It's been quite some time since I updated this blog, but now I have a "new" use for it. I am challenging myself to write something every day and to share that with anyone who wants to read it. I'm going to use the Internet to generate random writing prompts and I will create a (most likely fiction!) short story related to that prompt.
Ready? Let's go...
Here's what I have to work with:
Main character: A man in his eighties, who is very sensitive.
Setting: The story begins in a nursing home.
Situation: A reunion takes place.
Theme: It's a story about eternal youth.
2.3.17 - Everland - by Jenni Beaver
I could never forget him. Nearly ninety-years-old and always fiddling with something. Playing with an action figure or building a city out of blocks. His room was filled with trinkets from years long before my time. Things I'd never seen before.
"You'll have to excuse Mr. Daly," they told me. "He's sick."
But he didn't think he was sick. He seemed like the healthiest person in the nursing home. That was despite the Alzheimer's diagnosis he'd received three years ago. The other nurses told me he couldn't remember the growing up part of life. The part where he worked a corporate job on Wall Street, lived in a big mansion, and drove fancy cars.
He told me otherwise.
"I've always loved this one," he'd tell me as he slid a car across the carpet. "Just like one I had when I was thirty-five."
It was a black mini Mercedes. He hadn't forgotten what it felt like to drive it, and he told me at least twenty times how it felt to go fast with the top down.
"How'd you afford something like that, Mr. Daly?"
"Worked a lot. Too much. I didn't know about Everland back then."
The Alzheimer's had affected his ability to form certain words and for nearly four years I assumed 'Everland' was 'Neverland'. I thought he fancied himself as Peter Pan or one of the Lost Boys. Maybe in his head his wife was Wendy and his kids played some kind of role in defeating Captain Hook.
He was sick.
I never questioned things.
That was until the disease had taken its toll and Mr. Carl Daly was struggling to inhale his last breaths. He had stipulations.
One: he had to be outside.
Two: No medicines or IVs or anything of the sort.
Three: Only one nurse could be present.
And the fourth request... that nurse had to be me.
At three o'clock in the morning I found myself sitting in a park trying to keep Mr. Daly warm as he stared up at the stars.
"This is it, isn't it Julie?"
"I think so."
He didn't seem scared in the least. He just smiled up at the stars and I could almost see his wife's reflection in his eyes. He'd lived what seemed like a lifetime without her and now they would finally be together again.
"At least I never have to leave Everland."
"I guess that's why they call it Neverland," I said.
He looked at me, almost startled.
"Neverland isn't real." He was so matter-of-fact.
"You talk about it all the time, Carl. About finding it and living there."
"Everland. It's everland."
He spent his last breaths telling me the meaning of life. He finished with the wisest words I've ever heard.
"Neverland disappears when the movie stops. Everland is made of the love you have for others and the love they have for you. It's all your hopes and dreams and everything you've ever wanted or needed. It's faith in Jesus Christ. It's the realization that growing up should never be an option and that life is too short not to embrace every moment. Everland. Where 'never' doesn't mean anything and 'forever' means everything."
It wasn't long after he said those words that Carl Daly closed his eyes and moved on to the best looking part of Everland. And I sat on a park bench, holding him close, and shedding some tears of my own.
He would say Alzheimer's never took a single thing from him.
He'd smile that cheesy smile and say, "Julie. I've got everything I need up here." And with a tap of his noggin he'd carry on with his work never even realizing I wasn't just a nurse.
My name wasn't Julie.
My name was Amanda Daly.
And Carl was my father. Even if he never knew it.