. Hennessy, it time fo' your pill sir. How you, Mrs. Hennessy? Miss?” The nurse nodded toward the two women as she leaned down to hand the man the glass of water and the small medicine cup containing a long white pill.
Mitch failed to notice her.
“It candy, Mr. Hennessy. Now eat up.” She took the pill and held it to his lips. Opening his mouth obediently he took the pill on his tongue and swallowed it with a sip of the water.
“Does it help?”
“Miss, we not sure. But doctor orders.” Leaving the glass the nurse left the room.
“Mama, you don't know who he's talking to, or who he's talking about?”
Amanda lifted her shoulders and let them drop in a helpless shrug. “Maybe no one. Who's to know?”
Rachel sat biting her lips, watching her father, who was again in animated conversation.
“So, I was right. Yes, you did say so, but I thought about it. But you're sure? You looked there and saw him?”
“Mama, wasn't Daddy's brother...didn't he die when he was just...”
“Just nine, yes. What?”
“Well, I was just thinking...”
“Morning.” The young man in the doorway had a stethoscope dangling from his neck. “How's our patient doing today?”
“About the same, doctor.” Amanda rose from the seat, still twisting her hands. “Still talking to the wall.”
“Could be a manifestation of that condition we talked about.” The doctor gestured for Amanda to sit and took a chair near Mitch
“The one with the long odd name?”
“Yes, Alzheimer's. My Granny called it old timer's.” He chuckled dryly. “One thing that seems common is for the patient to 'see' people from his or her past.”
“So Daddy's kind of, reliving something? Like when his little brother drowned while swimming?”
“Something just like that, Ma'am”. The doctor rose and left the room.
Amanda looked again at Mitch. Tears rolled down the man's face.
She rose and went to him, putting her arms around her husband's neck.
“Oh, Mitch. I love you so much. Let that be enough, please. Please” she broke, “just let it be enough.”
“Can you just go there now and give him a puppet then?” Mitch inquired of the unseen visitor in the chair opposite him against a wall.
“Oh, Mitch! Don't you know? Donny's in heaven with your Mama and Papa.” Amanda hung onto Mitch's neck, weeping.
“Mama.” Rachel went to her, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Heaven?” Mitch turned to look at Amanda for the first time.
“Heaven, yes heaven Mitch. The place you told me about a long time ago.”
Without a word, the visitor rose, smiled at Mitch, and slipped out of the room.
Mitch's face softened and he smiled at Amanda.
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