Visiting Beatrice

“Good morning, Beatrice. I’m a little late, I know. I had to stop at the hardware store on my way here. I’ll bet you thought I wasn’t coming today. You know me better than that. In fifty-eight years of marriage, I’ve never forgotten your birthday. Look what I have for you. I brought lilacs from the tree in our back yard. Remember the lilac tree in our back yard? Oh, how you loved it when that tree blossomed every year. Our dining room table looked so elegant with Mother’s cut glass vase perched in the center of it, filled with flowers in shades of purple. The sweet scent traveled all through the house. I’d come home from the office and know you’d been working in the garden. I’ll set them here on the windowsill where you can see them.”

“Have you looked out the window this morning? The air is crisp and clean. The birds are singing. How about venturing outside with me? You’d like that, wouldn’t you? I already told the nurse I’d be taking you out for a stroll. Let me just wrap this shawl around your shoulders so you don’t catch a chill. Looks like it’s getting a bit worn. I’ll bring the pretty blue one you got for Christmas. It matches your eyes. Now, you relax in your chair and leave the driving to me. We can sit in the courtyard and hold hands like when we were kids. Remember those days? Sometimes, it doesn’t seem all that long ago. Don’t look at me like that. I know it’s not as clear in your mind as it is in mine, but I like to think you recollect some of our life together every now and then. I won’t let them tell me anything different. I don’t believe you’ve forgotten me. I don’t believe it for a minute.”

“There now, isn’t it better out here? I knew you’d enjoy the courtyard. Aren’t the flowers lovely? Look at those geraniums. I think they’re the prettiest I’ve ever seen. Red ones are still my favorite. Do the pansies remind you of home? Speaking of home, I’ve tried to keep the garden up, but it’s been difficult with this arthritis. May Pritchard’s youngest boy, Tom, does odd jobs and yard work around town. He’s good with flowers, too. I hired him to mow the lawn and do the watering. He even finished the planting for me. Thanks to Tom, the garden looks better than ever. He’s building a ramp so when you come home for a visit we can wheel you right out there. Won’t that be nice? Did I mention the boy is going to college in the fall to become a doctor? He’s grown into a fine young man, just like you always said he would. When I told him it was your birthday, he cut some lilacs especially for you. Wasn’t that thoughtful of him?”

“Do I see the hint of a smile on that pretty face? I love seeing you smile. Are you thinking about other birthdays? Do you remember when you turned eighteen? That was the day I asked you to marry me. Seems like yesterday, doesn’t it? How about your thirtieth? That sure was a good one. We drove to New York City for a long weekend. Your mother watched the kids. I don’t recall the name of the play we saw, but I’ll never forget those wonderful few days in the Big Apple. We stayed in a fancy hotel with a view of Central Park, drank champagne in our room and ate dinner in a quiet little French restaurant. We tried going back there a few years later. Mona came down with the chicken pox and we had to cancel the trip. You wouldn’t leave your little girl. You were always a good mother. Maybe you’re thinking about your fiftieth? We threw you a surprise party at that Italian restaurant you liked so much. I can still see the look on your face when you walked into the room and sixty people yelled “happy birthday.” We’ve had some good times together, Beatrice.”

“The whole family will be here tonight. Robert took the night off. Mona baked the cake herself. She’s bringing Louise with her. I know Louise hasn’t been here in a while. She broke a hip a couple months ago. Had to stop driving. She’s doing much better now and is looking forward to seeing her best girlfriend. Having to depend on others is tough, but you know that.”

“For now, let’s sit and enjoy this precious time together by the flowers in this lovely courtyard? It’s okay if you don’t remember. I forget a lot of things these days too. The kids and grandchildren will be here later to wish you a happy birthday. Until then, it’s just the two of us. For a little while, it will be like the old days.”


Author Notes

10 Comments for “Visiting Beatrice”

Matt

says:

Your story was moving. The poor guy’s wife was impaired, and the husband received no response from the ailing wife. You did a great job with the narrative. Good families have good memories, and this guy had a lot of them.

says:

You really did a great job of covering some meaningful life moments. This story works so well with just him talking… It reminds me of my mom and dad, as my mom is forgetting things and Dad is doing his best to keep things together as she gets frightened when she realizes she has forgotten important things. The realization that the husband is growing older too, and friends are having their own problems getting around physically. I picture it all in my heart, and it makes my heart hurt. I also feel compassion for the man who is doing his best to accept wherever she is at in the moment. So sad and lonely for him, too. This is a very well-done piece. Seems like it would fit in Reader’s Digest or an aging magazine quite well.

Write On!
Becky

says:

Thanks for your comments, Anisa. When I wrote this, I was trying to write a monologue. I did actually play with the idea of making it a bit longer and breaking up some of the dialogue. I even started it, but never finished. I was afraid it sounded too much like The Notebook. I might work on that again. Thanks for the suggestion.

Lina

Raymond Tobaygo

says:

Good afternoon, Lina

Very moving and heartfelt, with uplifting moments yet offset by the realities of mental decline. My father had dementia for over five years before he passed in May. I flew down many times and each time he had declined from my last visit.

Take carer and stay safe,

Ray

says:

Thank you, Ray. I worked in nursing homes and saw a lot of dementia and Alzheimers. I never did anything with this story because I thought it sounded too much like The Notebook. Sorry about your dad. Lost my mom in March. She had some dementia too.

Lina

Mary Cooney-Glazer

says:

Both heartwarming and heart rending. I was standing there, listening to that wonderful man communicate with his wife as if she understood every word. His love for her is obvious. This is very real for so many people, and you brought the emotion to life.
Excellent job. Mary

Anisa Claire

says:

Lina,

A very sad write, going through the memories with a loved one who can’t remember what happened in their life. The husband is very sweet taking Beatrice down this path, remembering the good times they shared together.

I definitely thought the emotion was present for the write and I got a good feel for their relationship. One thing I would maybe suggest is instead of making it entirely dialogue, to add in some elements that involve Beatrice in the moment, too. So we get a feel for the whole situation, on both sides.

Keep up the good writing! Looking forward to reading more from you. And welcome to Writer’s Carnival!

Anisa

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