‘Healing is something we cannot do for each other; it is something we must do for ourselves, through God’s help, like a flower that sprouts from the past and blooms into the present. And with His help, our convalescence is complete.’
An old man lay in his bed in the Hospace room, completely immobile. Staring at the ceiling while reclined on his back, he counted the tiles running across it. Having done this a plethora of times, the man became very bored. If only there was something else I could do, he thought. He then looked around and peered at the desk sitting next to his bed. Lying on top of it was a journal and six books, which were the Bible, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens: Five Novels, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Anton Myrer’s Once an Eagle, and Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Looking at them, the old man sighed. He picked up his journal and laid it on his lap. He grabbed the pencil lying on the corner of his desk and then opened the journal to read the inscription. The previous passage, dated 14 June 2015, read:
Today was a normal day, from what I saw. No one came to visit me, and no one ever bothered to say hello. So, I guess I am just going to lie here the rest of the day and do nothing. Oh, well. When will God call me up? I don’t know. I guess I’m ready to die, after being on this earth for a very long time. I am getting somewhat tired of living, but yet I still live. Why don’t I pass on? I don’t know. I am ready for Death whenever he comes, but I don’t think it will be soon. So, I guess I must wait. I will wait as long as I can.
Reading it over, the old man sighed. He had been in this bed for a long time, just as he had written in his journal; it was rather tiresome. He wished he could do something else, but he couldn’t. The man had acquired amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gherig’s disease, about a year ago and was slowly losing his muscular abilities. He had already lost the movement to his legs, so it would only be a matter of time before he would just stop breathing. But the man didn’t want to wait to die. He just wanted to die now. Living a long life of 115 years, he had lived it to the fullest and was now ready to pass on. Why did he have to wait to die? Why did he have to wait so patiently? What was his purpose now? Why didn’t God just take his soul away? What did He want him to do? The man didn’t know, but he was ready for Death when he came for him. However, Death hadn’t made his appearance, so the man was stuck.
The old man then looked at his reflection in the picture by his bedside. He was an aged man with a bald head and long white hair that extended down the sides. His white moustache was like a toothbrushe under his nose, and his white beard extended the length of his entire neck, resembling Leo Tolstoy in his later years. His face was covered in wrinkles—around his eyes, his nose, his mouth, and his chin—as was all his skin, resembling a prune after soaking in water for a long time. His blue eyes stared languidly at their reflection as the dark sacs beneath them conveyed their exhaustion after working strenuously for a very long time; all they wanted was what they lacked—an eternal slumber. The nose beneath them was the same as it was, but it was worn with age, and the neck was struggling to support the head atop it. The old man’s back was slightly hunched, as it had grown weary with age and could no longer support his weight. His body was almost emaciated after refusing to digest anything anymore. Only a few substances would his body digest, and his diet contained only them so he wouldn’t ail any more than he already had. The old man, all in all, was decrepit and weary, but he was ready to die.
The man then looked at his journal. He smiled wanly as he remembered those volumes, where he recorded his entire life—his thoughts, his emotions, the daily events, his actions, his philosophies, and so on; they were special to him. The volume in his hands was the eightieth of his entire journal, which recorded his final thoughts and emotions. This volume would probably be the last, but the journal in its entirety would have his whole life story for anyone to look over and to read. But since this was his last, the old man would try to fill it to the best of his ability. He wanted his dying thoughts to meaningful, so that was what he would do.
The old man had obviously been a writer all of his life. He had written in several journals, published several books, and published some poetry and short fiction during his lifetime. He had written so much that he felt accomplished. And now, writing, the thing he enjoyed the most, was the only thing he could do to keep himself occupied. The thing was, though, that he enjoyed writing, which was why he became a writer in the first place. He had always enjoyed stories that other people told and enjoyed telling his own stories, so that was why he loved writing so much—to record the world in a way people can examine it in their own way and can learn something from it. He felt like he did that, but now, his writing was the thing that passed the time. It was the object of his soul, the conveyor of his thoughts, and the tool of his philosophy. He wrote everything down that came to mind, and it was worth it. It’s just that he wouldn’t be writing for very long. Death would come soon, and he was ready for it, but he still had time left. So, the man would make use of it.
As the old man was beginning to write, he heard a knock on the door. He looked at the door and saw it open. A young nurse dressed in purple scrubs entered the room. Her name was Amy Martinez, a 21-year-old Latina with long brown hair, bright brown eyes, and a beautiful smile that accompanied her mirth. She was very pretty. Amy had just graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy’s Nursing Programme and had been working at the hospital for a few months now. She had had all her training prior to working on the job, so she was all set to go. Being so young and pretty, the old man was surprised to see that she was unmarried, but she told him she never had a real man in her life, one that really committed to her, so there was no point in trying to find one. The old man, of course, knew someone who was a good fit for her. Arthur, his grandson, was a 21-year-old college graduate who attended medical school at the University of Michigan. He had been single all of his life and was still looking for a woman. Knowing that Amy was a good match, the old man would have recommended her to his grandson for potential courtship and marriage. They would have been perfect together—both people of science, both empathetic, both compassionate, selfless, and kind; Arthur and Amy would have been perfect. The old man knew it would have been. However, he didn’t bother Amy about the subject because he figured she might not be interested. Besides, she had a lot on her hands already; he didn’t want to hinder her any more than he had to. But, it was still a good thought, so the old man might suggest it before his time came. But despite all that, Amy was an amazing nurse. She had been taking care of the old man ever since he arrived at the hospital. She fed him, gave him drink, gave him his medication, helped him use the restroom, and so on. On top of that, Amy was very amiable, gregarious, kind, compassionate, empathetic, intelligent, funny, and vivacious. She had a very good nature and a very good heart. Seeing her walk in, the old man looked at her and smiled.
Amy smiled back and greeted him. ‘Hello, Mr Owen,’ she said. ‘How are you doing this morning?’
‘I am as well as I can be,’ the old man said, smiling, ‘but I’m still hanging in there.’
‘That’s good, Mr Owen,’ Amy said. ‘I’m glad to hear you are okay.’
‘Please, Amy,’ the old man said, ‘call me Aodh.’
‘Aodh?’ Amy said. ‘Well, Aodh, if you insist.’
Aodh smiled. ‘Thank you, Amy. I appreciate it. I kind of like being called by my first name, you know? I barely have any company, anyway, and since you are my only company, it would be great if you called me by my Christian name.’
Amy smiled. ‘Well, you’re welcome, Aodh. I am glad I could help you out in some way. However, I believe you do have some unexpected company today. Do you want to see him?’
Aodh looked at Amy inquisitively. ‘Someone’s here to see me? Who is it? My son? My grandson? Who could it be?’
‘Well, sir, since you’re a famous writer and a war hero, there is someone here to interview you. He’s a biographer. Being that, he wants to write your biography. The thing is that he wants to get the details of your life before you pass away.’
‘A biographer? What does he want to do, Amy? Come in for an interview or something?’
‘Yes,’ Amy said. ‘That is exactly what he wants to do.’
‘Ah, I see,’ Aodh said. ‘So, what’s his name, Amy?’
‘His name is Jack Russell. He seems like a very respectable man.’
‘Like the dog?’
‘Yes, like the dog,’ Amy said, laughing to herself.
‘Now, why would someone name their child after a terrier?’ Aodh asked. ‘That would just be humiliating, you know? I never named my children after a dog, and I certainly gave them all proper names according to their gender, but this poor boy’s probably had a rough life. People have probably tried to play fetch with him ever since he was a boy. What a pity that must be.’
‘Yes,’ Amy said, smiling sympathetically. ‘It probably is a pity. The man is pretty sensitive, so don’t bring up his past, okay, Mr Owen? It would be great if you respect his sentiments.’
‘I will,’ Aodh said.
‘All right,’ Amy said. ‘Thank you, Mr Owen. You’re a great help. I’ll let him in, okay?’
‘Good,’ Aodh said, lying his head back on his pillow. His limbs were exhausted from sitting up, but in his heart, he was as happy as can be. He finally had company, and this man would record his life and make it known to all. It wasn’t immortality he sought, thought, but just having someone to talk to before he passed on. Aodh had been alone for a while now; his family hadn’t come to visit him, and his wife had recently passed away. He was very lonely. With the biographer coming in for the interview, Aodh could finally have a conversation with someone who cared.
It appeared, he realized, that as one got older, everyone you loved either passed away, became sick, or became negligent of him or her. Aodh, in his youth, had many people who cared about him, but in his old age, he lost the friends he grew up through many means. Some died in battle, some died of natural causes, and some became terminally ill. His children used to pay attention to him when he was in his middle ages, as he had been their father, but when they grew older, they became more and more distant from him. He and his wife, Victoria, both grew older and feebler, and they eventually could not maintain their independence. So, their children put them both in a nursing home where they could be taken care of and only visited at their best convenience. During those times in the nursing home, Aodh always had his wife and his friends for company. But, as time passed on, Aodh’s friends died of natural causes, and his wife became ill, contracting Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, Victoria began to lose her memory. She could recall who she was, but she couldn’t remember Aodh at all. Seeing her brain deteriorate, Aodh fell to despair, but he still struggled to maintain his time with his wife, showing her affection in every way he possibly could. But, she eventually died, and he and his children attended her funeral. It was saddening for Aodh, but after that, he was all alone.
Struggling for many years, Aodh had been trying to keep himself busy. He made new friends in the nursing home and spent time with him, but he missed Victoria horribly. He wanted to see her again, hold her hand, tell her he loved her, and be there for her as he had been, but she was gone, and Aodh felt lonely. He wished he could see his children and his grandchildren, but they rarely ever visited. And, he wished he could see his friends, but all of them were either deceased or ailing, so he didn’t want to bother them, but his wife’s death in 2010 was the largest tragedy on his soul, confirming his wish to perish. He had been waiting ever since.
In December 2014, Aodh contracted ALS, as aforementioned, where he continued to live his life for a while at the nursing home. When he lost his mobility in his legs, the nursing home could no longer take care of him. Thus, he was sent to Hospace in Holland, Michigan, where he would spend the remainder of his life. And he had been here ever since, his body slowly deteriorating as the disease took its course. Yet, Aodh still had a family. At age 115, Aodh had become a great-grandfather. He fathered eight children with Victoria, and the progressive generation grew older, as well, and had children of their own. He was amazed to see how much his family had grown. But still, no one came to see him. He was practically all alone. So, when he heard Jack Russell was coming in for a visit, Aodh was more than excited to have a visitor come in. It was the first time anyone came in for a very long time.
Ó, buachaill, Aodh thought, Ní féidir liom fanacht chun freastal ar an fear seo. Beidh mé ar deireadh duine éigin chun labhairt leis. Cad a dhéanann sé ábhar má tá sé ag scríobh mo beathaisnéis? Cad a dhéanann sé ábhar má tá sé ach amháin i anseo le haghaidh féin? Is é an rud, beidh mé ag labhairt le duine éigin, agus nach bhfuil mé go raibh duine ar bith a labhairt i am ar fad. Mar sin, beidh sé a bheith fiú é. With that, Aodh smiled. He knew it was going to be a good day.
As he was thinking this, the door opened in the far corner of the room, and Aodh looked up from his hospital bed. Amy was back. She looked at Aodh curiously and asked, ‘Mr Owen, are you still awake?’
‘Yes, Amy,’ Aodh said. ‘I am still awake. What is it?’
‘Jack is here, if you are ready for him.’
‘All right. I’m ready for him. Send him in.’
‘All right. Just one moment.’
‘Okay,’ Aodh said, smiling. ‘I can wait.’
He waited for a minute, and then the door slowly opened again. Aodh looked closely and saw a young man who appeared to be in his mid-thirties with neatly trimmed, straight dark hair and bright green eyes. He resembled Gerard Butler or Frank Sinatra in some ways; it was rather funny. He was rather tall, standing about six feet from the ground, and was in some pretty good shape. His fair skin seemed to reflect the light off itself, as if it were illuminant or something, and he seemed to be pretty calm. He had an aquiline nose and an ovular face, giving him a statuesque look to him. His mouth was relatively calm, and his attire was strictly business—a very formal suit inclusive of shirt, tie, suit jacket, and trousers—all of which looked great on him. Just above his pupils, though, Aodh could see contact lenses on the man’s face, giving off a glare that one usually didn’t see. Having been trained in the military, Aodh could distinguish all sorts of disguises; contacts were something he couldn’t miss. But the contacts didn’t contribute to the man’s character; rather, he seemed like a very calm and tranquil fellow. Aodh wondered if he could trust him, but he thought he probably could.
Jack looked at Aodh carefully and said, ‘Mr Owen? General Ai-oh-dah Owen?’
Aodh smiled. ‘It’s pronounced AY, but yes, that would be me. I presume you’re Mr Russell?’
‘Yes,’ Jack said. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. I’m honoured to meet a hero such as yourself.’
‘Oh, pish-posh,’ Aodh said. ‘I’m not that great. I’ve just been living my life as well as I can, not that I’m not honourable or anything. Though I’ve tried to be that.’
‘But sir, don’t be so modest,’ Jack said. ‘You are honourable. Don’t deny yourself that.’
‘Thanks for the compliment, Jack,’ Aodh said. ‘But I’m not that honourable. I’ve made mistakes, too. Everyone does.’
‘But even then, sir, the mistakes don’t matter,’ Jack said. ‘Your actions and sacrifices are what make you who you are, thus making you honourable.’
‘Well, if you say so.’
‘I do say so.’
‘All right, then,’ Aodh said. ‘If you think that is best.’
‘It is, sir,’ Jack said. ‘Anyway, you don’t mind me giving you an interview, do you?’
‘No, not at all,’ Aodh said. ‘I don’t mind giving an interview.’
‘All right,’ Jack said. He took out a notebook and a pen and laid it on his lap. He then put a tape recorder on the desk in front of him so that he could capture everything that Aodh said to him. ‘Are you ready to begin?’
‘Yes, sir,’ Aodh said. ‘I am ready when you are.’
‘All right, General,’ Jack said. ‘Tell me your story.’
‘Well, let’s see here,’ Aodh said. ‘I have a pretty vivid memory of my childhood, but I won’t bore you with the details. Nothing really happened then, but it all started in 1917, when I was seventeen years old…’ From there, Aodh began to tell his life story.
 Oh, boy. I cannot wait to meet this man. I will finally have someone to talk to. What does it matter if he's writing my biography? What does it matter if he's only in here for himself? The thing is, I will have someone to talk to, and I haven't had anyone to talk to in a long time. So, it'll be worth it.