A Fallen Tree – A Short Story.

A Short Story.

A Fallen Tree.

Her body was now frail. The ravages of time and illness had taken its toll.

She was not able to do any of the daily things by herself that she had once taken for granted. Unable able to eat, dress, brush her hair or teeth, or even go to the toilet by herself. She bore the indignity of wearing pads. Thank God they had not inserted a catheter, her previous experience of it had been a painful one but she not been able to say anything, even her voice had deserted her long ago.

The only thing that now moved, was her head, of its own accord, like the pendulum of a Grandfather clock, swinging in sync with the span of time that stretched endlessly before her.
Everyday, an army of people came in the morning to brush, wash, change and feed her. They readied her and then moved her to her special chair which cradled her like a baby.

Some of them came and talked over her as if she were a mindless idiot. Often, they shouted right next to her ear. She wanted to scream, I am not deaf! But would they have heard? She often felt that they could have heard if they bothered to listen.

She on the other hand, had no choice, like a priest taking daily confessions, she listened to their complaints about the manager, their children, the other residents, even gossip about the other workers. She often thought that if she could have written ‘Confessions of a resident’ it would have been a best seller!

They were not unkind, just often patronising. She wanted to scream at them at times to leave her be. But in their relentless mission to accomplish their task they carried on without even looking at her. She often wondered if they thought she was some kind of doll to come and dress up every morning and play with.

Her body had given up but her mind was as sharp as needle. Her eyes still had 20/20 vision. If the carers actually bothered to look at her properly, they would have been able tell what she was trying to say from her eyes. But they never saw, they just looked.

Everyday morning and afternoon, she sat in the chair, looking at the goings on in the park. She was quite lucky really, to have this room in the vast care home. It had the most magnificent view of the park. Her window over looked a beautiful pond which was over hung by a magnificent Oak.

Once she had been just as beautiful, just as nurturing, as sheltering, as this tree. Each of its branches supporting one kind of life or another, from squirrels scampering, to various kinds of birds and insects. It was full of life from its roots to the tips of its branches which tried to touch the sky. Life went on all around her. Now all she was able to do was watch.

As the days passed and the seasons merged into one and another, she reflected many times on how her own life had changed. Once she used to be a useful, vibrant social being. Her life, she had lived full on. Her experiences in her early years of her own mother dying at a young age without accomplishing much or enjoying life had taught her to live everyday as if it were her last.

She had done much, enjoyed life, regretted little. Which was just as well, she mused, as those memories were all that kept her going now.

More then a year had passed since the decay of her body had worsened. The only thing she had left, was to revisit her memories. Over the last year, she had carried out many exercises that helped her while away the time. Her favourite was to split her memories up into named rooms. Choosing to visit one or another according to how she felt as the days and seasons passed.

Sometimes she chose to run free through all the rooms, visiting places in a hurry, smiling, laughing, crying, loving, all fast and furiously. But then again at other times as her body grew ever weary she chose a slow pace, picking out the detail in each room, of each memory, cherishing, touching, feeling, caressing it, as if it were alive.

In many ways, as she travelled through the various rooms in her mind she compared her self to that Oak. Seeing, feeling everything and yet unable to participate.


3 responses to “A Fallen Tree – A Short Story.

  1. Sarah

    February 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    So utterly poignant and I truly can feel it to my very weary bone – I love this work of yours – it is brilliant and carries a depth of emotion

  2. Annie Jose

    July 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    So well written Jane…this is what i see most Sunday when i visit the old age home for voluntary work…I meet and interact with the inmates, pointless to say the during the start I too was just one of the masses who came to do her good deed for the day, later when I really made an effort and interacted I found the difference. The character you have sketched with your words I have meet them in real life, few have departed, lots more have come to fill that empty bed…those that have left have managed to leave a very lasting impression on me.

    • janememe

      July 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      Annie, my mum was ill and bedridden for such a long time, unable to speak. But her eyes always told me so much everyday. I was trying to see how life must have been through her eyes. I weaved those emotions with a character in an home.
      its so frightening to think that could happen to any of us, and we become prisoners in our own bodies. What you are doing is brilliant babes. Even 10 minutes of your time is priceless to someone lonely. Hugs! seriously I am gonna cry now!! Lub you 😉


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