Jebb waited for the woman that he'd assumed was the nurse to return after he was finished with the testing that had been ordered after he woke up. Instead of the nurse, however, the next person who walked into his room was his Uncle Jesse. He looked a bit different; his hair looked just a bit lighter and thinner but there was no doubt that he was his uncle.
"Uncle Jesse, am I glad to see you. I've been trying to figure out just how I ended up in here."
Jesse nodded and went to sit down next to his nephew's bed. "So I've heard. I asked Kim to let me talk to you before she came back in to explain what's going to happen now."
Jesse saw his nephew's confusion so he added, "She's the doctor who asked you the questions before you went for your scans. In fact, she's a bit more than just a doctor; she's family."
Jebb's confusion deepened. He couldn't remember there being anyone in the family who was a doctor. In fact, no one in the family had even ever gone off to college.
"I know that things seem a bit strange. Your accident has affected your memory. In the coming days, things are going to be a bit overwhelming but it will all be alright."
Jesse nodded before he pulled out a photo album that he'd brought with him. After flipping it open he put it on the roll-out table that was across Jebb's bed. "Right here is when you wrecked your motorcycle. You got a pretty good bump on the head and broke your leg just before harvest season that year."
"That year?" Jebb stared hard at the picture of himself that he couldn't remember posing for.
"That was 1975," Jesse stated gently. He turned the page and showed a few more snapshots that had been taken before Jebb had returned home after his visit to the family farm in Hazzard.
"It isn't still 1975?"
"No," Jesse said with sympathy as he watched Jebb turn a few more pages of events that he had no memory of. When Jebb came across a few other pictures that Jesse had handpicked for the album he watched silently as his nephew took in the life that he no longer could remember.
"Luke? He's out of the Marines?" Jebb asked as he saw pictures of his cousin who had been sent off to Vietnam. Relief was clear on his face when he realized that his cousin made it home safe and sound.
"Yep. That there is a picture of the party that we had waiting for him the moment he got off of the bus. That was a day that we'd counted down to for so long. I don't think any of us slept a decent night the entire time that he was out of the country."
Jebb flipped a few more pages past photos of his and the other blond Duke Boys' graduations from high school. There were pictures from the funeral for Coy's parents which felt like a kick to the gut only to be replaced by happier images. Some even depicting races that his cousins had won as well as some that he had apparently been the victor of. That was when he saw a few pictures where someone he didn't know but looked familiar all the same began to pop up. There was a girl who looked much like the woman who had been in his room when he'd first woke up this morning.
"That's Kira," Jesse responded but waited for Jebb to continue to look through the album. When he made his way to a photo taken just one county over the surprise was clear on his face.
"Yes. I'll never forget the day I first asked you about your relationship with her. I've never seen any two people more meant for one another. You actually defied your mother to marry her."
"I did? Why?" Jebb stared at the picture while trying to recall the woman that his uncle claimed that he loved. In the photograph it certainly looked like it.
"Let's just say that she and your mother took a while to really end up on the same page. Things are always a bit more interesting when Pauline and Kira are in the same room." Jesse chuckled as he remembered some incidences from his niece and nephew's earlier years of their marriage.
When Jebb turned the page once more he was given another surprise. In the picture he could see himself standing between two hospital bassinets. He was holding a small infant and a nurse was standing beside him with another.
"Your mother took that picture right after she realized that you and Kira had twins. Both of you had kept that a closely guarded secret. She'd bet you that you'd spill the beans before the kids were born so of course you had to rise to the challenge," Jesse said while bypassing the not so pleasant aspects of that day.
"So you are saying that I've got two babies at the house? That I'm a dad?"
"They are a bit bigger now. And both the spitting image of you when you were young. They tend to get into a bit of trouble together but nothing that you haven't been able to handle, so far. You've become a great dad."
"What are their names?" Jebb asked still just a bit shell-shocked. How could he be a father and forget his kids? His wife?
"Michael and Jonathan. Mikey and Jay for short. Bo actually was the one to shorten their names when they were little. And they love their Uncle Bo."
"You aren't going to tell me that Bo is a dad now, too, are you?"
"No," Jesse said simply, yet somehow mournfully at the same time.
Jebb continued to look through a few snap shots that showed that he appeared to be a happy family man. Jesse would explain the pictures as Jebb asked about each one of them while trying his best to remember each event. He then turned a page to find what looked to be Luke's wedding day. He and all of his cousins were standing by his side along with a gorgeous blonde. He looked over each of the people in the picture and saw how they had aged from the last time he could remember them. Even his parents in the picture looked differently. Beside Daisy and the woman that his uncle had told him was his wife were two young girls that according to the names listed below the picture were his baby sisters. How could they have gone from being infants to young girls on the edge of becoming teenagers?
After a couple more snap shots Jebb came across a picture of Luke with his bride holding a tiny infant. So while his uncle had told him that Bo wasn't a father it didn't appear to be true of his oldest cousin. Next Jebb found pictures of Bo's wedding. Looking at the pictures he was surprised to see that the bride was the doctor who had seen him earlier in the day. So that was what Jesse had meant when he said that the woman was family.
There were more pictures; both of good times and bad. Jebb's heart broke for his cousin when he learned that Daisy had gotten married only to become a widow a mere six months later. Jesse had pictures of Daisy with her son and despite the hard times, Jebb knew that his cousin must love the fact that she was a mother. She'd dreamed of having kids since they were all little. He could still remember times when she would mother him and Bo while growing up.
In one picture Jebb saw Daisy with her son and the woman that Jesse had told him was his wife holding an infant as well.
"I thought that the twins were older than Daisy's kid."
"They are. That there is your daughter. Crystal, or Chrissy, and Jimmy were born on the same day. In fact, they've got a birthday comin' up."
Jebb's eyes went just a bit wide as he had to ask, "How many kids do I have?"
"Three. This little girl was a bit of a surprise. She came along when the boys were three. It's been great havin' all of the youngens out on the farms. Here I'd given up on you boys ever settlin' down and startin' families of your own and you three decided to prove me wrong, one right after another." Jesse grinned before adding, "And I've never been more thrilled to be proven wrong. To watch all of you become responsible family men; I've never been prouder."
He saw the truth in his uncle's eyes and a part of him was glad that he'd become a man that he could be proud of; even if Jebb himself couldn't remember any of it.
"So, what do I do now? How am I supposed to go about a life that I can't remember?"
"Kim said that this lapse in memory is likely just temporary. After you're discharged we'll try to surround you with things to trigger your memory. We'll just take it one day at a time. Your memory will come back in its own time."
"I hope so," Jebb said as he glanced down on the pages that depicted a life that seemed so foreign to him.
Kira braced herself before going into her husband's hospital room. Her husband who no longer knew her from any stranger off of the street. She knew that Jesse had put together a couple of photo albums to help jog Jebb's memory. She could only pray that it worked. After seeing her husband she still had to face her children and tell them that their father couldn't remember them.
How in the hell was she supposed to do that?
Kira waited until after her brother and cousins visited with Jebb. The family members that he could actually remember. Jesse hoped that seeing them would help Jebb come to terms with all that he'd missed. From what she heard, her husband's greatest reaction was to seeing Luke. It was as if he had just gotten out of the Marines all over again. Jebb's reaction had a clear effect on Luke when he left the room. Kira had watched as he left without stopping him. Instead she allowed Bo to go after their older cousin. She then waited for a while to let Jebb process everything that he'd learned from his cousins.
Walking into the hospital room, Kira felt more self-conscious than she could remember being in a long time. Especially around Jebb. When he noticed her he looked just a bit surprised to see her.
"Hey." Jebb put the album aside that his uncle had left for him and tried to figure out what he was supposed to say to the woman that he couldn't remember marrying.
"Hey. How are you feelin'? You know, with the head and the ribs?"
"Like I've been kicked in the head by a mule only to have a house fall in on me. How long was I out? You know, before I woke up earlier today?"
"Almost a day." Kira went to sit in the chair next to Jebb while trying to remember that he was feeling just as awkward, if not more so, than she was. "I'm sorry that I didn't notice that something was wrong earlier. I was just glad that you were awake."
"Don't worry about it." Jebb shifted a bit uncomfortably in the bed while trying to figure out just what he was supposed to say to his wife when he could barely remember her name. "So... uh... Jesse told me that we're, um, married."
"And the thought of it makes you feel a bit weird," Kira said for him. When he tried to mount a protest she stopped him. "It's alright. As far as you're concerned, you are sixteen with your whole life ahead of you. And if someone had told me that we ended up married back when I was sixteen I would have felt more than a bit uncomfortable, too."
Jebb couldn't help the small snicker that escaped at the comparison. "So how did we meet? If you don't mind me askin'."
"We both raced on the Motocross Circuit."
"So we, what? Hit it off right away or something?"
"Oh God, no. I couldn't stand you when we first met."
Jebb made a face as he heard Kira's statement. "Why not?"
"Let's just say that the Duke Ego is something of an acquired taste." Despite herself, Kira had to smile at the memory of the brash young man that Jebb had been when they had first met.
"Well if you thought that I was that bad then how did we end up together?"
"I guess you just didn't give me a chance to get rid of you. You were something that I just couldn't shake off. Like something on the bottom of my shoe," Kira teased just to see Jebb's reaction. She then sombered before she continued. "I had a lot of issues back then and didn't trust anyone. But when I stopped showing up during one season on the circuit due to cancer you came looking for me. Even later on when I got scared and left, you found me and made me realize that you weren't going anywhere."
Jebb saw the seriousness in Kira's eyes and instinctively knew that there was a lot that was being left unsaid.
"How long have we been married?"
"Nine years. The boys came along just after our first anniversary."
"Nine?" Jebb knew that he'd missed a lot but hearing that he'd been married for nearly a decade just hit him a bit harder than flipping through the photo album seeing pictures of people who were complete strangers to him.
"Yep. It will be ten the day after Christmas. And your mother has been pushing for a renewal of vows this year. That way she can be there this time. And of course she probably won't let us get away with wearing our jeans for this ceremony," Kira said while trying add a little levity to the moment.
"I saw the pictures and wondered about that. Jesse mentioned that my mom wasn't too keen on the two of us. Why is that?"
Kira leaned back as she took a deep breath while trying to figure out a way to explain it to Jebb without out it really freaking him out. "Well, when we were dating we didn't exactly do the whole meet the parents thing. I wasn't ready. Then just after you bought a ring and was ready to ask me to marry you, we found out that we were already related."
"Related?" Jebb sat forward just a bit more in surprise.
"Cousins, actually." Kira nodded to confirm that he'd heard her right. "I was kidnapped when I was three days old. I didn't find out until the week of Thanksgiving; a month before we got married."
"Cousins? I don't remember anyone sayin' nothin' about a cousin being missing."
"I guess you could say that I was the family secret. The one that no one talked about."
Jebb couldn't believe that his family could have hidden such a big secret from the younger members of the family. "So who were your parents?"
"Michael and Crystal Duke. Mikey and Chrissy were named after them."
"Bo's parents?" Jebb didn't know why he hadn't put the names of his kids together with his aunt and uncle. Clearly his other son's name came from his own father so it only stood to reason that the other children were namesakes of other members of the family as well.
"Twins?" Jebb thought about his younger years when he'd visit the Duke Farm and how there were times that Bo had pretended that he had a sister. "How did you find out that we were related?"
"It's a long story. But the moment that your mother found out about us she practically had a heart attack. We ended up eloping and it took your mother two years to apologize for making that first year more than just a little bit difficult."
"I can believe it." Jebb scoffed at the idea of his mother admitting that she was wrong about anything.
For the next hour he listened to Kira tell him more about his life that he couldn't remember before she announced that she needed to leave so that she could get their children some dinner and talk to them about Jebb's return home scheduled for the next day. Physically, there was no reason to remain in the hospital now that the threat of concussion was over. Not to mention, the best thing for his memory was to be surrounded by his family with things that could trigger it. But that meant that the children needed to be prepared for the coming days.
Alone once more, Jebb flipped back through the albums while trying to see each picture with a bit of understanding after speaking with not only his uncle and cousins, but now his wife as well.