The Caretaker

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Creative Nonfiction
“I need to deposit money into the bank.” He said as he kept moving about his room and picking up objects and moving them somewhere else. I gestured to him to keep quiet and I tried to coax him back to bed but he refused. He pointed to his walker and said: “I need to pay for this.”

“I need to go visit my grandmother!” I stared at him in pity. “I need to talk to my mother.” Even as he spouted gibberish I tried to get him back to sleep since it was 4 AM in the morning. This time I tried talking to him.

“It’s night time, you need to go to sleep,” I quietly said to him, being careful as to not wake up anybody else in the apartment. He ignored what I said and kept moving the objects around his room. This time I nudged him towards his bed. “It’s time to sleep,” I quietly begged him since he had been awake for one hour already. He finally allowed me to guide him to bed and laid down. I left his room quietly so as to not wake him up. I took his wheelchair and locked it, so to block his doorway, because he has the habit of walking out of his room. I went back to the couch and tried to go back to sleep.

I woke up to Betty making breakfast and I told her that I would wake up Adam. I went to his room and saw that it was messier than it was when I woke up at 4. I sighed in exasperation and started unlocking the wheelchair and his washroom.door.

“Wake up, it’s time to wake up,” I gently nudged him and he stirred in his sleep. But he refused to wake up. Even though I raised the bed up-right, he still refused to wake up. I tried getting him to sit up by sitting behind him and leaning his back on me, but he still had his eyes closed. I couldn’t get him out of bed so I left him and he went back to lying on the bed. I kept nudging him and prodding him to open his eyes, but his only reaction was sighing angrily. Giving up, I went back to the kitchen and told Betty.

“Just leave him, he will wake up when he wants to,” She said.

It was at 1 PM when he finally got out of bed himself. I quickly went into his room to assist him by giving him his walker to walk with. I guided him to the dining table and Betty placed his lunch in front of him. He didn’t make any movements to eat.

“It’s lunchtime, you need to eat,” I tried coaxing him. He still refused to eat, looking elsewhere. I picked up his utensil and moved his food to his mouth. After a moment or two, he finally opened his mouth and allowed me to feed him.

After lunch, I showed him some pictures. Taking a picture of a group photo which included me. I asked him who each one was and he didn’t recognize any of them. I finally pointed at myself in the picture.

“Who is this?” I asked.

“It’s a girl,” He responded.

“What’s her name?” I prodded.

“I don’t know,” he replied. I pointed at the other people in the picture again, but his response was either “it’s a girl”, “it’s a boy” or “I don’t know.” After showing him a few more pictures, it was evening. This time when Betty placed his food in front of him he cooperated and ate. While he was eating, the phone began to ring. I went to pick it up and I realized it was the phone call that we have been having mixed feelings of. We were both dreading it but at the same time, we welcomed it.

I told Betty what the phone call was about and after cleaning up the dishes, she started packing Adam’s clothes. I could see that the news saddened her but at the same time, she felt relief. That night Adam didn’t wake up in the middle of the night, and the next morning we sent him off to a care home. After he left I went back up to the apartment to pack-up my stuff and I looked back at the group picture. It was of my sister, my cousin and I with my grandparents. I felt saddened that even though that was the last I would see him, after a year of taking care of him, he was not able to recognize his own granddaughter.