A Triptych of the Old Man
He wished they’d shut up. They were always talking at him, expecting him to respond. Not that he didn’t want to but the effort was just so great getting it from a thought in his head to words coming out of his mouth that by the time he got there they’d moved on to another subject. And now they’d told him he was being put away. His wife of forty years had had enough. Not that he could blame her. He’d given her a hard time over the years with his drinking and abuse. She hadn’t had a great life. He knew that and regretted the words that wouldn’t come. Not then. Not now. It would be strange in a nursing home although he didn’t think life would be much different. He would sit and stare just as he did at home. It really didn’t matter where you were bored. He’d been bored and miserable most of his life. At least then he could drink. He could drown out his life. Perhaps the home would let him drink. His wife wouldn’t. He hated her for that. He hated the control she exerted over him. He used to be a man. He used to exert the control. Not now. Not ever again.
She wished he would talk. If only he would engage. He would never talk about how he felt. She didn’t know if he loved her. He had taught her to love him. Had she ever really loved him? She knew that when she had tried to leave him she couldn’t live without him. She’d been miserable. More miserable than she had been when he was drinking. Forty years and two children together joins you but now she couldn’t take it any more. She couldn’t take the responsibility. She couldn’t be responsible for his life. She had then. She couldn’t now. It weighed her down. Made her anxious. And he didn’t give her any thanks. Not now. Not ever. He used to look after her. Now she had to make the decisions. She didn’t understand the world. Her children should be looking after her. She had looked after them. At least one of the girls had come to see their father into the home. They should be supporting her too. She shouldn’t have to carry this burden by herself. They’re family. It shouldn’t be up to friends to be helping. Nobody really could help. She was grieving. For him and for her. She really wasn’t ready for a life alone but she couldn’t live with him. Not now. Not ever again.
Hard to believe this shrunken man used to be tall. I looked up to him ‘til he started drinking. Then I hated him. I still do. For the embarrassment he caused me and the anger he lashed out on her. My mother. He made me lose respect for her too. She should have left. Life would have been better for all of us if they had separated. Then. Not now. Now his skin is transparent and fragile yet he is still opaque. He never says anything meaningful. Never has. Never will. Tall yet shrunken. It’s his own fault. No-one but himself to blame. She tried. She still tries. She should give up. But she doesn’t. She never will. She shows respect where none is warranted. She fools no-one. Except herself perhaps. When she needs us we’ll be there. It’s hard to be there for some-one you hate. I want to love him. I want to forgive him. I can’t forget. I can’t forgive. Not now. He’ll never hurt me. Not ever again.
In response to the Weekly Discover Challenge