You Promised!


Ernestine trembled. Her husband and son held her hands, but still she trembled.

“This isn’t  our home, Oscar.  Where are we going?  Richard, why are we going there?”

“Momma, it’s okay,” said Richard. Oscar, too, trembled as he walked Ernie forward. They were out of options, but his heart was breaking.

“Oscar, let’s go home. Please. Please take me home.”

“We’re going to your new home, Ernie, dear.  You’ll like it. People will take care of you. It’s beautiful!”

Tears tracked her wrinkled cheeks. “You said forever, Oscar.  You promised!”

Sobbing, she repeated, “You promised!”


59 thoughts on “You Promised!

  1. You describe the pain felt by all beautifully. Sadly, this is also a choice that has a long and dark history for children and adults with disabilities, and it is still sometimes faced by parents or siblings of people with severe developmental or physical disabilities because of the difficulty of controlling extreme behavior or health needs. Thankfully community settings and family settings with supports are more favored over institutions these days. Still the scarcity of funding is an ever present problem.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautifully written, Linda and you’ve captured the heartbreak with great sensitivity. It’s particularly hard where you have a couple being split apart as in your story where one is well and the other might not even know who they are anymore. I know when my grandparents entered care, we all felt like we were taing a lamb to the slaughter house, but there was no choice. Family had tried stepping in but it wasn’t enough.
    I particularly love your last line. It’s like she is fading in and out and might not remember everything but she remembers that. So poignant!
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve written that extremely well, Linda.
    The repetition of the phrase “You promised” is savagely powerful. It slammed me up against the dilemma faced by Oscar and Richard – what, really, are Ernestine’s best interests? Are they to protect her as far as possible by placing her into care, or to care for her themselves as far as possible, acknowledging that sooner or later her condition will have deteriorated to the point that most people would find unacceptable? Both courses are fraught with pain.
    I honour everyone who attempts to deal with such a situation lovingly; it must be almost impossibly difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did a year of practicum in a nursing home while I was working on my master’s degree. I saw this situation up close and personal way too often. Everything about it is painful.


  4. Sarah Ann

    So sad and heartfelt. It is easy to make promises, far more difficult to live by them when people become so ill and in need of constant care. Oscar must feel wretched and helpless.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, you just broke my heart. This reminds me of moving my father to a home after my mom died. So many questions. He didn’t have dementia, he just waited too long to accept what my sisters and I offered. Great story.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s