Mr. Henry was the one admitted as a patient, but the nurses took care of Miss Alice, too. Mr. Henry had to have been in his late forties when he married simple-minded little Miss Alice, a girl of fourteen. Nowadays, that would have been a case for the courts, but when it happened back in the sixties, there was no one to speak for Miss Alice. They’d been married more than thirty years when I knew them and appeared to dote on each other. Miss Alice never voluntarily left his side, except to go down to the courtyard to bum cigarettes from patients and staff smoking in the long ago days when hospitals had smoking areas. Sometimes she even talked folks out of a little money. After a successful run, she’d bring a couple back up to him to smoke in the room. Miss Alice ended almost every conversation with, “I love Mr. Henry
Knowing Miss Alice didn’t have money to eat in the cafeteria, the staff always slipped her the “extra tray.” She also knew her way around the kitchen and helped herself to popsicles, ice cream, juice, and milk for herself and Mr. Henry. Over the three or four years I cared for Mr. Henry, I saw him get sicker and sicker. Though he loved Miss Alice, he was a horny old-goat. Staff had to dance to keep from being patted and pinched, but he was savvy enough not to do it in front of Miss Alice. She told us she’d whipped a couple of women over Mr. Henry. I, for one, didn’t want to get patted and “whipped.” One day, he had a seizure. We initiated resuscitation and worked to get him back. The first sign of success was when he squeezed a nurse’s breast while she was trying to get his blood pressure. We felt pretty sure he was back to normal, then.
Even though he was an unapologetic, old lecher, we were fond of Mr. Henry, probably because we loved Miss Alice. One day, I heard Mr. Henry had died. I’ve wondered so many times how Miss Alice fared after his death.
She loved Mr. Henry.