She smiled, a grin of genuine contentment, someone at peace with who they are and the decisions they’ve made. She wore her dressing gown like an evening dress, and sipped her tea like royalty. I organised her medications and she talked while I worked, a pleasant bubbling of words and stories, her actions energetic and youthful.
I asked her what her secret was, and she told me,
“I was born in 1919. I’ll be ninety-five this year, and I walk two miles everyday.”
She winked and her brows danced.
“If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
I waited five minutes at his door, squinting at the sun, and listening to him shuffling inside. When he answered he was dressed in a jacket, shirt, and slacks. He had a smile for me and I followed him through his shadow-draped house to the kitchen, my steps tight and small behind his careful, walking-stick-assisted gait. I cleared a space on his cluttered table and he sat opposite me, sighing out his weariness from the trek.
I asked about old times and his face lost years as he told me. Eventually, his words wound down, and he said:
“I made pizza for twenty-seven years. But the stroke put an end to everything.”
He clutched his cane, a heave puffing from his chest as he stood and hobbled to the sink. He filled a glass, his eyes on the swirl of water.
“But we keep going.”
The two of us sat at her round wooden table, a young man and an elderly Italian woman, and she told me about her husband, a man she was married to for fifty-three years, and who had died nine years ago. Between sentences she slipped individual pills between her lips, sipped at a glass of water, then continue detailing the attributes of her happy marriage. Her husband’s black and white face grinned at us from a framed photo on the wall, and her eyes latched to the image as she spoke, a small sad smirk to her mouth.
I pulled her heavy medical folder in front of me and she fell quiet as I wrote about the care I had administrated that day. From the silence she said this quote, nodding at the folder, and I was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of her observation.
“The story of my life is getting longer.”