Once upon a time, the old man had an interesting visitor. He saw a well dressed gentleman walk into his café, straight and tall and smiled at the recognition. It had been 17 years since he had seen him, and he hadn’t changed a hair! Or so he thought.
He walked in and asked for a spirit, nodding at the old man. His face showed no trace of familiarity and this made the old man wonder. He took off his jacket and sat on the bar stool; all the while appearing nonchalant.
“Vic?” the old man questioned.
The gentleman looked at him and smiled but said nothing. There was a wristband he had on with his name, address and number. In a flash, it hit him. The worst of them all… the dreaded A!
“What brings you to these parts, Vic?” he asked again with a beaming smile, disguising his concern.
“How did you know my name?”
The old man sighed and pulled up a stool. Of all the diseases in the world, Alzheimer’s was got to be the most painful one. He sat across his childhood friend and clinked his glass with his, as he began..
“You see Vic.. you and I go back a long way.”
“We do?” He glanced at his band and continued, “Maria asked me to wait for her here while she ran some errands. We drove down last evening and she suggested I meet the old man who runs this shack.”
He smiled at his friend, a million thoughts in his mind. He was sitting across someone he knew as family and today, there was no trace nor any recollection. Everything was wiped out from his memory. There were no moments for him to go back in time for, neither were there any thoughts for him to dwell on. All he knew was a day, which too he probably wouldn’t remember once he slept.
There was a certain sense of despair that the old man felt at the time, not being able to sit with his friend and talk about time gone by. He wouldn’t remember our weekend fishing, or the time we caught a huge trout! He wouldn’t be able to recall that we both shared a first crush for the same girl. Slowly and steadily, this disease wiped out a person’s entire life.. while he was still alive. And nothing could be worse.
We spend each day, creating moments for ourselves so when we grow old, we have something to reminisce about and bask in. We savour our today and keep building our dreams so when we look back, we can talk about our strengths and our fears. But what happens if one day you wake up and nothing comes back. What happens if you see the love of your life wake you up with a smile and you’re left wondering as to who they are.
“I am the old man who runs the shack, Vic… and I am also your …”
“Partner in crime!” Maria came up and hugged him.
Vic looked up surprised and she continued, “Vic, there is a reason why I asked you to come here. Look at him, does nothing ring a bell?”
He looked from Maria to the old man and back again. She kept giving him references and patiently tried to bring back a few past memories but nothing registered. She spoke about their childhood days and even college. She tried to remind him about the first car they had bought and turned into a mini delivery vehicle but Vic remembered nothing.
“Maria, you have been at it for years now and he doesn’t even remember you..” the old man said softly.
She smiled and squeezed his hands, “I know he doesn’t – but I know who he is and he is a very special man.”
Life is very unpredictable. All you really have to call your own is this very moment. It is human to think that tomorrow will come, and optimistic too. But the ground reality is.. It may not.
The old man gave his friend a hug and a fortune cookie, which he opened instantly, ‘You will always be my best friend because you know too damn much!’
Vic gave a loud laugh and hugged the old man. There was only one person in the world who could have said this to him. Words can touch people in ways that actions can’t. What will leave a sense of familiarity and what won’t, is a question no one has an answer to. But for that very moment, as the old man saw his friends walk out of the café, he felt a deep tug in his heart. And this was one that would always remain.