In my response to my Monday Morning Writing Prompt I’m led to consider the sad reality of a common response to aging persons who have been affected by dementia or aphasia–the inability to speak that often occurs in the aftermath of a stroke. Having worked many years with the aging population as a Registered Nurse, I’m led to use this prompt to showcase how many approach those who are aging.
They talk about me like I’m not here. Because the words inside my brain can’t find their way to my lips, they think that I’m a shell.
They tell her, this sweet child, that I am not who I used to be. I heard their tsk, tsk when she put her arms around my neck. Don’t they know I feel the softness of her cheek against mine? I smell the scent of peaches in her hair, reminding me of the taste of summer.
She doesn’t shun me, doesn’t recoil from the pungent smell of aging. Doesn’t mind the roughness of my wrinkled cheeks and beard. I know she knows I hear the words she whispers—I love you, Grandpa. Do you remember when you used to bounce me on your knee? I was too young, myself, but Mama has it on a video I love to watch. I know you’re there inside, Grandpa.
I reach for her, to take her on my lap once more but then they grab her by the hand and jerk the child away. I see her tears and now I’m once again alone—a prisoner in this body. But my spirit soars.