Old Bones

My bones ache, it seems they have had enough activity of late and are trying to tell me the only way they know how. I got up today and my bones didn’t want to get out of bed with me, they had no choice, my bladder was the victor.

I think back to my youth, when I could spring from the bed and into the shower with one bounce. Today I creek as I take the steps down the hall towards the bathroom. My legs are bent at the knee for those first few steps, shaped still as they have been in slumber, defying any messages from my brain to straighten up and stand tall.

My legs are like bananas today, they are not doing what they should. Oh how I once loved to walk, walking was my life back in the day. I was going to walk from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall, downhill as I saw it. I was going to take a month off of work to complete the walk, but my retirement came and I saw more of my armchair and slippers than anything else.

I look down at my feet, its little wonder my legs are not up to much having to rely on those feet as their foundations. I have bones growing out of the sides of my feet now, my bunions ache today, it must be raining outside.

When I was young it was wet hair that told me it was raining, now it’s my feet and the joints in my hands. I wonder to myself if Noah had bunions when he built the arc. I suppose, to put a positive spin on things, I don’t have to get out of bed now or turn on the weather report to know what the weather is doing outside.

We never think the day will come when we are young, when our bodies automatically do as they are supposed to, that anything will change. We are invincible and believe our bodies will go on forever. How I thought the old were a different species back then. If only I had taken a little more care of myself, kept up with the cod liver oil and maybe considered a few less little treats.

I search around for my glasses, running my hand across the side covered in news articles I still have to read, in search of them. There they are, I prop them up on my nose and head for the kitchen.

I make up my muesli and pop a couple of prunes on top. I think about the days of doorstep sandwiches loaded with bacon and how much that would play havoc with the constitution now.

Outside I see the world busying itself for the day, people running for buses, children skipping to school. I turn back to my home and head for the sitting room. I switch on the morning TV to see what is happening in the world, the world I find so alien now.

The Park Bench



The elderly man sat down on the bench in the park and looked across the lawn to the tennis courts.  It was the first day of spring and the courts were full with youngsters, it reminded him of the love he once had for the game.  He remembered the trip he took to Wimbledon’s Centre Court for the final, all those years ago.   He hadn’t watched a game in a very long time and today was not going to be the day for catching up.

At the top of the bench there was a shiny silver plaque, the inscription in italic read ‘George Knox – loving father and husband, died as he lived in peace and love’.  He looked at the plaque for a moment and thought about George.  The family had done well, the bench was in a lovely spot, it got the warmth of the afternoon sun but also benefitted from a little shade at one end from an old oak.  The oak tree had been there for as long as he could remember, before the tennis courts, before the playground and long before the bench.  The scene, together with the glorious sunshine, was perfect for today.

The man had not been to the park for a very long time, he had never before sat on the bench.  Today was special, he was in the park to meet someone.  He turned to the gates, she would come from that direction and it wouldn’t be long now.  The clock above the bandstand showed it was a little after two thirty in the afternoon and she would have certainly finished her lunch. There she was, slowly entering the park with her walking aid, a small trolley with seat she pushed along in front of her to steady herself.  It gave her some independence and allowed her to visit the park when it was warm enough, today the temperature was just right.

Even from that distance anyone could see Marion was a fine woman.  He didn’t move towards her, he had to hold himself back but he watched every tiny step she made as she walked slowly and purposefully towards the bench.  There was a glimmer of a smile on her lips as she approached, she would be happy to see a space to sit herself down.  Now he was sitting along side her, he looked closely at her profile and again marveled at the fine bone structure and soft almost milky skin.  There was no need for her to wear make-up but he noticed a little lipstick, feint and unnoticeable to most but there all the same.  Marion was wearing her Christmas earrings, red enamel clip-on’s with a little sparkle.  He wondered why she had chosen today to wear them again.

The trolley was left to the side of the bench, she had taken the last couple of steps unaided.  They would not be taking it along with them, he would give her all the aid she needed from now on.  Marion sat on the bench until the sun set over the park.  It was only then that anyone noticed the old lady had died peacefully, her heart stopping gently at three, twenty-three.

George and Marion Knox walked together from the park arm in arm, reunited once more.

For the Love of Mary

The old man sits on the bench outside of the pub a sandwich left by a thoughtful stranger beside him.  This is his world, his bench and at this moment in time his very existence.  He is always there, whatever the weather and whatever the time of year.  He sits, one weary leg crossed over the other looking at the traffic on the busy road as if he might be surveying a beautiful scene and maybe to him it is.  The locals think they know him, wave and call out on passing. They leave him the odd sandwich or pack of tobacco and call him mate, although no one really knows him, where he comes from and who he was once.   The men that frequent the pub stop and talk to him on occasion, maybe while having a cigarette outside.  He welcomes the conversation but does not demand the attention, he is happy with the way things are.  Chitchat is light and flippant and it is rare that anyone really tries to understand the old gent.

He has been sleeping in the park for nearly two years now.  After Mary died he just couldn’t bring himself to stay in the house.  Not that he didn’t try, day after day he battled against the urge to run out of the door her body had been carried from.  He attempted to shop and care for himself but he had no idea how to do it as Mary had done everything for them both for over fifty years.  They had never had children, they had talked about it early on in their marriage but it never happened and as you did back then, they left it at that.  They were company enough for each other, the routine and daily rituals helped but it was the adoration that cemented them to each other for all those years.   Words were not always needed between them, they knew how each other felt, many an hour was spent sitting together in silence by the gas fire.  To live such a joyous life with the person you love is a blessing that is not given to many, he knew this and although alone in the world treasured the memory of his Mary.  He left the house on the day he realised it had changed, it was no longer their home.  The piles of dirty dishes, newspapers and flies around the rubbish had left the home beyond recognition, and if it wasn’t their home any more he wouldn’t stay.

The park was close to the house, he walked up the street sometimes to look at the boarded up and over grown home they had shared.  No one recognised him, that is if they had really ever known him in the first place being too busy to care in this busy city street.  He would stand for a moment, looking at the house, silently calling Mary’s name.  He walked into the garden once and sat with his memories, under the lilac tree turning the door key over in his hand, deep in his pocket, it was too much to bare and he left after ten short minutes.

He wore a long beard now, straggled and stained yellow with tobacco.  His once tidy department store suit hung from his body, stained and old.  An overcoat given to him by a kindly stranger outside the pub covered his shrinking frame.

They found him dead in June, on the bench outside the pub.  Kind words were said for the old man, although no one knew his name.  It was only the smell on the warm summer breeze that had alerted the bar maid to his death.  He was sitting as usual watching the traffic, a smile on his face and a picture of his Mary in his hand.  It was the anniversary of their wedding day that he died and like all those years ago at the alter, Mary was waiting for him.