A short story about a married couple who didn't get along together very well because the husband a total workaholic. One day tragedy strikes and his wife must attempt to help her husband...
By: Charles Watson
I can remember it all too well, just as if it happened yesterday. The actual event occurred about forty years ago. My husband, Jerry was a great man. He had all the qualities about him that made him popular with most people. He was kind and helpful to others, often donating to charity and fund raisers to aid the poor and homeless. He was a very smart and sociable man with a strong sense of humor which was probably the most likable aspect of his personality. Despite his good looks and bold character, he had one major downfall; he was a total workaholic. He used to work for a large architectural company and planned out building designs and drew schematics for building structures. He was one of the top employees and had hopes to be a partner CEO of the company. Every single day he would be the first one to arrive in his office and the last one to leave the building.
We lived in the suburbs of the city and it was a long drive back and forth to work every day and he usually arrived late for supper. In addition, he went to bed well past midnight after finishing work on his various projects. He made certain that he never missed a single group meeting whatsoever. I often wished that we had some friendly guests visiting our humble home but the only people who seemed to come were Jerry's clients or boss who would often remind him to keep up the good work. Our own relationship had not been very strong since he had been working with the company. On summer vacations, even on Christmas we didn't travel or do anything special. All he did was gave me expensive gifts under the Christmas tree. What he didn't seem to know was that all the gifts in the world wouldn't mean a thing to me. All I wanted to do was to go out for dinner with the one man I loved and that alone, would mean the world to me.
I was beginning to worry about his well-being. We had huge arguments at home. I often told him to stop working so hard for a day and take a break. He would often come back to me and say that his hard work was for the sake of us having a successful future. One night, I couldn't take it anymore. I decided that it had to stop.
I came into his personal working room down in our basement and told him straight in the face that I will break-up with him. He went down on his knees, his eyes watering, and begged me not to leave especially since the next day was his special appointment for his promotion as chief-executive. I said “Enough”, raging with frustration and left to pack up. I was sitting on my bed when I noticed my wedding ring on my hand. I went down to return it to him, but to my surprise, he was lying unconscious on the ground. I felt his forehead. It was red hot. He was still breathing. I may have gone too far this time. I stopped what I was doing and tried to drag him on to the soft couch that was resting next to the working table and placed a cool, moist towel on his forehead. I went into my bedroom and fell into tears as I slumped on the mattress.
It was early next morning as I was cooking breakfast when Jerry came wandering into the kitchen. Something seemed strange about him. His face had both a confused and startled expression.
“Breakfast is almost ready.” I said with a loud sigh.
“Who are you?” my husband said.
I let out a quick giggle, “Very funny” I said. His face remained serious. "Jerry, are you saying you don't know who you are?!" I yelled. He tilted his head and smiled so innocently,
"I don't know, who am I?"
"Oh, this is not happening", I thought to myself. I told him to have breakfast and I contacted a psychiatrist for an immediate appointment within the hour. He sat in the car while I was driving. He had a very calm expression on his face as if he was in a dream, ignorant of the world around him. He began to stare out of the window looking at the trees that covered the side of the road. The lush and green environment seemed to amaze him and the clear blue sky made the morning very whimsical. The city was busy as usual. There was a fair amount of traffic and the people scrambled along the city streets hurrying to their destinations minding their own business. Some were sitting in mini-bars enjoying their morning coffee and reading the latest headlines. I headed to the hospital and parked my car in an empty spot in the parking area. I helped him out of the car and went to wait patiently at the doctor's office. The hospital was bustling with people as usual; everything seemed like a normal day. There were many ill people waiting in front of the office for a check-up. A nurse dressed in a white uniform next to the doctor's office was checking a patient's weight and blood pressure. I noticed a woman with a bulging belly eager to be a future mother. I always thought about having my own child. I wanted to expand my family, perhaps have a baby boy who would receive a proper education and grow up to be a bright young man, well-liked by most people around him, much like his father.
Suddenly a shocking thought struck me like a quick flash of lightning; today was Jerry's promotion to CEO as he had told me before he passed out! This was most unfortunate, in his condition he wouldn't be able to work at all. The thing I feared the most was that all his life's work would be lost. I would have to make a quick trip to the company and tell his boss immediately after seeing the doctor. My thoughts were interrupted by the call of the nurse asking for my husband's name to see the doctor.
The doctor was a man in his early fifties and had a surprisingly strong resemblance to Joseph Stalin. His dense black hair was neatly combed and waxed and he had a large bushy mustache covering his mouth. However, the most remarkable feature of the doctor was probably his powerful, bold eyes under his large glasses. It seemed as if he could read a patient's mind as he stared at them. Despite his strong appearance, he did however have a gentle manner. He asked me about the symptoms of my husband and I told him the whole story.
“It looks like he has a case of severe stress from his work but I will have to interview him in person to find out more. It may take a hour.” the doctor stated. The nurse directed me outside of the office and into the waiting room.
My mind by then was cluttered with wild thoughts about the possible outcomes of the situation. I decided to go the canteen to get a fresh, hot cup of coffee to clear my head. Soon after, I hurried back to the waiting room next to the doctor’s office. A few minutes passed and the nurse called me in. The doctor stared for a long time into my husband’s eyes. “Well, I’ve tried everything to get a better understanding of your husband’s condition” said the doctor. “It appears to be a very strange and serious case. He can’t remember almost anything; however I suspect that the reason why he can still talk and write English is because his mind has gone through a “memory lapse” into his past. He does seem to have some knowledge of the names of his parents and past friends but that is about it. I’m truly sorry for this; it looks like I can't be of much more assistance. The mind is a very sophisticated and yet most unpredictable part of the human body. However like other injured parts of body, the injured mind needs time to rest and recover. The best course action for you right now is to take your husband to the things he was most familiar with before the incident happened, whether an object or even a place he liked to visit. This should help stimulate his mind, and hopefully recover his memory. But how long will this process take? Only time will tell. Meanwhile I will subscribe some vitamins, and will advise him to eat foods abundant in proteins. Once again I apologize for not being able to help you further”.
I was in shock when we left the hospital but I knew that I had to go to the president of Jerry's company and tell him about the incident. This was when everything got worse. The president was dismayed to find my husband in his current state. He said that it was a major loss for both the company and for Jeff himself. I tried to explain the doctor’s diagnosis to the president and fortunately he gave my husband one year paid medical leave.
All these efforts were to no avail. I took him to numerous places, that we had visited in the past including our favorite restaurants with French cuisines, the sites of the Roman coliseums that my husband used to enjoy; we spent hours watching re-runs of favorite television shows that we used to watch together. I even took him to our first honey-moon spot on the soft sandy beaches where the moon shine sparkles in the water at night and the soft gentle wind blows against the palm trees. We would sit close to the sea with our sandy feet washed by the waves. My husband just gazed upwards and was bedazzled by the star-lit sky. Yet through all this, a decade came and went but I couldn’t see any change in him. He was still the same man. It was all getting hopeless and as time passed the pain cut deeper into my wounds. My husband eventually got fired and I spent the rest of my days as a clothes saleswoman.
So here we are, 40 years later in a home for old people, sitting next to my husband’s bed, wrinkled, white, and worn out. I stare at my husband’s calm, pale face in bed and he reaches out to touch my hand. Gently he utters the words, “Miss, why are you so kind to me all the time? If I could grow up, I’d marry you…”