A Patient Patient

Douglas W Cooper Happy Birthday CardI approached her apologetically, Tina Su Cooper, my love of fifty years, wife of twenty-nine years. She has been unable to walk during the past eighteen of those years, quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent the last nine. From her bed, Tina looked up at me lovingly and expectantly, as she has done so many times.

Tina is a patient patient, one who almost never complains or demands. She thanks us for everything we do. She is interested in her family, her staff, the world. She is, quietly, a heroine, a brave and good soldier in a battle against the limitations imposed by her multiple sclerosis. In return, we are eager never to disappoint her, if we can help it.

Our elder son, Ted, who lives three  thousand miles away, had a birthday coming up. We like to send him a card and a check.

I told Tina, apologetically, “I bought this card ‘You are a blessing, son’ last week, but I did not get around to mailing it until this morning, and it will be a day or two late. I‘m sorry.”

She smiled and replied, “That’s OK. Thank you.”

I had let her down. She accepted it without rancor. She thanked me for what little I had done.

Every day, life has its successes and failures, its pleasant surprises and unpleasant disappointments. We are partly responsible for these and so are those around us. Blaming others usually sets off a vicious circle of counter-charges. Thanking others initiates a virtuous circle of mutual appreciation. We choose how we respond.

Tina has chosen to be a patient patient, and we who know her are inspired by her daily example.

Douglas Windslow Cooper



  1. i loved the book ting and i! i have been taking care of my husband who has advanced ms for 9 years. i don’t have any support groups so it can be hard doing things onmy own(liftting husband up no ramps) i love how you love your wife so much! i do anything for my husband

    • Dear Amy,

      Thank you for writing.

      I am delighted you liked TING AND I. It was written
      partly to encourage others who are in similarly difficult
      situations. Support groups are rarely enough.

      We use a hand-pumped Hoyer lift to transfer Tina, who only
      weighs 130 lbs. Perhaps such a device would be available
      to rent, buy, or borrow and be helpful. We carefully
      control Tina’s diet so she does not become heavier, which would
      harm her and make care more difficult. We have a ramp
      at our front steps.

      You are to be commended for sticking by your spouse
      and persevering without a lot of help. We have had little help from friends
      and family, most of whom are far away, so we have relied on home
      health aides and nurses, paid for through insurance we purchased,
      IBM retiree medical benefits, and our own savings. Hopefully, some of
      these sources of help are available for you.

      Your marriage has become your calling.

      Doug Cooper

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