Updated: Jan 3, 2022
By Tomahito Mori
The birds were chirping as Theresa walked through the inner garden of her high-end retirement home. She sat down at a bench to take a brief break before heading to the bus station that led to her usual volunteer work. A simple sigh leaks through her lips as she rests her elderly body on the wood plank.
“It’s that feeling again,” she whispered to herself.
Theresa had a predicament, a mental one. She simply did not know what to live for anymore. It was not necessarily caused by her lifestyle or situation; her late husband had granted her all of the wishes that she had: healthy children and grandchildren, a stable retirement life, and a very expensive facility that catered to pretty much anything she wanted. Her retirement home was extremely grand to say the least; it was the costliest place to live in within the states of Virginia (as far as she knew).
The massive building consisted of nothing short of luxury: two in-house restaurants, an accessible gym with a large pool, on site nurses, doctors, and physical therapists, and a private townhome to herself that is gated within the golden rich community.
And yet, something was wrong. Something was fundamentally missing within her mental dimension; a hole so big that seemed to swallow any kind of activity or positive thoughts that she threw in herself. It seemed as if she had done every little thing that a person can do in 86 years. The thought of just walking around the retirement palace was getting thoroughly monotonous.
“We’re all here to die,” she muttered to herself, “and that mentality is not doing anything for me, that’s for sure.”
Theresa looked at her silver watch given by her late husband to see that it is about 45 minutes before the bus arrived at the stop. She got used to her slow pacing over time in her senior years, but it definitely took longer to adjust herself to leaving earlier so get to places on time.
The bus stop was empty, as per usual. What was not usual was the weather; it was surprisingly cool for the Virginia summer. Although she preferred brisker days, this tame weather did not help her downward spiral of complacency. She sat down on the bench, patiently waiting for the bus to arrive.
It was slightly warmer in the bus, although this was a year-long phenomenon. She looked out of the window like an elementary student out of a school bus, watching people and cars passing through the traffic. Theresa tended to lean her head against the window during her mentally questionable days. She let out another heavy sigh, doing her best to release all the negative thoughts out with it.
“Just focus on the volunteer work, and this too shall pass,” she calmly reminded herself silently.
After an hour of metallic creaks and shakes, the bus arrived at Theresa’s stop. She walked out expecting the usual blaring hot summer wind. A chill breeze smacked her right in the face instead. Not something she found pleasant. Theresa proceeded to walk down the sidewalk to her destination, quietly damning the unusual summer weather.
She walked into a grey, concrete building by pushing the door open with cold metal handles. This was a retirement home as well, however, it was nothing close to the glam and luxury that Theresa lived in.
“I’m here to see Randy,” Theresa said quietly to the front desk attendant.
“Okay, give me one second so that I could get your visitor’s pass,” the attendant said as she clattered through the keyboard with finesse and professionalism. After a brief moment that seemed like an eternity, Theresa noticed that the lady’s facial took a drastic turn. Her calm expression turned into a very melancholic frown, tilting her head down to the ground as if she’s pre-processing the right words to bring out of her mouth.
“He’s not here anymore, Ms. Theresa,” the attendant said quietly. “He passed away from a heart attack yesterday and the doctors couldn’t bring him back. I am so sorry.”
Theresa stood at the front desk with a blank stare. “He died?” she muttered. The attendant nodded her head quietly, knowing that she has nothing else to say on the tragic matter.
Theresa turned around and walked outside to sit on the bench near the entrance of the almost run-down retirement home.
Randy was a drug addict and alcoholic that recovered just a bit too late. His wife had passed years ago, and his children were not willing to expose his grandchildren to a drunk druggie old man. By the time he reached this facility, he was completely alone, generally just talking to nurses when he needs medication. Theresa showed up at the retirement home few years back to be his friend, a part of the volunteer program that the community started decades ago. The two of them had amazing chemistry, not of the romantic kind but the one of honesty and companionship. She had been visiting him for four years now, once a week to keep him busy from his lonely mental cycle.
Theresa had lost the one thing that gave her some semblance of purpose. She sat on the bench, in a loss for words. “Why am I even here,” she thought, “when I can’t even be of service to the one person that gave me joy?”
For the first time in decades, Theresa let tears fall from her eyes. She was lost in the mental fog in a catatonic state. How does one even find any purpose and for what reason?
“Hello,” Theresa heard someone say right next to her. She was so absorbed in her emotions that she did not notice someone sit down next to her.
“Hey, are you alright?” said the voice. The voice was that of a young woman, Theresa guessed that she was probably in her late 20s or early 30s. Her round eyes were dead set on Theresa’s tear-soaked face However, the stranger’s eyes were not the only ones staring. In her arms was a puppy, bright, golden, and with a facial expression that was beaming. Panting with his small tongue hanging out and his small tail wagging ferociously from pure joy of being alive.
“Hey, I don’t have a whole lot of time,” the strange lady started talking again, “but I found this puppy in a cardboard box down the street and I can’t keep it. My entire family is deathly allergic to dogs.”
Without hesitation, the woman placed the puppy on Theresa’s lap and started to run off.
“Wait,” mumbled Theresa through her tears and hiccups. When she looked up, the mystery lady was gone. Theresa stared blankly down the street as if she was hallucinating the whole time.
“ARF,” the dog let out a short puppy bark.
This was not a hallucination, nor was it a dream. She briefly stared at the soft fuzz with eyes for a moment, and quietly chuckled to herself.
“Well, apparently God has plans for me,” she said to the small dog that happened to hop up out of nowhere. “I think I can bribe my way into keeping you at the facility.”
Theresa stood up with the fuzzball in her arms and started to walk down the street towards the bus stop to head home. “Thy will be done, I suppose.”
Tomahito Mori is a student at CVCC currently majoring in Engineering in hopes of transferring to UVA's Engineering Program. Tomahito is also a professional cook at University of Lynchburg and is hoping to become a software engineer to develop kitchen gadgets that will be helpful in the culinary field in the future.