"A family learns the true meaning of ‘in sickness and in health’ "
Remember the story of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and her husband with Alzheimer's? He fell in love with another woman at his nursing home, and O'Connor gave her blessing.
Today's Washington Post Sunday magazine presents an even more powerful story in the aftermath of a brain-injury tragedy. Robert H. Melton, one of the Post's leading writers and editors (on the right here), barely survived massive brain damage in 2003. Today he is moderately functional though not recovered, living happily with the devotion and efforts of his loyal wife Page, and the steady help and love of Page's other, newer husband, Allan D. Ivie IV, and their combined six kids.
The marriage laws didn't exactly fit.
...Allan, too, was grappling with his feelings. He recalls that early on Page told him she was resigned to being alone with the girls for the rest of her life. “I said, ‘You can’t. Your heart is way too big for that.’ ”
He realized that the only way their relationship could develop was if it included Robert. As he started falling in love with Page, he said to her: “I see this responsibility that you have, and I want to help you with it. I understand this is a package deal.”
Page eventually introduced Allan to Robert, and Allan worked to forge his own relationship with Robert, writing him an e-mail every day and taking him to breakfast at IHOP, Robert’s favorite, whenever he was in town....
Friends used to assume that the holidays were the hardest times for her. But it was really the motions of everyday life. Now, that’s what brings her the greatest joy: making breakfast, setting the table — the long oak table from her dining room in Virginia that now sits in the sunny kitchen. There they all clasp hands to say grace before dinner. The table is big enough to accommodate all of them.
Here's the first page, with photos. Here's the full text (Jan. 8, 2012).
P.S., later: Here is a second, very similar story of a man's brain-damage tragedy, his dedicated caregiver partner, and eventually, a happily poly-ever-after solution: The Love Bucket: Loving Gingerly on DarynKagan.com (video, 3:49. Seems to be dated 080206).