Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's, Cool Day or a Painful Reminder?

Yesterday my friend, Lisa updated her facebook about the anniversary of her husband, Rick's accident leaving him a paraplegic. It was 27 years ago. I want to post this in honor of their love and the hard holiday that Valentine’s is for them. I have to say Rick has the best attitude of anyone I have ever met whose wheelchair is a main mode of transportation! I am blessed to have them in my life.

I nominated her in the Resilient category and of course, she won. Thanks, Debra West from the Women’s Lifestyle Magazine. You always honored women and affirmed them in so many ways. I sure miss that magazine!

Lisa Triplett, the adoptive mother of two of my grandchildren is one of the most resilient women I know.
Years ago, while working her way through college she worked at a church daycare center. There she connected with Brandi Triplett, the daughter of a boy she had dated in high school. Rick had been her first date but her Mom felt she was too young at that time for a relationship with someone two years older, so the romance was short-lived. Rick married someone else after High School and was divorced soon after, a single father with a little girl. Rick was now in the Navy out of state and his daughter was living with his Mom and Dad.

Rick and Lisa reconnected through Brandi, seeing each other, writing and by phone calls when he went back to the California base.

In 1985 he asked Lisa to marry him. Plans were made for a December wedding as he was being transferred from California to Jacksonville, Florida. One month after the engagement, Lisa received the devastating news; Rick had been in an automobile accident and was paralyzed from his chest down! It was Valentine’s Day.

Lisa and Rick’s Mom flew to Jacksonville and from that moment to this, Lisa has rarely left his side for more than a few days at a time. In the first days at the hospital his heart stopped four times with Lisa by his bed in the dark of night. As alarms went off on the life-support machines, she prayed, begging God for him to survive. After several weeks he was stabilized and was moved to Hines, VA Hospital in Chicago, where the hours of rehab were agonizing for him. As a young man he had to adjust to a totally new way of life. As he lay on his stomach in a striker frame which caused pain in his neck, head and shoulders, Lisa would sit under his bed so he could see her and read, talk, play his music, and do all she could to help pass the time and accommodating him in any way possible.

The biggest decision lay ahead; what about the marriage? Lisa was told that seven years was the average length for marriage to a paraplegic and she had to go through counseling, learning how to totally care for his personal needs and more.

Easter Sunday, 1985, in the hospital chapel they were married. Rick, still in pain, still unable to sit up in his chair, was in a partial reclining position in his black suit, gazing at his beautiful, radiant bride.

Lisa’s sense of humor is a trait that helps her be supportive to her husband; she joked about spending her wedding night in a motel room with her parents in one bed and she and her mother-in-law in the other. “I’ll bet I’m the only bride in history to spend her wedding night sleeping with her mother-in-law instead of her husband!”

There were years of outpatient treatment that still continue now; Rick is bedridden but with Lisa’s help and care he loves to get out and about in his wheelchair and specially adjusted van. He is a strong, vibrant Christian man who never complains and is a blessing to many.

Because Lisa is always supportive of Rick’s needs she left her family and roots and moved from their home in Indiana to Florida, as the cold weather is too hard on Rick. They had already visited the area when she took him to a fishing tournament on Lake Monroe in Florida for paraplegics. They found a handicapped accessible house for sale in Edgewater. Lisa continues to encourage Rick by taking him to church activities, football games, baseball games, music concerts and more.

Rick just turned 48 years old and has a full life because of the resilient, accommodating, adaptable, cheerful, flexible, rebounding, and unsinkable character of his wife.

A few years ago, Lisa went back to college and graduated with a degree in Health Information Management; she juggled the boy’s and Rick’s care while maintaining high grades. Her parents moved down to give Lisa some much-needed support. But she is a supportive daughter to them and their needs also, when she isn’t caring for, loving, doing field trips, shopping for or playing with the boys.

Lisa won the Women’s Lifestyle SPIRIT award with this story four years ago, so the ages are wrong but everything else is pretty current.

Donna Collins Tinsley

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