Friday, December 15, 2017

What does for better, for worse mean?

November 24, 1997, was our 25th wedding anniversary.  Anyone who has been married that long usually has questions and reflections about their relationship.  

Over the years, there were moments when I wondered if we would make it another year.  Although our relationship was strong, the circumstances we endured over the course of those years were horrendous.  Our lives were battered, often bruised, and broken more times than I can count.  Yet, we survived.  Yes, we grew stronger.  But as some people have said, "I'd take weakness over all the struggles you had to endure to make you stronger."

When you start your life together as a couple, you concentrate on a bright future.  You talk about all the hopes and dreams you have together and individually.  When trials come, you work through them -- together.  Rarely does anyone anticipate that almost every year would bring a major trauma into your lives.  But, in our case, that is what happened. 

The purpose of writing my memoir was to be an encouragement and to offer hope to anyone going through any type of battle.  It was written as an unforgettable story of survival in novel format.  But, it is also a love story.

Two years prior to our 25th anniversary my husband, Paul, was in a car accident rendering him disabled for the rest of his life.  In addition to many other complications, he suffered brain damage which resulted from a blood clot in his brain that was inoperable.  It meant he would be in constant pain and there was nothing that could change that.  The medication cocktails the doctors gave him caused his personality to fluctuate from being a vegetable who had to be spoon fed all the way to being a raving maniac, who terrified me.  I never knew what to expect or how long I would be able to tolerate it.  With the help of nutrition, we were able to regulate his symptoms and help him to live a normal life -- but with constant and severe head pain.

On our anniversary in 1997, we were living in a town roughly two hours from the nearest city. Instead of asking me to drive him, Paul took transit to the city for a doctor's appointment.  I had absolutely no idea what his actual agenda was for that day.  He was on a mission.  He wanted 25 long-stemmed yellow roses to gift me for our anniversary. 

It was November and yellow roses were in limited supply.  He spent several hours traveling by taxi to find 25 roses.  Each store only had a few.  He was determined to give me Roses Only.  Why yellow?  He knew that yellow roses were a symbol of friendship but more importantly, optimism.  He wanted to give me the message that things would get better.  And......that he loved me and appreciated my sticking by him through all those years.

When he gave me those beautiful roses that evening, words would not come out of my mouth.  Instead, tears rolled down my cheeks as it was obvious my husband was in extreme pain from the events of the day but he was so excited to present this gift to me.

I still have those roses.  They are sitting on my mantle where I see them every day.  They are a symbol of his love and friendship.

In time, his condition improved.  In fact, he improved so much we were able to open a new business and get back on our feet financially.  Then, it happened.  Five years ago, he was in another accident which jarred his brain to the point of reversing any improvement he had attained.  In both instances, his car was standing still and both were entirely the other person's fault.  The struggle has been greater these past five years because he is 20 years older.  It has taken a toll in many ways but we are still together.

It has been over forty-five years ago that I met the man I would spend the rest of my life with - for better or for worse.  For $100 we bought the wedding package from the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas.  It included a chauffeur driven limo to the courthouse to get our license, the cost of the license, the trip back to the Chapel, the chaplain, flowers, music, a witness, a cassette tape of the ceremony and pictures.  I'd say it was a good investment, wouldn't you?

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