Who would have thought that a nursing home could be this much fun?, Melissa thought as she leaned back in her chair, convulsed with laughter. Across from her at the table, Vicky, a woman of eighty-six in a wheelchair whom Melissa had met less than an hour earlier, was laughing hard as well.
A conversation about life in the nursing home had turned increasingly humorous, and had suddenly culminated to the degree that the two of them now found themselves the center of attention in the home’s large dining room. Melissa couldn’t help but feel embarrassed when she noticed all the heads turned in their direction, even though the faces looked anything but displeased. It just wasn’t exactly what she had imagined her day would be like.
When Melissa had decided the day before that she would spend this Sunday as a volunteer at a nursing home, keeping the residents company, she had expected it to be a quiet and somewhat solemn experience. What actually had transpired during the almost four hours since she a little nervously had introduced herself to the nursing home manager had proved to be something a lot livelier, especially after having met Vicky who had been sitting at a table by herself.
As soon as she had sat herself at Vicky’s table they had immediately clicked, despite the fact that Vicky was old enough to be her mother.
“I hope I’m not interrupting,” a man’s deep voice suddenly said behind Melissa’s back, startling her a little. When she turned her head - half expecting to see the manager, come to reprimand her for the commotion she had caused – she looked up at a face that not only was very handsome, but also strangely familiar.
“There you are, Michael!”, Vicky exclaimed cheerfully, making Melissa instantly realize that the good-looking man was her son.
“Of course, I’m here,” Michael said as he bent down over Vicky and hugged her. “You know how I can’t be without my mom.”
Seeing the warmth in Michael’s brown eyes as he looked at his mother, Melissa was sure he really meant it, and she felt her heart become warm as well.
“He’s not even kidding,” Vicky laughed, turning to Melissa, as if she had read her mind.
“Well, maybe a little,” Michael quickly added, making Melissa feel a tingle in her spine when he winked at her as he extended his hand. “Hi, I’m Michael. And yes, that crone is my mother.”
Melissa got up from her chair and shook his hand, which felt almost as warm as his eyes. “Melissa,” she said in her usual bubbly tone, hoping that she didn’t reveal any signs of the infatuation that had started to pervade her whole being.
When Michael pulled out a chair Melissa couldn’t help checking if there were any rings on his fingers. To her great surprise – and relief - there were none to be seen. How come this hunk had not been taken?, she asked herself.
“You won’t believe it,” Vicky whispered as she leaned over the table at Melissa, “but all the girls give up on him because they can’t compete with me.” She laughed heartily. “They have even told me so.”
Melissa thought that she could easily have lived with that, and once again she marveled at how she and Vicky seemed to be on exactly the same wavelength. “I do believe you,” she chuckled. “You’re so vibrant that I can barely keep up with you myself, let alone compete!”
“That’s exactly the problem,” Michael said, facing his mother with a feigned look of disapproval. “What are we to do with you?”
“I guess I’ll need to start winding down a little.” Vicky put her hand on top of Melissa’s. “This has been such a lovely talk, but I need to go to my room to get myself ready.”
When Vicky pushed her wheelchair away from the table, Melissa understood that Michael had come to take his mother somewhere else to spend the day. Her heart sank, having hoped that the three of them would have dinner together at the nursing home.
Vicky patted Michael on his arm just as she left.
“How long have you worked here?” Michael asked, suddenly looking a little shy. “I come here almost every day, but I haven’t seen you before.”
“Oh, I’m only volunteering for one day. I actually had nothing better to do, so….”
Michael smiled. “You certainly seem to be good at it. How about joining me and my mother for some dinner tonight as a reward?”
As she watched Michael push his mother down the corridor a few minutes later, Melissa had a strong feeling that she had made more than just new friends.