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The Fourth Wife



Hubby has just told me “I sure love you, Barbara!” It is morning, and for him it is a new day with no memory of last night. I am still drained, unsettled and thinking that a good cry is in order.

Last night was almost beyond description, but I shall try all the same. Violet, Hubby’s caregiver, left us at 5:30 PM to go to church and have the evening off with her husband. That left me with four hours alone with Hubby. No problem. Make dinner, watch a bit of “telly” (a British expression), and don’t forget his meds!

The fresh salmon fillets are waiting and ready for my culinary skills. I will make a nice meal for the two of us.

Hubby began asking questions;

“Where was my wedding?”

“In Virginia.”

“Were you at my wedding?”

I was the bride at your wedding.

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“You and I have been married for 49 years.”

“I divorced you.”

“We have never been divorced.”

“Different countries have different laws. Some countries let you have five wives.”

“You are not allowed more than one wife.”

“I have been married four times. I divorced you. You didn’t know.”

“Really? It is not possible to divorce someone without telling them.”

“Where is she?”


“My other wife.”

What is her name?”

I don’t remember her name.”

There is no “other” wife.”

“Yes, the other person here.”

“The only other person here usually is Violet. We pay her to take care of you. She is not your wife.”

“I know that. The other one!” (Author’s response: ????)

“There is no other one.”

“You are crazy!”

And thus, the evening proceeded, with the same conversation over and over. I felt a vice pushing in on my temples. It was becoming harder to breathe. The tears were welling up inside me.

Of course, I know intellectually that Hubby cannot help what he is saying. His brain is confused. Still the words are coming out of his mouth and this bizarre experience feels much like an out-of-body experience for me, being forced to listen to his comments. There is no humor in this, even though the absurdity of it would probably make onlookers laugh. I would laugh myself, if it was someone else’s reality rather than my own.

If Violet had been at home, I would have physically removed myself from the verbal onslaught. I could not. When the experience became intolerable, I told Hubby that I could not take any more…

“Do not talk to me! I do not want to hear any more!”

…was my desperate response. He was frustrated at my apparent stupidity. Many tears later, the substitute caregiver arrived. After his next round of medication, Hubby was calm and fell into a deep sleep.

I never made the planned dinner for us. I was too drained. His emergency back-up meal is frozen blintzes. I pushed two into the oven. That will have to suffice. No energy left for cooking. No desire to sit at a table with Hubby and hear more of the same. I lost my appetite, and apparently lost my husband at the same time.

This morning I looked in the mirror at the circles under my eyes. Hubby asked me to join him at the breakfast table.

“I sure love you, Barbara!” he shared. (I do realize that I have mentioned this once before.)

“I love you too.” I responded.

Apparently yesterday never happened.

How can words be both powerful and without any meaning whatsoever at the same time? I loved this man madly from the moment we met. He was everything I had ever wanted or dreamed of. He was deep, and complicated, and full of life experiences that he wanted to share with me. He was my protector always. Now, it is I who must be his guardian. It is now time to absorb my own pain and minimize his. I am fond of the concept “that which does not kill us will makes us stronger”. Suddenly a vision flashed through my mind, of myself in a ladies’ weight lifting competition. Hubby is not the only one who can conjure up fanciful absurdities!

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Barbara Diamond is a journalist living in Jerusalem, Israel. She has been a political activist on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people for over fifty years, having participated in political and humanitarian missions to Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union, China, and Europe to meet with world leaders on matters of concern. She has written over 100 articles for the Jerusalem Post and on her blog at The Times of Israel, hosted an English radio talk show in Jerusalem and continues mentoring others to pass on the torch of responsibility. You can reach her at [email protected] and visit her site at