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"I've never met a person, I don't care what his condition, in whom I could not see possibilities. I don't care how much a man may consider himself a failure, I believe in him, for he can change the thing that is wrong in his life anytime he is prepared and ready to do it. Whenever he develops the desire, he can take away from his life the thing that is defeating it. The capacity for reformation and change lies within."
- Rev. Dr. Preston Bradley

"You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event - it is a habit."
- Aristotle

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Laughter Strengthens

Twisted, nude and soaking wet on the floor of the shower stall I sat. "Bill," I hollered, "Bill," I screamed!

Bill is hard hearing mind you, thus the reason for my bellowing.

"Yes," he said on hearing my scream. "What'd you want, Oh my goodness!" he exclaimed upon arriving in the bathroom and seeing my predicament. "Here let me get you up!"

"Bill you can't lift me."

"Yes I can!"

I began to laugh.

"Now here, let me get a hold of you."

Picture this, a 'well' past middle age woman, 'well' past her prime weight of 120 pounds, weakened from the effects of Multiple Sclerosis, sitting twisted on the floor of a small shower stall. It was not a pretty sight even with the 'largest' stretch of the imagination! The shower stall had sliding glass doors, which limited his access to the whole of my generous physique. With my weakened legs there was no way I could untwist myself and stand upright. I was stuck! He was frantic; I was calm.

"You can't get to me, even if you could, you couldn't lift me, just see if you can help me on my knees" I said.

"Ok, Ok," he said nervously.

Picture this if you can, a whale still wet from the ocean, dumped out on a newly waxed rowboat. Those uncooperative legs of mine could not be situated so as to get me on my knees, not on that wet floor, no matter how hard the both of us tried. He placed a towel under my legs and it too only slid out from under me. So here I was slip, sliding and slithering around, not exactly looking like a desirable mermaid. You get the picture?

"Come on, let me get a hold of you and get you up from there," he still was not going to give up, no matter the extreme impossibility of the situation. By this time though, the water logged, nautical, wayfaring sea monster that I was, began to dry out and become somewhat less slippery. My husband though was no less frantic in his pursuit to get his disabled wife out of these circumstances.

"Here put that towel down again and see if I can't crawl out of here," I instructed. My position and the whole picture of me kept playing over in my mind and the more it ran the funnier it got. I started giggling - laughing and my husband became nervously irritated. Here I was in all my generous glory slithering out of the shower stall, he trying to be my caregiver, becoming more irritated that I was not accepting his need to help. My laughter was becoming hysterical. His frustration became aggravation and increased with intensity. The more upset he became the more I laughed, until finally after much effort - I was somehow out, on my feet and in his arms.

We all deal with our disabilities in different ways. He became annoyed at himself for his inability to help me and interpreted my laughter as making light of the situation. I on the other hand was flustered with my loss of capabilities; only my pride had been injured. I could cry or laugh at myself. With his arms around me I explained, "Honey if I don't laugh and see the comedy in this, I will cry, so I choose to laugh; don't be mad at me."

"I'm not mad at you," he soothingly reassured me, "I just worry about you, you could have hurt yourself really bad."

"I know, I know, but I'm all right. You must admit I was a funny sight."

It takes a special man to deal with the disabilities of the woman with whom he lives and loves. When he sees the disease take her from a vibrant, young, attractive female to an aging woman, fighting for whatever dignity she can pull from the vice-like grip of such a devastating disease. It takes a strong man in character though not necessarily in strength. It takes a love that lies deeper than what is seen with the eyes. It takes gentleness and kindheartedness, patience and a man sure of his own masculinity. It takes effort and labor with his hands, his head and his heart. It takes an extraordinary man, a superior breed not often found; their care giving comes from the heart and soul. They stay for the duration no matter the outcome.

"I love you," I told him.

"I love you too," he assured me.

In his arms I feel his strength when I am weak. There are moments I cry in pain or frustration and he holds me and I am renewed by his devotion. There are days I laugh and am like a young girl again and I see that far away look in his eyes. Sometimes I struggle like in the shower and he gets irritated, concerned for my safety and I look in his heart and I see tears fall. Sometimes I laugh to keep from crying. Sometimes we laugh together to keep from crying and when we do; we are both strengthened for yet another day.

Betty King

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Last Update: June 21, 2018