The man who looks like an aging, portly Dick Van Dyke
wheels his walker towards me
in the Aged Care Centre’s library.
Are you a new resident? he asks.
No, I laugh, just having a quiet read while my partner visits
Who are you?
I’m the Welcome Ambassador, he says,
brandishing his badge.
I welcome new residents.
I cheer them up. Show films in the hall.
‘Life of Brian’, ‘Carry on ‘ films, that sort of thing.
Get them to concentrate on the important things of life
when they’re down.
How do you do that? I ask.
I tell them a story about the time I almost died.
That sounds cheery, I say.
Would you like to hear it?
If I said no, would that stop you? I say.
He chuckles and gets on with it.
Well, I had a heart attack ten years ago.
They thumped my heart with a ,,, what do you call it?
Yes, that’s it. I was between life and death. It could have gone either way. Do you know what they asked me?
They asked me what the three most important things in my life were
and that I should think about them.”
What did you say? I ask.
Doritos, Tim Tams and cappuccinos.
[Had I heard right?]
What about your wife? I ask.
Yes, her too, of course.
But they were the first three things I thought of.
And are they still?
Yes. They keep me going.
What about your wife?
Yes. Her too.
So, he says, bending forward, eyes querying me.
So what are the three most important things
in your life?
Not Tim Tams, I say. Not Doritos. I like dark chocolate. Red wine.
My kids, I add. Them too.
That’s what you concentrate on whenever you feel like … you know.
Yes, I do,
I thank the Welcome Ambassador as he shuffles off back to his office.
He could do with losing some weight.