By: Natalie Gane
He looked wistfully across the river, watching the ducks playfully ignorant to what the world had become, remembering a time when he could do just that – remember.
The sun shone down on his soft grey hair and a slight breeze ruffled his collar. He was impeccably dressed – always was. It was a sign of the times he grew up in. A time when men were brought up to be gentlemen and women were revered for their maternal duties.
It was a time when a good, honest day’s work meant starting at 7am and finishing at 5pm. A time when family ate their meals at the table, without the distraction of technology, and expressively shared in each other’s lives. It may have been a simpler time, but it was a time of connection and order nonetheless.
As he looked across the shimmering water, watching the ducks swim backwards and forwards, he wondered what would become of the world, what would be left for his daughters and their children?
The old man turned around and breathed in the valley. This was his favourite place. The lowering sun radiated off everything he could see and warmed him to his core. The gentle breeze brought with it the soft scent of frangipani from the trees at the base of the mountains. How they grew there was beyond him, but he didn’t care. They reminded him of his wife, and that was all that mattered.
Snaking its way through the trees from the mountains came the river. He couldn’t see where it started, but he knew it had travelled a long way to get to him. It was too cold to go in, but then he never swam anyway so he didn’t mind. He just loved to gaze into the clear, blue-green water that reflected the winding banks and the white puffs of the field flowers flanking its sides.
Towards the east, the sun was setting and the sky was turning a beautiful shade of burnt orange. The man took off his jacket and laid it out on a clear patch in the field, so as not to disturb any little petals, a mark of respect to the beauty of all he could see before him.
With the flexibility of a man sixty years younger he lowered himself down to a sitting position and then slowly rolled his back down so that he could take in the world from this grounded position. Way above his head pink and purple hues were signifying the beginnings of another stunning sunset.
He closed his eyes, breathed in and used every sense of his being to become a part of this paradise, his paradise. He stretched out his right arm and it brushed against a small rock. He picked up the smooth rock and rolled its cool surface through his frail fingers. It should have given him a shiver, but it instead it sent a rush of warmth up his arm and into his chest.
He knew it was only a matter of time before they came to get him. He could hear them in the distance. Mutterings of another world that he was a piece of, but no longer a part of.
Although it tired him, he would not let them in, not without a fight. They were already in control of his lifeless body, they could have it. But his mind, this paradise, was all he had left…
Inspired by the writer’s grandfather and his battle with dementia…