Ever and Always
Chapter 11: Marriage and Competence - August 2021

Copyright© 2015 by Banadin

They broke away and got into the taxi, instead of sitting apart like they usually did Marsha slid over next to Rick.

Rick said, "I want to go to the Mall to buy an engagement ring. It can't be the most expensive, but I want to do this right."

Marsha sighed in contentment, "Whatever you want dear."

Rick chuckled inwardly, "I am glad I am old enough to know the rules, whatever I want is what she wants."

Marsha elbowed him in the ribs, "Stop those thoughts right now!"

"I was not thinking anything wrong," he protested.

"Of course not dear, I'm starting your next phase of training," Marsha giggled.

Rick's survival instincts cut in, and he shut up. When they got to the Mall, the Taxi driver rushed to shake Rick's hand and congratulated them once more. At that point Rick felt compelled to give a larger tip than usual, but realized he did not mind at all.

He started to walk away from the cab when the driver chased him down and said, "You forgot your cane, though you don't look like you need it."

Rick replied quickly, "Unless the weather changes then my knees get bad."

"I'm beginning to learn that," the cab driver said as he got in and drove away.

Once inside the Mall Rick and Marsha spent time in a chain jewelry store. The lady helping them thought they were such a cute couple and really liked the idea of a December romance.

She told Marsha this who replied, "This is really a fall romance we are not in the winter of our ages yet." Little was Marsha to know this was like the first day of spring for them.

Marsha had looked over several rings, and one had obviously caught her eye, but it cost fourteen hundred dollars. It was small with today's pricing, but she still thought they couldn't afford it.

Rick watched for a while as she looked at even lesser stones then told the saleslady, "I think we will take this one, pointing to the ring that had caught Marsha's eye."

Marsha protested, but her protests were weak as it turned out the ring fit her perfectly with no adjustments needed.

Rick said, "I do love you, you know. It just took me a while to sort it out. It snuck up on me." This led to another kiss, but the saleslady was used to this, and she didn't have a meter running.

Rick purchased the ring on his credit card. He recently had prepaid it to two thousand dollars. They went to the Mall food court and talked over a cup of coffee.

Rick asked, "When would you like the wedding to be?"

Marsha replied with a grin, "I think after we are declared competent, or you could weasel out of it."

"I never thought of that," Rick exclaimed. "Is it too late to use that excuse now?"

"Yes dear, you're all mine now," she replied.

"Okay," Rick easily agreed, "just checking."

"Your checking days are about over my dear," Marsha twinkled.

Rick said tentatively, "You know there are no doors on our rooms."

"That is no problem dear, until we are married there will be no need for doors," she said sternly. Marsha relented after seeing the look on Rick's face, like a kid whose candy had been taken away.

"You are so easy. We certainly will have to figure out where to have some private time." After seeing the look of relief on Rick's face, she no longer could hold the whoops of laughter."

The next-day Clarisse called Rick, and told him the first step would be to find a friendly Doctor to evaluate them for the initial filing. Rick thanked her and after discussing it with Marsha, they decided it was now time to bring Silvia in on things, she should be able to help identifying a Doctor.

Marsha told Silvia, about them retaining a lawyer to guide them through the steps to becoming declared competent. She explained that they needed a Doctor to do their first examination. If this was thorough enough, and their paper trail back to the original Alzheimer's study held up, they may be able to avoid a second evaluation. The simpler it could be the better.

Before Silvia replied, she happened to notice Marsha's left hand. Since Marsha had been waving it ever since they sat down it was hard to avoid. The engagement ring led to the inevitable hugging and squealing.

The other office lady Ruth had to get into the act. The new head nurse Barbara Johnson walked in so the party continued. Before it was over most of the ladies on staff were part of the mini-celebration.

The ladies had many a comment after they heard that she, and Rick had to be declared competent before they could get married. They varied on a theme of men and competence, especially those they were married to, but it was all in good fun. After things settled down Silvia told Marsha she would make a phone call. She had a Doctor in mind.

Several days later, Silvia told Marsha on their coffee break that she had talked to a friendly new Doctor who specialized in Geriatric medicine, who would be pleased to examine them, and that there was a Psychologist in his practice who specialized in the competency of the elderly. They didn't know him, but had even met Dr. Charles Meyers. The other Doctor who they had not met was Dr. Robert Heinlein.

Later when Marsha shared the names Rick's eyes got big, "I wonder if he is any relation."

"Relation to whom," inquired Marsha.

"The science fiction author," replied Rick. "Oh, I have never been a fan of that," she said. Rick thought, "Oh my, our first major difference."

At the same time, Marsha thought, "I had better do some research on the field, at least know the major authors and their themes. Don't want to disappoint my man, now that is a nice thought, my man."

They let Clarisse know who their potential doctors were. She made some phone calls checking them out, especially Dr. Heinlein. She called Rick back, and let him know that they would be good to work with. Dr. Meyers was new to the field so didn't have much of a track record, but there was nothing there to show any bias against the elderly. His prior knowledge of them should work in their favor.

Dr. Heinlein had been practicing for ten years, and had a reputation of usually siding with the patient. This was important as some Doctors always seemed to decide that the patients were incompetent. This was especially true if there were large estates with hungry heirs.

Appointments were made, and kept. Both got a clean bill of health from Dr. Meyers. They were careful not to show the actual amount of flexibility they had developed. Fortunately, Dr. Meyer hadn't had a chance to give them physicals in the hospital, and they were bedridden the last time he had seen them.

Rick and Marsha brought their very carefully edited files. The files showed nothing of the AIDS condition. They left in the fact they were in a discontinued Alzheimer's study with Benton Pharmaceutical. Dr. Meyers was very excited by this.

"You may be the first Returnees," the phrase coined by Abi Jackson was going into general usage.

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