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TITLE: Always A Care Giver
By Jim Oates

This is an excerpt from Wilma My Friend My Wife
Some time after I retired from General Motors, Wilma decided to take on the job as custodian at Essex Gospel Tabernacle, the church we had been attending for several years. She did this for ten years, from January 1989 until December 1999. I helped her with the harder jobs and some of the maintenance. She was very thorough in whatever she did and received many complements on how clean and tidy the church always looked. Over this time, she worked for three different Pastors who all spoke highly of her.

I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in the fall of 1998. God was gracious through it all, and Wilma, although fearful, was faithfully at my side the whole time. Radical prostate surgery was performed in January 1999. With home-care nurses coming and the faithful Wilma always there to see to my every need or want; I recovered.

Wilma continued to take care of the church until December of 1999. It was at this time that I developed Poli-Myalgia-Rheumatica a crippling disease, which limited my ability to help her. As the disease progressed, I was also limited in doing personal things for myself, such as bathing, dressing and going upstairs to the bathroom. I had to maneuver the stairs one step at a time on my bum.

It was quite some time before I was able to see a specialist, who diagnosed my affliction. In the mean time, since my stair climbing was limited and I had a hard time sleeping because lying flat on our firm mattress was painful for me; I slept in the recliner in the living room for several months. This was a very long time not being able to sleep next to the person I love.

It was about this time, unknown to me, Wilma broke down weeping in front of Rob and his wife, Lori; she was fearful that she would have to admit me to a nursing home. The thought of living apart was overwhelming. I only heard about this some time after her funeral. She always wore a brave face in front of me.

Before I was able to see a specialist, I had a treatment by a massage therapist. She recommended that I soak for twenty minutes in a tub of very warm water, with Epsom salts added. I hadnít been able to sit down in a tub for quite some time; Wilma helped me to lower myself into the water. It was very soothing and relaxing; I stayed there for at least a half an hour.

The time came to get out; no matter how I tried I couldnít get out, I didnít have the strength to lift myself. Wilma tried every which way to help me up, to no avail. Draining the water and removing her shoes, she stood over me in the tub with a leg on each side straddling me. She was not strong enough. The tub was slippery, I was slippery and without proper handles, it was an impossible task. Itís a wonder with all the slipping and sliding, she didnít fall. My arms were not strong enough to help her to help me. What a predicament! She got herself over to one side and tried to roll me up and over the edge of the tub; that didnít work either. We were just about to call her brother to come to help; he is a big guy, and could have lifted me easily. We were just about to give up when Wilma gave me one more tug, I donít know how it happened, I just popped out. I believe the Lord must have given her super human strength or an angel dropped by to help.

Wilma vowed that she would never allow me to get into the tub again. I have faithfully obeyed her and have never gotten into a bathtub again, except to take a shower sitting on a bath stool we had to buy.

I wish we had had a movie camera going that day; that would have kept us laughing for years. As it was, we often looked back and had a good laugh about it.

The specialist gave me a course of medication that I took for one year; since then I have regained most of my strength. Without my faithful Wilma, I probably would have ended up in a nursing home. Fortunately, all this happened after our children had grown and I was the only one she had to take care of.

I feel as though I have been doubly blessed; God blessed Wilma with the strength and stamina to do what she had to do. God blessed me by raising me up again.

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22).

This has proved to be true in my case over and over many times throughout our marriage. Wilma has truly been a blessing to me.
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