Twenty-nine years ago in an Anatomy and Physiology class at the University of South Alabama I met the love of my life. Now at the time, I was dating someone and so was she but we became lab partners, study partners and good friends. For a couple of years this is how it was. Then we both found ourselves single so we decided to go out on a date. Our first date was December 24, 1993. We were engaged June 6, 1994 and married November 03, 1994. I tell you this history because I want you to know what an incredible, loving, and faithful person I met nearly thirty years ago. Now since then we have been through a lot; the birth of our two wonderful boys, many moves around the country, economic hardship, economic prosperity, death, and my reason for writing this post, many health issues.
Over the years, between all of my surgeries, hospitalizations, and health issues, she has always been there for me; giving me care, loving me unconditionally, and sometimes putting me in my place (which I most certainly deserved). Countless times she has been by my side when I was going through a crisis; the loss of my dad, the loss of two of my brothers, and sitting beside my hospital bed talking to doctors.
We have always joked with each other that she is actually Wonder Woman. She has always had a career as a professional, a mother, and a wife. She has dedicated her life to doing her part in raising our children, supporting me, and bettering the community. No one has ever impressed me more than my wife. She is caring, giving, staunchly protective, maybe a little stubborn, and humble.
My wife is constantly on the move. She makes many homemade items (jams, breads, etc,) that she sells at one of the local farmer’s markets every Saturday, she is the Scoutmaster of one of the first Scouts BSA girl troops in the state, she is involved at the church, but most importantly, she takes care of me. She does it all and sometimes I find myself taking for granted her generosity. I try not to; I just do. Even when I do, she still shows me grace and love.
Now you might ask what does all of this have to do with living a life with disabilities. Well, it has everything to do with it, as I honestly do not think I would have made it through everything I have gone through without her. She has been my rock during everything I have gone through. I know that many people are going through this alone and I have a lot of respect and compassion for those that are. I am so thankful that my wife is by my side when I have needed her the most. Living with a disability can create very lonely feelings and if you let it, can be very isolating.
When you have lost your career, your ability to earn what you used to, your health and generally life as you knew it, it is easy to become withdrawn and depressed and you begin to push away the people that are closest to you. If you let it, it is easy to become isolated and bitter. As I have been through this journey getting used to a new normal, my wife has been there every step of the way. She is the one that pulls me out of my isolation and reminds me that even though I might not be able to do what I used to do, I still have a lot to offer the world and reminds me that I still have a purpose in this life. She is the one that helps me push my boundaries, get outside of my comfort zone, and supports me in everything I do. I have learned to be thankful every day for the things I have in this life and what I am most thankful for is my wife. In any relationship, gratitude and love can be two of the most important components.
If you are in a relationship, don’t take it for granted. If the person you are in a relationship with is not only your partner but also your caregiver, be grateful; show grace but most of all let them love you. They are there for you not because they have to be but because they want to be.