In his heyday, he was quite something.
The Good Doctor, a busy physician with a booming practice.
In those days, his family came last.
He had an attractive wife and four fine children.
It stood to reason he didn’t see them much.
Too busy helping patients.
Building the practice.
When he did have time, he spent it freely on himself.
His wife, a strong willed woman, objected initially.
She objected at length for a time, until he had enough.
The Good Doctor took it upon himself to give her a little home correction.
Back in the day, a little home correction was often deemed necessary.
Especially for high spirited creatures like his wife.
What his children thought of witnessing this, they didn’t say.
Or wouldn’t say.
If he hit her, surely he would hit them too.
Yet young children turn to adolescents in the blink of an eye.
The good doctor didn’t realize this.
Didn’t realize his children had grown up and away long, long ago.
That his wife was otherwise occupied.
Not with a man, no.
She had become occupied with further education in his absence.
It kept her out of his hair, which was good.
His practice had grown by leaps and bounds.
He wasn’t getting any younger, so he brought in partners to help shoulder the load.
He had more time then.
He did with it what he liked.
He noticed from time to time that the kids were out with their friends.
His wife was busily working on her Bachelors of Science in Nursing.
They had no time for him.
As he had no time for them.
But there was time, he thought.
There is always time.
His kids graduated one after the other from high school.
They applied to college and were accepted.
His wife was still in college.
She was working on her Masters in Nursing.
He rarely saw wife or children.
But there was time.
Always, there was time.
Retirement came and went.
He barely noticed his wife’s busy schedule as Director of Nursing.
He had a vague idea of what his children were doing.
Who his grandchildren were.
But his time came first.
And there was always more of it.
Until he got sick.
His wife didn’t have time to tend to him.
His children didn’t step forward and volunteer.
But they managed nicely, as they always had.
He was put into a nursing home, because his prognosis as well he knew, wasn’t the best.
He laid there, day after day after endless day.
He asked me where his wife was.
Asked me to have her come see him.
He was lonely.
And his time was almost up.
Sometimes, she came to see him.
More often, she didn’t.
His four fine children came to visit their mother from time to time.
But never too long.
Her time was valuable now.
She was the Director of Nursing of the nursing home her husband resided in.
She had friends, acquaintances, conferences to attend.
Things to manage.
Her free time to spend as she saw fit.
It was her heyday.
He had no place in it.
It wasn’t the nature of his illness that made him wither.
He could have lasted a long time.
It wasn’t the realization of all the wrong steps he had taken, when the path was so clear before him.
I know, because I was there.
Saw her oh-so-infrequent visits.
Heard him snap at her; berate her for not being there for him.
I listened in horror as she snapped back at him, denying him whatever he was asking for.
Most often, it was some shallow excuse to get her in his room.
Everyone knew what he really wanted was her presence.
She knew it too, and with that knowledge, came power.
The power to deny him as he had once denied her.
Which is what she did.
He died alone.
Never had he tried to apologize to his wife on her infrequent visits for his treatment of her.
Never had he softened.
There was no regret on his wife’s face when she came to visit the shell he had left behind.
No relief, either.
Time is ours to spend as we will.
Wisdom lies in our investment.