Several years ago my cousin Leona was told that her husband Vic showed early indications of Parkinson’s, plus another equally debilitating condition for which as yet there is no cure. Vic had worked for BC Hydro and had also built a number of homes after retirement. They are now living in the most recent home, a well designed structure that speaks of a master builder’s wonderful attention to detail.
With her buoyant personality, sense of humor and capacity to commit, Leona has also experienced a good deal of success. In an earlier career as a realtor, she was easily in the top ten percent in listings and in sales. To help their sons get started in business, she entered into a partnership with them and they opened an eye glass outlet. Based on a bedrock of integrity and excellent service, the business did well. Before long they expanded to other centers and into the hearing aid field.
Then came the diagnosis that caused Vic to lay down his hammer and saw and hang up the ladder in his garage for the last time. Leona’s participation in the business venture with their sons didn’t cease entirely, but she resolved to make Vic her #1 priority.
Under her fun loving, quick to laugh exterior, there abides a deep commitment to her husband. He isn’t someone to be discarded when difficult circumstances arise. She thinks of him as her life partner. “We are going to ride this out together,” she says.
“I’m going to keep him at home as long as I can manage. If it becomes necessary, I’ll mortgage our house to keep him here.” Vic’s condition presents some difficult challenges and she has already hired live in help.
When we visited at their home recently, Linda and I were impressed by Leona’s total commitment to him. “I won’t sell his pickup truck or his work trailer,” she said. “And I won’t get rid of his tools. That is all part of who he has always been. I won’t take them away from him.”
Leona’s determination to maintain a comfortable, undisturbed atmosphere in the home is proving to be helpful to Vic. When we were there, he appeared relaxed and seemed to be enjoying life.
A week before Leona’s recent birthday, he began each day by wishing her a happy birthday. Each day she said, “no, it’s not my birthday yet.” When her birthday did arrive, she responded to his happy birthday wish by saying, “yes Vic, today is my birthday.” He said, “I just didn’t want to forget.”
For Linda and me there is a valuable lesson in Leona’s unswerving commitment to Vic.