Paul stared at his wife across the table, noticing for the first time that her sweater was on inside out. Every morning he would lay out her clothes on the bed in a specific order, so she’d know which item to put on first. But it didn’t guarantee how Elaine would put on each piece. He’d have to pay more attention before they went out.
Their usual waitress, Sarah, appeared, holding a large tray with two sweet teas on it. “How y’all doin’ today?”
With Alzheimer’s disease, there were good days, and then there were challenging days. It was one of the latter. Elaine was preoccupied, scrubbing a stain on the wooden table with her finger, forgetting it was a permanent fixture of their booth. They’d been lunching at this diner once a week for years. That blemish had been there since day one.
“Today’s actually a very special day for us. It’s our fifty-seventh wedding anniversary.” His wife stopped fidgeting and looked up. “The day she took a chance on a broke, balding fellow by saying, ‘I do,’” he said with a wink in her direction.
“It is?” Elaine asked.
“Yep, sweetheart, it is.”
“Congratulations, you two! Ms. Sue fixed up some of her key lime pie today and I’ll make sure y’all have a slice on the house before you go. Stickin’ with the Cobb salad and tomato soup?”
“That’s it.” Paul replied.
She nodded and turned, then swung back around. “I just remembered. We ran out of tomato soup about an hour ago. Chicken noodle ok?”
Paul looked at his wife, now scrubbing away at the stain with a napkin.
“Hmmm,” she said, again focused on the table.
“They’re out of the tomato soup. Do you want chicken noodle? Or a sandwich instead?” She looked confused, so he pointed to the menu and showed her a few other items he thought she’d enjoy, but she was having a hard time picking something new.
Suddenly she began to cry. “I want to go home. Please can we go home?” she begged.
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