Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

January 8, 2012

"A family learns the true meaning of ‘in sickness and in health’ "

Washington Post

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).




Anonymous Marjorie the Medium-rare said...

There are over 800 comments to the WaPo article and they're pretty extremely polarized. Ugh.

January 08, 2012 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A beautiful moving story that demonstrates the meaning of 'real love'. Thanks for sharing.

January 09, 2012 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Joreth said...

This sounds an awful lot like the made-for-TV movie "A Strange Affair" (aka A Husband, A Wife and a Lover) starring Judith Light.

January 12, 2012 8:29 PM  
Blogger Ashbet said...

That article made me cry so much -- my father died after a brain injury (from a stroke, but caused by brain cancer), but he lived for six long, terrible months in a locked-in state (he was still mentally present, but his language center had been damaged, so he couldn't talk or write.)

My mother cared for him faithfully, brought him home when she could (with the indispensable help of home-health nurses, because my Dad was a big man and my mother couldn't have handled moving him or dealing with other medical tasks.) When he died, we all grieved, but we were also happy that he was released from his pain.

And, less than a year later, she started dating a man who had been a childhood friend (they'd been out of contact for 46 years, but my aunt re-introduced them), and they got married soon thereafter.

Some people, including my brother (a born-again Christian), were judgmental -- as if her love for my father was diminished by her desire not to remain alone. I think that she was a faithful wife to my father in all the ways that counted, and what she did after his death in no way changed that.

I have my differences with my mother for a lot of reasons (she's a terrible parent and not a very good grandparent, either), but she was a HELL of a wife to my Dad, and for that I will be forever grateful.

But, yes -- as a poly person who does very deeply love more than one person, I can understand how love for someone new doesn't have to tarnish or diminish love for someone past or present, and I am so happy that this family has found a way to continue loving each other and caring for each other in a way that allows all of them to be happy and healthy.

I just wish that the law hadn't required Page to divorce Robert in order to marry Allan -- that was one of the things that brought tears to my eyes.

January 29, 2012 2:53 PM  

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