A nursing facility is everyone's solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can't bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams, and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving, complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But, on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.
And here's an excerpt to whet your appetite even more:
Sara, an amateur photographer, had chronicled her children’s lives with an old 35-mm camera she’d picked up at a flea market. In the photos, David and Lisa were young teenagers, gangly, smiling, and full of life. Sara sorted through pictures of them playing on the beach, building sandcastles, flying kites. She rummaged aimlessly through the stacks of photos, but one in particular captivated her and she studied it for some time.
Lisa sat on the beach, her long auburn hair floating in the breeze, her bright eyes and glowing skin forever sixteen. She wore a flowered bikini. Her lanky legs were lean and tanned. Sara rifled through the pile of pictures but kept returning to this one. She laid it down and picked it up again several times, struggling to find the right words to express her thoughts. Her facial expressions changed rapidly, showing a spark of recognition, replaced by bewilderment, and then the thread was lost. She held the picture up to the light and spoke with trepidation.
“Do I know this girl?”
“Of course you know her –” Jack started to explain, but stopped, tripping over his words. He took the picture from her and cradled it in his palm, gazing at the girl who was once his greatest joy. He glanced up at the mantel over the fireplace where pictures of Lisa blended in with the family photos. Choked with emotion, he turned away to catch his breath and pondered how to respond. Had Sara forgotten this girl was their daughter? Had her illness robbed her of even this most treasured memory? It was unthinkable, unbearable. He debated telling her the truth, but, uncertain of her reaction, simply said, “She’s a girl we used to know.”
“At Corn Hill?” Sara asked, still staring at the picture.
“At Corn Hill,” he replied. “We have lots of pictures of her, see?” He pointed to the photographs scattered across the table.
She gave no sign of recognition. A moment passed, and she yawned. “Put all this away.” She rose from the sofa and stretched her arms high over her head. “I want to go to bed.”
Jack left the photographs where they lay and escorted her upstairs to their bedroom. After tucking her in, he headed back down and gathered the pictures into neat piles, storing them in their boxes. His hands shook as the boxes filled.
He went to the mantel and removed the pictures of Lisa, hiding them away in a cabinet. Better to keep them out of sight in case Sara noticed them and started asking more questions, or, even worse, stumbled on the truth. A sudden revelation might be devastating, and he was determined to spare her any angst.
He turned out the light in the living room and made for the stairs, but overcome with emotion, he dropped into an armchair and let out a strangled sob. The clock struck midnight as he mourned their daughter in isolation, crying in the dark for Lisa, his wife, and himself. Gone was any possibility they might speak of her, recalling the good times and special memories, or comfort one another as they grieved. It was as if she had never existed.
Jack sat up deep into the night, and wondered how much time remained before Sara forgot him as well.
Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse, using her skills and experience to create stories that bear witness to the humanity in all of us. A lover of words and books, she studied the craft of writing as an English major at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and worked for a time as a newspaper reporter in New England. She later became a nurse. In 2002, she put the two together and began writing about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. When not writing she works as a school nurse at a community college in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley, where she lives with her husband, Lou, and daughter, Allison. To follow her visit:
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And go buy a copy of Blue Hydrangeas!!