1943 “Ne me quitte pas.” Don’t leave me. A young woman caught the hand of the man as he stepped out the door. “Je t’en prie.” I beg you. She was near tears. She was gaunt from lack of food and weak, if the man had wanted, he could simply have pulled away and left, but he did not. “Tu ne comprends pas,” he answered. You don’t understand. He struggled for words, looking for something to comfort her with. When he found nothing, the tears that had been collecting in her eyes spilled over and left damp tracks down her cheeks. The man smiled softly; it was sadder than the woman’s pathetic state. “Ne pleure pas.” Don’t cry. “Je crains,” she said, “je crains que tu vas mourir.” I’m afraid that you’re going to die. The man sighed slightly and reached forward to brush away the woman’s tears. “Idiote,” he said, “tu sais mieux que personne cela n’arrivera jamais.” You know better than anyone that will never happen. He turned her hand over in his, so that he was holding her hand now instead of the reverse. He rubbed his thumb over the little gold ring that adorned her left ring finger. It was an old ring, having belonged to her grandmother. There was no money for jewelry now. Slowly, the man raised her hand to his lips and placed a tender kiss on it. He then released her hand. “Non,” she breathed, realizing what was happening but too stunned to react. By the time she reached for him, he was beyond her reach. She tried to follow him but her mother restrained her. All she could do was cry, “Joseph!” after him and give herself over to her sobs. 2013 Laureline Vincent was nearly eighty-eight years old and most days she felt it. Today, she felt it more than other days. The move to the home had been a stressful one. She’d always been remarkably healthy and the decline of it was upsetting…to more than just her. She watched helplessly from her chair, with growing frustration, as Adrien, her grandson, took her things from boxes and asked, “Where do you want this, Mamie?” and “Where should I put this?” though he already knew. Adrien could see that Laureline was upset and, after most things had been placed, he picked up an old picture then placed it back in the box with the decision not to do any more at that moment. Laureline’s interest was piqued when she saw him put down the photo and she demanded, “What eez zhat?” her indefatigable French accent undiminished even after half a century in America. “Nothing, Mamie,” Adrien replied, “just an old photo.” “Ah want to see eet,” Laureline said, holding out her shaking hand. The corners of Adrien’s mouth pulled up in an almost grin and he pulled the photo back out of the box. “It’s just Grandfather Joseph,” he said as he handed it to her, not letting go until he was certain she had a firm grasp on it. “ ’e was such a feene man,” Laureline said, gently touching the glass over the faded old photo. Adrien’s smile cracked into a grin. “Ne me flatte pas trop,” he said, nearly laughing. Don’t flatter me too much. Laureline made a sound of mock disgust in the back of her throat and smiled, too. She tried to put it on the table next to her, but her shaking hand knocked it over. It fell, but Adrien caught it and set it right. “Merci, Joseph,” Laureline murmured, too low for any passing nurse to hear but plenty loud enough for the young man before her. Any stranger who saw Adrien and the photo together would assume Adrien got his looks from his grandfather. They shared the same round face, cut by a strong, square jaw, the same deep, piercing eyes, and the same thick curls. The fading of the old, black and white photograph left it impossible to tell the grandfather’s coloring. Joseph also wore his hair short and neat in the style of the French in the late 1940s while Adrien wore his longer, almost shaggy. Where strangers saw similar but distinct men, Laureline saw the same man as he had changed over the decades without aging. “I should go soon,” Adrien said. He picked up his umbrella, which he carried even in the best of weather, from beside Laureline’s chair. As he rose, he leaned over Laureline and gave her a tender kiss on the forehead. “I’ll be back tomorrow. If you think you need anything else from the house, just call me and I’ll bring it.” He moved over to the door, then turned back to say, “À demain?” He waited for her to answer, praying that she would ask him to say but knowing she would not when she closed her eyes. “À demain.” Until tomorrow.