What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn't remember your name? A care facility is everyone's solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can't bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams, and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving, complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But, on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.
A chilly draft greeted him as he entered the kitchen and saw the sliding door to the deck was unlatched. Is Sara outdoors in this wretched rain? he thought. Has she gone for a walk? She never takes her walk until after her first cup of coffee. He noted the automatic coffeepot, silent on the kitchen counter, too early to brew. He ignored the rising panic in his gut and dressed for the weather, grabbing his jacket and putting on shoes before heading out the back door.
Jack circled the house, shouting her name. He didn’t find her in the cutting garden or in the back yard. He worked his way down the driveway, feeling foolish for panicking. She’d probably decided to take her walk before breakfast. Still, a troublesome thought in the back of his mind suggested this was not the case.
Sara had several routes to walk throughout the development. She used the established walking paths, but also traveled along the main streets, admiring her neighbor’s homes and gardens and stopping to chat with anyone she passed.
Jack took off along this route. He walked quickly and saw no one. With each step he tried to convince himself he worried for nothing, praying at any moment he’d turn a corner and see her coming toward him, a smile on her face, eager to tell him about a bird she’d observed or a new planting in someone’s yard. He didn’t see her.
As he approached the path to Falmouthport Beach, he paused, ready to turn back because Sara avoided the beach, complaining it was too breezy, especially when it was raining. Walking on sand was a struggle and she feared losing her balance. She preferred to stay on the road where the ground was level.
However, at the last moment something urged him to head for the shore. He quickly made his way there, the wind pushing against him. The tide was rolling in and the sound of crashing waves drowned out everything else. The beach was deserted. He shielded his eyes with his hands and searched the coastline.
She stood at the edge of the surf, her thick, white hair loose and flowing in the wind, whipping about her face, her legs splayed, her arms held out for balance. The open ocean rolled and churned toward her, making her seem small and frail. He raced toward her, screaming her name. She turned at his voice and stumbled, falling into the water, landing on her hands and knees.
He plunged into the water and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to her feet. “My God, Sara, what are you doing out here?” he asked, breathless from his efforts. He rubbed her arms in a desperate attempt to make her warm.
“I don’t know,” she cried. “I’m all mixed up.”
The frigid water soaked through his shoes and socks. She shivered against him, her thin, flannel nightgown plastered against her body. He covered her with his jacket and led her away from the water. They labored across the beach to the path that led home.
He draped an arm over her shoulders and they stumbled back to the house. It seemed to take forever. Sara shivered uncontrollably, short of breath, her chest heaving. Jack struggled with every step, winded by the exertion of holding her up and propelling her forward. The rain continued to pelt them, but it had subsided a bit and they were able to maneuver through it with little difficulty.
They finally arrived home. He guided her through the front door and into the family room where he removed her wet nightgown, covered her with a blanket, and led her to the couch, easing her onto the soft cushions.
She cried, making little gasping sounds and repeating, “I’m so mixed up,” in a pitiful voice that chilled him to his core.
He made coffee, brought her a cup, and held it to her lips. She sipped carefully and flopped back against the couch, her blue eyes shiny with tears.
“Oh, Jack,” she moaned. “What’s happening to me?”
Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel "Blue Hydrangeas," an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks featured book, a Library Journal Self-e Selection, a 5-star Readers Favorite, and winner of IndieReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award, 2014. She also has two short stories available on Kindle, "Ino's Love" and "Collection." Marianne is currently working on a YA novel, "Swim Season," about the new girl on the team who challenges a longstanding school record, to be released in 2015. A dedicated Swim Mom for ten years, you can find her during swim season at one of many Skyline Conference swim meets cheering for her daughter and her team. A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at a community college. She loves books, the beach, and craft beer, and especially enjoys the three of them together.
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