A Christmas Cactus for Mary

A Christmas Cactus for Mary

A Story by Lea Sheryn

Mary thinks Harold has forgotten Christmas


A Christmas Cactus for Mary

By Lea Sheryn


There was something wrong with Harold.  After nearly sixty years of marriage, he didn’t seem to know Mary any longer.  All he wanted to do was sit in his recliner all day staring into space.  Television didn’t interest him.  The shows he usually watched were no longer on; in fact, he rarely turned the set on in the morning to watch the news.  When Mary put on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, Harold didn’t blurt out the answers as he normally did. 


Mary was worried.  She and Harold had a long life together.  They grew up in the same small town, fell in love during high school and married shortly after he came home from the war.  They raised three children together while he worked in the factory and she as a kindergarten teacher.  When Mamie, George and Elizabeth secured themselves in their own lives, the couple moved to Florida where they lived in a condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. 


The years crept by; the couple endured good times and bad with a fortitude that kept them together.  Now Mary grew more concerned as each day passed.  Harold was not the same.  He barely smiled and never kissed her good morning as he had always done in the past.  When she called out a cheery greeting, he turned his face away and acted as though she weren’t there.  What has gotten into him, she wondered?


With Christmas shortly upon them, Mary began to decorate the house.  Perhaps, if she put up the familiar knickknacks and ornaments, something would spark in Harold’s memory.  He had always been so fond of the holidays, making much of the children’s presents and pretending that Santa had arrived.  It was a tradition he had carried over to the grandchildren. 


Speaking of grandchildren, the family was scheduled to arrive in two day’s time.  What would happen if Harold didn’t recognize them?  The little grands would not understand, and their adult children would be concerned.  Mamie would know instantly what was wrong and insist upon doing something about it.  She was the boss of the family; she was the one who knew best what to do.  Mary didn’t want Harold to go away.  Oh, she knew it would be best for him to live in a home with a nursing staff in attendance, but she had intended to spend her whole life by his side.  Nervously she gnawed on her lower lip.  If only Harold would start acting as he normally did, they could get through the Christmas season without much ado.


Sighing, she turned her attention to decorating the tree.  It was sad to place the ornaments on the branches without Harold’s help and advice.  All he did was stare quizzically at the artificial Scotch Pine as though he didn’t recognize it.  Mary tried to entice him to hang his favorite Santa Claus face; it was the one George had made of plaster of Paris in the first grade.  She had faithfully saved it in tissue paper to preserve it throughout the years.  Nothing she could do could bring Harold out of his perpetual stare. 


The next morning when Mary awoke, Harold was gone.  His shoes were still where they always were, but his pajamas lay on the bathroom floor.  Where could he have gone? Mary worried as fear ran through her heart.  Pressing the garage button on the intercom, she inquired if their car was still parked in it’s regular spot.  It was gone, the cheerful young attendant replied.  Her husband had taken it out earlier.               


Now Mary was frightened.  Pacing the room, she came to a stop before the floor to ceiling window to stare at the road beneath them.  Why had Harold left?  Where had he gone?  Nervously, she worked her lower lip with the edges of her teeth.  What if something happened to him?  There were so many stories on the news of old people going out and losing their way or driving into ponds.  Oh Harold! Mary’s mind screamed as a tear escaped her eye and slid down her wrinkled cheek. 


Picking up her cell phone, Mary punched in 911.  She had to report Harold as missing so they could put out a Silver Alert right away.  So intent was she in giving the operator his description that she didn’t notice the door crack opened as her husband pushed it with his back.


It was just by absent chance that she turned from the kitchen island just as Harold entered.  Her eyes opening wide, she hastily told the 911 operator that everything was ok; her husband was home.  Quickly she went to him and took the traditional Christmas cactus he was holding out to her in both her hands. 


“Merry Christmas, Mary,” Harold exclaimed as she stood before him with tears running down her face.  “I bet you thought I forgot.”            

© 2020 Lea Sheryn

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A wonderful ending to the story. A little scary. When the mind fade away and the person you love is far away. It is very hard dear Lea. Thank you for sharing the amazing story. You held me to the last word.

Posted 2 Months Ago

Oh how this rings true with me except it was her who had drife=ted into another world.
She was leaving things cooking etc. even her cross-stitch work - ALL abandoned

I rang the docs > Blood tests _ Tablets for her blood

What is it now?
2 or 3 months > She has taken back her cooking and giving orders
Still, forgets things - What are we haveing for Christmas Dinner?
But she is on the mend

58 years married in the new year

Posted 2 Months Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on December 18, 2020
Last Updated on December 18, 2020
Tags: fiction, forgotten, Christmas


Lea Sheryn
Lea Sheryn

Sarasota, FL

I love to write! To have the ability to put words together to express myself is an ability that I cherish. Working for years to strengthen my talent, I am a self taught Word Weaver. Up until now, I.. more..