Who’s in your family? My husband is Charlie. We’ve been married 10 years. I have twin girls, who are 32, and a son who’s 29. One girl’s in Birmingham. She’s married. Another is married, in Atlanta, and has a 2-year-old. My son and his wife live in Atlanta.
Did you grow up in the church? I grew up Catholic and we went to St. Anne. My mother, Frances Duncan, is still there. When I married, my then husband didn’t want any part of the Catholic religion, and I wanted us to go to church as a family. I went to Epworth United Methodist. When we divorced, I felt like that was his church and I felt uncomfortable. I went to St. Luke, and I immediately found a family.
Is that where you met Charlie? Yes, we met in the St. Luke Orchestra. He plays trumpet, and I play flute.
Your diagnosis of multiple sclerosis came as a surprise. One year after we were married, the symptoms started. Charlie was 50, and he had never been married. I’d say to him, “This is a horrible trick God has played,” but he doesn’t see it that way. He has stood by me.
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Your flute has been re-fashioned for you? I had rotator cuff surgery in January, but it didn’t fix the problem. The muscles in my right arm have weakened due to MS and the tendons are in shreds. After much searching I found a man in New York who makes an upright flute. I play it like an oboe. I’m still adjusting to it. I’ve played since I was 9 years old.
How has your disease changed your faith? Have you ever said “Why me?” I have never said that. It’s just part of my day-to-day living and you deal with it as it happens. My faith has become stronger since I’ve had it. As new symptoms crop up, I see God’s hand in everything. When I have difficulty walking, somebody appears to help me. God has put angels wherever I need them. When we were moving into a new house, I had a hip fracture. God sent the angels from the Discovery Sunday School class who spent all day unpacking boxes, hanging blinds and ordering pizza.
In the Christian faith, there are many ideas about struggle, or why people struggle. How do you view it? As a challenge and an opportunity to learn. I’m not anxious or worried because I know God is with me and He’ll put an angel where I need an angel, even if it’s just someone saying, “You look nice today.” I’ve always believed in God but I don’t think I understood His strength and power and comfort until I got MS. It has taught me patience, fortitude, compassion and an eagerness to face each day and what it may bring. I have learned to let go, grieve and allow new ideas to emerge.