Heart-Shaped Memories


Heart Shaped Memories; flash fiction, avail: ebook, paper.

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It is a sad truth most of us will be forgotten after we die.
These stories are vital memories written about real people most of us would never pay attention to, but could have met.



Partial SAMPLE:

Rattling the Windows of Life

Old man Applegate was about to go off again, destined to scare most of my patients.

Even those heavily sedated sometimes were startled when he began to speak.

He had a voice an opera company would drool over; no amplifier needed. His barrel chest resonated with the walls and sometimes rattled the windows.

Standing ramrod straight, six foot four, and 250lbs, one felt his presence enter a room.

Applegate would usually go on about some war he was in, the day he did this, or that. If he was awake and aware of people, he talked.

We all knew him to be blind as a bat. He made his way through a room by shuffling his feet rather than his historical stride. It was safer for him that way. He used his long arms and the cane to feel ahead of him for walls, doors, and people.

His ears were huge, but our staff knew he could not hear. He would wrap a colossal hand around one ear and bend down to us if he thought he wanted to listen to what someone said. He might laugh or smile at the wrong places or say, “That is all right” to the wrong things.

He smiled all day long, regardless of what took place around him. His cheeks were as gentle as silk and red like a Santa Claus picture.

Ninety-seven years or not, he was a force that could not be ignored. “Ray” he hollered as window panes shook, and Bobbie dove under a nearby table while Mrs. Elis jumped as if the devil had touched her.” My name is Sheila! Not Ray” I hollered back without shaking any glass.

I like my name Sheila; I like being a woman. Most other patients seem to know my gender, even if they forget my name. I treasure my career as a nurse and caregiver.” Ray, you must think me dumb, just waiting for the bus ride to my final stop. But I am not! Just have too many miles on some of my parts. Let me tell you, some of those parts have had lots of games, laughter, and a good Ole time”

Unfortunately, I noticed he took a good deep breath.

We all knew what came next as the volume was about to be turned up.

Tiny Burt was already putting his hands over his ears and crouching behind one of theNurse’s entry doors.” In my time, I have challenged men to the death, wooed all the pretty women around me to ‘give it up,’ drank the good wine, and outran the ‘poor me!”

His dulled green eyes caught me, held me as if he saw me, and he asked, “Do you really think I have regrets? No, sir, Ray! I do not! Though I have outlived my usefulness to everyone else, I had one helluva a ride to get right here and meet you, Ray. A helluva ride.”

For the first time, his eyes were cast down, and his smile faded just a bit. His body seemed to relax, like a cat at the end of its stretch. “I got sent here because my ex-wife would not care for me. Nor my children after my lights went out. Hell, I took care of that woman for 35 years, and her cooking was awful. And, let me tell you, my kids were not so much a blessing as a circus. My blindness is almost a gift.”

He went into a spin, like the ballroom dancer he claimed he once was. He looked towards the sky that must be there, just beyond the ceiling and five floors above, “IVY HILL LIVING HOM” “God, take me right now! I have no excuses for my mistakes and will make no apologies for my life.”

He spun around again back to me, arms wide, and said, “I will die tonight! But not because I am beaten but because my life tank is full, and I need to let someone else take over. I have never been stingy! Ray, it has been wonderful to meet you.”

Things quietened down again as he was led peacefully to his room by Orderly Amos.

Ray seemed quite partial to Amos, though Amos could not speak English, and Old Man Applegate could not hear whatever Amos might have said.

I finished my shift that night without any more interruptions. Most of our patients are kind, quiet, and cooperative. True, many are medicated, but most know they are in their last days, so their sadness shows gentleness not to upset anyone living.

The Dayshift told me the next day that Applegate passed in the night with a smile.

They said his hands were across his chest, as one might pray. He left no notes, and the only person he had said goodbye to was me earlier the previous day.

For some strange reason, I was happy for him. And not because of the silence of the ward that day and the next.

Indeed, the silence haunted all of us for a while.

After his passing, I sometimes noticed a resident or two looking back towards Applegate’s room as if they expected him to come blundering forth.   Indeed, almost as if they hoped he would.

A few times, Tiny Burt would wander near where Applegate died but never went in. I thought he just wanted to be close and remember Old Applegate.

His passing showed me how to live a life and go on, regardless of loss and disappointment. After all, I had done little in my life but care for other people.

What a man!

According to his spoken legend, he danced, fought in wars, built and lost businesses, and chased many pretty women.

I am not loud, but I determined on the day of his passing that I will not be one sentence in the town’s only newspaper obituary.

I am going to be an entire paragraph, just like Applegate.

Sheila Ray will rattle a few windows for her final ride, even if I must use a shotgun and blow out all the windowpanes I see!

Sheila Ray will go out with a bang!

Keep Away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.


Mark Twain

Frances Sipping Dinner, Talking with God

Hello God.

Frances here.

Yep, I am sitting beneath the Mimosa tree again and sipping my dinner.

I was watching you through the leaves fluttering in the breeze—the breeze you caused, just for me.

These blue eyes of mine never were strong, but everyone liked them and usually said they were loving.

Funny how dark the sky is without that old moon. But the stars are there. I wanted to see that old round-night thing again. Sure, love seeing those twinkles, though. I know you caused them as well.

You know, my Bob loved that old moon, and I loved Bob. He laughed like children at playtime.

He had hands rough as the dirt, big as shovels since he often worked the fields.

His ears looked like truck doors standing wide open in a spring breeze, but his smile would make an angry bulldog sit down tongue hanging, waiting for a pat twixt the ears.

I miss his hands. I miss his laugh. I hope you will let me see him again soon.

I lived a life of laughs and love, no children, though.

No regrets, God.

My life was a good one, and I know it.

God, I hope you like the view I have. I surely do.

Promise me a chance to see you and Bob, and I will help other people in any way I can in the time I have left. I would help others, whether ignorant, poor, wealthy, high-born, religious, or just wayward.

Give me a chance, God.

I can wait; I just need to fill my dinner glass again.

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction.

Antoine de Saint Exupery