Hand in wrinkled hand they wandered along the path, two grey-haired, willowy figures, man and wife. This was their favourite walk, Glory Park trail, by the lake, with its shady oaks and its towering gum trees. Their talk was of now, of the sunshine and flowers.
'Ron, what day is it? What are we doing today?' asked May, and Ron gently told her again, the same answer, for the tenth time that day. Oh, how he tired of it, the questions, the repetition, the stories of childhood, repeated over and over. Yet long years of love and shared experiences bound him tightly to her, kept him caring.
Life was not easy these days for Ron. His lively, vivacious May had changed. Still beautiful, still dear, she was slowly becoming someone else, someone who knew her name, knew his, but forgot their grandchildren, forgot their friends. She remembered her childhood but forgot her yesterdays. He sometimes felt like a prisoner in his own house, keeping another prisoner from straying.
'What day is it Ron?' asked May as they opened their front door. He sighed and told her again, 'It's Tuesday dear, and it's time for our afternoon nap. You can rest on the bed and I'll rest out here on the couch.' He covered her gently with a blanket and headed to the living room for some time alone, hoping she would doze off, at least for a while. Shutting the door he turned on the television to watch some football, uninterrupted, in his favorite armchair. But within minutes he was snoring softly.
May, not sleepy, got up and went to the kitchen to do some baking. 'I'll surprise Ron with his favourite, ginger cookies,' she told herself, pulling out pans, bowls and ingredients. 'Flour, butter, sugar... We're out of sugar! I'll go and get some.' She slipped out the door and headed down the street to the corner shop as Ron snored on.
'Good afternoon May.' It was a young lady addressing her. 'How are you today?'
'Hello dear. Sorry I don't remember your name. I'm going to get some sugar from the shop.'
'I'm Jess, May. I'll give you some sugar. Save you going to the shop. Then I'll walk back with you.' Jess knew May and her wanderings. The whole neighbourhood knew her.
'Come inside while I get you a cup of sugar, May.' Jess filled a cup with sugar.
'Here's the sugar. Let's walk back to your place together. I could do with a walk.' A ruffled Ron, heading out to search for May, met them in the driveway. Relief showed in his eyes.
'Take the sugar into the kitchen dear. I'll be in in a minute.' And as May disappeared inside he let out a sigh.
'Thanks Jess, for bringing her back again. I'm at my wits' end. I can't even have a rest these days. I have to watch her like a hawk.'
'Look Ron, I'm home most days and I have an idea. I think I can help you a bit.'
'No, Jess, you've got your own family to look after, and your own life to lead. I can manage. You just caught me off-guard. I'm okay really.'
'Ron,' insisted Jess. 'I have an idea. I'll come to collect my cup and but I'll “accidentally” leave it here. Then I'll have to come again to get the cup. Every Wednesday and Friday I'll come down to get my cup. May won't realise what's going on. It will give me an excuse for coming and then I'll keep her occupied for a while so you can do whatever you want to. You can just keep out of our way, or you can go out for a while. We'll call it the cup plan.'
Ron sat down and put his head in his hands. 'I should say no. I should tell you that you're being much too kind, but I love the idea! Just for a little while anyway.'
'I'll start tomorrow,' said Jess.'I'll be along at two o'clock to get that cup.'
'You're an angel you know,' said Ron. 'See you tomorrow.'
Jess smiled. 'Now you start planning your “you” time for tomorrow. I'll give you two hours to do whatever you want. And May and I, we'll have a cup of tea and share some stories. I'll bring my knitting too.'
'Better bring another cup too, Jess, a cup of patience.'
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