The Retirement Home

I used to call her Aunt Harriet. She was my mother’s closest friend.

Now she lives in the Retirement home just down the road in the big house on the corner.

There are two adjacent benches. I sat with her on one of  them and watched the two men sitting side by side on the other.

They go there, nearly every day, from early summer through autumn.

A plane crosses the sky.

The quiet one looks at the plane and says: “Never saw a plane like that before”.

The other is anxious, questioning: ” Now I know who you are.  Phil Maunder, the chemist.

No? Then you must be Jack Spring from the Rugby Club? I thought I recognised you”.

“No, I’m Eddy”, he says.

“Eddy Jackson, who runs the cattle market?”

“No”, he says, “I am a Post Office engineer.”

Then, a few minutes later, the anxious one says: “How’s business, Graham?”

And so it goes.

“Retrograde amnesia”, Brian told me. “No recollection of the last two decades and very limited short-term memory, fifteen to twenty seconds at the most.”

“Knowing who others are is how we know who we are. One of them knows who he is, or rather who he was. The other is anxious, sensing something is wrong”.

Brian is a doctor, a consultant — the aristocracy of the medical profession.

A clock chimes deep in building. Their bodies know it’s lunchtime.