On the other side of the drape, 96-year-old Joseph, lying on a vinyl-padded table, groans softly and says, “That’s the criminal” when the physical therapist touches a painful spot. His German-accented voice reminds me so much of my grandfather’s that tears leak out of my eyes as I lie on my back, waiting my turn, gently zapped by a TENS unit.
“I’ll do vot you say,” Joseph says to the therapist. “I vont to be a good boy.”
He slowly makes his way to another part of the room, where his wife waits quietly, for the rest of his therapy.
Eventually I’m in the part of the room where Joseph and his wife stand, preparing to leave.
“It’s good to heff a vife,” he says, as she guides him to an alcove to retrieve his stuff. Their backs are to me as she helps him into a tan twill suit jacket.
“Joseph, I’ll comb your hair,” she says quietly, reaching up to smooth the bright white silk.
They turn slowly to face each other, very close, smiling. She straightens his jacket, reaches for her cane. He clutches a matching cap between his spotted hands. And I try not to die.

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