I know my appearance and my speech impairment can be very intimidating at times.
The fear of embarrassing either yourself or me can stop us from talking to people.
]’I was made freshly aware of that just recently when I met a girl at my church, Ramsey,
who was in a wheelchair and also had a speech impairment. I really am not a very good
judge of how bad a speech impairment is because 9 times out of ten I can’t hear myself slur.
But if I had to say it was a little worse than mine. I really think that the only other
person with CP and a speech impediment was a lady in my class at El Centro. I think she
was already married. I think the first time we had a real conversation we really only
got across the general area where each of us lived.The next time we saw each other, the
organ postlude was blaring so loud that we could not hear each other speak and her
friend suggested we move outside because the foyer was still crowded. I kind of got cold
feet and I lost them in the crowd and I ended up leaving. What if we had more trouble
communicating. What if we couldn’t get each other to understand?
But I realized that what if that the roles were reversed would I want her to give
up on me just because it was a little uncomfortable. I think we are so bombarded with
the amount of information we take in that we really don’t take the time to sit down
and talk to each other any more.
So what did I do. I wrote a letter. Just a simple letter introducing myself and showing a
Interest in getting to know her better. So every week I would put that letter in my pocket
And go off to church hoping to see her again. I think I sent a email the church office, I
Was ready to move my membership from Stephenville to St John the Divine in Houston
and I put a line at the end of the note if they knew a girl named Ramsey.They must of thought
I was crazy or a lunatic because they never responded to that part of the letter.
I kept that letter handy for some time and in early June, Ramsey came to church. I usually
had been sitting on the other side of the church and so I got up and walked down the row
behind her and started talking. They invited me to sit with them. I learned that her
sister Kim had brought her to church. You don’t know how great it is just to have somebody
to sit with in church. After church,we went out to the front porch to talk. She gave
me a business card with a email address. When I got home I sent Ramsey my contact
information and we started emailing several times a week. Kim started dropping
Her off and then I would normally call Kim when she was ready to be picked up.
At the end of July , one of our priests was getting married and I ask Ramsey if she was
going and wanted a escort. I knew she wanted to go because she had ask where she was
registered. At first, neither Jan or Rebecca(her friend who was there to pick her up)
or I could understand what she was saying. But having been thru the service with her
I finally figured that is what she was asking Jan where she was registered.Kim
feigned jealously about Ramsey having a date and threatened to call her escort, a former state
trooper So Ramsey suggested that I come over and ride with them because parking was always full.
And ride with them. Parking spaces were few and far between.So on that day I went over
To the house. Her mother, Ann met me at the door and brought me into the living room and we
talked until Kim and Ramsey got ready to go. After a little while they came in and we
chatted for a while and then we loaded into the van and went to church. The wedding was
beautiful. I got to admit at first the dress kind of took me back a little bit. The
only other episcopal wedding I had been to was kind of a high church affair.
But Jan had on a short white lace dress. It was beautiful. After the wedding we
went to Sumner’s Hall for the reception. Ramsey introduced me to a couple of her
friends and Kim got us some food and we ate. We watched the reception activities
and then went thru the line to greet Hal and Jan. When we got thru with the reception
line we went home.
I had been telling Ramsey about things I was doing at work and things I was doing
on the weekend, like what movies I had see. OK, in the back of my mind I thought
maybe she would go to the movie with me sometime? Eventually she ask me if we could go
to the movies and I got so excited that I almost blew the whole deal. The theatre that
they normally go to is a little closer to both of us and so I jumped in the car
and drove by to check it out. While I was out it came a brief flash flood. When
I got home I told her what I had done. She was very upset. She thought I was trying
to control the date. I was just excited to have somebody to do something with and
needed to run off some nervous energy. It took a couple of days to get things straightened
out. Fighting in a relationship with Jackie did not come natural to me because I
rarely saw confict between my mom and dad. You would think that emailing would
make things easier. But the time waiting for a reaction to something is just as
hard. I decided it was better to let her make the arrangements. We agreed to let Kim
drive us to the theatre and pick us up. I think she wanted to see Stepbrothers, but
she wondered if it was too dumb for a first date. I tried to convince her it was ok.
But in the end we ended up seeing Bottleshock, the story about how the first American
winery to beat a French winery in a head-to-head competition. It was pretty good.
After the movie I tried to call Kim on the pay phone but I can never remember is it
put the money in and pickup the receiver or vice-versa. I couldn’t get that to work
so we went to the front desk and they called Kim and she came and got us. Kim and
Ann had ordered pizza for us and we sat down and ate dinner and then I went home.
After a couple of more weeks Ramsey ask me to pick her up and take her to church.
The first couple of times Kim helped me load the wheelchair into the car and most weeks
there were valets at church to help us get in and out of the car. IN september we went
to Rally Day at St John’s. They had a auction to raise money for the different church
organizations, a slide and a bounce house for the kids and barbeque. We really hadnt
intended to eat but some people kind of herded us into getting a plate and we sat down
and ate. After we ate we made one more round of the fair and decided that we were ready
to go home.
After a while, I began to realize that i might not be able to handle Ramsey’s wheelchair.
I Could use the law of gravity to get the wheelchair out of the trunk. But getting it into
the car was a problem. I told Ramsey about it and she talked to kim and we decided that
Kim needed to put the chair in the car and the valets at church would get it out. These
two guys are a piece of work but I am getting ahead in the story. So either me or my mom
came up with the idea of looking for a used van and from a private owner and maybe we would get
a better deal. So I started looking in the paper and when I something I would call mom
and she would make the initial contact and then if she thought it was worth pursuing
i would followup. We missed one good deal after someone sold a van back to one of the dealers
at a great loss. But after a couple of calls I saw a ad for what looked like another dealer and I
told mmom about it and she called and sure enough it was another dealer. OK it wasnt a dealer
but a nationwide with local reps who would come demonstrate their conversions and then you would
picked the actual van of a webite and then it would be delivered to you and they accepted
tradeins.Both of the other dealers were about 10 miles away and I think I would have to
deal with selling my car. So after Tamara and mom exchanged gushy emails(ok I was a
little embarassed) about helping me get a good deal, I emailed Tamara and we sat
up a time for me to see the demonstrator.It made sense to bring it to the office
because that is where the scooter was. I met her out front and ask her to drive it
around back so I would not have to go down the steps. So she did bring it around
to the back and showed me how to open and close the doors and how to raise and
lower the ramp. We talked about all the features of the van and reminded me of
checking the website to find the exact vehicle out of stock and it would be
shipped from Atlanta.
I was not sure that I could figure out what the best deal was so I enlisted
Mom’s help into help me figuring that out the best deal. Mom quickly came
down to a red one and a silver one. I liked the red color but the silver one only had
10000 miles on it. I had shown a picture of the red one to Ramsey and had got
very little reaction. So I showed her the picture of the silver one and she liked that
one. So I sent Tammy a note telling her which one I wanted and tell her the check
for the deposit was in the mail. I think she said it would take about a week but
given that it was a week before Thanksgiving, I thought it might be up to 10 days.
But in a couple of days she called and ask if she could bring it Sunday afternoon after
Church . I said that would be fine. It gave Ramsey and I a chance to go to church and
Get some lunch and then make back home. So on the Sunday after Thanksgiving
Ramsey and I went to church and then had lunch at the house and then I went home to
Wait for Tammy. I decided to go to the front gate and wait so she wouldn’t have to wait.
When she got there we went over how to operate the ramp again. Then we went back
to the apartment and signed all the paperwork and then we went back out to the van
and she rode with me to make sure I was comfortable and then I went to Ramsey’ because
she wanted to see the van when it got there. But I got about half way there and decided
that I needed to stop and make sure I knew how to operate the ramp before I tried
to demonstrate it. So I doubled back and went into the Target parking lot and tried
to take the door and the ramp through it’s paces. I got the door open and the ramp
down a little ways an then it just stopped. Couldn’t get it to go no where. There I was in the middle
of a Target parking lot and I could not get the ramp to do nothing. Had no Cellphone or nothing.
I looked in the glovebox for the manual to the conversion and finally figured out that I had flipped
A switch that made it manual or automatic and so I changed it back and it worked fine. So I went
back to Ramsey’s. Ann let me in and she said Ramsey was back in her room. Ramsey was sitting at her
desk doing something on the computer. I told her to come outside and look at the van. Everybody was
there and so we all went outside and looked at the van. Naturally the demonstration went awry
and Kim as usual had to help me figure out what was wrong. She did the thing every man hates to
do, get the manual and we figured out what we were doing wrong.
Around Christmas I had gone to Subway to get some lunch and I decided to pull into the gas station
and I went to pull on the door handle and would not come open. It was locked. It had not occurred
to put a key box on this new car yet till now. So I went inside and ask the clerk what I should do.
About all they would do is hand me the yellow pages. Thank the lord that Kevin had talked me into
Getting a cell phone or I might still be there. Hardly nobody seem to care why I was there. So I got
On the phone and after several attempts I Finally got someone to agree to come. But I waited
30 to 45 minutes and then a hour. I called him back again and he said he hadn’t forgot but the guy they
Were sending was still busy working on another job. I waited some more and it took about 3 hours to
Get back to me . So after abAout 3 hour or so someome came and unlocked it. When I got back to the
Office nobody had even noticed that I was gone.
On New Years Day, the girls invited me to do a movie double feature. First we were going to see Frost/
Nixon and then we were going to see Valkarie. I got to admit I was a Nixon to the very ender and
I didn’t know to expect . But it was good and I really enjoyed it. We sat out in the lobby and talked
Between the movies. Then we went back to kim and Ramsey’ for dinner.
Beginning in the fall of 2008 I began to have trouble with a pain in what I thought was my left
Knee. In fact, we had decided to take Kim’s van to the Christmas Eve service and when I tried to get
Up into the van the pain was pretty bad. I didn’t say anything. Once I got on my feet at church I did
fine and was able to do what I needed to do. I walked in there and walked out with no problem.
But early in the year I decided I needed to go the doctor . So I went to see my orthopedist and he said
my hamstrings were getting tight because of the way I walk. The way to remedy the problem is to
keep stretching the hamstrings and to keep them loose and functioning. He also gave me a prescription
for a anti-inflammatory to help the pain.
In February, we found out that that the church was going to put together a pictorial directory and I
Thought it would be a good idea for me to participate to give a few more people a chance to know who
I was and associate a name with a face. For a long time it was ok to be anonymous. I had been there
about 2 years and very few people at church knew who I was. It is easy for me to get lost in a crowd
and never really talk to anyone. People don’t want to embarrass you or themselves by talking to you.
There also was a couple other reasons I wanted to do it. I wanted to talk mom into replace my
picture on what I will call mom’s “morgue shelf”. There are portraits of both me and Tina on a shelf in
that look like some had died. I know the history of my picture. It was during our attempt to get a good
engagement picture. It looks like I knew what was coming.
The other reason I wanted a new portrait is that in the back of my mind I was thinking about
trying to get back into the dating game and I really needed a recent picture to do even a basic
profile .As I looked down the road at my remaining years of working years and my retirement years,
I knew if I went back to Huntsville or Stephenville that would make sure I had everything I needed.
But in the end the desire of my heart was to find a new soulmate. I think in the end
If I could find someone to love and we truly we were happy together, that I think would be the most
satisfying way to spend the rest of my life. But I have got to be smart about how I went about it.
In March, Kevin sent me and one of my co-workers guy Don, to Austin for 3 days of training. This was the first
Time I had taken the van out of town. Kevin had assigned me a laptop the first week on the job.
I left on Monday about noon got to Austin about 4pm. I missed the turn and ended up spending
A hour and a half trying to get back to the turnoff or cross the road again. I finally found it and checked i
In and they helped me get my stuff out of the car and into the room. I set up the PC and got it set up
But couldn’t get the internet connection to hook up so I called Don and ask him to stop by and looked
At it. He came by and quickly got it set up. The next morning when I came down to leave there was a
note at the front desk asking me to leave him directions to the vendor site. Typical Don. I just shook my
head and handed my directions to the receptionist and she made a copy for Don. Actually, I was
stunned at the beauty of rock formations on the drive down to Netqos headquarters. Then just before
you got to netqos there was a beautifull lake with a pretty tall rock formation cliff on one side.
Never really found out what lake it was but it may be a part of Lake Travis . The class was great but
A little over my head It was more geared toward network engineers. I took the test at the end
And stayed the entire time but did not pass it. I got on the road and tried to call mom when I got to
Brenham but I don’t think she quite understood where I was. I messed up going the backroads to
The house and like a typical man I just wandered around until I found my way home. I think it was
Almost 2 hours before I called mom back when I got back.
In April, I decided I need to start looking for a exercise bike. Jackie had wanted me to buy
A recumbent bike so we both could use it but I wanted a upright bike so that is what I got
Because it was my birthday or Chrismas present. I had used a stationary bike to stay
Healthly for a lot of years and knew I would use it. I had looked around for a while
And finally one Saturday drove out to the Sears at Memorial City and look at
Bikes there..Finally came to a conclusion of what I wanted.Then I had to find someone to complete the
Transaction. Sometimes it takes some time to give somebody the information and make sure they
Have it all correct. It was going to cost a insane amount for Sears to put it together. So I sent
Out a note at work for someone to put it together. In a little while Donald ashworth volunteered
To come over and put it together. In a couple of hours he had it up and running.
It was around this time that my adventure with Facebook began. As far as I can remember
It was Jim Whittington who got me involved with Facebook. Did not know him real well
but I have known him since early elementary school. But over the past 2 years I have
developed a Facebook group of over 200 friends. What would a birthday would be like
without Facebook now.
In May of 2009 I decided it was time to see if I could find a new scooter. I was having to replace
the Battery every 3-4 months and even in the van it was a little hard to turn it around in the
van. It was taking me about 1 1/2 hours to take the scooter to the shop and most of the time
would have to leave it and go back and get it. For some reason I decided to go to the place
I had been going to. I looked at essentially the same model I had or something a litlle bigger.
I was a little concerned with the stressv with turning the scooter around in the van but really
did not know what to do about