She divorced her cheating husband, then took him back when doctors gave him a year to live

Tracey Folly

My aunt tried to forget her husband for good after she caught him cheating, but when his mistress wouldn't take care of him after his cancer diagnosis, she took him back and watched him die.

*this is a work of nonfiction as told to me by my aunt based on real events that she experienced and witnessed personally

My aunt tried to leave her husband for good after she caught him cheating on her with another woman, but when his mistress wouldn’t take care of him after he got sick, my aunt took him back.

Here's how it started. My aunt and uncle were married in the 1960s when the Monkees and the Beatles were all the rage. In fact, my uncle bore more than a passing resemblance to Ringo Starr.

My aunt was a long-haired beauty with dark hair, dark eyes, and a figure perfect for miniskirts and other fashion of the time.

They had a big wedding that they couldn't afford followed by four children whom they also could not afford. They did the best they could.

It was a surprise to everyone when they announced they were getting divorced after several decades of marriage. By then, their children were already grown and out of the house. Most of them were married with children of their own.

I never knew my aunt as anything other than an eccentric hippie who lived on a wing and a prayer. She didn't work outside the home; she made jewelry from beads and shells. She loved music and often played guitar at parties.

The divorce wasn't easy for anyone involved. It was ugly. But it was inevitable.

My aunt and uncle weren't wealthy people. Their money problems stemmed from their lack of planning and foresight. They got into debt buying things they thought would make their lives better without really thinking about what it meant financially.

Then there was the cheating.

While my aunt, by all accounts, was faithful, her husband had developed a relationship with another woman behind her back. The affair went on for so long that his mistress issued an ultimatum. "It's either her or me."

My uncle did not choose my aunt. Instead, he chose the other woman.

After my aunt learned that her husband had cheated on her, she was furious. She filed for divorce. By then, it was what they both wanted.

Her ex-husband moved out of their family home and into an apartment with the other woman.

But before he left, he gave my aunt a letter explaining why he had done what he did.

Not long after the divorce was final, doctors diagnosed my uncle with cancer. It was incurable.

He was left with only one choice. Prepare to die. He expected that his girlfriend would take care of him and nurse him and make him comfortable while he awaited his swift and inevitable end.

She had other plans.

When faced with having to care for my uncle in his final days, his girlfriend decided she would prefer to pack her bags and leave. So she did.

That's when my uncle went crawling back to my aunt. He didn't beg her for another chance. He begged her to take care of him while his cancer ravaged his body and turned him into an invalid.

It was sad, but she allowed him to move back into the home they once shared, and she cared for him as if they had never been apart.

They lived as roommates until my uncle died. Not exactly as roommates, more like patient and caregiver. Nonetheless, my aunt ended up sticking to her vows "in sickness and in health," despite being divorced, and my uncle died secure in the knowledge that he had made a terrible mistake by cheating on the only woman who ever really loved him enough to nurse him through his dying days "till death do us part."

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Boston, MA

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