It was late summer/early fall when Jerry moved from Indiana to California to marry me in mid-November. This time of year brings to mind the last minute preparations we made for our wedding, and the adjustments we encountered now living in the same area and learning to do life together. Over the next couple weeks leading up to our anniversary I will share some of those adjustments.
Before I even knew there was a possibility of “Joan and Jerry” I had purchased a condo. I purposely purchased a ground level single story because I wanted my friends with disabilities to come to my home. Though it was a ground level, there was still that nasty little three or four inch step up into the front door. For friends who visited periodically a small piece of plywood worked fine.
Once Jerry moved in (for the two months prior to our wedding he moved into my home, and I moved in with friends) we needed a more stable entry solution. A friend built a much wider semi-permanent ramp. Another friend volunteered to paint it. Jerry agreed he would stay inside that day. Before I went to work I pulled the ramp away from the door so he would remember to not wheel on to a wet ramp. We asked the painting friend to please not put the ramp back, I would do that in the evening to be sure it was completely dry.
Later that afternoon Jerry heard the mailman outside and saw the ramp was back in place, assuming that meant it was dry. He rolled out to get the mail and looked around our concrete patio and the driveway; he saw no paint residue so went back into the house.
Jerry has this fun habit of “pacing” in his wheelchair, by turning circles while he is reading mail or talking on the phone. After sorting the mail and doing a few circles he looked down (at the one year old light gray carpet I had installed when I bought the place).
A few minutes later my phone rang at work. The first words I heard were, “Do you want me to call the moving truck back?”
I asked why would he ask that? He told me what had happened, and though the concrete did not show any paint, the soft light colored carpet now sported brown circles of brown oil based paint! Apparently, our friend felt the paint was dry to the touch and put the ramp back in place.
My response was “Don’t move, I’ll be right home!” I hung up and asked my co-workers how to get oil based paint out of carpet. After a quick stop to buy the cleaning solution I went home. First thing I did was pull the ramp away from the door!
We spent the evening cleaning Jerry’s tires, and scrubbing the paint out of the carpet. Jerry felt horrible. This was not the way he wanted to start our new life. Most of the paint came out, along with a slight bit of the carpet color. When we sold that house three years later if you looked carefully you could see light circles by the front door.
Over the years this story has made us laugh. I am sorry this happened to Jerry and howdistressed he felt when it happened, but I am glad it happened. It made it very clear from our earliest days together that stuff is just that – stuff. It NEVER is more important than people, especially each other.
If you come to our home today hopefully you will see that we strive to be good stewards of the resources God has given us, but they don’t control us. Our house is kid and disability friendly, it is not a museum. I want Jerry, and we both want our family and friends, to be comfortable and at home. Spots come and go – but Joan and Jerry – we’re in it for the long haul!