The tock – shuffle – shuffle of the old man’s cane-assisted gait echoes off the walls of the empty rooms, as he roams about the house. He pauses briefly before each room, like someone leafing through a favorite book in search of a particular passage. Gone is the furniture, threadbare as it was, like the desiccated pages of an old edition. Gone are the knickknacks and picture frames that each held a fragment of the story – his story – their story. What remains are the jacket and the blank pages of a book – yet to be written.
“Poppa, it’s time to go. The moving van has left.”
“Give me a moment, Son,” the old man says, “there’s one more room I need to see.” And the old man hobbles towards what had been the dining room. He pauses within the room; his head bends slightly to the left as if to favor the hearing in his right ear, the one with the hearing aid. “Can you hear the laughter, Son? Sixty years of joy and sorrow are impregnated in these walls; a thousand savors have perfumed this room when your Momma lived; and a thousand tears were spent when she died. Now, all that’s gone – she’s gone – you’ve all gone your separate ways – and today is the final chapter of a wonderful story.”
“Come Poppa, it’s time to leave. You’ll like the place we found for you. We’ll visit you often and you’ll make friends there. Your story isn’t finished yet, you have many more chapters ahead of you.”
The old man smiles – a sad smile – and holds onto his son’s arm as they leave the house. “Don’t worry, Son, I’ll be okay.” He turns to look at the house for the last time. “I know you all mean well, but what you all fail to understand is that the story is finished. Where you’re taking me can only be an epilogue."