One afternoon while making rounds I met Albert, curled in a fetal position.

At the nurse’s station, an attendant provided some history. Albert had no one. He’d lived too long. Wife of thirty years dead, five sons gone. Well, maybe I could help. I’m a bit chunky but pretty; I am a divorced nurse avoiding the male population outside of work, maybe I could satisfy a need. I flirted.

The next day I wore a dress, not my usual nursing uniform but white. No lights on. Curtains drawn. Albert hollered at the staff to get out. I pulled a chair close to his bed, crossing my shapely legs, head tilted. I gave him a perfect smile, and he said, “Leave me. I want to die.” “What a crime, all us single women out there.” He looked annoyed. as I rambled on about how I liked working “rehab” unit because I got to watch people reach their maximum potential. It was a place of possibilities. He said nothing.

Two days later during shift report, I learned that Albert had asked when I’d be “on.” The charge nurse referred to him as my “boyfriend” and word got around. I never argued. Outside his room, I’d tell others not to bother “my Albert.”

Soon he agreed to “dangle,” sit on the side of the bed to build up sitting tolerance, energy and balance. He agreed to “work” with physical therapy if I’d return “to talk.” Two months later, Albert was on a walker. By the third month, he’d progressed to a cane. Fridays we celebrate discharges with a barbecue. Albert and I danced to Edith Piaf. He wasn’t graceful, but he was leading. Our tear-streaked cheeks touched as we bade our good-byes and he left the hospital for home..

Periodically roses, mums and sweet peas would turn up at my door. He was gardening again and sending me flowers. Then one afternoon, a lovely, lavender-clad woman came on the unit demanding to see “that hussy.” Me?

I was in the middle of giving a bed bath, when my supervisor called to ask me to meet a lovely woman dressed in lavender. Her first words were, “So you’re the one! You’re the woman who reminded my Albert that he’s a man!”

Her head tilted in full smile as she handed me a wedding invitation.

Source: beliefnet: Best of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Albert

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