Walter held his wife’s arm as they walked out into the sun. Betty loved sitting on the bench in their garden, so every day the weather allowed it, he’d help her outside to enjoy the sunshine. Sometimes he pulled up the dandelions that continually invaded the lawn around them. Often, though, he would simply sit and hold his wife’s hand. She didn’t speak much anymore, but she still seemed to enjoy his presence, and would sometimes even lay her head on his shoulder.
He watched the lawn and remembered – remembered their two boys, Gilbert and Oscar, running through the yard with towels as capes, his wife scolding them when they ran through her flower beds. He remembered Oscar’s wedding, held here in the garden because he loved the sun and the flowers as much as his mother. He remembered Gilbert bringing Mary, his oldest, by every Thursday until they moved to Florida last May. He also remembered coming home from the doctor’s office in June, holding Betty’s hand tightly and steering her here, to the garden, where they could sit and process what the doctor had told them. That Betty was physically healthy, yes, but that she would begin to slip away as the Alzheimer's took her memories one by one. That she may forget things, people, even Walter, near the end.
The doctor had said it could be months, or it could be years before anything noticeable happened, but he had been wrong. It had only been weeks, weeks, before Betty began forgetting pots on the stove and the iron face down on Walter’s best shirt. Soon, Betty didn’t want to talk to Oscar on the phone anymore, didn’t know why the ‘strange young man’ kept calling. Gilbert had suggested putting Betty in a nursing home, but Walter couldn’t bear it, not yet. He could still care for her for a while longer, and she seemed to still want him nearby. He couldn’t take even that small bit of familiarity away from her now. Thus, they continued with their lives, Walter taking over the cooking and cleaning, and Betty often staring out the window or watching their old tv in the den. And every day he could, Walter brought her out to her favorite place, hoping to keep her with him a bit longer.
Betty shivered against him, and he realized that she’d fallen asleep on his shoulder. The sun had passed behind a cloud and the air took on a slight chill. He gently rubbed her arm to wake her, and he helped her stand to go in. He glanced around the garden once more before turning. Until tomorrow.