Vows Honored, Even After Circumstances Changed
A young man of twenty met the girl of his dreams. After a whirlwind courtship of only two months, this excited young chap was looking forward to a future of wedded bliss with his young bride of eighteen. Little did he know, life would throw them a curveball. A test of faith, commitment, and integrity.
A few years into their marriage, his bride was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Eventually, it left her completely paralyzed, stripping her of her independence. For 40 years, she lived with this debilitating disease.
I recently heard the definition of integrity explained as keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed. Though my friend would never want any attention called to his actions of integrity, I, and many others, watched him serve the woman he promised to love in all circumstances out of his deep love and devotion. He always says, “I only did what I promised God and my wife that I would do when I took my vows to be faithful in sickness and in health.”
His unrelenting resolve spoke volumes, not only to
those of us who knew him personally, but also to those who only saw a man giving unconditional care and love to his wife.
Every Sunday, Rick would make sure Janelle was able to attend church services with their church family, even though it meant bringing her in a wheelchair. Very few people had any idea of the many things that had transpired before they even arrived. He would get up extremely early to gather his final thoughts on the Sunday School lesson he had prepared all week to teach. He cooked breakfast and prepared lunch for when they arrived back home from church. Most importantly was his role of making sure Janelle would be attending church with him. After feeding her breakfast, brushing her hair, and getting her dressed (including her support hose which is quite the challenge), he would then apply all of her makeup, even eyeliner and mascara!
While he was holding down a full-time job, Rick would come home at the end of the day to prepare a delicious meal he knew Janelle would enjoy. Eating always brought her such great pleasure. Often, they invited friends over for a meal, which he would prepare, or they would go out to a restaurant for the sheer pleasure of interacting with other couples. On one such occasion, someone in the restaurant was so moved by this husband feeding his wife, while the couples all laughed and talked together, that when Rick went to pay his bill, he was astonished to learn that all of their meals had already been paid for by a complete stranger.
Rick also made sure that Saturdays were spent on day trips for both of them to enjoy. He wanted Janelle to get out and see what was going on in the world. He took her to plays at Town Theatre, the Gilbert Peach Festival and the Greek Festival
in downtown Columbia, SC. They traveled to see the topiaries in Pearl Fryar’s beautiful garden in Bishopville, SC and went on numerous other adventures.
He made sure she was able to attend the Ladies Tea Party at church, and spent quite some time getting her dressed in her finest. Upon their arrival, he pulled up to the glass doors of the fellowship hall and, in Rick’s typical style of humor said, “Oh Janelle, I thought you told me this was a fancy affair, but they all have on jeans and cowboy hats!” His quick wit would prove to be invaluable in getting them through many difficult situations. He could usually manage to get a chuckle out of her or produce that beautiful smile of hers, even from a hospital bed.
Rick did not allow Janelle’s confinement to a wheelchair to deter him from making the effort to take her on some lengthy, yet fun trips. They took a trip to Orlando to see the Holy Land Experience. She accompanied him on a business trip to Hawaii because all of the wives were invited.
They made a trip to her friend’s mountain cabin, complete with a ride down to the creek, which he accomplished by securing Janelle in a golf cart.
Rick managed to take Janelle on a train trip to see their son, Scott, after he settled in his new apartment in Philadelphia. They left for the train station in the middle of the night. The plan was to sleep for part of the 14-hour train ride. Janelle slept quite soundly. However, Rick did not, comparing the ride to a bucking bronco. While in Pennsylvania, Scott had arranged for them to stay at the Ritz Carlton! They also enjoyed a tour of the Amish Country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as well as a full day of sightseeing with their son in Philadelphia.
This husband’s unwavering faith in the Lord has been a tremendous witness to countless people. What a beautiful love story of vows kept, even after their circumstances changed.
is an active member of Trinity Baptist Church where she is involved in Sunday School, Bible Studies, Joy Club, and the Homebound Ministry. She also attends a weekly exercise class, is a member of the Red Hats, and volunteers at the South Congaree Friends of the Library. Judith has a daughter and son-in-law, a son, and two grandchildren (both are her favorite).