Two men in their early sixties, friends for over 20 years.
We hadn’t seen each other in quite sometime.
We enjoy a hot chocolate with marshmallows together. I tell my friend Larry, don’t drink it too fast as it is hot, just sip.
We watch a Western on TV, a Western without any “famous” cowboys, no John Wayne, no Clint Eastwood. Larry is disappointed. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are his favorites. My friend watches for a while, commenting on what the actors are saying to him, and occasionally walks to the images to touch them or look behind the flat screen TV. I make small talk about the TV show like, “Can you imagine living out it the middle of nowhere like that?”, and “Looks like there’s going to be fight, there’s always a fight in a Western.”
My friend wanders from the family room into the darkened hallway and looks at the walls and the frames above the bedroom doors. I follow him and turn on the light.
“Can you hear them?”, my friend said. “They’re here, and then they go away.”
“They must be in the family room,” I reply.
My friend and I return to the family room and TV watching, until my friend wanders into the living room. I again follow and turn on the light. He comments on a picture on the wall, “Do you see them?”
I don’t, yet I respond, “What a great picture! Wouldn’t you like to be fishing on that lake? The water is so blue.” My friend nods and touches the picture, pointing and talking to something or someone I don’t see. I follow him to the family room and begin talking about the Christmas tree next to the TV. He smiles, talks about the ladies always “going there”, he waves in several directions, and “then they are here and then they are gone. Plop!” I acknowledge with a, “Yes everyone is busy”. My friend Larry smiles.
We watch TV for a while. My friend then tells me a story he has told me many times before about an incident in Vietnam during the War. The story didn’t come out the same this time. My friend forget many of the pieces. He stopped, trying to remember. He told me what he was looking for was “right there”, as he pointed to the table. Since I knew the story, I filled in some of the gaps, and my friend Larry seemed pleased.
We watched more of the Western, and my friend began his story again. This time though it wasn’t his story, it was a story about a war hero, “not a big man”, a “small man”, who did “this and that”. My friend couldn’t remember the name. I should have figured it out. I talked about his buddies in Vietnam and how they had to work together as a team to survive. My friend then blurted out, “Audie Murphy!”
I smiled and said to my friend, “Audie Murphy. The most decorated soldier in World War II, who became a movie star.” My friend seemed pleased. We watched another Western, my friend talked some more about the ladies going here and there, he touched the images on the TV screen and asked the characters what they said, and wandered from room to room.
My friend’s wife came home and thanked me spending time with her husband. I told her anytime. I shook hands with my friend, hugged his wife and said goodbye.
On my way home I received a text message from my friend’s wife: Thank you so much! I really appreciate it! Larry said, “That guy was really nice. Who was he?”
Alzheimer’s is such a bitch!