The 10 Dollar Question
Edward Jones was my next-door neighbor until my family moved to a different town five years ago. He stood about six feet tall, told great jokes, and played the best songs on his acoustic guitar. He always gave my me and my friends chocolates, and talked about how much he loved children. Unfortunately, he and his wife never became parents. Eight years ago, she died, and Edward resorted to a life of solitude. Before my family moved, I occasionally caught a glimpse of him sitting on his balcony, staring into space. He became a recluse and showed no more interest in spending time with me or with my friends. My parents told me Edward had some kind of illness, and that it was best to leave him alone. I regret avoiding Edward in the time before I moved away. Unfortunately, I never had the courage to approach him. On November 15, 2004, my friend Edward Marcus Jones, diagnosed with severe depression and the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease, suffered a heart attack and died.Today, if ten dollars could buy Edward a second chance for happiness, I would spend my day of adventure with him. All we would need is his acoustic guitar and the haunts of my old neighborhood. We might travel to the town park to sing some of his beautiful melodies, or play games at the Chuck E. Cheese’s arcade. Next, we could head to McDonald’s, grab a burger and some fries, and laugh together as we watched the children play in the Kid-Zone. Because Edward had always surprised me with chocolates, I would surprise him instead, with a chocolate ice-cream cone. Enjoying our treats, we would talk about the old days and remember the fun we used to have. Later, we might head back to the elementary school and visit the kindergarten class so Edward could play his guitar for them, just as he did when I was small. Finally, we would head back to his apartment where all my old friends from the neighborhood would be waiting for us, ready to give Edward a warm welcome home.Learning about the cause of Edward’s death last year, I came to the realization that many of the patients that I have worked with in healthcare centers suffer with similar conditions. If ten dollars could give all these patients another chance at happiness, I would willingly work overtime to pay for all of them. Alas, the answer is never that simple. Patients with diseases such as depression and Alzheimer’s require a great deal of attention, love, and support in order to help them maintain a level of judgment. Many times, such benevolence may not even help them in trying to cope with their illnesses. Nonetheless, I believe that a chance at happiness is a chance that is always worth taking. Edward would have agreed.