VOWS? "What Do Words Got to Do with It?"

This past weekend was Patti and my 28th wedding anniversary …in reality that equals 4 yrs, 6 months of a 'normal' life before the earthquake called Multiple Sclerosis brought 'our' world down ...  because neither of us or our 18 months old daughter would ever be the same

I found myself smiling at Prince William's remark about changing a diaper as if that is the new daddy-hood ... due to MS Symptoms Patti never changed a diaper post exacerbation ... MS and MS caregiver were first beginning to intertwine.

Each year I hear all these platitudes about ‘a guy who keeps his vows’ … bottom line we have NO VOWS between us nor ever have.

Perhaps in the expanded writing format of MultipleSclerosis.net, a little back story can elucidate …

Frankly it all begins on Valentine’s Day Weekend 1981 which for both of us and unknown to each other would become more a personal and emotional Valentine’s Day Massacre …

On Feb 12th, 1981 Patti filed for separation from her husband of 5 months married before God and man vowing to have and to hold, sickness and health – the whole “vow” yada yada only to discover she was in an abusive marriage.

I was working as production manager for a Hall & Oates Tour and decided to treat myself to a 30th birthday sabbatical to the Fountain of Youth. Renting a black Pontiac Trans Am with hood full of flame logos and living out a ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ fantasy ride through the back roads of the South before returning North to surprise a young lady with a “be mine” Valentine’s Day proposal. … Unfortunately in the three weeks I had been gone she fell madly in love with someone else and was happily settled down.

Two broken hearts drifted forward into the unknown …

Patti drifted into a world of spare sofas and spare rooms from co-workers as her credit had been destroyed by her husband. Her divorce was granted in Sept 1982.

I returned to the road though Spring 1983 … happy to finally hang up the guns with a Diana Ross tour including her Super Bowl performance and the mind numbing moment as I took her arm and escorted her into a blinding array of flash bulbs and the Houston Astrodome.

While we drifted in different directions mutual friends guessed that since I had an apartment I barely used and Patti needed a place without credit checks etc … and I ever the knight errand - why not?

We became pregnant in 1984 … yes, “we” I was raised by parents of the great generation and lesson one was to do the right thing. … Unfortunately Patti miscarried in Spring ’85 and IMHO that miscarriage bonded us far greater than words or acts.

We were married on July 20, 1985 without traditional vows instead we promised to

“Love one another, but make not a bond of love.”

Stand together yet not too near together:

The oak tree and the cypress
grow not in each other's shadow.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”
Khalil Gibran

1985 was also the year Patti would be DX “probable MS” and what should have become raising a family became living with Multiple Sclerosis as a family. … we had no idea what a difference that would be.

Megan was born in 1988, we lost a second daughter to a amniocentesis test in 1989 just months before Patti's first MS exacerbation.

4 years and 4 months of living as a “normal couple” it all came crashing down on Thanksgiving morning 1989 when Patti was hospitalized with her first major MS exacerbation.

As I stood there holding our 18 month old daughter I was never so overwhelmed …23 years later Multiple Sclerosis has cruelly gnawed at Patti until she is non-ambulatory, bedridden and 100% depended on others for her activities of daily living.

Her progression was so rapid her earliest neuro urged care facility admission years before I was willing to lower the flag on homecare.

Ironically it was “just in case” something happened to me that helped Patti navigate the transition as her MS dementia and cognitive impairments began to flare.

December 2011 that “just in case entered our lives” … now trying to outlive lung cancer has entered my world as well as tying to live with Multiple Sclerosis as a family.

It’s OK to say congratulations but please no comments on VOWS ... First of all Patti's MS symptoms mask the mind numbing courage to survive these decades of being gnawed to near death ... no VOWS drive her.

And as for me also NO VOWS ... “The measure of a man lies not in what he says but what he does” Grant Morrison’s “Superman”

Editor's note: We are extremely saddened to say that on November 11, 2013, Patrick Leer passed away. Patrick was an essential member of the MultipleSclerosis.net community, providing unique insight and perspective as the primary caregiver to his wife, who has MS. His heartful writing continues to reach many. He is deeply missed.

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