Since neither of us can walk, John wanted to take our relationship “one wheelstroke at a time.” Easy for him to say, since he had been living in the Greater Boston Area pretty much all his life. He knew, of course, that I’d moved back to San Rafael, California just a few short months before we first chatted online, but he had no idea that my interest in a future with him required me to put off major life decisions until either he proposed or we broke up.
John’s Polio had affected his breathing, making plane travel unwise (and probably dangerous) for him. Consequently, I would have to make all the visits, as well as be the one to move if we married. For that reason, the course of our relationship would affect my future more dramatically than it would affect his. This being the case, I felt an urgency about our future that wanted a faster progression of “wheelstrokes” than John seemed willing to make. In addition to my own eagerness (after all, I was in my mid-40s), I felt pressure from other people to make decisions about my life.
Most notably, a family member had legitimate concerns about my mom’s ability to care for me in her advancing age. She threatened to find a nursing home for me if I didn’t make an effort to procure a new living situation. Thankfully, I convinced her to wait until we knew what would happen with John. That decision, along with other major decisions, had to stay on hold.
I did, however, begin teaching the Junior High Sunday School class at Church of the Open Door, knowing that it could be a temporary ministry while I waited. I thought it might teach me to control my temper (it didn’t), and the church really needed teachers for that age group. Other than teaching that class once every three Sundays, I tried to minimize my attachment to San Rafael…just in case the Lord brought me and John together.
But John made a significant “wheelstroke” on March 31, 1999 by telling me that he loved me. Not long afterwards, we began making plans for my first visit.
Knowing that we believed we loved each other didn’t assure me that we’d feel the same when we met face-to-face. Nor did it mean that the Lord wanted us to marry. To further complicate matters (at least from my perspective), a former girlfriend of John’s contacted him as she was dying of cancer. Remembering how my feelings for Bob intensified after he died, I feared that this lady’s death would have a similar effect on John. So I tried to approach my upcoming visit with the attitude that God might use it to show us that He wanted us to just be friends.
Often, when I struggled with confusion and frustration over John, I’d drive my power wheelchair around Terra Linda and pour out my feelings to the Lord. I remember one afternoon when I sat in a secluded little park (a favorite of mine, even though I seldom got to go there) and prayed. I comforted myself with the thought that, even if things with John didn’t work out, the Lord would have blessed me with the opportunity to see Boston.
When John greeted me at Logan Airport that October evening by kissing my hand, I knew it wouldn’t be our last visit. He, on the other hand, had such difficulty feeding me (selfishly, I’d asked him to do it from my left) that he went home from my hotel sorrowful that he saw no way of making a marriage with me work.
For my first full day that visit, John planned a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts followed by a lobster dinner in the Oak Room at the Copley Fairmont Hotel. He’d known that I spent the night of my Senior Prom studying Macbeth, so he wanted to make it up to me. Therefore he figured that, rather than spoil my “prom night.” he’d wait until the next day to break the news.
He hadn’t counted on our first in-person date confirming that he was in love.
The next day, before we had lunch with his mom and his pastor, we kissed for the first time. Later that evening we had dinner at Wolleston Beach with our Personal Care Attendants, and at his church on Sunday I joined him in doing the Children’s Sermon.
Breaking up was the last thing on our minds when John and I said goodbye at Logan Airport that Monday. We’d taken a big “wheelstroke” in our relationship, trusting that the Lord Jesus Christ had plans for us. As yet, I wasn’t certain He had marriage in His will for us, but I sure had hope!
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