I’ve seen the 2 of them together. Two heads of silver framing their line-ridden faces, always accompanying each other. She in a wheelchair and he in a walker, shuffling slowly through the hallway. I never ask their stories. Were they husband and wife before they came to this long term care facility? Were they newly- discovered companions in the sunset of their lives?
There is no couple’s suite in the facility. I wonder what the policy is if a couple request to be put together? Most of the residents require a team of dedicated caretakers to help them get up, get washed and get dressed. Sometimes I could see residents deteriorate week by week when we visit. They would be moved to an intensive care unit and sometimes their rooms become empty and new residents move in.
I knocked on the door and entered. She was on her single bed and he was sleeping in the corner sofa with his walker in front of him. The room was small and tidy. Doctor and I filled up the remaining space. She sat up and smiled, “Come in, come in!”
I positioned Doctor next to her bed as she stroked his fur. She waved at him, “Bob! Bob! Look who is here!”
He opened one eye, then slowly massaged the other eye open. Recognition kicked in and he grinned. I brought Doctor closer to him, sandwiched between the bed, the sofa and the walker. The dog stood still, letting him pat his head and her patting his back. He murmured, “You are so beautiful” to Doctor.
Suddenly the two of them broke into a song in unison:
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
I watched them serenading my dog, their voices match each other in harmony. A song that invokes so many sweet memories and sorrow. I couldn’t help but get misted up. It was a very unexpected and beautiful gift.