“Audrey, you have visitors,” the nurse says to me, looking me in the eye while pointing to the door. A man stands in the doorway; he is tall, standing with his shoulders tense. A younger woman stands slightly behind him. He looks familiar. My husband?
The nurse gets my walker and leads me to my visitors.
“Alfie?” I exclaim, staring up at the man, my husband.
“No, Audrey. It’s Christie.” Christie. That’s my son’s name. This is my son.
I turn to take a look at the girl behind him. She has the same bright blue eyes, but I’ve never seen her before.
“And who are you?” I ask her.
“I’m Savannah. I’m your granddaughter.” Grandchildren? Yes, that’s right, grandchildren. I’ve heard of them. I’ve never met them before. I’ve never seen this girl before.
My son and granddaughter accompany me to a table in the dining area.
“It’s really good to see you, Christie,” I say to him. He smiles wryly and affixes his eyes to the TV in the living area in front of him, rubbing his hands together.
I examine the young woman sitting in front of me; my granddaughter I was told.
“I’ve never met you before, have I?”
She smiles patiently. “You have. Sometimes we would go over to your house for dinner, or you would come over to ours.”
No, that’s not true. I never met my grandchildren, my son was always busy. I don’t even know what their house looks like.
“I didn’t see you often, did I, Christie? You worked a lot.”
“That’s not true,” Christie replies, eyes still on the TV. “We would see you every once in a while.”
I never met my grandchildren, my son worked a lot.
“Do you still work for the airlines?”
“I’ve never worked for the airlines. I work in construction. It’s my wife who works for the airlines.”
I wasn’t at the wedding. She didn’t invite me. She didn’t like me.
The nurses bring in cutlery and begin setting the tables around us. In the living area where the TV is playing one woman gets up and begins yelling at the nurses, attracting their attention. They rush over to her and try to get her to sit down, but she continues to yell for something. Christie continues to watch the TV, as if nothing happened. Maybe he didn’t hear.
The girl beside him looks at me and smiles.
“I’ve never met you before, have I?”
The smile appears on her face again. “Yes, you’ve met me before, and my siblings.” Siblings?
“How many children do you have, Christie?”
“Two girls and two boys.” I don’t remember any of them.
“I’ve never met them.”
“Yes, you have.”
The girl sits quietly, smiling kindly whenever I look at her. I Love Lucy continues to play on the TV in the living area. Christie watches with great interest, shoulders tense.
“He’s his own man, isn’t he?” I say to the blue-eyed girl about my son. “You were very busy, weren’t you Christie? That’s why I never met your kids.”
“You met my kids, Audrey.”
“How many do you have?”
“Four. Are they all girls, Christie?”
“No, I have two girls and two boys.”
“You do, don’t you?”
The nurses help everyone who was in the living room into the dining area and into the chairs. They turn off the TV. Christie’s eyes linger on the black screen, as if he’s still examining Lucy dance around in her living room. He has both his hands clasped together tightly on the table. The girl is still quiet, smiling nicely.
“Well, we’re gonna go, Audrey,” my son says, getting up. The young woman helps me get my walker.
At the door my son gives me a kiss on the cheek, and the girl gives me a hug. Then they step into the elevator and disappear from my sight. With my walker, I head back to the dining area and find myself a seat. It was nice to see Christie.
My son is a busy man, the airlines are very demanding. He just didn’t have the time to see me and Alfie. I never got to meet his kids, or his wife. She didn’t like me.
Christie, my son. He looks so much like Alfie. Alfie, he was tall and he never said much. He had blue eyes. My children have blue eyes. Cheryl and Christie. Blue eyes.
As one of the nurses passes by, I put a hand on her arm. She stops, and bends down to listen to me.
“Can I make a phone call?” I ask. “It’s been a while since any of my children have come to visit.”