Charlie has been through more hell than anybody has a right to.
For starters, he was born during the Great Depression, in 1930, in a Pennsylvania coal mining town. His family had to scrimp and save for everything and were forced to move around a lot because of the inavailability of jobs. He lost a baby brother to diptheria; another younger sister died of the measles; she was only three years old.
When he was old enough to start school, Charlie was told he was stupid: he could not read very well and often flunked; yet he tried mightily to keep up. The only reason the teachers passed him anyway was because Charlie had a larger-than-life personality: he loved everybody and everybody loved him. Even with his learning difficulties, Charlie was very popular.
After graduating from high school, Charlie joined the Marines. He wanted to be a D.I. (drill instructor). He thought that if he could make a difference in the world, the Marines was a good enough place to start. It wasn't easy, but by God, he made it.
Charlie went to Korea during the Korean War. Amazingly he survived the ordeal, but it left an imprint on his psyche: he saw and heard things that no human being had a right to witness or experience.
Shortly after Charlie returned stateside, he met me. We met at a canteen during a dance; "we met cute", as they say, and it was instant love. I was drawn to his boyishly handsome looks, straight, crisp posture, gentle demeanor, and his gentlemanly ways. He was drawn to me because he said I was a great cook, had pretty, red curly hair, and a nice trim figure ("You cut a fine figure of a woman", he always told me).
About a year after we met, we got engaged, then married. We moved to Idaho, where we still live today. We started a family and thanked God for the many blessings that He gave to us. We were involved with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Disabled American Vets (DMV). We supported Veteran's causes in any way we possibly could. It was a very good life,
We got to see our children give us grandchildren; we thrilled in their accomplishments and cried during their trials. We had three beautiful daughters; they, in kind, gave us five grandchildren: one had two sons; the other daughter had three daughters. We rejoiced that all were healthy.
For over 20 years into our marriage, life was as good as it could have ever been. We thanked God for each and every blessing He bestowed upon us.
Then, insidiously, silently, it began. The memory started going. Charlie had an impeccable memory; suddenly he was forgetting simple things: where he left his glasses in the morning, what he was going to do whenever he walked into a room, stuff like that. We laughed it off; we figured it was due to "old age"; it was "nothing to worry about", we told each other.
We continued to laugh about Charlies' "forgetfulness" until the day came, a day where Charlie couldn't remember where he had parked the car. He grew increasingly agitated; I told him to calm down; it was going to do no good getting upset; we'd look for the car together. We eventually found it (much to Charlie's and my relief), but Charlie stewed on what had happened for several hours after. The only thing that would calm him down was a nice steak dinner at Ponderosa Steakhouse.
Unfortunately, Charlie's memory got worse. A lot worse, to the point to where he would do silly things such as leaving the car keys in the freezer (and then accuse me of stealing them, which was so unlike him), putting his slippers in the bathtub (with the water running), and so on. I grew concerned, so I made an appointment with the doctor. Charlie, of course, balked, but he agreed to go, "just to humor me", as he put it.
The news was not good. Charlie had dementia. Eventually he would get to the point to where he would no longer recognize places, dates, or people; he would become increasingly incapacitated, and would probably need skilled nursing care at a facliity for people with dementia or related diseases. The news was, as you can imagine, devastating, not only to me, but our children and grandchildren. It was the worst possible thing that could have ever hit our tight, close-knit family.
~To be continued.~