The Comforts of Home
Steve didn’t want to check on Aunt Liz while his wife was away, but a promise was a promise. This one became more than he bargained for.
Remember your promise!” Cathy said as Steve handed his wife her carry-on bag and gave her a quick kiss before she headed to her plane. Cathy was flying to visit her ailing sister in New York, leaving Steve in charge of Aunt Liz for the next four days. Aunt Liz resided at the Golden Haven Nursing Home, not far from Steve and Cathy’s home in southern Georgia.
Steve was not looking forward to visiting Golden Haven. It wasn’t that he had a lack of affection for Aunt Liz; but he was rather uncomfortable visiting the nursing facility. He wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was because she was in the Special Care Unit— a secure part of the home for those needing special physical care, as well as special care for mental illnesses. However, Steve was a man of his word. He pulled into his driveway on Peachtree Lane. Before entering the comfort of what he and Cathy called their home, he reassured himself: I’ll go first thing tomorrow.
The following day, before second thoughts could overcome his best intentions, Steve quickly pressed the red button that would open the door to the secure unit. He walked down the long hall, stopping at Room 110, where Aunt Liz was eagerly waiting for him. “Come in, Steve dear,” she shouted from across the room in the wheelchair where she spent most of her waking hours.
Steve bent to give Aunt Liz a kiss on the cheek before wheeling her into the dining area, where they could visit over a cup of coffee. However, before Liz’s cup was half empty, her eyes were closed and she nodded off to sleep.
Maybe I should let her sleep and come back tomorrow, Steve thought, and then realized he was just looking for an excuse to leave. So, instead, he surveyed the dining room for alternate company. His eyes centered on a white-haired gentleman wearing a robe and slippers. He was sitting at a table with a briefcase on it, scribbling on a yellow legal pad.
Steve glanced at Aunt Liz and noticed she was still sleeping, so he decided to amble over to the white-haired gentleman and say hello. “Hi, I’m Steve, Liz’s nephew,” Steve said as he reached out his hand. The white-haired man, glasses perched on the end of his nose, looked up and responded, “Do you have an appointment? I’m pretty busy.” Not sure how to respond, Steve apologized for the interruption and retreated back to Aunt Liz, who was now snoring.
He was about to nudge her awake when a young woman walked into the dining room, hugging what he guessed to be a baby in a blue blanket. Steve had a soft spot for babies, so he walked over to the woman and asked if he could take a peek. “Sure,” the young woman replied, “but be very quiet—he’s sleeping.” Steve nodded and eagerly waited to peek at her baby. As the young woman opened the blanket, Steve’s face paled as his eyes met with a brown teddy bear. The young woman immediately noticed the change in Steve’s face and, clutching her “baby” tightly, stomped out of the dining room.
Steve hurried back to wake Aunt Liz, eager to visit with someone he knew! Thirty minutes later, with Aunt Liz back in her room, Steve left Golden Haven. But before leaving, he asked the staff for the names of the old gentleman and the young woman. They were Jeffrey and Debra. Steve couldn’t help wonder whom Jeffrey and Debra were before calling the Golden Haven their home. Maybe they once lived in a comfortable house like Cathy’s and mine, he pondered as he headed toward home. However, before turning onto Peachtree Lane, he decided to take a detour to the church where he and Cathy worshiped…