The gnarled arthritic-knuckled fingers clung to the arms of the antique glider. The old woman moved back and forth in her favourite chair in the small sitting room, in front of the fire. She loved this chair because it was comfortable and familiar, just one more item in this room full of her lifetime of collected memories. the dust layer building up on the surfaces of this room and the mildew of a stuffy winter house, all closed up tight against the whistling and howling of the wintry wind pervaded her nostrils.
The look in the woman’s crinkled grey eyes was one of unique loneliness and a private world of history only she could think back on. She would glide forward and backward in rhythm to her thoughts. She spent day after day now in this spot, in this chair, surrounded by old photographs of faded faces from her past. They all told a story, but mostly it was her who knew what these stories were. The people who stopped by this little house to visit with her knew nothing of these things. The ghosts of these faces, long gone now, were all over the walls and in the air with this elderly woman’s fading recollections.
As the years pile up on one another and the brain fills with the remnants of all these memories, things clatter over one another in the fight not to be forgotten. It’s odd how some parts of one’s past can remain forever in such sharp clarity, while others can become buried by the weight of all the others. This is what her grandchildren had to look forward to themselves one day, but she didn’t wish to spoil their youthful exuberance. She wanted to tell them not to end up full of regrets come the end of their lives, but she couldn’t quite figure out how to get this advice across to them. She had been living in this country for decades now and still felt held back, through speech, by a language barrier she had never figured out how to completely cross. The regret she now had to live with and would die still holding onto was inevitable. She had no way of letting it all go at this late hour. Oh how she wished she could.
The clock on the wall suddenly chimed and brought her harshly out of her musings. Her mind had nothing to do but drift back to the regret of the past, now that she was unable to travel outside independently during the long frigid winter months. She had broken enough bones on icy sidewalks in the past ten years and was now frightened to even risk it. Her oddly bent wrists were a physical reminder of this. Better she remain in this cozy room with the things that reminded her of what once was, of the strong young woman who was still alive in this old body somewhere.
She watched the gentle snowfall out her window and shivered slightly, although the warmth from the gas fireplace was filling the room around her. She drew the zigzag afghan around her legs and sipped her tea. Oh what could have been. She thought back to winters just like this, just as cold as this one, but of which she had battled through as a young woman, so many years ago: war, starting a whole new life in an unknown land, and growing old. Regret was worse than all of these put together…