In Sickness and in Health a SCT Love Story – By SCTA Volunteer Cynthia Palewicz and Day Hoyt
I was driving my truck home from work one day and enjoying the fall colors on the surrounding Oklahoma hills when I began to pray, as was my custom “Ya know Lord, I’ve proven to my self that I don’t need a man, but it sure would be nice to have someone to share my life with.” You see after a failed marriage of 21 yrs (4 of those yrs separated), and 3yrs divorced, I had only dated once and that was brief, very brief. I guess I was just too protective of my life, I had worked really hard to rebuild it. I had finished raising my children on my own. They were and are great. Grandchildren were entering my life. I had bought a nice house in the country on my own. Bought my first vehicle on my own (yeah it was an old rusted Ford with a messed up hydraulic clutch but I loved it). After my divorce I went back to college full time and worked full time and helped start a children’s ministry. At home I played with my dogs and my horse. I was busy, I was happy…what more could an old country girl want? Evidently more…
Meanwhile far, far, away in the Bitter Root Mountains of Idaho, a Pastor felt the Lord releasing him from his current pastorate. The church he had started from the ground-up. The congregation he loved. Ever obedient he answered “Yes Lord, but where?” He too had been busy rebuilding a life after the shock of his spouse of 23yrs, suddenly walked away. He too had spent 3 yrs divorced and had dated only once, briefly. His position as pastor was bi-vocational, which meant that if he wanted to eat and pay bills he had to work somewhere other than just being the pastor. The church did not provide a salary. He was the one that usually provided the money for the heat bill or light bill at the church anyway; after all it was a labor of love. So he would spend his days traveling many miles (his territory covered 7 counties) to tune pianos. In the evening he would work in his shop refinishing pianos, or making calls for the following day. He had just finished remodeling his piano shop and the business was doing well. Many times he adjusted his work around the needs of he congregants. Life was good, he loved the mountains, the people, what more could he want? Evidently more…
Hummmmmm…….how in the world did we meet? E-Harmony.com. Yup yesssireee ya read it right. See George had joined for three months and was on his last month. I had been offered a free one-month trail. October 3, 2003 I came home from work a little disappointed because my plans for the evening with friends had fallen through. I sat down and stared at the screen for a while and then remembered “Oh yeah…I joined that thingy this morning before work”. Sure enough I opened it up and I had 5 matches (yes my search parameters were rather strict). The third one was a fellow from Idaho. Idaho…where in the blazes is Idaho?
Every spare moment for the next week was spent checking the website and visiting with matches. I was nervous about all this. I had gained a ton of weight over the past few years despite all my efforts (gym everyday after work, walking 2 miles with dogs, etc). Two recent surgeries (gall bladder then 9 months later [April 1, ’03 – no Fooling] exploratory emergency surgery for appendix, ovary, and fallopian tube) had left scars, and something was not quite right with my legs.
By the second week the field had been narrowed to one – George the pastor from Idaho. We just clicked on so many levels. Most important to both of us, we shared the same faith, the same views on doctrine, and the same personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, back at work my co-workers teased me daily about finding the Idaho axe murder online. Gotta Love’em…. thanks Brandi.
Oh yeah, my grown children were pretty sure that mom had lost it.
George was smart. He kept his mouth closed and avoided all of this harassment!
We typed our fingers off for about two weeks until George offered his number. I was surprised…really…I hadn’t scared him off yet? I had sent current photos. He did almost scare me off though when he “Googled” my address and then asked if I lived on county road such and such. (Fr a moment I thought my co-worker Brandi might have been correct about that psycho thingy.)
November arrived and we were e-mailing cards to each other daily. Every evening that was free we were on the phone (thank goodness for unlimited long distance). One evening George asked “What if I fly down there for Thanksgiving”? DUH…. dummy me the first thing out of my mouth was “you can’t stay here, you’ll need to get a hotel room”! I’m kinda eloquent like that. Then I was so embarrassed that I had assumed that he would do anything but get a hotel room. My youngest son was coming home from college for Thanksgiving so he of course appointed himself my bodyguard. Geezzz….
We would finally meet in person after almost two months of e-mails and phone calls. I was ecstatic and scared to death! I was also hoping that my limp would not show. It was getting harder and harder not to drag my right foot with out swinging my hip. You see about two weeks after meeting George online I woke up one Saturday morning and my right leg would not move – at all. Scary, very scary. Finally I squirmed and wiggled and repositioned myself until my leg began to work a little. My daughter was treating me to my first professional (store bought) pedicure ever (I told you I was an old country girl), by the time she arrived to pick me up I could walk, but my right leg drug. So the following Monday morning I made an appointment with a Chiropractor. That seemed to resolve the issue and I tried to forget about it.
Ok so here’s the stupid part. Well the really stupid part. I drove an hour to the big city airport at 11:50pm (frequent flyer miles, have to fly when they have space) by myself to pick up a guy I’d never met in person before. Ok, ok, I’m not quite that stupid…. I had run background checks; called references (after checking out their numbers and backgrounds)…do I sound a little paranoid? Yeah, but I still drove down in the dark, by myself, THANK YOU JESUS that he was who he said he was! Anyway back to sanity…
Did I mention I was nervous? I had a few concerns. What would George think when he saw me in person? I had been honest about my weight from the get-go. Oh well if nothing else I had just made a great new friend and he would get to see a part of the U.S. that he had never traveled to before. Also…. George is 10 years older than I. Hummmm…. I hope he doesn’t walk like an old man (I actually had that thought – what a hypocrite). I remember walking back toward the unloading area trying to look…uh..uh…not so fat, when all of a sudden around the corner briskly strides this wonderful smiling man that I would have known anywhere! He looked just like his pictures. I barely had time to recognize him (and close my gaping mouth), before he was in front of me. He warmly greeted me as he set his bags down and immediately gave me a great big hug.
We drove the hour back to my smaller city that I lived outside of, talking all the way. Neither one of us had eaten all day so we drove to the only thing open – Denny’s. We ate and visited and laughed until 3 a.m. when suddenly George looked at me and said, “ Well I was going to wait until the end of the week but I already know”. With that he came around to my side of the booth, kneeled down on one knee, and proposed! He had the ring (custom made 17 diamonds count’em baby) in his pocket. Wowzeers! I managed to say yes through my immediate shock and then finally our first kiss! Needless to say the rest of the week was a blur and so happy!
George returned to Idaho and we returned to phone calls and e-cards. However, he surprised me a few days after he returned home by asking “Would you like to come to Idaho for Christmas”? Once again I was searching for Idaho on a map.
Christmas in Idaho was picture perfect, beautiful mountains, 300 ft. pine trees, gorgeous clear wide rivers, and everything covered in snow, lots of snow. I met most of his family, friends, and members of his congregation. He was who he said he was. Duh…thank goodness since I’d already said yes…let’s just blame that part on my undiagnosed SCT.
Remember my limp? Well, it got worse in Idaho. This southwestern girl did learn an important snow related tip while sledding with future nieces. Never, never, ever step off of the snow packed trail…even with one foot. I did and sunk up to my hip on one side. George had to hoist his rotund bride-to-be out of the snow. Good thing he’s strong. Good thing I have a sense of humor and could kinda-sorta cover….UGH!
The two weeks I spent in Idaho passed way too fast and once again I found my self back in Oklahoma visiting with George by e-cards and phone calls. We knew it was time to set a date for the wedding. George ended up being the one to pick it. George also made the decision to relocate to Oklahoma. Even though I had loved every minute of being in Idaho, it was the very first Christmas in my life to be away from my children and grandchildren. I tried to hide my emotions, but he was on to me. He knew.
Side note: Most of our Children and Grandchildren at our wedding. Our son-in-law is sporting the mustache.
So on FEBRUARY 14, 2004
George bravely married me and instantly became a father of three grown children, a father-in-law, and grandfather to four grandchildren. He had to relocate and start-up a new business and take on another mortgage. Brave man!
Our first year of marraige we welcomed a new granddaughter and George got to be there at the hospital to hold her.
The second year of our marriage we spent 3 months in the Northwest (working vacation). We went white water rafting on class 4 rapids in a dory! Awesome Possum! Major scary and fun!
The third year of our marriage we welcomed a new son! Most people have a midlife crisis and get a sports car, but not us we adopted a 5 year old boy, Noah. He moved in with us on March 17, ’07 and three days later we welcomed into this world another granddaughter. Double blessings in one month!
Side note: This picture was taken in January’09. He was waiting on Mom to get the next lesson ready. I have home-schooled Noah through out this whole ordeal. It has been one of our “constants” during the past two years of change.
The fourth year of our marriage I became a beginning stage quadriplegic. George had to do all the shopping. He had to lift my legs in and out of bed. Move my torso. Bath me and be on call in case I fell during transfers. He also had to lift me in and out of our van. Our little son had to call his Daddy many times and say “Mommy fell”. I do believe that George was through the door before our son could hang up the phone. All of this was taking its’ toll on us. We had moved 5 times in 10 months trying to get health care for me. Our finances were shot. I was trying not to be depressed, trying not to be cranky, trying to be a good mommy, and a good wife. I had taught myself how to load and unload the dishwasher from my power chair with just a little help from our son. I could stand and brace myself long enough to load and unload our stackable washer and dryer. The pain was intense and any wrong move would send me to the floor. My arms only worked within a certain range of motion. Mis-diagnosed and undertreated for 4 1/2 years, we prayed for guidance.
June 10th 2008 a laminectomy from C6-T2 was performed by Dr. Kyle Mangles and assisted by Dr. Tomecheck, both of the Oklahoma Spine and Brain Institute. I entered the hospital with no insurance, just disability pending…a special thank you to a wonderful Dr. Swami of OU Medical at Hillcrest Hospital. He made sure I was properly diagnosed and lined up the wonderful surgeons. It was a begin meniginoma. I have never seen the surgeons report so I don’t know all the details. Just that it’s gone. I spent 35 days in the hospital and had to have a second surgery to track down infection (none found – though tests indicated it – answered prayer). I spent the summer and fall learning to walk again. Learning to use my body again.
While I was in the hospital friends and family pitched in to watch Noah while George worked and moved us for the last time. We had managed to purchase a tiny house on the edge of my hometown just before I went into the hospital.
Side note: This picture was taken Christmas ’08 out at our daughter and son-in-laws ranch. Yes I can now stand up straighter. No…Noah did not stick his finger in a light socket (he just hates having to stand still)…Yes George still has hair (bad lighting). It’s not completely gray, but the past few years have given both of us many new “platinum highlights”!
February 14, 2009 – 5th Anniversary! We made it! We have been through H.E.double toothpicks and back! We trusted in our Lord the whole way and have witnessed many miracles and received many blessings. So what is in store for this fifth year? Well the sky is the limit! You see I am now walking unassisted even if a bit wobbly, and recently began driving. Beware of the white mini-van! We are looking forward to George’s family reunion in Idaho (I love the mountains). I might even be able to hike a little (emphasis on the word “little”)!
This year promises to be a time to renew our strength, learn to have fun again, and enjoy the company of family and friends. Praise the Lord for a second chance at life and Praise the Lord for a giving me a Husband that would stay by my side!
Peace ~ Day