“Charlie, do you have a moment?” Debra asked as she approached Charlie’s table in the dining room. “I always have a moment for you Debra,” Charlie smiled. Charlie had grown fond of Debra during this most difficult time. She was always around to lend an ear, and frequently checked on him to make sure he wasn’t feeling too blue.
“I’m going to be completely honest with you Charlie, this is not a conversation I like having,” Debra sighed and continued. “But in any event, I’m going to have it with you because you might understand the situation a bit, and hopefully won’t think me insensitive for at least asking.” Charlie could tell Debra was nervous, but sensed her stress as well. She certainly was being sincere. “Go ahead, Debra, I have a funny feeling I know what this may be about…I just saw you finish up that tour.” Charlie winked to let her know it was ok.
“Phew,” Debra exclaimed, relieved that Charlie was so perceptive. “So then you know we have a lot of couples looking to move in right now? And well, we don’t have a lot of couple suites available.” Charlie nodded. “And you have people like me who are in these suites and not exactly in a ‘couple’ situation anymore.” Debra smiled compassionately. “Why can’t more people be like you Charlie?” Charlie laughed a little. “Hey, I didn’t agree to anything yet. But go on with your sales pitch here, I’m finding this mildly entertaining.”
Debra narrowed her eyes a bit at Charlie, all in good fun. “What I wanted to ask, and I know you have some fondness for your suite, is if you may consider moving to a smaller vacant unit to make room for some of the couples on our wait list? It will save you some money each month, and the single units are not that much smaller.”
Charlie thought for a bit. It sounded a bit silly in his head, but he had grown attached to his suite. He had memories of moving Hazel in when she was unwell, and making it their home. He thought back to when he thought it was going to be a place they would share together until the end – and indeed it was that, but not in the way he had imagined it. He thought about how Hazel had painstakingly decorated the new place, and even how she had passed peacefully in her bed. The thoughts tugged at his heartstrings and he felt very sad all of a sudden.
Debra immediately saw the change in Charlie’s body language. The conversation had just taken a turn. “This was not a good idea,” she thought to herself. “You know what Charlie, perhaps I’m being insensitive. I just wanted to start the conversation, but maybe we can pick this back up another time.” Charlie watched Debra rise from her chair. “No, no, it’s not that at all Debra. I’m just having memories, and memories can be sad things. It’s alright.” Debra gave a reluctant look.
Charlie thought about it some more. While he had fond memories of his beloved Hazel in his current suite, deep down, he knew remaining in the bigger suite wasn’t the logical thing to do. “Yes, I have memories Debra, good ones and sad ones. But the memories will stay in my head regardless of where my head lives. I think it’s time for another couple to make some memories together…for as long as the universe allows them to do so.”
Debra teared up a little. “You make my job too easy some days Charlie. I thank you for being so understanding.” Charlie smiled again. “I remember when the transitions coordinator at the hospital informed me that they were looking at moving Hazel into long term care without me. It was infuriating. It wasn’t right. If I can alleviate that feeling for another couple, even though they aren’t quite in that crisis situation or looking at having to live apart yet, I want to do that for someone. People shouldn’t have to wait for spaces if they could be made available.”
Debra thanked Charlie again, and made her way back to her office. Charlie sat and finished another cookie and his heart felt warm. Hazel would be proud of him.
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