I met Doug my first week at UNI (University of Northern Iowa). He was the dining hall manager and had to carry my tray. It was awesome. If your going to marry somebody make sure he is your slave first. I’m just kidding. Make sure he waits on you hand and foot [both laugh]. I remember the first time he took me to the dining hall he sat my tray down and asked if this was prime scoping area. He knew I was there to check out what UNI had to offer. It soon became a trend, he would be the only one to carry my tray, claiming that he was the manager and it was the manager’s job. But my girlfriend was actually working underneath him and told me “Oh no, we were told whoever was available could do it but I remember times when Doug would jump over the counter to come and carry your trey.” So he was obviously flirting, and flirted a lot for about three months.

He was playing football and they tackled him resulting in him ‘spraining his ankle’. That was a time where he said he couldn’t run away so I asked him out. Because my girlfriends said it was getting ridiculous, why don’t you ask him out?  So I asked him, he said yes, and we have been together ever since. Our first date was a non-scary group date. Our second date we talked about stuff, we always spent lots of time talking about stuff but this date we talked about big stuff right away. He asked me about my disability. On our second date we went out for pizza and he teased me relentlessly, constantly saying “I noticed you only ate half your piece of pizza, I noticed you only drank half of your pop, is everything you do in half. I was gonna kill him [both laugh]. So the next night he shows up at my dorm with flowers behind his back and I remember saying to him “If there are only six roses in this bag you are in trouble.” Lucky for him he had the full dozen so he saved himself there.

He and I grew up together. I was 18 when I met him and went through a lot together. Did the whole dealing the parents who don’t accept and dealing with all of that kind of stuff. People stare at me everywhere we go. I remember that he always used to say that people were actually staring at him cause he was so good looking. Whatever. We just always clicked. We had a couple times where we broke up in-between but not anything longer than six weeks at a time.

When he graduated, I went up to Minnesota for a weekend and he said to me, “Lets go shopping, lets go look” I go, “What are we looking at?”, He goes “we are going to look at computers”, I go “whatever you don’t need a computer.” So we went to the mall and he pushes me into the jewelry store. He’s like, “pick what ring you want”, so I picked out my own ring. At the time I didn’t have my powered chair yet, only a manual chair. He pushed me into a sporting goods store next door and I asked him what we were doing here. He goes “I just make sure there’s not anything else I need more.” Oh your so romantic Doug. “So do you?” and I’m like, “do I what?”, “well do you want to get married?”.

Humor has always been a part of our life. I mean, we’ve always had a sense of humor. When we got engaged, after picking my own ring, he got down on one like he actually should, the ring sizers were actually in the store so it could be sized in store. He went to put the ring on my finger and the gal behind the counter said, “wait your putting it on the wrong hand.” And It was really really funny. He started putting it on my left arm and it didn’t fit. The women thought she ruined a special moment but all she did was give me a story that I can tell the rest of my life. She did not play it off well, she fell down behind the counter and just sobbed she was so mortified. I loved it.

There are a lot of things we have to do differently . . . But what he does is he sits there and thinks about how can we do things differently, it’s not about ‘I have to do this’ its ‘how can we make this work’.

I think that growing up together, and being married for 25 years, being together for 29, we have been through a lot. When you go through having a child who was born that premature, that’s a stress, stresses of moving, getting new vehicles that cost a fortune, and doing all that, we have just grown together and been through it all together. He is a good guy. Let me tell you one more thing about Doug and this sums up who he is as a person. There are a lot of things we have to do differently, obviously whether it comes from building a house that is accessible, or making sure that vehicles are accessible or even so far as driving mini-vans because we have to have a mini-van, or having a pontoon boat because we can’t have a speed boat because I can’t get in a speed boat on my own. So there are a lot of things that he has had to do differently. But what he does is he sits there and thinks about how can we do things differently, it’s not about ‘I have to do this’ its ‘how can we make this work’. And I think that sums up his entire being, the acceptance factor and just how much he truly valued who I was as a person and that my disability was never something that defined me. I think that is important, he never saw it as he had to do anything out of duty, he did it out of what he had to do. That right there sums us up.

Faith & Religion