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Friday, 23 March 2012

She Wears My Ring ~ What's Your idea of Romance?

This week's prompt for Romantic Friday Writers Once you've written your entry, post to your blog, then copy the link to the linky on RFW. Write a maximum of 400 words in response to the prompt. The words 'she wears my ring' must be used, however you wish. Any genre.

Here's my Flash Fiction Vignette (370 words)
chosen as Featured story of the week


We sit together in the lounge squeezed between the other residents. A television blathers on in the corner. I help her drink her tea from a cup with a spout. The room smells faintly of stale tea and institutionalised meals. I try to swallow the prickly crustacean of emotion that is lodged in my throat, remembering  the day I slipped the white-gold band onto her slender finger as we exchanged our vows, when chestnut curls framed her heart-shaped face, while her hazel eyes were bright with tears of happiness. The curls are now more wispy-white and her eyes look across at me with a distant blankness that drags at my heart.  
       Still she wears my ring, after fifty-six years of marriage. Though her memories drift in and out, I can still see the essence of Mary in her smile; her warm and loving nature that helped us through the hardest of times. Her zany sense of humour that always attracted even the most reserved admirers, still remains in her more lucid moments.

“We had a card from Cousin Margery” I say.
“Is Margery coming to see me?” she  responds.
“Not today, love. Maybe next week” I lie, it doesn’t matter, she won’t remember.
“What’s for dinner?” she asks, conversationally.
“Fish, mash and veg. One your favourites” It’s better to make it sound appetising, I’ve found.
“Oh, Is Margery coming for dinner?” she asks with a warm smile.
“Maybe she’ll come next week” I say, keeping my tone level.

Mary looks off into the room. The other residents sleep away the hours of interminable boredom between refreshment breaks, accompanied by the blathering television, or call out in distressed tones “Nurse, nurse!”

           This isn’t the retirement we had planned. I imagine us going for country walks together, hand in hand, laughing and sharing. I imagine the cuddles and the intimacy. The warmth of her affection and my heart swells with love for the woman I married. I hold her hand, now so soft and pink since she no longer attends to the housework. They are no longer parchment-dry from dish washing. I will always love the essence of my Mary, forever grateful that she chose to wear my ring above, all others.

So what do you think?  Does it fit your idea of romance?

As many of you will know, this theme is something close to my heart.



RFW said: We both chose Madeleine Maddocks for her heartfelt romantic story of an elderly couple. It was a beautifully written vignette, well deserving of the FW title.
Donna Madeleine's story had me in tears - of nostalgic longing for a life that wasn't mine, but I'd wish for in my old age.  This story embodies the "rocking chair" concept marriage.  From the first words out, to the end, this excerpt built a story; a life of companionship, compromises and enduring faith in each other. What completely captured me was the line "Though her memories drift in and out, I can still see the essence of Mary . ." Everything after was showing how he saw both the girl he married, and the woman she'd matured into. This concise excerpt completely revealed a life lived in everyday romance, not just special occasions. 

Denise Madeleine tore at my heartstrings. Man, that girl knows how to hit the 'emotion' button for me. I simply adored this tale of love in God's waiting room. The love of this man for his wife was steadfast, gentle and sweet. I love how Maddy told it. It rang true to me. I've seen real life love stories played out in nursing homes and this was very real to me. 
 


16 comments:

  1. Though the story is very sad . . . yes, it does fit my idea of romance. I don't think there's any greater sign of dedication if you continue to care for someone in such a situation.

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  2. Yes, it fits not only my idea of romance, but what I'd hoped for with my first marriage.

    I love how he still sees the woman he fell in love with, the woman he grew old beside. There was a lot of history written into his musings, plenty of love, devotion, good times interesting conflicts that insite making up.

    Very nicely and concisely written Maddie. I feel I know this man, and can adore his loving spirit. It shows that he was a good husband and father, and while the end of his marital journey isn't what he'd planned, it seems it does have its rewards.

    Well done in keeping with the theme and the phrase :)

    ......dhole

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  3. So beautiful in its execution, the kind of dedication and romance one hopes to see and a rarity in today's world...its mostly one person giving and the other just taking.
    I felt a kind of soft aura of love around them.
    Regarding my story, it is set in modern times not historical. Among those from the Indian sub continent and West Asia even in many cases of those settled abroad, arranged marriages are the norm and my story is based on one such among the thousands others.
    Enjoy your weekend.

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  4. Hi Madeleine .. great story - and reminds me of an alzheimer's meeting we had last week. There was a gentleman, very reserved but desperate in his need, as he watches his wife live on - in much the circumstances you describe.

    The Nursing Centre doesn't have a welfare liaison person .. someone who can listen .. guide, just be there .... for these relatives. He has two sons .. and I guess from my own brothers ... they 'disappear' into life and don't know what to do either - so they melt away.

    It's not something my mother suffers from - the home has a facility .. and sadly it's exactly as you describe.

    When the floor opened I bought a book of stories on Alzheimer sufferers .. which I read to my mother - as she'd had a care home .. she enjoyed hearing them - and said it was so important to understand.

    It is romantic .. as that's an emotion husbands and wives will experience at all times of life - maybe with a tear in their eye - the memory is still there.

    This is an excellent story - well worth keeping and using more often - somewhere ... with thoughts - Hilary

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  5. Dear Madeleine,
    Is this my idea of a romantic text? Yes. Your protagonist is a man who really loves his wife and gives her what he can even though she is loosing her memory.

    This man is also restoring his wife's dignity by remembering for her that she was once beautiful and clever, now that her beauty, youth and talents have faded. This man is honouring the essence of his wife. He understands that we all have a core, even if we become ill or dement; we still have a soul.

    There are men in real life like this man. And women too. Your text shows superbly well what it is like to be the close relative of a patient with Alzheimer's or other kinds of dementia.

    My paternal grandmother did not have Alzheimer's disease, but gradually lost her memory due to small strokes.

    I will never forget when I was an adolencent and I went to visit her at a nursing home together with my parents and uncle. She had become a shell of her former self. Yes, I could recognise her, but I was not certain that she could recognise us.

    She laughed and said, 'What a grand time we were having, what a pity John and Mary are not here with us today!' ('John' and 'Mary' are fictious names, my grandmother did remember and say my parents real names.) We then explained that my parent were indeed sitting right next to her. Then she would laugh again and repeat the question, again and again.

    My father was so patient, very much like the man in your story. She could ask this same question, maybe twenty or thirty times. (I lost count.) But my father never got angry with his mother. He spoke just as kindly to her as he did the first time she had asked, and he explained to her just as sweetly every time, that we all were with her.

    This was in great contrast to my uncle's reaction, who became increasingly impatient, angry and refused to understand her problem.

    I will always love my father for the way he loved his mother, and rest of us in our family.

    Your protagonist is also that kind of a man. Bless him!

    Thank you for writing and sharing this beautiful text.

    Best wishes & hugs,
    Anna
    Anna's RFW-challenge No. 34 'She wears my ring'

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  6. Thank you Golden, Donna, Rek, Hilary, Anna for your lovely comments.

    I am pleased you felt I conveyed the 'aura of love' emanating between them.

    It is a very difficult situation, affecting tghe lives of loved ones. I agree Donna, it's one that sadly not everyone feels able to cope with. Such sustaining, unconditional love is lovely, yet all too rare, perhaps?

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  7. Does it ever fit my idea of romance Maddy. This is romance of the most genuine kind, the setting, God's Waiting Room.

    Your tore at my heartstrings as I've visited those in old people's homes, as we refer to them in Oz, and have seen beautiful interaction between elderly couples which made me feel exactly like your wonderful flash fiction story.

    Thank you Maddy for reminding us that love does indeed reside in the winter of our lives.

    Thanks for posting. Lovely surprise. I hope you are in improving health.

    Denise x

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  8. How can there be anything more romantic than a man who loves his wife in sickness every bit as much as he did in health?

    Beautiful, Madeleine :-)

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  9. Heartbreaking because this is the reality for so many people, but nevertheless romantic and touching because the husband in this case is able to overcome the tragedy with love. Thanks Madeleine

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  10. You had me from the first word, Madeleine. It's sad, yet romantic and nostalgic. The realism of time, age and where it takes us is unavoidable and it is what makes it such a great story to tell. The mood, voice, scene - it's all in there. And to tell a deep story within the word limit...Well done. Ten out of ten from me on this one!

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  11. What a wonderful vignette, Madeleine - sad, yes, but also full of love. I don't know about romance, but you've definitely given us a picture of real love.

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  12. Nicely done! Have you read STILL ALICE? A wonderful book.

    Have a great week!

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  13. Beautiful. And yes, very romantic. Sigh.... SO much love for a memory fading partner...

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  14. Of course it fits. Romance is for all ages. You've written a beautiful heart-warming piece and it fits the theme perfectly. Well done

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  15. Hello.
    This poignant story tugged at my heartstrings. The essence of this man's love for his wife is very palpable. This is my idea of true love and romance. Alzheimer's takes it's toll not only on the one suffering from this illness, but also on the family who have to watch helplessly as their loved ones drift further and further away from reality.
    This is lovely Madeleine. Thanks for sharing.

    The Beloved

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  16. Hi Madeleine
    You captured the theme beautifully with a tale of love that truly endures. I can see this couple and mourn for them. The years pass us by so quickly. I envisioned autumn leaves on a majestic oak outside their window.
    Nancy

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