Sometimes everyone gets a wake-up call.
|“Visiting hours are over in thirteen minutes,” snapped the attendant at the floor station to Amber. “Learn to come earlier.”
Amber stood motionless, stunned. She only wanted to see her grandfather. Finally she croaked, “Okay, I’ll try.” She headed down the hall to Room 217, where her grandfather now lived.
Lying in his thin hospital gown, he was a shrunken version of the man who was still chopping wood in his 70’s. He had no recollection now of feeding the wood stove so he and his granddaughter could play checkers in the radiating warmth. It’s possible he had no recollection of chopping wood, or of his granddaughter. Amber couldn’t really tell.
She settled in the chair next to his bed. “How are you doing, Granddad?” she asked.
He looked at her. “You can’t let them win,” he said.
“Can’t let who win?”
“You can’t let them win,” he repeated, looking away at a horizon Amber couldn’t see.
When Amber arrived the next day, the desk attendant barely looked up and said, “Well, look who’s here before visiting hours are over.”
“How is my grandfather today?” Amber asked.
“How would I know?” the attendant replied without looking up. “I’m busy.”
“Okay,” Amber stammered. She retreated in silence and entered Room 217. Her grandfather lay motionless, eyes open. “Granddad?” Amber said softly.
Without looking at her, he said, “You can’t let them win.”
Amber lifted his light blanket and thin sheet. Ten seconds later, she was at the floor station. She shouted, “Hey! I want my grandfather’s bedclothes changed. Now!” The attendant looked up, wide-eyed and mouth agape. “Move!” Amber said. The attendant bolted from her chair and raced toward the linen cabinet.
The next day, the attendant rose when Amber approached and said, “He has clean sheets and seems comfortable, Ma’am.”
(Word count: 300)