Weekly Column

Happy 40th Cupcake!

by William Gibson White



            As a child, I was told by some misguided soul that "men don't cry."Thiswas further reinforced by the Marine Corps. It was Cupcake who taught me to cry, and express other emotions. This June has been a pleasant time. Both our birthdays and our 40th wedding anniversary are in this month. Plus, a year ago she had a heart valve replaced. Recovery has been slow, but she seems to be getting back to normal.

            Well, we were both mature when we met, but sparks flew often. After one argument when she threw her shoes at me, and we both laughed, she said, "are we getting married or not?" Somehow, I uttered the most important three little words of my life, "I guess so."

  In my 79 years, I experienced war, death of a spouse, divorce and not being close to my two sons as they were growing up and, later, the death of stepson Chris. None of this made me cry. I just gritted my teeth and kept it inside.

But one morning in 2009, that changed. Cupcake came into our computer room and asked, "What's today?"

 "Friday," I said.

"I can't remember anything," she said and asked again what day it was. I didn't think much about it and told her again.

"I've had terrible dreams. What day is it?"

I've often written about my wife—Barbara, aka "Cupcake"—in newspapers. The fun I've poked at her is based on love and the misunderstanding of the female-male relationship.

Most males will agree a wife is a strange creature no matter how long you know her. Females probably have the same impression about males—yet I wonder why—since we all are so perfect.

 "Yeah, but you don't have a clue!" Cupcake says.

 Cupcake is the sharpest, brightest and most intelligent person I know. I still marvel at what she sees in me. No matter what we do, her way is different from mine. Occasionally, hers is the better way.

"Always better!" she'd say.

But that Friday morning my beautiful wife was crying, with tears streaming down her face. "What has happened to me? I can't remember a thing!"

I began asking what we had done the day before. She did not know. I showed her a newsletter we were working on for the Mid-America Science Museum's Volunteers. She had no memory of it.

"What has happened to me?"

 Trying to jog her memory, I asked her if she knew what happened to her sister, who had died three weeks before. She didn't. I don't think she even knew she had a sister until I said, "Audrey died."

She must have had some memory because she seemed to re-live the painful loss all over again.

 "We've got to get you to a doctor," I said. "I know you will want to take a shower first." She seemed to be operating on automatic and did what I suggested.

 Meanwhile, I called my old college roommate from HSTC, now a retired surgeon, and told him the situation. He said she had probably suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a mini-stroke and to get medical help immediately. At Health Park Medical Center, the doctor confirmed my friend's diagnosis.

She put Cupcake on Plavix, a blood thinner, contacted her primary care physician who scheduled her for a computerized tomography angiography (CTA) at a local hospital. By now, Barbara had begun to recover her memory. It took about six hours to get it all back. But we were both afraid to go to sleep for fear of another attack.

The next day when she was back to normal, this old Marine started to cry. I didn't think I could. I was boo-hooing loudly. Cupcake cried holding me. Then she began to laugh. "Hey, you're supposed to be comforting me." Then I began to laugh.

We had several episodes of crying and laughing that day. After an operation on her blocked carotid artery, my wife recovered.

By learning to cry, my blood pressure dropped to normal.

Happy Anniversary Cupcake!



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