First of three parts …
By Nancy Miller
I got married a week and a half ago. Engaged in October, married in April, the past six months have been a blur of preparations and parties, all focused on the BIG DAY, April 27, when my groom, Jim Miller, and I exchanged vows in front of close friends and family at Elcona Country Club. The wedding came together as planned. I’m told it was beautiful. We honeymooned in Brown County and now are back in the real world of work and responsibility. And you know what? Everything just seems brighter and happier and easier because we’re no longer two single people going it alone. We’re in it together, and that makes such a difference.
Getting married is one of those rites we take for granted. Some prospective grooms still follow tradition and ask fathers for the bride’s hand, but couples don’t really need permission to marry as long as they’re of legal age. If dad says no, they can always elope.
Or can they?
Sadly, permission or ability to marry – to have that storybook experience of falling in love, being courted and overcoming obstacles to live together happily ever after – seems out of reach to many adults with developmental disabilities. Falling in love and getting married, for them, is more like a wishful dream that won’t ever come true. And, trust me, they do dream about it.
True confession. When I first started working at ADEC I was surprised and even, for some odd reason that makes no sense now, a little alarmed to find so much romance in the air among our clients. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend was a big deal, and couples proudly flaunted their togetherness. Alicia wrote about her love for Ben in our writing class. Kevin showed me pictures in his wallet of his girlfriends, all three of them. Patricia let me know Robert was her guy and I better not give him a second look. Steph blushed when talking about Dave. John teared up when he told me he and Deb had been together 10 years. Christine insisted I take a picture of her with her boyfriend Ryan. Among the seniors, it was clear Art went with Betty, even though they lived in separate group homes. Breakups and broken hearts often followed, but then so did new relationships. Everybody seemed to have somebody, at least until 3:30 when the buses rolled in to take them all home.
I often wondered if their need to be part of a couple came from the influences of our society or from an innate desire deep within the human heart to not be alone. I like to think it’s the latter.
- Story continues tomorrow …