Ray Of Hope
Not so long ago, I was the chatterbox. Now listening to inane chat and my husband’s snores is all I can do… or is it?
Love and devotion always pays dividends
My eyes survey everything, good and bad, noticing even small moles on a person’s face or fine hairs near the mouth, faded scars. I see everything; damp patches, dark cracks in the walls, everything.
It is lunch time and I watch her bring my lunch, plonking it on the tray; just a young girl with such large brown eyes, wearing the nurse’s uniform. She appears too young to be in control of sick people.
“Here you are, love,” she chirps, placing the plate about two inches away from where my arms reach. With a great deal of effort, I attempt to lean forward, but am just not able to move my arms near enough to the plate, which contains an attractive hot meal.
“Damn.” I silently curse, and, defeated, lean back to wait for someone to come and help me. This dinner will no doubt be cold by then.
I stare out of the adjacent window and watch the rain pour down on the world. It’s bleak, and encourages dreariness. I watch drips plop onto a nearby wall.
He will be drenched if he comes in this downpour. Perhaps he won’t bother today. He never says anything much anyway, just sits and sighs. Yet I know if he doesn’t visit, I may weep.
We have been married for forty years. I am used to him and he is used to me. I wish he would think to bring pen and paper just so I could try to write down some questions. If only I could tell him. I shake with frustration.
How is the dog? Is he eating properly –Stan, not the dog? When are the boys coming to see me again? Will Dan bring the new baby?
I have only seen my little granddaughter once, they call her Patsy – dear little thing. She won’t be scared of me like this, I hope. I recall her bright blue eyes and soft brown hair, longing to feel her baby skin next to mine.
I hear, before I see, the heavy footsteps of the kind lady who is in the main ward. “Legs”, I call her, because her legs are absolutely enormous compared to the rest of her small frame, but she has the loveliest smile. She almost always knows when they leave my dinner too far away. I attempt a smile as she sits beside me. I wish I knew her name.
“There, dear – let’s see about this lunch. I hope it hasn’t got too cold.”
I look into her clear grey eyes and try very hard to speak. “Urggh.”
She nods and pats my hand before starting to feed me lukewarm steak and kidney pie.
“It’s raining cats and dogs, my dear,” Legs is telling me. “Maybe we are better off in here in the warm, and that’s a fact.” I watch her walk back to her own bed, her massive legs finding it difficult to move. I wonder what is wrong with her. If only I could ask.
The ward door opens and Stan stumbles through. He shakes his wet umbrella onto the floor before taking off his raincoat and sinking into the chair beside my bed. He looks at me then looks away.
“Teeming with rain,” he mumbles, then, “By, it’s a cold one – cold and wet.” He yawns, as if those few words have worn him out, but continues, “The dog misses you. Sleeps on your pillow.”
Now he folds himself down in the chair even further. I notice how tired and grey he looks.
Feebly I lift one arm to try and wipe the tears forming in my eyes, but as usual, don’t quite make it.
He just sits and SIGHS. Yet if he DOESN’T VISIT I know I may WEEP
This is so frustrating. Stan and I stare at each other. I am usually the chatterbox, and Stan is more the strong, silent type.
“The boys will be coming this weekend. They phone each evening. By ’eck, wish I could have a smoke in here.”
He is walking across to the window, briefly touching my saggy cheek as he passes the bed. I yearn to grab his hand and hold it to me.
Stan returns and sinks back into the chair, just as the tea lady arrives. She hands me my cup and straw and leaves one for Stan. I am pleased about that, because he looks as if he could do with a nice hot drink.
He yawns again. Doesn’t he sleep properly? I suppose he is worried about me. I am worried about me – I want to return to normal, want to walk and feel fresh air on my face, even torrential rain like today, want to be able to wash myself and to speak again. How I loved gossiping. Now things are left unsaid.
Iwatch Stan drink his tea, and then before you can say “Jack Robinson,” his head has lulled forward and he has fallen asleep. I hurt from silent laughter as I know that any minute now, a great loud snore will erupt.
My own mouth opens into a grimace that should be a grin, and I think that perhaps my body has forgotten how to smile. Stan’s eyelids are twitching and his mouth drops open. He is looking his age, what with his bald head and hairy ears. When we were married, oh so many years ago, he was so handsome.
But then he married a very pretty blonde laughing girl – and look at me now! Yet, inside I am still me.
I lie in my bed listening to his monotonous drone, waiting for the occasional loud eruption. Sure enough here it comes, and immediately two nurses peer into my room from the main corridor, wondering for a moment what that loud noise might be.
I wish I could giggle. Yet for me, it is rather a comforting sound. A sound that gives me hope that one day soon, with determination, I will return home.
Suddenly the rain stops and I notice through the window, a faint rainbow peering down, pushing its way through the heavy grey clouds.
“Look, Stan – a rainbow.”
His eyes fly open and we stare at each other, stunned. Did he hear my words? Did I speak? “Did you say something, Helen?” My mind is leaping about excitedly. I see a sudden look of hope in my husband’s eyes. “Did you?” he demands. I manage a nod. Oh joy, and my mouth at last remembers how to smile!
I want to return to NORMAL, to feel fresh air on my face – even RAIN