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A Waltz Down Memory Lane

17 Jul

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Alzheimer’s…dementia…call it what you like. It’s a shocking disease that affects our elderly, but you don’t really understand its many and varied effects until you have personal contact,this story is republished in respect of those who care for those suffering this illness.

GEORGE was awakened – as he had for the last 20 years – by the morning sun spreading her warming rays through the partially-opened curtains on his window.

His morning routine never varied either, shaving and dressing part of a routine he had learnt from his Army days, so long ago now, with the memories re-surfacing only when he allowed his memory to wander.

George shuffled down the corridor of the old nursing home he had come to call home, and as usual knocked on the door of number 23. A thin weak voice asked him to enter.

Marge was sitting at her dressing table, brushing her long hair…hair that used to glow golden in the sunlight but which now had turned to white. Marge had been a resident longer than George, but nursing staff had noticed they developed a mutual friendship. They shared each other’s company, enjoying long walks together, and were always playing cards or listening to George’s old phonograph records.

As Marge put the finishing touches to her hair, George reminded her it was time for breakfast, and offered his arm as they shuffled down the corridor to the dining room. They were always the last to arrive, and the last to leave, sitting at the table they had shared for many years. Other residents respected the fact that it was ‘their’ table, and no-one else ever sat there.

The breakfast conversation always the same…the weather, the change in seasons, especially Spring, with the emergence of the daffodills and marigolds in all their rich new colours.

George had replayed this conversation for 20 years now, and never tired of watching the shine in Marge’s eyes as she recalled every piece of the awakening of each season. He loved to see the shine in her eyes as she recalled forgotten days from her childhood.

Breakfast over, they were, as usual, ushered from the dining room to allow staff to prepare for the day’s dining regime.

They wandered out into the garden for their daily walk. Marge loved this time of the day. The sun gave her warmth, and brought out the girlish colours on her parched and ageing skin. She allowed George the privilege of holding her arm as they strolled down to the big old Maple tree, the one with the old bench that they had sat on for over 20. George remembered it well, but for Marge, it was a a bench she sat on for the first time each day.

Marge’s face lit up as George told her all about his life, and details of a grown-up family. She asked questions about his children, and how many grandchildren he had. With infinite patience and understanding, and with a far-away look in glistening eyes, he told her about two sons and a daughter, and give details about a granddaughter and two grandsons. Marge would sigh wistfully and tell George how much she enjoys hearing about his family.

He asked Marge to tell him all about her family, but she flatly refused.

George recalled their very first conversation, on that bench under the old Maple tree, when Marge confided that she had a medical condition, and couldn’t remember any of her past life…that’s why she loved hearing all about George’s life, and his family.

The morning slipped away as the two old friends shared company and friendship, until Marge asked George if he would mind helping her back to her room. She was tired, and wanted to have a small nap. George helped her to her feet, and gently escorted her back to her room. But they would, Marge insisted, have their usual afternoon card game, and listen to George’s old phonograph.

George ambled down the corridor towards his room, also with the intention of a morning nap, when he spotted Marge’s medico, Doctor Graham. As they stopped for a brief chat, George asked how Marge’s tests were progressing. Doctor Graham knew the relationship between the old couple, and had no hesitation in telling George the truth.

“As you know,” he said quietly and deliberately, “Marge has a medical condition whereby she cannot recall her past. We have done every test medically possible, but can’t explain her condition. What we find perplexing is that every few years, Marge comes out of this condition and can recall all of her past, every bit of it, in great detail, but these instances only last for about half an hour before Marge fades back into a world that is a complete mystery to the medical profession.

“I’m sorry George…that’s the way it will always be…but you are a great comfort to Marge, and in her world I am sure she knows and feels the love and comfort that you bring her.”

George retired to his room, but sleep was as elusive as a butterfly. He pondered the ways of the world and the many vagaries of life, and wondered how, in old age, these earthly emotions of love and memories take on such huge proportions in an ageing mind.

As he drifted off to sleep, his last thoughts were about Marge’s emotions and feelings if she actually came face to face with her past.

George and Marge were in the habit of having their midday meal in their rooms, and late in the afternoon George would get his deck of cards and his old phonograph, make his way to Marge’s room.

Today they played cards quietly, enjoying each other’s company while listening to George’s favourite old dance records. As one record finished, Marge suddenly threw her cards onto the table.

“How come you never visit me like you always used to?” she asked.

George saw a look of complete comprehension in her eyes.

“You never tell me about the children, or how the grandchildren are doing,” a distressed Marge continued.

George sighed; “I visit you every day and tell you how the children are,” he replied softly. “Also, as you know, that shop of ours takes up a lot of my hours.”

“Tell me about the children, and how the grandkids are doing at school,” Marge asked.

George gently took Marge’s hand, and proceeded to tell her the full story of her illness, and went on to tell her all about her children…the same story he had been telling her for the past 20 years as they sat under the old maple tree. He passed her a faded picture of three beautiful children with their grandchildren, and the tears cascaded down her cheeks.

George told her about their sons. One was a doctor, the other a barrister. Both had boys at university…their daughter was married and had given them twin grandaughters.

Marge listened quietly, tears continuing to fall, and made sure her frail hands were clasped in his.

George gazed into Marge’s eyes and saw the overwhelming love that he was also feeling.

“Would you like to dance with me?” he asked.

As Marge got to her feet, George moved over to the old phonograph and selected a record that he recalled playing for her only six times. As the music started, he took her in his arms, and wrapped in each other’s embrace, not saying a word, they did a slow waltz around the cold nursing room floor.

The years fell fell away as the two lovers danced their way back through time, and many memories…days and nights of carefree love and laughter… the world was their oyster…and they were the pearl, a pearl of magical colours, combining to make two hearts as one.

Marge gazed into George’s eyes and told him of her undying love. “I have loved you since the day we met,” she said. “I know I have been sick, and that you are with me always. I feel you in my arms every day, and I will feel your love in my heart for eternity.

“This time George, I don’t think I will be returning. We are getting older…time has flown…but just remember that I will always love you.”

George was also crying as he held her close, whispering in her ear that he would always be by her side, and that their love would never die.

The record finished playing and, as old 78s do, went into a scratching mode.

Marge suddenly pushed George away, demanding to know what he thought he was doing…and asking why he was in her room.

George could see the vagueness in her eyes; “It’s OK Marge…I’m just helping you back to the card table,” he said tenderly.

“I don’t want to play cards any more,” Marge said. “I”m tired…I just want to lie down.”

George helped her to the bed and made sure she was comfortable.

“And take that infernal scratching machine with you,” Marge said…”it’s giving me a headache.”

George asked if she wanted to play cards again the following day, and got a polite but brief nod before she asked him to leave.

George picked up his old phonograph, glanced back at the bed as he closed the door, and with tears in his eyes whispered words that only the angels could hear….”I love you Marge.”

Nights can be long and lonely in the nursing home where George and Marge lived.

As Dawn broke through the windows, heralding the start of another new day, the night nurses were logging off as the new shift began their first rounds of the rooms.

But Marge couldn’t be woken. She had finally left a world of dreams and memories that only she could understand. In her hand was a faded photograph of three young children.

The young nurse made her way back to the nurses station to report her finding to the sister on duty.

The sister told the nurse to advise George, as she knew that they were the best of friends.

George’s room, unusually, was in darkness. George had also found peace with the only love he had ever known.

His face was calm, with just the hint of a knowing smile on his lips.

The only sound in George’s room was the scratching of a record that had been playing on the old phonograph.

As the nurse turned off the player, she glanced at the title of the record that had been obviously playing all night. It was ‘The Emperor’s Waltz.’

The young nurse wasn’t to know it was the waltz that was played on a wedding day many years before she was born…a waltz for two young hearts that had sworn eternal love. and who now waltzed among the stars, locked in each other’s arms – and hearts.

Many years later, as the old nursing home was being demolished to make way for a new sub-division, a work crew came across an ancient phonograph in the cupboard of a boarded-up storeroom. An old LP record was still on the turntable.

A worker brushed away the dust and cobwebs, turned the phonograph on, and he and his mates listened silently, wondering at the story behind the beautiful tune of ‘The Emperor’s Waltz.’

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38 Comments

Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

38 responses to “A Waltz Down Memory Lane

  1. Monica

    September 13, 2013 at 07:00

    This is a beautiful story, Ian, told with something of the infinite patience that makes George and Marge’s life a blessing.

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    • aussieian2011

      September 14, 2013 at 07:00

      Thank you Monica, I dont know what made me write that story as it is very sentimental, the local papers are running it to highlight Altheimers and Dementia awareness programmes, glad you enjoyed it.
      Wishing you a great weekend Monica.
      Ian

      Like

       
  2. giselzitrone

    August 9, 2013 at 07:00

    Wünsche dir lieber Freund ein glökliches schönes weekend lieber gruß Gislinde

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      August 11, 2013 at 07:00

      Thank you Dear Gislinde, hoping your weekend is going well for you
      and you are in good health with lots of happiness and sunshine.
      Ian

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  3. giselzitrone

    August 1, 2013 at 07:00

    Lieber Gruß mein Freund wünsche dir einen wunderschönen glücklichen Tag hoffe es geht dir gut lieber Gruß und Freundschaft.Gislinde

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      August 7, 2013 at 07:00

      Good evening dear Gislinde, thank you for your beautiful visit, Wednesday evening here and still a few more Winter days to go yet, hoping you are in good health and life is being good to you.
      Wishing you well.
      Ian/Emu

      Like

       
  4. chicasl10

    July 30, 2013 at 07:00

    Ian i can write a trilogy abt this
    we saw our mom having Alzheimer for 10 years.

    http://chicasl10.wordpress.com/2006/04/29/i-let-my-mom-go/
    I wrote those days with lot of dots.Maybe that whas my way of fulling the emptyness
    Huggy
    Mj

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    • aussieian2011

      August 1, 2013 at 07:00

      So glad you could relate to the story my friend.
      I will check out your link.
      Wishing you well.

      Like

       
  5. giselzitrone

    July 26, 2013 at 07:00

    Wünsche dir lieber Freund ein schönes und glückliches Weekend es ist sehr heiß und schwül aber was will man machen.Liebe grüße von mir und Freundschaft.Gislinde

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    • aussieian2011

      July 27, 2013 at 07:00

      Thank you Dear Gislinde, wishing you well and much love from Australia.
      Ian

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  6. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    July 24, 2013 at 07:00

    Ian, I can’t believe I’ve actually found a post of yours I haven’t seen before! 🙂

    How amazing I should stumble on this now though – a girl at work and me were talking about dementia recently (her mother had it before dying, and my grandmother had it).

    This is such a beautiful, sensitive tale, Ian. You are such a sweet heart of a man, really you are. Beautiful.

    I don’t understand dementia, don’t understand why ever, every it happens. It’s sad. But this, of the man being so wonderful – very touching.

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 27, 2013 at 07:00

      Good evening Noeleen, really pleased you found that story I wrote a few months back, it is a bit of a tear jerker, not sure where that idea arose from but it came together okay I think, local papers are running it as a tribute to the carers and people who work with Altheimers and Dementia patients.
      Thanks for the beautiful comment Noeleen, hope the weather is okay down your way and the weekend is going well.
      Cheers.
      Ian

      Like

       
  7. penpusherpen

    July 23, 2013 at 07:00

    Now that was a lovely romantic story Ian, sad, but still made you want to cry and laugh at the same time. Many thanks for sharing it, love lasting through all manner of things. Have a wonderful week, you and your Ana xPenx

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    • aussieian2011

      July 23, 2013 at 07:00

      Thanks for the pleasure of your visit Pen, yes I must admit it is a rather sad story, even I shed a tear writing it. Local papers are running it as a lead up to Altheimers and Dementia awareness week.
      Great to think my efforts may go towards bringing more awareness to these illnesses.
      Wishing you well my friend.
      Ian

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      • penpusherpen

        August 1, 2013 at 07:00

        Dropping by to see if you’ve updated Ian, with all this palaver with WordPress you can’t count on being notified anymore. Hoping you and Ana are fine and dandy, and having a great week. Take care my friend. xPenx

        Like

         
        • aussieian2011

          August 1, 2013 at 07:00

          Hi Pen.I havent been getting any emails notifying me when someone has posted, this has gone on for a few days now,decided to check out settings and found that all my settings had been altered on ALL my friends to the receive email notification, being changed to off, no way had I done that, seems wordpress has had a hand in it. I had to go through and reset each one individually again, maybe it will pay to pass it around for friends experiencing the same problem , to recheck their settings.
          Ana is fine and due back in another three weeks, think she is homesick for her old Aussie Emu.
          Hoping you are fine my friend and send a big Aussie hug.
          Ian

          Like

           
  8. Sue Dreamwalker

    July 23, 2013 at 07:00

    Lovely story Ian, my mother-in-law and father-in-law both suffered this dreadful disease… somedays not so bad as others, they both spent many a year together in a nursing home… And yet talk about the past to them both and their eyes lit up as they recalled every detail……. Brought some tears today as I remember them both fondly……
    Love to you and Ana.
    Sue xox

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 23, 2013 at 07:00

      Hi Sue, a pleasure to hear from you and do hope all is well with you.
      Local papers are running my story in a leadup to Altheimers and Dementia week, so it will feel good to know my efforts may bring more awareness to these illnesses.
      Still partying here but down to 4 weeks left and the partying is over, hehe.
      Cheers.
      Ian

      Like

       
  9. Colline

    July 20, 2013 at 07:00

    What a sad story Ian. I had tears in my eyes while reading it. And yet it is also a story about a love that is strong and everlasting. Beautifully written.

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 21, 2013 at 07:00

      Thank you Colline, I didnt realize at the time how much of a sad story it was till I read over it.
      Is rather a teary story.
      Cheers.
      Ian

      Like

       
  10. Clowie

    July 19, 2013 at 07:00

    That’s very sad, but beautiful.

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 19, 2013 at 07:00

      Hi Cowie, glad you enjoyed that story, it is rather sad, dont know where the idea for that story came from, a case of words just flowing.
      Wishing you well.
      Regards.
      Ian

      Like

       
  11. giselzitrone

    July 19, 2013 at 07:00

    Ist berührend und schön geschrieben Alzheimer ist eine schlimme schleichende Krankheit,es ist sehr schlimm ,gut ist es das es Menschen gibt die solchen Menschen helfen.Wünsche dir eine gute Nacht und ein glückliches sommerliches weekend.Gruß und Freundschaft.Gislinde

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 19, 2013 at 07:00

      Vielen Dank für Ihre schönen Kommentar zu meiner Geschichte Gislinde, wird es in den lokalen Zeitungen als eine Hommage an den Betreuer von Menschen leiden unter dieser Krankheit veröffentlicht.
      Ich wünsche Ihnen alles Gute.
      Ian

      Like

       
  12. When in New Places

    July 18, 2013 at 07:00

    So touching ~ beautifully written, my friend! 🙂

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 18, 2013 at 07:00

      Hi Andrea, thanks for the visit and comment, glad you are enjoying my writing, hope you are well and life is treating you kindly.
      I am always behind Andrea in catching up on posts but do get to them eventually, so if I appear a little late please excuse me, I never delete until I read, enjoy and comment.
      Cheers.
      Ian/Emu

      Like

       
  13. prenin

    July 17, 2013 at 07:00

    Hi Ian.

    I remember the last time you posted this and, now as then, it brings a tear to my eye.

    Is life worth living when your mind gives up on you?

    I’d like to think so…

    God Bless my friend!

    Prenin.

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 17, 2013 at 07:00

      Thanks Prenin, glad you enjoyed the reblog, must admit old mate that even after writing it and rereading it, it still brings tears to my eyes, damned if I know where I wrote that from. Local papers are running it as a tribute to carers of patients who suffer from Altheimers and Dementia, seems it has struck a chord in the local community.
      Cheers
      Ian

      Like

       
  14. jasmindamaro

    July 17, 2013 at 07:00

    hallo ian sehr toll beschrieben du hast immer so gute weisheiten zu erzaehlen du buist ein genialer schreiber big hug jasmin dancke fuer deine treue freundschaft

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 17, 2013 at 07:00

      Sie Embarrass mich mit Ihren schönen Komplimente Liebe Jasmin, ich danke Ihnen sehr, du bist ein sehr süßes Mädchen und eine schöne Freundin.
      Ian

      Like

       
  15. natswans

    July 17, 2013 at 07:00

    Lovely Ian 🙂
    Enjoy your Day
    Sheila

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 17, 2013 at 07:00

      Thanks Sheila, just retrieved you out of spam, dont know why this is happening but has happened a few times with a few of my friends, got you back now anyway so bloody hell stay where I put you hehe.
      Cheers.
      Ian

      Like

       
  16. auntyuta

    July 17, 2013 at 07:00

    Thanks, Ian, for republishing this story. It’s beautiful!

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 17, 2013 at 07:00

      Thanks Auntyuta, the local papers are running this story as a tribute to the carers of Altheimers and Dementia patients, seems it struck a chord in many peoples minds, must admit that even after writing it and rereading it, it still brings tears to my eyes.
      Cheers
      Ian

      Like

       
      • auntyuta

        July 18, 2013 at 07:00

        It’s wonderful how this old man in the story responds to the love of his life.
        Cheers, Auntyuta.

        Like

         
        • aussieian2011

          July 18, 2013 at 07:00

          Thanks Auntyuta, appears it was a good enough story to now be published in local papers in recognition of carers of Altheimers and dementia patients, wasn,t why I wrote the story but can now see what I was actually writing, funny how your words can mean so much to other people when you write them, and not sure of your contents.
          Cheers.
          Ian/Emu

          Like

           
  17. einfachtilda

    July 17, 2013 at 07:00

    ♥ ☼ ☼ ♥

    Like

     
    • aussieian2011

      July 17, 2013 at 07:00

      Thank you Dear friend and sending you love from Australia.
      Ian

      Like

       

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