A Bundle of Wild Cardsbyhansbwl©
Thank you, HannahAarons, for your editing and nice words.
We do not make a lot of elaborate Christmas preparations. It is taken very easily in our home, just buying a little additional food, decorating a Christmas tree, some presents for family members like children, and grand children, and that's about it. Except for one thing: the Christmas greetings to family and friends. A great number of them, and very personal, too. My wife of 46 years writes out a draft in longhand, I type it up on my computer, insert a few small pictures and find a nice Christmas clipart on the internet. I edit it so that there is a small blank space for a few personal, individual comments and the rest is a resume of the year related to our family with emphasis on the grandchildren. I print it out, about 150 copies in an A4 format on my color printer, buy envelopes and stamps and my wife does the rest. Straightforward, no hassle - so I used to think.
Last Christmas, however, I got a nasty and completely unexpected surprise. On my way to town, I went into the kitchen where my wife sat writing greetings. On her left side a stack of unfinished letters, and on her right side a bundle of greetings all ready to go to the post office.
I picked them up and said; "I'll mail them for you," and idly leafed through them to see who she had written to. Then I saw a name I did not recognize, without any suspicion I queried, "Who is David Lawson?"
When I asked the question, she was looking directly at me, and for a fraction of a second I saw a flicker in her eyes, was it surprise, or shock, or uneasiness? - I simply cannot explain, but there was something I did not expect. Then she, somewhat hesitantly, replied, "He is one of my former colleagues."
On the way to the post office, I was thinking about her response. She had a number of colleagues, most of them women. She had never talked about any men, except one guy she had a great admiration for, and that was not David Lawson. As I got closer to the post office, my pace became slower, I was in deep thought. To say I was overly curious was to put it mildly. So when I arrived and was standing in front of the mail box, this curiosity got the better of me and I extracted the envelope addressed to David Lawson from the bundle and dropped the rest in the box.
My errands well completed, and back in my home office, I was holding the envelope addressed to this Mr. Lawson. The feel of it was different, hard and not as fluffy as the others had been. My wife had not sent away one of our standard greetings, this was a greeting to somebody who obvious was not a friend of the family, but exclusively hers. I sat there a very long time wondering, and if it had not been for this very brief flicker in her eyes, the card would have been in the mail box with the others.
They say curiosity killed the cat, and I then did something I thought I never would do, I opened a letter not addressed to me. It was a folded card, and I opened it and started to read:
I am doing something we agreed upon 30 years ago not to do, writing to each other. But as our 30 years "celebration" will be on Wednesday January 10th I decided for once to send you a few written words. I am looking so much forward to having an evening with you again. This time to remember our 30 years as friends and lovers. When we met and discovered this special attraction for each other, we were both married and happy in our respective marriages. We wisely made up our mind to see each other rarely, and so far between each time that it would not interfere with our normal family life. That was a good decision, we both loved our spouses and have had a good life with them.
However, our few moments together have been very special and precious to me and I am always looking towards our evenings, as seldom as they may be, with great expectations. Even at my advanced age, I can still feel the excitement builds up when the time to our meeting is coming closer. We may not spend our time in bed anymore, but to be there with you, holding your hands while going down the memory lane, is beautiful. I am so looking forward to the 10th.
Have a good Christmas with your family, dear David,
I sat dumbstruck with the card in my hand. What in hell had been going on for the last 30 years? A mixed feeling of rage and sorrow raced through my head, I rose up from my chair and started walking around in the office whilst swearing out loud. After a few minutes I calmed down, and made up my mind to take a long and brisk walk. It was something my father had taught me; "If problems come up," he said, "take a walk and think about them logically." So that's what I decided to do.
I walked for an hour. Turned my thoughts around the problems, analyzed the facts and tried to sort them in logical manner. It's not easy when you are so emotionally involved as I was just then. But this is what I concluded at the end of my walk:
- My wife, Annie, has had a 30 year love affair with another man.
- She had not lost her love for me, but it hurt to know she also had love for another man.
- She had met him after the birth of our children, they were mine. I was sure of that, they all had strong family features from my family.
- I had been cuckolded for 30 years, that fact did hurt my pride.
- This affair had most likely been conducted without anybody knowing about it, that was a relief.
- They had met only rarely, probably about 2 – 4 times a year, did that make a change? Not really.
- Their present relationship was not sexual, did that make a change? Hardly.
I now had a clear idea about the de facto situation, the next question was of course what to do about it. One thing I was sure of, I had to think and not make rash and hasty moves. Whatever I decided to do in the next few weeks could make a major change for not only Annie and myself, but for the whole family. It was more than 3 weeks to their scheduled meeting. David obviously did not expect a letter or card from Annie, so my first thought was not to send the card to him. But after thinking about it for a while, I decided to send the card after I had scanned the envelope and the card and stored it on my computer. I wanted to have my options open, and not be accused of opening and reading mail not intended to be opened and read by me.
My second decision was to let it rest until the holidays were over. I could not let this interfere with the Christmas celebration our grandchildren were looking towards to with such excitement. And the issue would lie there in my head, and I would work out a solution given time, so I thought.
I don't think my wife noticed that I was a bit detached during the holidays, but the activity was so centered around the grandchildren and my role was more or less limited to be Santa Claus, which I managed without problems, I think.
The problem did, however, turn around in my head during nights. I did not sleep very well and after several nights tossing about in bed, I had an idea how to go about it. First of all, I decided that I did not want to live the rest of my life alone. Nobody to be homemaker for me, have to clean, feed and entertain me. To come home to an empty house every day seemed very gloomy. To start again with another woman at my age was absolutely no option. Too late for that now.
No, I needed to make a stand that made my loving wife have a long term wish to make up to me. Make her understand that for the rest of her life she should make my life good in all thinkable ways, with no time to think about or miss Mr. David Lawson. I thought I knew how to do that without confronting her outright.
My shock at the discovery of her secret faded away. I started to behave lovingly in a natural way. Gave her a hug and kissed her cheek and told I loved her. Gave her compliments, offered to help doing the dishes etc. In all ways, behaved like a loving husband. She was happy and cheerful, and when the holidays were almost over, she commented how wonderful it had been with everybody being in such a jolly holiday spirit. She did not know what she had in store, she lived in ignorance of her unexpected shock when her happy double existence suddenly and unexpected would cease.
A few days after the New Year, my psychological warfare began. I was sitting at the computer looking at opportunities for a stay in the warmth and sun. She was sitting knitting in her favorite chair when I said to her:
"You have had quite a busy time, and I think you need a little rest and a week or so in the sun, Annie. What do you say?"
"That would be lovely dear, where should we go?" She replied.
"I see there is an offer for a week in Aruba, would that be a nice place to go?"
"Of course dear, sounds very nice. When will that be?"
"The offer is a last minute offer, we have to make a quick decision since the flight is on Wednesday the 10th," I replied.
After a short pause, "Oh, that's too early dear. I have an appointment at 5 o'clock in the afternoon on the 10th, you'll have to find a later date," she answered.
"Why, can't you just rearrange your appointment?
"No, it's not that easy. We have this small gathering only 3 times a year. And on the meeting, we set a date for the next. So next meeting is the afternoon of the 10th. It cannot be altered, I'm afraid," she replied.
I then understood she had no intention of letting David go. With some difficulties, I held my temper. My plan to stop this had to be set in motion. Their meeting was now only 3 days away.
My next step was taken the day before their meeting. I told Annie I had some errands, and would be away for a few hours.
After coming back from my visit in town, I set up a worried face. It did not take long before my wife sensed my mood.
"What's bothering you dear? She asked.
"Nothing," I replied.
"Oh, George, after 46 years I can read you like an open book," she said, "something is bothering you."
"It has nothing to do with us," I replied.
If she knew me after 46 years, I knew her as well. She would not stop until I told what was on my mind. But I let her work for it, and at the end I seemingly gave in:
"Ok, ok, I'll tell you. I met Robert Johnson, a friend from college, in town today. He left town after college, and you have never met him. He is visiting his old sister. We decided to chat about old days and give a short resume of our lives, so we had a coffee together," I told her, and continued; "After some talk, I got the idea he had a problem. I asked him to tell me about it, and what he told me, did in fact bother me."
"Oh," she said, "what was his problem?"
"I can as well tell you, You might have a suggestion how he can resolve it for all I know." I said, and after a short pause continued:
"His wife had asked him to clean out their attic. They were planning to move from their house to a small flat. While doing so, he found a box correspondence. Looking through it to see if the letters should be saved or not, he found out they were love letters from an unknown man to his wife. He found in all 30 letters, two each year, the newest about 10 years old. His first reaction was first anger, and then relief that they where so old. But then it struck him that the last letter was from about the same time they had a major redecoration of their bedroom. So one day he was alone home, he searched in the bedroom, and found 19 more letters." I looked at my wife, and said, "he was very upset, she had cheated on him for 25 years."
I did see my wife going pale, but she made no comments. Just sat there looking very worried. In my tale I had made sure no details should be similar to her case – only the cheating bit. We don't plan to move. We don't have an attic, our house have a flat roof. No letters from her lover existed, and the period was 25 years to her 30, and lastly, she unintentionally told me they met 3 times a year so, and Robert's imaginary wife met twice yearly with her lover.
After I let her sit a while thinking about this, I casually asked, "What should he do? Should he confront her or let it be?"
My wife looked a little pale, but she summoned up her courage and asked me, "Has he felt that that there was anything wrong with their relationship, has he had a feeling that she did not love or care for him?"
"I also asked him the same," I said, and continued, "he had not noticed anything at all, and she had always been lovingly towards him. From the last letters he had understood that there was no longer any sexual relationship between them, but it hurt to know he had been cuckolded during 25 years."
My wife lowered her knitting needles and looked at me and commented; "So if he had not found his letters all would have been OK, that's what he is saying, isn't it?"
"Yes, exactly that is what he meant," I replied.
"It all boils down to the male pride. She is meeting a man for a few hours, chatting twice yearly, very innocently, comes back to her husband and gives him all the love and affection he is entitled to, isn't that enough for him?" she then said, with some strength, and then continued; "The best for him would be to forget the whole correspondence and enjoy his life with a loving wife. You said he was a friend from college so he must be about the same age as us – about 70 – is that right, so what good will it do to rock the boat now at this stage, when all that is left is innocent friendship?"
"Easy for you and me to say that, we are not part in the problem and are removed from the emotional stress, especially his anguish finding out her deceit over so many years. True, if he had remained ignorant, it wouldn't hurt, but this is not the case any longer. He knows, and he is obviously very hurt. I understand him, Annie, it can't be fun," I said.
She looked down on her knitwork, started knitting on whatever she was working on and asked, "Are you meeting him again?"
"Yes, tomorrow. You have your meeting tomorrow so I thought I could as well see him off on the train and have another chat with him. I don't know if I can give him any comfort, though." I replied.
"Sure you can," she said, "you can make him appreciate what he has, and accept that he does not own her. If she gives him love and tenderness, it does not hurt him if she, once in a while, meets somebody else for some good conversation. It might give her extra energy to be a positive and giving wife. He should not complain."
I sat awhile as thinking and said; "Yes, you're right of course, all would have been in order if the activity over the last 25 years had been good conversations. But it has not been like that, it has been a love affair. And now, they are most likely using their time to go down the memory lane together. I think that is a very different situation, don't you?"
Without waiting for an answer I continued,, "I will tell him your sentiments tomorrow and try to keep my thoughts about the matter to myself. Maybe it would be the best to turn the blind eye towards the problem and go on as nothing had happened."
Annie said little the rest of the evening. There was, in fact, a thundering silence from her chair.
Wednesday morning, after a good and healthy breakfast, I asked Annie if her cell phone was charged if I needed to contact her. She usually forgets. She hadn't, and while taking care of that, I transferred the stored numbers from the SIM card to phone memory, did the same with my phone and switched cards. She had now my card in her phone, she could phone out to others, but she would not know that nobody could call her. That is, except for me.
I told Annie I would meet George 3 o'clock, and asked, "Will you join me in the car to town, or do you prefer to take a bus later for your 5 o'clock gathering?"
"I'll take the bus later, but thank you," she replied.
The reply was as expected, and I went to my car and headed for David Lawson's home. 25 minutes later, I pressed the bell, and the door was opened by Mr. Lawson himself.
"Are you David Lawson?" I asked.
"Yes, what can I do for you?" was his polite reply.
"I would like to have a private chat with you, if you are alone in the house we can talk inside, if not, we can chat in my car. You see, I'm Annie's husband, and I think it would be a good idea if you listen to what I have to say. Where do you prefer, in the house, or the car?" I asked.
He looked shaken and paled visibly, after a long pause, he asked me in.
When we were both seated in the living room, he looked at me and said: "I have had a long and very good working relationship at the hospital with your wife, over a period of almost 30 years. Our relationship has been purely professional and I might add, your wife has been very good at her job and I have valued her as an exceptionable person who excelled when she was on duty. Outside the hospital, we have met to discuss the work and common work related problems. I fail to see why this should bother you in such a way that you want to talk with me. As you well know, neither Annie nor I can discuss our work at the hospital with anybody, you know perfectly well what we do there is confidential. Even now, when are both retired."
I looked at him with a twisted smile and replied, "I hear what you say and accept you have had a good working relationship together. But I know for a fact, I have absolutely solid proof that in addition to your "working relationship," you have, for the last 25 or 30 years, been in a sexual relationship with her. I am not interested in your denial, it will not make any difference, because I know what has been going on. How I found out and what the solid proof is, I will keep to myself- if you do exactly as I tell you."
"I think you are drawing hasty conclusions, and I might add, wrong conclusions," he replied, "our relationship has been completely harmless and should not bother you at all. Please accept that we are friends and nothing more. I fail to understand that you are in any position to tell me what to do, or not to do. I think you should leave, sir."
I rose up, stood in front of him and said: "Mr. Lawson, I don't care what you say, I know. You will not meet her ever again. If she knocks on your door you say to her; "Madam, you have knocked on the wrong door," if she calls you, you say; "sorry, wrong number," if she writes you a letter, you put it unopened in an envelope and mail it to me, if you meet her on the street you pass her without acknowledgment. If you break these instructions I will send copies of my proofs to your wife, children, the doctor's association and some of your wife's friends, for good measure." I made a pause and continued, "My wife is meeting somebody in town today at 5 o'clock, and I am 99% sure it is you. I will make myself absolutely clear, you don't meet her and you don't call her saying you are not coming, for your information I have installed a recording device on our phone so for your own good; don't try calling, do you understand?"
He just nodded his agreement and I told him before leaving, "She is never to be told about this meeting. If you, in some way, tell her, directly or indirectly, the shit is going to hit the fan. Good day to you, sir!" and I walked out of his house.
In my car, I could not keep myself from laughing, I was quite sure he would stay away from her. The next step was to follow my wife to her meeting place. I parked our car, which is of a very ordinary type, half a block away from our house and waited. While sitting there waiting the cell phone rang. I looked at the display and saw it was David calling from his house phone. When I answered there was no reply and he disconnected. I called him back immediately and when he took the phone I said without introducing myself,
"Mr. Lawson, this is the only slip I will tolerate. Another slip and you will regret it for the rest of your life," I disconnected before he could reply.