Forget Me Not
It was supposed to be a simple job; get in, delete all records of a certain patient before de cops caught on dat de patient dat had recently been discharged for appendicitis had been dead long before his appendix could mature into a healthy organ. But, hadn't counted on a late night visitor, wanderin' de halls, looking for her long lost "Michel" ta come strollin' into de small, dark office dat I was operatin' in.
Ms. Donovan suffered from dementia and partial blindness after suffering a small stroke a few years ago. She was an 85-year- old woman who had beautiful curly, silver hair and slumped forward when she walked, or leaned on a rolling dinner tray, dat she used as a walker. A small, 4 foot 10 inch woman with frail hands, lightly wrinkled and rounded face and a thin, shakey body. Caroline Donovan had seen a lot in her long life and de one thing dat had haunted her, even now, was de death of her beloved young Michel Ronata. Her smile was de first thing anyone saw, in de mornings and usually de last thing at bedcheck hours.
***I had de pleasure of meeting Caroline during my time, as Marcus Kevins, in de hospital. She popped her head into my room, one mornin', while I was watchin' reruns of Dark Shadows, and greeted me wit' her smile.
"Don't worry, Michel. The doctors know what they're doing. So, you'll be all set to come to the picnic, on Saturday. Miranda is bringing your favourite; pasta salad! Just for you, sugar." She placed her cool, soft hand against my cheek and gave me her award-winning smile, batting those pools of ocean blue eyes, at me.
The nurse had come in and coaxed her back to her room while another nurse came in to check on me. When I asked about the woman dat had been ushered out, I was told dat her granddaughter had delivered her dere, a week ago, for some routine kidney tests and was held over due to an infection.
I smiled at the empty doorway, as she had already been escorted back to her room and then again as Logan came through it with a bundle of flowers and several cards, from friends. De nurse finished with my vitals and quietly left de room as Logan sat down, to my right.
"What's goin' on?" He smiled as he sat down.
I shook my head but kept de smile on my face a bit longer. "Double case of mistaken identity, cher." ***
Logan looked confused.
I, now, looked up from de computer screen and found dat Caroline had been standin' in de doorway, askin' me questions and gettin' quiet agitated dat I wasn't answerin' her. She had once again confiscated the meal tray and rolled it over to de doorway, where she peered into de room with big, blue eyes.
"Michel, you can work on your poems, later. Come back up to bed. I'll bake you some nice blueberry muffins, in the morning." She smiled again, with dat lovely, innocent old woman smile an' I couldn't help but smile back as I hit de delete button an' stood up.
"Okay, chere, I'm comin'." Pokin' de monitor button off, I looked back at Caroline, still standin' in de doorway, and walked slowly back to her room, with her. After helpin' her back into bed, I was instructed to sit down beside her, on de bed, and tell her my newest poem:
Stars in midnight sky
An angel with blue eyes
In her hair,
Rosy blush in her cheeks
Flush as the dawn peaks,
And Heaven in her smile.
I watched her nod off as I finished my poem dat I had just come up with, a smile on her glowing face.
The light behind her head had been dimmed but held enough light in it to light the small space. "I've always liked that poem, Michel." A soft yawn as she turned her head away, to sleep.
De hall was dark as I kissed her forehead and slipped out, quietly.
It was a few weeks later dat Logan was busy sippin' coffee and examinin' de Sports section, when I came down for breakfast. I had de worst sleep I could remember never havin'. I rubbed my eyes and padded over to de coffee pot, a chill ran up my bare legs as all I had on was a pair of white wit' blue polka dots boxers.
"Mornin'. Saved ya some coffee and I'm done with the rest of the paper." Logan had his back ta me but not really me. He jus' didn' like de sun in his face so early in de morning. Can't say I blame him. Dat's why I remembered to slip on my shades.
I sat down across from him, at de little round table, set far away from de window as possible, an' picked up de closest section I could find. I wish I hadn't.
Caroline Maria Donovan
Beloved Mother and Grandmother
Survived by her son, three grandchildren
And seven great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at Heaven's Mercy
Cemetery at 1PM on Saturday
October 25th. Friends and family welcome.
De plain white mug was paused at my lips for de longest minute an' when I went to set it down, it slipped and fell to de polished marble tile with a loud crash. My mouth hung open. I was speechless. My stomach sunk into my feet and it felt like all de blood was pooling on de floor, beneath me.
"Rem?" Logan quirked an eyebrow up at me as he peered over his folded over part of paper. "You okay?"
I nodded and stared at de small, black and white picture dey had included with de caption. She was smiling an' lookin' at de camera wit' those big, soft, angelic blue eyes. "Oui." My voice caught as I fought back de tears. I barely knew dis lady an' I wanted to cry for her.
Logan looked down at de paper, on de table, and took a deep breath. "That yer friend?"
"Sorry, kid." Dere was a longer moment of silence as he just stared at me, an' I stared at de picture. "You wanna go?"
A cold shiver raced up my spine. I never felt dis kind of attachment to someone who wasn't family, before. "Oui."
Both of us respectfully wore black suits and heavy, long black coats as de temperature took a dive, de night before. We couldn't bring ourselves to go in to de viewing so, we waited for de walk to de plot. We each held a small bouquet of yellow roses. Trailing along, behind de crowd, my body tingled. I wanted to run away or hide somewhere or do somethin' else.
De sermon was beautiful and touching. A few of her friends and family placed flowers on her gorgeous, polished mahogany coffin lid. Wreaths and ribbons were placed on top as her loved ones gathered around to say deir goodbyes.
I waited to be de last one to go up an' place my flowers, while Logan hung back to talk with one of de grandchildren. It was de longest an' coldest walks I've ever had ta make, eventhough, I barely knew her. I placed de flowers from both of us on de pile of collected ones and bowed my head in silence. "I hope you find your Michel, Madame. I enjoyed seein' you smile as you listened to my babblin'. Rest well, ma chere." Leaning over and kissing de wood, I stood up as my breath caught.
Turning around and walkin' back to where Logan now stood, I recognized de young woman he was talking to; de woman dat spent a few days walkin' and talkin' with Caroline, in de hospital. I swallowed and held my breath as I approached dem. To be polite, I smiled and greeted her, "bon jour. Sorry for your loss."
Karen Donovan, de youngest grandchild and also certified home care nurse, smiled faintly and wiped away a tear before it fell. "Thank you." She stood dere in a knee-high black dress, wide-brimmed black round hat and low heels. A pretty young lady, when she dressed for it, but de only grandchild who was single. "How did you know her? If I may ask."
I smiled. "We met while we were patients in de hospital. She mistook me for someone she knew."
"You're the one she called Michel. Aren't you?" Her face lit up and a smile gleamed as she looked at me with tender delight. "She kept telling me all about how she spent a day with Michel, again. She worried about you and enjoyed your poems." A small blush as she recalled standin' outside de room an' listenin' to me make up a poem off de top of my head.
I nodded. "Who was dis Michel?"
Karen thought for a minute. "He was her first love. He was killed a night before he was supposed to ship off to Korea. Car accident. She blamed herself because he was on his way home from her parent's house when it happened. She met my grandfather some years later but, Michel has always been in her heart. I thank you for coming out, today. Just being there and—humouring an old woman—really made her smile, again." She reached her hand out to shake mine. "I'm sorry, you are--?"
"Remy. Remy LeBeau. Dis is my partner, Logan." Her hands were soft and warm, and gentle like Caroline's were.
A smile as she shook both our hands and introduced herself to me. "It was nice meeting you, Remy and Logan. Thank you for coming, today." She had to turn away and start walking back to where her brother and sister were standing, as not to burst into tears in front of strangers.
Logan placed his arm around my shoulders as we walked back to de car. It was a long, quiet drive home. I've been to plenty of funerals, in de past. However, dis one touched me de most.
Rest well, chere.