A man asks his wife to give up her job to look after his elderly father who had a stroke, then he accuses her of living off him. Later he gets what he deserves.
Gemma Newton was a successful graphic designer and happily married to John for 12 years and it seemed as if the pattern of her life was set. She didn't realize a change was coming, one that would transform her and everything she knew about herself and her husband.
The phone rang in the middle of the night and by her husband's anxious replies Gemma knew something bad had happened. She was right. John's elderly father who lived in Idaho had a stroke.
The next morning, John flew to Boise to be with his father. The next few weeks were anxious ones for Gemma, but finally, John phoned with good news. His father was recovering but John had something important to discuss with Gemma...
Bearers at a funeral | Source: Shutterstock
Two days later John was home and he carefully initiated the discussion with Gemma: "Darling, my father needs a lot of help and support right now, at least for the next six months or so. I was wondering if you'd mind if he stayed with us?"
"Of course not," said Gemma immediately, "You know I'm fond of your dad. Anything to help!"
"I'm so glad you said that Gemma, darling!" John gasped, "The doctors suggested full-time care for a while and I was wondering if you'd considered taking an extended leave..."
"John, you know I have a high-pressure job at the agency. They won't let me take that kind of leave. I'd have to resign!"
"Hun, please, you know you're the best at what you do, they'll take you back anytime! Talk to your boss."
Gemma was a successful graphic artist | Source: Unsplash
"John, why don't we just hire someone to look after Harold?"
"Two reasons, Gemma. First: I don't want a stranger in our house, and second, the cost of a caregiver's salary plus the extra expenses... It will cost us more than you're earning," Jon added. "And since I'm earning more than you at the moment, it seems sensible."
"John, that's a big step...I don't know! I'd be dependent on you, and I've earned my living since I was 18. I don't think I'd be comfortable with that."
Respect other people's efforts, especially if they're doing their best to help you.
"Hun, I'm your husband, I love you. You'd be looking after my father! And besides, you could freelance from home!"
Gemma reluctantly agreed and when her father-in-law Harold was released from the hospital a week later, John brought him home and Gemma transformed her ground-floor office into a bedroom for Harold so he wouldn't have to climb stairs.
John convinced Gemma to give up her job| Source: Unsplash
At first, everything ran smoothly. John's father was a sweet courtly man who was grateful to Gemma for her help and support. Thankfully, the stroke hadn't affected his speech and he was cheerful company.
Every day Gemma would take Harold to his physiotherapy sessions, they would go shopping together. In the afternoon, they would go swimming in their heated pool which the therapist considered would be a big help to speed Harold's recovery.
One afternoon, after their swim, Harold started telling Gemma how glad he was he'd given in to John and accepted his invitation to move in. "I didn't want to give up my independence, I was going to hire a professional caregiver, but John insisted..."
"You were? But I thought...I mean, John said your health insurance didn't cover that." Gemma commented.
Harold grinned at her mischievously. "Gemma, I'm a rich man. I can afford to pay for a caregiver, and anything else I need."
Gemma's kind father-in-law | Source: Unsplash
"Oh!" Gemma said, "John said you were retired and I assumed...."
"I'm not destitute, Gemma," Harold laughed. "Far from it! Now, why don't we take another dip in the pool before dinner time?"
That afternoon, when John came home dinner was understandably late. He found his father and his wife sitting by the pool having ice tea and laughing happily. "Gemma, dad..." he said, "You two look like you're having fun..."
"John," Harold said, "your wife is a treasure!"
"Yes..." John smiled coldly. "Isn't she? Gemma darling what are we having for dinner?"
Harold in physiotherapy | Source: Pixabay
"Oh John, I'm sorry! Time got away from me! How about we order take out?" Gemma suggested.
"Takeout?" John sneered, "I hate takeout! Not to mention the expense. I'm not made of money, Gemma, and you're hardly pulling your weight!"
Gemma's face drained of color. "Pulling my weight? What do you mean, John?"
"You were supposed to get freelance work, not start living off me!" John cried. "But I don't see you doing that!"
"I haven't found any. People are cutting back..." Gemma exclaimed. "And you said..."
Gemma enjoying an afternoon swim in the swimming pool | Source: Unsplash
"Don't tell me what I said," John sneered. "You were pretty eager to give up your job and stay home and laze around!"
"Wait a minute, John!" cried Harold. "Gemma works very hard, she's a huge support to me..."
"Right, dad! Swimming and sun tanning and drinking ice tea...Hard work! I can see that!" John said sarcastically.
Harold was starting to look very angry and Gemma put a gentle hand on his arm. "Please Harold, it's all right. You mustn't get upset."
Harold looked at his son sadly. "Gemma swims with me every afternoon as part of my therapy. My therapist says I'm exceeding expectations, and it's all thanks to Gemma. I think you should be grateful to your wife, John, not berate her."
John's reaction to Harold's decision | Source: Unsplash
"Dad," said John crossly, "I love you, but where my marriage is concerned, I'll as you to butt out!"
"John," said Gemma angrily, "That's enough! You begged me to give up my job so you could save money on a caregiver, now you complain I'm not earning? And don't you dare speak to your father like that!"
Harold took Gemma's hand in his shaky right hand and patted it gently. "It's alright Gemma, I'll handle it." he turned to his son and said, "I know why you insisted I come here for my recovery and why you forced your wife to give up her job.
"You knew I could afford it, John, but you wanted to earn my gratitude and get your hands on my money, and for that you used Gemma. But guess what? Since Gemma has been doing the hard work, she'll be getting the reward."
Harold changed his will and left everything to Gemma. Gemma left John and moved to Idaho with Harold whom she cherished as she had her own long-deceased father. With Gemma's loving care, Harold made a full recovery and led a full and happy life.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Don't force others to take on your responsibilities, or they may well get your rewards too.
2. Respect other people's efforts, especially if they're doing their best to help you.
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