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Vanishing Smiles

Vanishing Smiles
Iona Mandal

“Hey Dad, did you vacuum the house today?”

My father let out a resonant sigh then sat back in his chair wearing a vacant expression. It wasn’t that much of a big deal after all.

I smiled, then spoke.”The way you’re forgetting things, people would think you have Alzheimer’s!”

Within a split second, both of our smiles were wiped off faces.

Seeing his nervous expression, I retorted: “Come on Dad, it was only a joke. It’s not like you actually have Alzheimer’s.”

“I know”, he replied. “I just don’t know what to say.”

The sixth symptom of Alzheimer’s among the top ten. No. I was being unnecessarily worried and tense.


But it surely wouldn’t do any harm to take a quick test done. No, it wouldn’t. I’d tell him later, at dinner perhaps.

I stifled a loud yawn. “Dad, could you get the lasagne I made from the oven? I’m so tired after work today.”

He nodded, then began to walk. Towards the bathroom.

Realising this mistake, he turned back towards the kitchen again, opened the oven and walked back towards the couch. But forgot to take the lasagne out.

I finally gave up. I got up myself, took the lasagne out and gently placed it on the gingham table cloth. I began to hand out cutlery and poured a single glass of lemonade for each of us.

Cutting the lasagne and scooping it out, I began, “Dad, you know the local hospital…”

“Hmm, the one on Grange Road, you’re saying.”

“No Dad, that’s miles away, the one next to our house is what I mean.”

He took a long pause then replied, “Ohhh, the one by Palmers Avenue.”

I gave up and started again.”Dad, the hospital on Military Street is very good, you know that, don’t you?”

His facial expression told me everything. He knew exactly where I was heading with this. “So are you planning to book a brain surgery for me, or what?” he said.

I took a breath to speak, but he carried on: “Just because I forget a few things, doesn’t mean I have ruddy Alzheimer’s.

I was getting angrier now, especially after a long day in the OT. But I needed to keep my cool with him. “Did I ever say you had Alzheimer’s?! I just think you should get a test done, just to be safe. There’s no harm, is there?”

He was silent. I needed to raise my voice now. “There’s no harm, is there?”

“No. There isn’t. I’ll get a test done tomorrow.”

“Dad, are you su-“

“Jenny, I’m getting a test done and that’s that. I’m your father, respect my requests.”

“Yes Dad. I have a day off tomorrow. I’ll take you in the old blue Ford.”

We ate dinner in silence then went to bed without a syllable.


“Dad, wake up! Wake up!” He opened his groggy eyes gradually and drowsily muttered, “But it’s Saturday today, we always have a lie-in on Saturdays.”

“Dad, it’s Friday, my day off. Remember, you have your test today?”

“Which test, my 11+?”

“No Dad, your Alzheimer’s test, it’s in half an hour.”

“Half an hour?! We have to have lunch quickly!”

“We’re having breakfast and…” I didn’t bother to carry on. I was really worried now. I sincerely hoped he didn’t have Alzheimer’s.

I can’t tell you his test results, though. All I can tell you is when he heard the results, the smile on his wrinkled face vanished.

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