Saying Goodbye to Grandfather

I nodded and bound my arms even more tightly around his own, wishing that he had yielded to my mother's protestations that I should remain at home with her after all.  But my father was adamant that I should come.  Dementia eventually claimed all the males in his family, he told her, and he insisted I catch a glimpse of what would be my future so that I remembered always never to waste a moment of my present.  I felt as if I had already seen enough.

My father escorted me slowly up the path and as we got closer to the huge, grey cube that was the care home, I saw a number of elderly zombies shuffling about or sitting on benches.  Something wasn't quite right about them, although I couldn't put my finger on what this was, but in a strange way I found their presence oddly reassuring.  I suppose it was because, old, decrepit and falling apart as they might have been, they were at least zombies and hadn't been transformed by their stay into some kinds of unimaginable monsters.

A nurse met us inside the door, clothed in a white uniform stained brown with old blood.  Her body was twisted to the right so that she walked with a limp and she smiled at me, a beaming, gap-toothed smile.  It was comforting to come across somebody in the middle of this place who was obviously still invested with some sort of normal zombinity and I smiled back, shyly accepting the sweet she pulled out of a pocket for me.

“A new hippocampus and spleen variety,” she told me.  “And just wait till you get to the soft centre.  You're here to see Mr. Wainwright, I assume?”

I popped the sweet in my mouth while she and my father discussed my grandfather further.  Hippocampus had always been my favourite flavour sweet, and the delicious tang of spleen combined to give it an exotic, heavenly taste beyond anything I had ever tasted before, until I bit through the crunchy exterior.  Then my taste buds fizzed quite literally and I couldn't stop myself crying out in pleasure.

The nurse gave me another smile.  “Thyroid.  But one enhanced by goitre.  Told you it would be good.”  She turned back to my father.  “Do you want me to show you the way or will you be all right on your own?”





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