The Mandate

The old man and his wife awoke one crisp spring like day in mid March, both soon realized they had forgotten an important event, neither could remember for what or where it was, were they to be there, well neither knew. Both had assumed the other would remember and make a note.

Sitting down now to their meager breakfast of slightly browned wheat toast and for him as it seemed of late his favorite a cup of day old  coffee; warmed over a an old hot plate, herself a small glass of thinned out chocolate milk a mix of both whole milk and the sweetened chocolate, now together they sat in their small sparsely furnished home.  She began by asking yet he to asked at just the same time; so each knew what the other was thinking, yet neither knew what it was they had forgotten.

Could it be a visit by the  son or daughter; she says! knowing it has been so long now since either were home, Oh ,the woman her face radiant, looking to the old man as she did back in her youth ,with the shine of that long ago time once again upon her as she remembered back to the last visit of her children ,it had been many years ,but how long?. Eyes closed she counted, one, no two,no three oh, no it couldn’t be that long, honey its been five years.  Oh, no that had to be wrong, yet It had been, five years since the last visit even longer since even a picture arrived in the mail,longer still since a simple phone call, both was busy, they had their lives to live, their own children to raise.

The old man sensing some how her thoughts; looks upon his wife of forty years and tells her with a bit of a shiver in his voice, the mere hint of a crack as he spoke, Honey you know how it is with the mail, wanting to blame his children’s ways on someone else, sometimes it comes other times it does not, The latter being far truer these past thirty years now. As to the kids they live so far away…


Breakfast now finished both went about their morning chores, medication to take, breathing treatments and injections, it was then that the old woman noticed the refills had not arrived, she knew she had placed the order. Now what could be so wrong that they did not come?  How could they have forgotten..

Honey, did the pharmacy bring our medications yesterday or the day before?

From the other room she hears his reply as loud as if he were standing beside her, a resounding, NO, always the old man answers her like this his voice echoing through out the house…

Why? Didn’t you call them in? No, more a statement of fact than saying the sky was green for he knew how she always kept these things up to date.

Well, yes I did, I know I did. The old woman says looking at her list of things to do, meticulously checking each she has marked off.

It’s there she find that yes she did make the call. She goes to her phone ; places the call, waiting for what seems forever then hears an old familiar voice stating the pharmacy name followed by their own finally asking what may I do to help you today; well hello this is…., I placed an order on Monday past and it still has not arrived, could you tell why?

They have a short exchange of idol pleasantries, as the woman on the other end punches a few keys on her key board the sound reminding the old woman of a train rolling down the tracks  click clack click clack , suddenly the phone goes stone cold silent not a sound from the the other end; the old woman  wonders  has the line been cut, is it a robbery , it seems  an eternity passes as she listens to a dead line not even canned music can be heard, wondering to herself should I hang-up and try again?  As this thought begins to form, she hears a deep baritone voice, a voice loud seeming too envelop her, a deep, reverberating echoing making the phone vibrate as if it were a live ; this unknown entity now is asking , no it is demanding,  May I help you, please!!! Are you there?

Well yes, she says, well yes you can help me she answers back, her voice quivering now with fear not knowing what is happening, like the deer caught in the headlights are frozen , mow so is the old woman, dreading what it all may mean not knowing what it is..  Sir,she answers her voice growing stronger however the quivering the fear are apparent,  I was just calling to ask about our order and why it had not yet arrived.

Now listen lady and listen well this is the last time! So listen carefully! I will not repeat this to you any more, I have more important things to do, than to explain the law to those who can not pay attention;now then as you were informed in the letters we sent you, as of March one you and your spouse will have reached the designated age set forth under the new heath care mandate, at that time you are no longer eligible for Medical aid of any kind. However if you have cash you may attempt to purchase  some items, but you must also have the required permits to do so. That information was sent to you also, so please stop wasting our time and yours.

The old woman her face now ashen  remembers now what the event was,yes they were there and they were required to be there. Slowly with a quivering small voice she responds to the baritone voice on the other end; Sir, I thank you for your time and please accept my apology. Shaking ever so slightly, she set the phone down and goes into find her husband.

As she enters the room the old man senses, then sees the melancholy overwhelming his once cheerful wife. Honey what is it, why so sad? Now sweet heart nothing could be that devastating he thought to himself.

Sweet heart, she says looking down at him. I know what we forgot. Looking up the old man asks well what is it. Honey we’ve been cut off, we’ve reached the mandated age, so we are no longer eligible for health care, except for the end of life mandate. Or if we can get permits perhaps then we’d be allowed to buy some of our things.

Oh my sweet dear wife, why worry? Sweet heart the old man says we have time so much time,sadly they so do love that red tape, they hide behind their regulations,that is until they come for them, you know I will not beg, takes far too much effort, I fought this, we fought over this so long ago; remember when  I was called ignorant and stupid, now it has come to pass. I think we should let the learned take up the fight if there are any of them left. As for you and I my dear sweet wife, Lets just take a walk, perhaps sit and watch the sun set , honey we should enjoy as many  as we can.



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