He gently laid his hand over hers. Looking into her eyes the two smiled at each other. Both Charley and Iris needed each other. The two came from their children’s homes at about the same time.
Both came from different types of families and yet here they were sitting in the lounge together. Lap blankets placed over their knees, sitting in too familiar wheel chairs they were waiting for their supper.
Charlie had four kids. Three of them lived out of the area and the one he had been staying with lived here in town. Charlie was an old sentimental man. He laughed hearty and he cried gently. He was a tomato farmer in his day.
He picked from the vines and filling his baskets, standing in the hot sun all day he was tough-skinned but a gentle giant on the inside. His wife had died several years back. Charlie continued to take care of his home until he began to fall.
Low blood pressure and the signs of the body wearing down from age led him to his daughter’s house where he was living before he came here to the nursing home. Now he needed more care than his family could give him. His heart was getting tired and moving from room to room became strained.
His daughter sat with him one afternoon and the two talked about extra care. She explained how she couldn’t give up her job and so the nursing home would have to be the next step.
Charlie understood but he cried. He had been so involved with his family and now he was going to be alone in a building full of people. The day to transfer homes came much sooner than he wanted.
Iris on the other hand came from a different situation. Her family consisted of one child and this son lived over a thousand miles a way. He was a big business man who made time only for himself.
Iris lived in a Senior Retirement building. She didn’t have many friends that were alive anymore. She had worked in a local post office for years and had been lucky enough to get a good pension.
When she retired she sold her home and moved into her new quarters. She hired a housekeeper that came once a week. The helper cleaned her little place and cooked all day preparing meals for the next week. Once the freezer was full she disappeared until the visit.
Iris’s husband had been killed in an automobile accident four years before she retired. She was sad but she was tough around the heart. When her son moved far a way she got used to being alone.
She played Bridge with the residents and on Mondays she played Bingo. On Wednesdays she rode the community bus which dropped her off at the local shopping center. This is when she would buy things she needed for the days ahead. Her housekeeper was given a list along with money and she took care of the groceries.
This was a planned life with activities daily. Life was not bad but her heart remained empty as her yearning for companionship grew. Iris didn’t realize that her being alone was affecting her to the point that meals became wasted. Naps were taken more often.
Until one day the housekeeper reported to the front desk that Iris wasn’t doing so well. Iris had a health check-up and a mental clinic was involved. The decision was made that she needed more care. It was decided that her mental well-being was at risk.
Iris was transferred into the same nursing home that Charley was living. Iris wanted to die. Although she had some money left it couldn’t buy what she really needed. She remained in her room many days staring at the television. She let the aids take care of her and she was just living.
Some changes had been made and one morning for breakfast Charlie and Iris ended up sitting at the same dining table. It took no time at all for Charlie and Iris to feel connected. Two lonely hearts meeting three times a day.
One day on a quiet afternoon Charlie wheeled himself to Iris’s room. He sat at her doorway watching her. She didn’t acknowledge him as she was napping. This broke Charlies heart and he knocked on the door.
She looked up at him and put her call light on after inviting him in. The nurse helped put a sweater on her and pushed the two out into the court-yard.
It wasn’t long at all that Charlie and Iris were sharing their lives with each other. Speaking about their spouses and children and how they ended up here in the nursing home. From that afternoon in the sunshine, life was brighter.
Each day Charlie went down and waited for Iris at her door. He escorted her to every meal and when she was sad and lonely he would reach out and place his hand over hers. The two would look into each others eyes and smile.