There he is again…….

I’ve walked this walk for more than 35 years with all our family dogs, a mile from the house into a beautiful wild park, though we walk in several other places.  The retirement home, subtle but too isolated from my point of view, looks out over a golf course, gorgeous tree lined path, and dog walkers galore.  How do planners work this out – must they provide peace and serenity as a practice for what’s to come with the years? Or is it that old people yearn to remove themselves from life and all its shocks? Over the years I’ve glanced in the windows at the dining room, half empty in the mornings, and next to it a library which strangely, is always empty. There are hundreds of books on the back and side walls, and a big sociable table spreading across the wide window.

The weather’s filthy. Rain’s dripping from my hood onto my face so I push it back, shake my head. It’s then I notice a tall man standing at the library window, waving at me and smiling. The wave is so enthusiastic it’s as if he knows me…..I wave back, slow a bit, but no I don’t know him. Four days later I’m back, and so is he. He’s well dressed, a tie and shirt, a big man with a merry face.  He waves, I wave, he looks so happy ……no wonder, he’s reading and concentrating sometimes, so I slow to see if he’ll look up and he always does, then jumps up and waves. He looks…joyous, I don’t understand it.   I’m usually early, about 8 am, what time does he get up, does he ever go out, why is he the only one in there, does he wave to everyone?  Jeep, the border collie, looks up as we pass the window now, it’s become a habit.  On two afternoons I go that way, but he’s not there.

This has been happening for weeks, so I’m going to introduce myself, if they let the dog in, and hope we can have a chat, maybe he’d like to walk a bit with us.  The day I decide this, we go on holiday for two weeks, but now we’re back and I’m going into the home.

“Good morning!” says the kind lady on reception.

“Hello, I’ve been passing the library and waving to a gentleman for quite a while, so I hoped we’d be able to say hello in person…..”

“Well, dear, which gentleman would that be?” she laughs.

“He’s usually in the library around 8  and always looks out for us I think…”

Her face falls a bit.

“Would that be a tall man with a tie, very smart?” she asks.

“Yes, that’s him he looks very sociable…..”

“Dear, I am afraid to tell you that Mr Scott passed away two weeks ago……..his funeral was last week.”
I’m shocked, suddenly sad.

“He wasn’t very well, my dear, his physical health was excellent but he was broken by the death of his wife two years ago and his …memory sort of went. He really didn’t enjoy being here much, he was convinced his wife was calling him…….dear, if you don’t mind me saying so, she was your build and colouring, a walker, and she had a black and white border collie……”.







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