My longtime friend Bonnie and her husband Paul visited us for a couple of days last week. They were on their way from Florida to his high school reunion in Ohio.
Bonnie had emailed several times the weeks before. She wanted to make sure it was OK for them to stay with us. “Will it upset Peter?” she wondered. “Please tell us. We understand completely. We could get a hotel room.”
I reassured her that Peter remembered they were coming, though he wasn’t sure he remembered them. They were here two years ago and he’d met them at several of our class reunions, but as he says, he can’t remember what he had for breakfast.
During the days leading up to their visit Peter was extra helpful. We’d had workmen here for a week fixing our sagging carport. Sawdust and grime had drifted into the house, crusting everything. I vacuumed and dusted while Peter scrubbed the bathtub and tidied the flower beds. He mowed the yard almost willingly.
They arrived on time, well, a minute late actually. She texted an hour earlier that their GPS said they’d arrive at 12:11. They rolled in at 12:12. But what’s a minute between old friends?
It was a pleasant, sunny day, so we ate lunch on the terrace. Then Bonnie and I chattered and reminisced the whole afternoon like two women of a certain age who have known each other for all but the first two years of their lives. Paul chimed in now and then because he knew some of the people we talked about, and Peter listened, smiling. We carried on through dinner and sat outside until the lightning bugs’ glow wasn’t bright enough for us to clear the table.
Back inside, Bonnie pulled out the eight millimeter movie film she’d brought along. She had never seen it, but she’d checked beforehand to make sure I still had my dad’s old projector. The film showed her learning to walk and on through Christmases and birthdays to the age of six or seven.
Peter laughed at us laughing with tears in our eyes.
The next morning I was having my second cup of coffee when Peter came downstairs. He looked puzzled. “What’s going on upstairs?” he asked. “Is someone in the bathroom?”
I chuckled. “Well, it’s either Bonnie or Paul,” I said.
He was still confused.
“Bonnie and Paul…they got here yesterday!” No matter how enjoyable the day and evening had been, he could not remember that we had overnight guests.
He slathered his usual two slices of toast with Keillor & Sons orange marmalade, poured coffee into his big green mug, and sat down to read the paper. He reads the paper again every afternoon because he forgets the news he’s read hours earlier. And he truly can’t remember what he has for breakfast, even though he has the same thing day after day after day.