By Judith Cullen
The alarm began its relentless beeping. It continued for several minutes and Walter found himself wishing, not for the first time, that someone had developed a gadget so that he could turn the damn thing off from bed. Then again, that would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? His wife, Jean, had moved the alarm clock to its home on the dresser years ago, after an unfortunate incident in which he had hit “snooze” repeatedly for over 90 minutes.
She’d been gone for 8 years now, his Jean. He missed her terribly. She had always brought structure and order to their lives. Walter was convinced that he would have made a mess of things if left to himself. When she’s passed, he’d maintained her household regimen: running the vacuum and dusting the house on Saturday morning, laundry on Wednesdays, changing the sheets every Monday. He did his best, but he sometimes forgot things. Walter was 87, and his life was a dichotomy of a rigid schedule versus a firm belief that he’d earned the right to do as he pleased, when he pleased. He missed his Jean, and he forgot things.