Friday, 23 July 2010


On the steps of the town hall she sits, staring out at the world, looking for something she knows, someone she recognises. The stairs look familiar, but in an unfamiliar world. The pigeons crowd around her, hoping for food, but she harbours nothing but good intentions and lost thoughts.

"Hello! What's your name?"


"What are you doing here? You waiting for someone?"

"I'm just having a rest. My legs seem to be tired today. My fiancé should be here somewhere."

The word 'fiancé' catches us off guard. Marjorie must be at least eighty years old.

"Where do you live?"

"Only up the road. Not far at all. I just couldn't seem to make it today."

As we stand there, he turns up, his lungs out of breath and face full of panic.

"Marje! What are you doing here?"

The sound of her own name startles her, and she shies away a little.

"Just having a rest for a few minutes, waiting for my fiancé." The words hit him hard.

"Your fiancé? But we've been married for nearly 50 years!"

We watch through his eyes how his heart breaks, and he explains. He tells of Marjorie's dementia, how she sometimes forgets where she is, where she's going, what she's doing.

But she's never forgotten who he is.

We check to make sure she's not had a fall, we talk to witnesses, to the person who called for the ambulance. Physically she's fine, but lost in a haze of time and memories that she can't quite fit together. She's comforted, reassured, and slowly accepts a muddled reality.

And then she walks off, hand-in-hand, with her fiancé of fifty years.


Anonymous said...

Getting old is not easy and dementia, it would appear, is as heartbreaking as some of the cruellest illnesses.

Alex said...

This made me want to cry! It must be so painful to watch the person you love slip away one memory at a time.

RD said...

Great Story.

Frequently, we are dispatched to calls of dementia patients who have left their nursing homes in search of lives past fifty years ago.


Lizzie said...

That's tough to see, but it's also awesome to see how they get to keep some of their most precious memories.

Michael Morse said...

Beautiful telling of an all to familiar tale. Thank you.