Hold My Hand

They sit together—wheelchair next to wheelchair, hand in hand—watching the birds in the cage.  As they listen to the birds sing their song, watch them flit from branch to branch, they don’t talk.

They watch, hand in hand.

She comes from the other side of the facility each night to eat dinner with him and is wheeled back home when it’s done, dialysis forcing their split. Nurses will help them both, oxygen tubes and dexterity lost complicating the task of each meal. Memory fading and energy spent, their conversation is minimal.

Yet they sit, side by side.

Those days she’s not there he just simply looks lost. He worries. He calls out her name and asks for her, confused as to where she could be. Not coincidentally, these are the days he refuses to eat and acts out, the days he’s belligerent, stubborn and mean. 

Those days he won’t notice the birds.

But that night I was stopped in my tracks as I saw them just watching the birds—wheelchair next to wheelchair, hand in hand—waiting for her to go back.

It was a simple scene.

Residents unable to be in their rooms in their wheelchairs alone (fall risk) sit there all the time as they wait for the nurse to come back. But those hands—those aging hands holding each other and years of memories time couldn’t steal—were a profound reminder that there’s a kind of beauty that comes only after one has spent many years on earth, that there is always a reason to smile, that you should hold on when you find it.

That you should always notice the birds.

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16 responses to “Hold My Hand

  1. This was lovely and I don’t mean to tarnish this in any way, but those hands better be clean or purelled.

  2. lovely lovely ms. abby 🙂

  3. At the risk of being lame and saying the same damn thing as everyone else, I decided to just go for it. My first reaction to your story:

    Just lovely.

  4. love, love, lovelyy!!

  5. you’ve painted something with words more beautifully than any picture could capture.

  6. Wow. Beautiful.
    I am SO SO very happy there are people like you there to SEE this.
    So often the workers treat these people like…I have no words. Dogs? Machines? Time clocks?
    And yes, you are a bird watcher, too. It doesn’t matter what “birds” you watch as long as you have that moment.
    Dang…when’s your book coming out????
    Lots of bl-ove, Missy

    • I just want to clarify that the workers there are incredible and do a great job with all the residents. They are so sweet and compassionate and really care about each and every person that they take care of 🙂

  7. I love this.

    I’ve spent time volunteering in nursing homes and assisted living communities and while you see some tough stuff there, you also see some of the most heartwarming moments as well.

  8. I love it!
    It sort of breaks my heart and warms it at the same time.
    Thanks.

  9. This reminded me so much of the narrator in Water for Elephants, a book I just finished reading and loved. Great depiction.

  10. What a beautifully picture you’ve painted with your prose, Abby. I could see the scene so clearly and feel the feelings being emoted.

    Yes, always notice the birds.

    Really lovely.

  11. Lump in the throat. you are amazing.

  12. Your writing is simply stunning.

    You captured the essence of the scene so simply, and with such beautitude.

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