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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)

TITLE: The Last Charade
By Anthony Baatz


By October of 2005, Cheryl had been battling cancer for almost a year. The edema in her left leg was the ever-present reminder that she was losing the fight. Arriving home from shopping I said, “I know you are not feeling very well, but if you are up to it, it would really mean a lot to me if we could go out for dinner tomorrow night, sound good.”

“Yeah, I’d really like that!” Cheryl smiled, cringing in pain as she adjusted her position in her seat.

“Hey, I hope you like this outfit I picked out for you; do you like it?”
I showed her the pantsuit I had bought at the mall. It was the first time in our marriage I remembered shopping for clothes for her. Nothing was too good for my angel.

“Wow! That’s for me! Tony, I love it!” “I hope it fits over my leg.”

Looking at the size Cheryl declared, “Boy, I guess after twenty years of marriage you really do know me, huh?” She chuckled.

I loved hearing her laugh. It seemed so long since I had heard her laugh. I beamed with pride that I had found something that she really liked, but the laugh said something words can never say; Cheryl was at peace. (Thank you Lord, another prayer answered). I almost lost control and started bawling when I thought how short our time might be, yet I was so grateful for these moments. “Okay then its settled, tomorrow night, dinner, just the two of us.” I said.

(The next day)
To say Cheryl loved to work would be an accurate statement, but it meant more than that to her. She did not just make friends of coworkers she made life long friends. I was no substitute for those in whom she had invested so much of her self. Cheryl had worked in the neurosurgeons office for over five years. A visit to her old office today would have been on our agenda, she would have been elated to stop in and visit, except for the charade I was endeavoring to pull off.

I’d never been good at pretending or keeping secrets. I wondered if she’d figured out my ulterior motive for this evening. After our visit with her doctor, we made our usual stops at the pharmacy and the quick mart for incidentals. Arriving back home, we had a light lunch of fruit salad with juice and a bagel.

After lunch, Cheryl dosed off. I took advantage of the opportunity to check my email in case my lady friend had responded to my request. Everything was set for tonight. I had to wonder if Cheryl figured out my ruse, maybe not.

I let her sleep until about three thirty; I knew she would want as much time to get ready as possible. She always took time prettying up for dinner out. Our reservation was for five, we were pushing it. Fortunately, our favorite restaurant wasn’t far. As we pulled in to the parking lot, I checked for familiar cars, good none in site.

Retrieving the wheel chair from the trunk, I hurried around to help Cheryl. As she turned to sit, I reached into the back for the bag that had remained hidden. Cheryl looked at me with a funny grin and asked, “What’s in the bag?” I retorted, “Oh, just a little something I wanted to surprise you with; you’ll see.”

Reaching the front door, it flung open, and there stood my lady friend. I smiled and hoped she would not say anything revealing. She looked at me blankly and motioned for us to enter and turn to the right.

As we passed her and entered through the door to the patio room I whispered, “I love you angel.” She started to look up at me as the room excitedly yelled, “Happy Birthday!”

Cheryl had worked in healthcare for over thirty years. I had the good fortune of meeting many of the Administrators, Nursing Directors, and others with whom she had worked in her career. Today was her day, and from the oldest to the youngest, our family and friends were here to tell Cheryl with all of their hearts, that she had made a difference in their life.

On December 22, 2005 at the age of forty-nine, my angel left behind the pain of this life and entered into the everlasting grace that is in the presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 08/21/08
Sweet tribute to your wife--thanks very much for sharing it.
Sunny Loomis 08/25/08
Lovely story but sad. I'm sure you did all you could near the end to help your wife. Nicely done.