He started awake, looking around him in mild confusion.
He didn’t remember dozing off.
But who does?
He looked around him, settling himself again in his chair.
Not much going on today.
But really, there never was.
Nothing that was worth him taking note of.
A gentle looking brunette came over.
She asked him if he wanted to lie down for a nap.
He’d gotten up so early, she thought he might need it.
Carl thought; he didn’t even remember getting up this morning.
He shook his head politely no.
Fifteen minutes later, he was dozing off again.
The gentle looking brunette didn’t notice; she was with some of the others.
He woke again some time later.
It was darkening outside.
Soon it would be time for lunch, judging by his growling stomach.
An older woman came over, smiling.
She helped Carl up and to the bathroom.
They came back together, hand in hand.
Carl sat down in his chair again.
Soon his lunch was served by the gentle brunette.
Instead of falling asleep in his chair.
Carl opted to go with the nice brunette and lie down for awhile.
Sooner than he realized.
He was awoken by a older woman.
Smiling, she said it was nearly dinner time.
Helping him out of bed, she ushered him into his usual chair.
Gazed without interest at the television for a bit.
Started to doze.
But the older woman came again.
She took his hand, and ushered him into his bathroom again.
Helped him shave, disrobe, and shower.
She chattered brightly as she dried his hair and combed it, just so.
Carl never saw the point of it.
He was going right to bed.
His hair would only need looking after again in the morning.
As she helped him cover up.
She said something about who would be there in the morning.
Carl yawned without replying.
He wouldn’t remember anyway.
Of course, it is just supposition that Carl thought anything whatsoever.
He had Alzheimer’s.
The gentle brunette and older woman talked as Carl dozed.
Both had worked with many men and women with Alzheimer’s.
Never one like Carl, they both agreed, nodding sagely at one another.
Alzheimer’s, they further agreed.
Was the worst disease.
Every other person they had worked with who had Alzheimer’s.
They struck out at what they perceived to be strangers.
Never knowing what was intended at the hands of these people.
They fought to be free.
Though to do what, they never knew.
At least with other diseases, said the brunette.
They don’t die alone and afraid.
For in her gentle experience.
Those without Alzheimer’s.
Knew they had loved ones around them, there at the end.
Those with this worst of diseases.
Fought, never knowing.
That their traitorous brains had erased all their loved ones from their minds.
Taken the peace and security they could have had.
The dignity that so often accompanies death.
And turned it all around.
So that, when they passed from one world.
To the next.
They lashed out at the loved ones around them.
Struck the hands which ached to gently clasp theirs.
Roughly turned aside the hugs and kisses they were due.
For the hugs and kisses they once gave.
Some refused their medicines, the older woman said.
The brunette nodded, shuddering.
She looked into the distance, eyes unfocused.
One lady who had once been a concert violinist.
Who had not only Alzheimer’s.
But cancer as well.
She fought with surprising strength.
Spat out her pain pills.
Screamed and screamed.
Alone and afraid.
Until she died.
Eyes focusing again, the brunette cast her mind away from this memory.
Thinking again about Carl.
It occurred to her, not for the first time.
What faith Carl must have.
To take things as he did.
He woke up every day knowing nothing and no one.
Yet Carl got up and took the hand that was offered to him.
He ate a hearty breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.
Without knowing who prepared it.
He let total strangers bathe him.
Brush his teeth.
Put a razor to his throat to shave him.
He smiled at everyone.
Hated no one.
Perhaps it was because he had grown up in a different time, she thought.
That he trusted so.
She didn’t really believe that.
Every generation has it’s share of assholes.
It’s incidences of cruelty perpetrated against the innocent.
All for the benefit of the guilty.
His generation was no different from any other.
His faith was.
And that faith was rewarded.
For Carl made a lasting impression on everyone who met him.
They never forgot.
What he would never remember.