Jeanette tugged on the old man’s shoulders then stuffed an oversized pillow behind his back.
“Let’s sit you up, Mr. Archie. You hungry tonight?”
“Not really,” he answered, staring off to the side.
“They told me that you’ve been blue all day long,” Jeanette remarked using the amplified voice she used to talk to the residents of Sunrise Senior Living. “What’s wrong?”
“I miss my Rose,” his voice cracked. “Today’s our anniversary.”
Jeanette reached down and patted the top of the man's wrinkled hand.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Look. It’s 6:30—time for that radio show you like so much.”
She reached over and turned a knob. The notes of trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, and trombones streamed into the room. She snapped her fingers with the music trying to raise a smile from Archie’s face, but he drifted away to another time. She pulled a chair to the side of the bed.
“It’s your favorite—real mashed potatoes with brown gravy,” she said, stirring the contents with quick, circular motions. She scooped a spoonful of potatoes and waited patiently.
“That’s Glenn Miller’s ’In the Mood,’” he said. “We loved the Big Bands. I’ve never felt more alive than when Rose and I danced—fast Swing-style dancing. I twirled her around like a top. I didn’t want those nights to ever end.”
He accepted the spoon and closed his eyes for a moment. Jeanette held a straw to his lips offering him a sip of tea.
“I was instantly drawn to her smile. I think she loved the way I looked in my uniform. She called me her Prince Charming.”
He swallowed again as the music shifted from fast to slow and sultry. After a few measures, Archie grinned.
“That’s 'Harlem Nocturne.' We danced to that one, too. I held her so close I could smell her hair—cherries and almonds.”
He drew another sip.
“She wrote me love letters every week. We got married two months after I got home from the war in 1945—seventy years ago today.”
“Distance makes the heart grow fonder,” he said. “She’s been gone for five years. I love her more now than ever.”
Archie’s spirit rose again as “Chattanooga Choo Choo” poured from the radio, but then the music switched to the sudden blur of white noise. Then silence.
“Archie,” the voice on the radio said. “Archie Davis.”
“That’s me,” Archie answered. “But I didn’t make a song request.”
Like a fog rolling in, a white, blinding light flooded the room. He heard faint band music echoing from down the hall and felt a pull at his arm. And then he smelled something so distantly familiar—cherries and almonds. A smile erupted on his weathered face, and Archie Davis danced away.