I was at Wal-mart several Sundays ago when I saw this older gentleman. He caught my eye because he was fussing to himself and waving around one of those garden spigot insulators that you use to keep your water spout from freezing. Evidently, he brought one in with him from his car and left it at the front counter. When he went back to get it, it had been thrown away. He was talking and fussing, “excuse my language, but stupid people,” and asking workers in the store for directions.
When I first saw him, he was shuffling around in the hardware area. He had to be in his 70’s …. but possibly in his early 80’s. He was dressed in a full suit and shuffling with every step. I barely saw either of his feet completely leave the floor was he took one step, and then another. While in the grocery section, he caught my eye again because he was scanning each aisle and whistling like a bobwhite .
I just had to laugh. My family used to whistle for each other in stores. Of course, now there’s not as much need. Now, we just call each other on our cell phones… but there was a time not so long ago when a whistle was all that we had and it was a very, very useful thing.
This scene in the store brought back memories of the book by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook. I’m not a fiction reader, but when my parents were caring for their aging parents, I gave them the book as a gift. Before gifting it, I read it. It’s such a sweet, sweet story of an older couple.
The story is based on a man who, after almost a half a century of marriage, is still madly passionate about his bride. They live in a nursing home. Noah filled a notebook with stories of their life and would go to his wife’s room and read to her each day… because she was losing her memory to Alzheimers. He would do this “to keep her memory alive.” On occasion in the middle of the night, he would sneak down the hall to go to Allie’s room. He would even crawl in bed with her and snuggle. He loved her dearly.
As I watched this man in the store, I thought about one part of the book and just had to check it out from the library to re-read it. I still remember that it was on the right hand page, beginning about one third of the way down the page. That section was seared in my brain from my reading at least a decade ago.
Nicholas Sparks pens for Noah a scene that plays out long after “lights out” in the home:
“Then standing, I cross the room and open my door. I exit my room…. slow-shuffle, slide-the-right, slow-shuffle. It takes aeons to close the distance… I am a silent panther creeping through the jungle, I am as invisible as baby pigeons. ….. I take steps the size of Pixie straws, and even at that pace it is dangerous, for my legs have grown tired already. I find I must touch the wall to keep from falling down. Lights buzz overhead, their fluorescent glow making my eyes ache, and I squint……. I am a midnight bandit, masked and fleeing on horseback from sleeping desert towns, charging into yellow moons …. I am young and strong with passion in my heart. I will break down the door and lift her in my arms and carry her to paradise.”
This little, old man made me chuckle. He made me think of my own future. Will there be a man …. shuffling around the grocery aisles, grumbling about “stupid people” and waving around a styrofoam garden spigot protector with me standing by the buggy making a face and wondering what took him so long to shuffle across the store to the garden section and who he had offended between the time that he headed to Lawn and Garden and I began my trek to the egg aisle? How many funny looks will he get as he talks to himself and roars his under his old, panting breath?
And should we end up in a nursing home, would he be my room mate or have to find his way down the hall at night to visit me? Would he adore me … the way I do him?
Only God knows.