Hearts of olden glory
He shoves the door open with his backside and wheels her in behind him. Pushing the chair over to
the corner away from any draughts. He takes off his outdoor clothing, pulls down her blanket and
heads to the counter
‘Howye John? Usual is it?’
‘Grand Niamh. Yes please’
‘How’s she keeping this weather?’
‘Ah she’s doing fine Niamh. Good days and bad. You know how it is.’
‘I’ll bring it over’
He returns to the corner and starts chatting. The woman in the chair shows few signs of
understanding but he talks on anyway.
The drinks arrive. He stirs a spoonful of sugar into his coffee and places it to one side. To the
other cup he adds milk and holds it awhile before pressing gently to her lips. She sips hesitantly and
he takes care not to tilt the cup too much. Finished, he wipes the chocolate from her mouth with a
napkin before taking a drink from his own cup. Then he starts to sing softly. The words come and go,
only sometimes audible.
‘Met a little girl and we stopped to talk on a grand soft day ay eh’
As the lyrics drift across the table her fingers start to tap. Hesitant, responding to the memory of a
tune. He reaches across and she takes his hand as they sit. Lost in a moment.
As they leave, all bundled up again, Niamh calls out gently, from behind the counter
‘Not gone yet then John’
‘No, not gone yet Niamh. See you tomorrow.’
A few people asked me how much of my first couple of fiction pieces was autobiographical. In this story the answer is nothing but every day I am hugely impressed by people who care for partners, children and strangers with a whole range of problems and disabilities. They do so with love and usually for little or no reward. We don't care enough about these folks.
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