by Patrick O’Connor
COME on, get a grip, you should be tougher than this.Louise knew that her break was nearly over and that very soon she would have to be back on the ward. Better tidy up, she thought, wipe away those tears, stop sniffling. For God’s sake woman, you’re a ward sister, shouldn’t get upset like this. She looked at herself in the mirror, brushed her hair and put the letters back in the drawer before leaving her office.
I’m trying to remember the day we first met but it’s so difficult. I can’t recall where it was. I seem to get a picture in my mind and then it disappears. Then everything becomes a bit of a fog. But occasionally something bursts through and my heart skips a beat. Just like the day I first saw you. So long ago now, but even though I’m a daft old woman who’s losing her marbles, my toes still curl up at the thought of you. Please write.
My dearest Alice
It was so lovely to get your letter. Sorry I haven’t replied to you sooner but I’ve had another one of my bad turns. I just haven’t had the strength. It was at the Palais my love, you’d gone with your sister Clara and I was with my mates from the railway. My pal Bert egged me on and right at the end of the night I summoned up the courage to ask you to dance. Thank God you said yes.
The Vicar, you know the one from the church, oh this is so frustrating, I can’t remember his name. Anyway he came to see me and said how well you’d done to look after me all that time. He said Alzheimer's is not an easy condition to cope with and how brave it was for my husband to soldier on caring for me at home without any help. He said looking at you, he wouldn’t have believed you were 90. Lost my temper today with the lovely girl who brings the tea round, don’t for the life of me know why.
Why shouldn’t I care for you my darling? You are the love of my life, you always have been and you always will be. Forever. But the doctor said that when you’d got pneumonia you had to go into hospital. I tried to visit you every day until my heart started playing up. Some days though you didn’t recognize me.
Why oh why did they have to put us in different hospitals, why can’t we be together? I miss you so much.
Had a bit of a lucky escape today my sweet. Thought I was a goner for a while, alarm bells going off all over the place, people racing about. But I’m hanging on in there just for you. Oh why couldn’t I be stronger?
I’ve spoken to that lovely sister, Louise her name is – see I’ve managed to remember something! I’m very weak now my love, seem to spend so much time sleeping. I told Louise I want to see you again before it’s too late for both of us. I want to have you by my side. I’m starting to feel scared now love. Sometimes I wake up and don’t know where I am. (PS Louise is writing this letter for me. Isn’t she kind?)
My lovely Alice
The consultant is coming tomorrow. If he gives the okay they say I can move to your hospital and have a bed right next to you. Wouldn’t that be grand, who knows I might even try to scamper across to your side for one last time!
BY the time Louise had got back out onto the ward there were new patients where Alice and Albert had been. The beds had been pushed apart now. She'd liked Albert, he had had a happy smiling face and a twinkle in his eye as he held Alice’s hand. They looked such a lovely couple. She wasn’t quite sure which one of them went first but there wasn’t much in it.
© Patrick O’Connor 2010