A Surprise Relationship
It may be a shock, but I never intended to get married. By age 30 I realized that I was a happy person, that I wasn’t looking for anything else. With a loving family, friends, a good job, and a place I enjoyed living—I felt set in my life. Then Richard came along as a wonderful surprise!
We lived in the same building for nine years and he was my neighbor upstairs. I had my little apartment and my happy life. We were friendly but didn’t know each other well. Until one day I got stuck inside the elevator when it broke down.
Unfortunately, this was not an unusual event. We lived in an older building with only two small elevators. They broke down a lot, seemingly with increasing frequency. Usually, I was in my apartment or out and about when it happened. (In fact, I had to call in “elevator broken” a couple of times to my job because I couldn’t get out to work!) The worst was being stuck, helplessly inside the elevator, unable to escape. It happened a few times, but on this particular occasion, the fire department had to be called to spring me. When they opened the doors, I came out into the lobby cursing like a salt-water encrusted sailor! Richard happened to witness this moment and said to himself right then: “I’ve got to get to know this lady a little better” as I zoomed off (undoubtedly late) in my motorized wheelchair. Not long after, we met at the mailboxes and Richard asked me for my phone number. Once we started dating it was really immediate that we both knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.
Our love blossomed
In many ways, I cannot account for it. What a special man Richard is! He was attracted to an expletive shouting, wheelchair racing, soup spilling (on my sweater during our second date) woman with rheumatoid arthritis.
But from my perspective, falling for Richard was exceedingly easy. He treated me like a full, complex human—not a patient or an oddity. He listens. He is kind and caring. He is the funniest and totally gets my sense of humor. Perhaps most of all, he supports my crazy schemes like traveling to Alaska or Key West. One great example: we recently had dinner on an island near Key West where Oprah is supposed to have a home. When he was pushing my wheelchair as we left I convinced him to take a ‘slight’ detour on the path so we could snoop and look for Oprah. While we didn’t find her, we had a great giggle.
I never planned to get married, I was comfortable
We’ve talked about how I never planned to get married and Richard thinks that because I was happy and comfortable with myself, that was how we found each other. We both needed to be in the right place before we could meet. I like that idea because from my perspective being married to Richard is like the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. I had a good life and he has made it even better, even more special, even more fun, even more meaningful, and satisfying. I like that we can both do that for each other, no matter our illnesses or challenges.
Life is not always easy, but I find being married to Richard pretty easy. We have had problems to navigate, like health crises and surgeries, but together we have gotten through difficult times. He’s my partner in adventure and I know together we can tackle anything to come, while still having a good laugh.
When was your last flare?