I am writing this because I hope in a small way to help Multiple Sclerosis Sufferers by raising awareness. I am writing two blogs one for my childhood best friend's father and one for Kathy a friend of mine that I have known since childhood.
They are not brain lesions.....they are just Bright Ideas ! - Scully (Multiple Sclerosis Sufferer)
Wondering what Multiple Sclerosis is? Click here.
When I was about 6 or 7 I became friends with Rachel. We did everything together. Rachel's Dad Alf had Multiple Sclerosis. He would walk with a walking stick one week, then have a good week and walk unaided. The next week he would be wheel chair bound.
For a few years Rachel's entire family went to live in Ireland because her Dad had the false hope that there would be better help for his disease in Ireland. They were not very happy in Ireland and after two years realising their lives were better in South Africa and that medicine in Ireland could do no more they returned.
|On the right Rachel on the left me, on holiday together|
While they were in Ireland I wrote letters to Rachel constantly. Rachel did not reply as often. I loved writing she did not. She told me years later that getting my letters had meant a great deal to her.
When I met her at the airport I could barely understand her or her brother Richard because of her heavy Irish accent. Being a child I kept telling her and Richard to stop kidding. It took a while for the penny to drop that this was the way that they spoke now.
From this time on things went very downhill for Alf. He kept saying that soon he would be using his walking stick but sadly that did not happen. He went from wheelchair bound to not even being able to stay up in his wheel chair. He became bedridden.
Alf had been quite a wild lad when he was young. Rachel's Mom, Eleanor has a scar on her ear. On their wedding day Alf was still very drunk from the bachelors party. He leaned over to give his new wife an affectionate peck and accidentally bit her ear. He loved sports and was a tall strong man always on the go.
Richard is if I remember correctly four years younger than Rachel. Eleanor once had both Richard and Rachel see a psychiatrist. Rachel drew her Dad playing golf and Richard drew his Dad in a wheel chair. Rachel told me afterwards, "It is sad that Richard only knows my Dad this way."
Rachel could hardly ever come to my house to play. I had to go to her house. She bore a lot of responsibility From a very young age she could change her Dad's catheter, give him medicine and feed him. There were nurses that took care of him but often they would not pitch for work and Rachel's Mom had to be at work.
What Alf desperately wanted more than anything was company. Being a selfish child all I wanted to do was go outside and play. When I went into Alf's bedroom he was always trying to have conversations and I was always trying to get away. Even the adults struggled with this. The understood that he desperately need the conversation. My Mom and other friends of the family would go and visit but there was always the difficulty of getting away again. He would always find something else to talk about as you were leaving. He was having bouts of blindness and could not read any more, only listen to audio books.
My selfishness embarrasses me now. All I could think about is that I wanted my friend to finishing tending to her Dad as quickly as possible so that we could go and play.
Sadly Rachel and I drifted apart after high school. Alf passed away in this time. We met up again but I did something terrible that ruined our friendship.
Rachel was always so strong. I never saw her cry. I was a year behind her in high school. I can't remember how I found out but nobody in our school even knew that her father had multiple sclerosis she was a very private person.
I wish I had a photo of Alf and Eleanor when they were young they were one of the most beautiful couples. I last saw Eleanor about 12 years ago, in her 60's she was still very beautiful. At some stage Spain invaded Ireland. Eleanor definitely had partly Spanish genes, she has thick straight black hair, high cheek bones, emerald green eyes and velvety white skin. Eleanor is a nurse and lived the life of a single mother in a high pressured job running a company clinic with the added responsibility of having to take care of her husband. I admire her a great deal.
Multiple Sclerosis is a harsh disease and because it is not as common it does not get the research and funding that other diseases get.