Before I let Dennis have his say, I just want to give you, my little cabbages, some context. As I have said before, Dennis is a force of nature. After 14 years of marriage, he still continues to surprise me. He is unpredictable, unbelievably mentally strong, fun, intense, more stubborn than an old goat, and quite the handful.
One of my favorite stories about Dennis occurred shortly after we were married. We had just purchased an older model Volvo for me to piddle around in when Dennis wasn’t with me. At that time, he could still drive his van with hand controls, but he was struggling to dress and feed himself. I had dropped Katie off at school and was on my way home when a teenager t-boned me at an intersection. The poor kid was horrified; as an inexperienced driver, he simply misjudged how much time he had to make the light. I called Dennis and told him I was fine, the car was driveable, and I would be home as soon as the paperwork was finished.
So, I was hugging my new friend (the kid that just totaled my Volvo), and telling him it was ok, we all make mistakes, and no his parents would not murder him when out of the corner of my eye I saw Dennis in the van. I was surprised for two reasons; one he didn’t need to come because I had a ride home, and two, he wasn’t wearing a shirt? I walked up to the van to see why he was here and looked down, and I realized he was BUCK NAKED! “Dennis! Why on earth are you driving around stark naked?!” He told me, “I couldn’t get my pants on, so I grabbed a towel and got in my wheelchair. When I was transferring from my wheelchair to the car seat, my towel fell off onto the floor, and I couldn’t reach it. I just didn’t want you to be alone”. My heart melted like ice cream on a summer day in Georgia. I did, however, feel alone in that I must be the only person whose spouse came to the scene of an accident naked!
So … that is my husband … determined, loyal as a beagle, uninhibited, and still trying to have a meaningful life despite the ravages of Multiple Sclerosis. I thought, since I have been blabbing a lot of our family secrets, he deserved a chance to put in his two cents about being the other half of our merger. Say hi to my Dibbuns Dennis …
Quite the introduction! This is a tough act to follow! When Leana told me what she wanted to do before she turned 50, I had no idea that her blog was going to take on a life of its own. With the intention of sharing with friends and family, it is now being shared all over the world. That being said, I thought maybe I would give you “new” guys a little insight on me and what it’s like to be me.
Born in Rome, Georgia in 1954, it was truly Mayberry. My Dad ran a hardware store, and my mom stayed home with me and my sister. Church twice on Sunday and every Wednesday for family dinner and prayer meeting was the norm. Life lessons were taught by my folks; one favorite from my mom was, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right”. It didn’t matter if you were cutting grass, polishing your Sunday shoes, or playing ball, it was to be done RIGHT! The second single greatest influence in my life was Nick Hyder, my football coach. He taught in order of importance and priority, “God, Country, Family, and Playing Ball.” Another lesson he taught was to “Never, Never Quit!” I had no idea that 34 years later, that lesson would be one I would live by.
Forward to 2018 … I think all of you have read our incredible Love Story and my spiral into Secondary Progressive MS and becoming a Quad. The transition from being able to do everything, reduced to not being able to do anything, is a real bitch! There is a great deal of frustration and awkwardness in the entire situation. Old classmates you see don’t know what to say. “You look so good” is often their first response; it’s also the same thing they say at the funeral home at the viewing of a loved one.
The true definition of a caregiver is to make you feel normal, and that is Leana … even if maybe my shoes are on the wrong feet or my Chuck Taylors don’t match. Leana and I are a team, be it eating, bathing, cooking … heck even shaving (this is an activity no one is born to do!). Not a day goes by that something doesn’t go wrong, and I say, “I’m sorry”. She is always quick to say, “For what? It’s not your fault; it’s the MS.”
Probably one of the most absurd and craziest things that I tell people is, “multiple sclerosis is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.” Don’t get me wrong; if given a choice, I would choose not to have this, but I didn’t have a choice. But, without it, I would never have come to appreciate life and the things that God has blessed me with. Caregiving is not something that you go to school and learn to be. It is a true calling from God, and not everyone is cut out to be one. When Leana and I got married, I told her in our vows, “sometimes you must lose everything to find something, and I found you.” And, now almost fifteen years later, let me say to all of you, and most importantly, to Leana, that I was blessed to have been given the best caregiver ever, and I thank you for all you do, my naner!
I’m not sure what I am supposed to do now since I am a virgin blogger, but thank you for reading, and … standby … Leana’s list is not yet complete.