We had another one of those false alarms on Wednesday evening in the lounge. It was full of residents, all busy with their coffee, cake gossip and conversation. Arguments were raging up and down, a few great-grandchildren were running around and getting in everyone’s way – normal evening Retirement Home bedlam. I looked around to watch the action for a moment and there was Harry, fast asleep in an armchair. I envied him being able to drop off in the midst of all the noise. He even had a small smile on his face as though he was far away in some serene place, undisturbed and uninvolved.

I see Harry often. Our apartments are on the same floor so we often bump waiting for the elevator and we chat about important stuff like the weather and the food and make other small talk. A big man, he seems quite fit although he uses a cane to get around. He seems to be one of those quiet men… never speaks unless spoken to. Always has a smile on his face.

I glanced at him again and saw that he hadn’t moved. Of course, after that I kept turning to look at him. After all, how long can a man sit without moving, even if he’s napping? Finally the penny dropped. Harry had left for some other place. No noise, no hysterics. Like a magic show, he had just “gone”.

I got up, crossed the floor and stood looking down at him. Mike joined me and we stood uncertainly for a moment, looking for a sign of life.

“He’s gone, huh?”

“Think so? How can you tell?”

“Dunno. Look at him, he’s not there.”

“Should I go for help?”

“Yeah, may as well…”

Harry came to life at that moment. He blinked, fixed the smile on his face and said, “Hi guys! Have we had coffee yet?”