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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Estrada

Her Last Memory

Updated: Mar 22


Photo Courtesy of IMDb


Listen to the blog post here!


Wilma laid on her hospital bed that afternoon with shuttering breaths and the metronomes of heart monitors that enveloped the room she shared with other patients. The sun gleamed past the curtains of her window and began blazing the left side of her wrinkled face. She wouldn’t complain though, she didn’t really have an option to do so.


This hospital is the last home she would have in this world.


She released a shrill cough as she closed her eyes and winced. She felt the feeding tubes attached to her stomach bounce as she struggled to allow air to enter into her lungs.


The coughs were typical, but they would usually either end quickly on a day where she felt strong and her coughs were less frequent, or end after nurses in the infirmary intervened out of impulse on a bad day.


She’s had too many bad days.


Being a resident in the hospital for the last two years had led to many emergency procedures, injections, passing days in short term comas, and fading memories as a patient diagnosed with both gastrointestinal cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.


Wilma has withstood it all, but she would never be aware of it. She would typically watch the clouds move past her window and watch the hues of the sky change with each sunset that beamed on the walls behind her bed.


Here and there she would glance at the steady beats of her heart monitor or look at the soft expressions of nurses and a young boy who would visit her. The young boy would introduce himself as her grandson at every visit, but her life had become the seedheads of a dandelion flower being blown away by the wind.


Living faces and awareness of one’s surroundings had become bleaker with each month, leaving Wilma with full discomfort and an empty mind. Every thought that appeared would fade with the rising agonies in her abdomen and blood that would escape her mouth with the paroxysmal coughs that ensued.


Her condition was worsening, and death was becoming inevitable.


“Grandma?” A high-pitched voice asked softly.


Wilma opened her eyes to see a boy with light skin, short brown hair and green eyes looking at her. He wore a green and white striped shirt with khaki shorts and had an iPod along with a pair of headphones in his hands. His eyes were wide, and he swayed sideways every few seconds.


Wilma looked at him blankly as she didn’t recognize him.


“It’s me, Austin,” Austin said. “I’m your grandson.”


Wilma stared at Austin as he bit his lip and took deep breaths. He would swallow and stare hopefully, but he would eventually look at the ground and sigh as he concluded that Wilma had forgotten about him after the last visit. He briefly glanced over at the iPod he had in his hand and cleared his throat.


“I have something for you,” Austin said with his voice cracking in between. “I want you to listen to something.”


Austin slowly walked closer to Wilma until he stood by her side. Wilma’s eyes peered up at him as his body covered the sunlight from her curtains.


“Hold still, okay?” Austin asked.


Wilma remained in place while Austin gingerly placed headphones on her ears. He cupped the tiny device on his hands and began pressing on the scrolling buttons.

“I just want you to listen, okay grandma?” Austin voice murmured.


Wilma opened her mouth to try to produce words, but nothing escaped her. She felt her throat begin to fill with phlegm and her lungs tightening. Her breaths became heavy, and she began to anticipate for another attack that would result in the nurses running in the room.


But she stopped.


The sounds of a synthesizer keyboard, strumming guitars, and the patters of drums entered her ear canals as male voices began ensuing. She felt her mind become heavy and her heart becoming full as she recognized the song “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits.


She suddenly began to see the mountainsides of an empty highway with the sun descending behind it. She felt the breeze of the wind brush her long curly hair and felt the vibrations of the moving vehicle on the palms of her hand through the steering wheel. The song was playing on the radio of her 1984 Renault Espace.


She glanced over to the passenger seat and saw a young boy who looked just like Austin dancing to the song and laughing. Her smile grew as she would sing with him the instrumental parts of the song. His wide smiles always came from the adventures of their annual summer road trips to the camping grounds of Pennsylvania.


“This is the best song ever, mom!” the boy said. “I can sing it forever!”


Wilma laughed as she see him moving in the corner of her eye while staring ahead at the road.


“Me too, Dallas,” Wilma said.


“I love this song,” Dallas continued. “Do you know why?”


“Why?”


“Because I get to sing it with you,” Dallas said. “I love you, mom.”


Wilma took a deep breath and bit her lip as her eyes began to water. She placed her hand on top of Dallas’ and squeezed it.


“I love you too, my son.”


“I’m glad,” Dallas said as he raised her hand. “Let’s keep dancing!”


Wilma laughed as he continued to move alongside her and bounce to the song.


“Grandma, you’re dancing!”


Wilma blinked and saw that she was in the hospital again. Austin was watching her in awe. Wilma didn’t even realize her expression or that she had been moving on her bed.


“Did you like the song, grandma?” Austin asked. “Mom says you would always sing that song with dad before he died.”


Wilma started at the ceiling with her mouth open and her eyes wide. She started laughing as she reminisced her son’s expressions. Austin laughed with her.


She had been in her forties when Dallas was 11. The song had just released in the year of 1985, and they loved Dire Straits. She had Dallas listen to the songs growing up when they released their first single, and it became a tradition to listen to music together even after the divorce she had with her husband.


That was their song, and they continued listening to it together until he died in a car accident when Austin was five.


Wilma opened her mouth to attempt to speak again, but it resulted with a heavy cough and a tight hand on her chest.


“Grandma!” Austin quickly attempted to adjust the hospital bed so she would sit up.


The coughing got worse, and she felt lightheaded as her breaths began to shorten. Austin began panting rapidly as he was unsure of what to do. He looked at the heart rate monitor and his mouth dropped seeing the pulses.


“Grandma, I can get the nurse!” Austin stammered. “Please, hold on.”


He stopped when Wilma released her hand from her chest and placed it on top of Austin. She turned to him slowly as her coughs slowly stopped.


“Thank you,” her voice was a whisper. “Thank you.”


“Grandma-“


Wilma held his hand tightly and her lips curved into a smile. She could still hear Dallas’ voice and the melodies of the song being played to the views of the mountainside sunset.


It was a memory, and it ended up being the last memory she ever had as she closed her eyes for the last time.

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