Their Voice: A story of love in Utah
There are many different types of love. There is the romantic love between two people, the love between a parent and child, the love between siblings, the love of friends and the love of an entire community. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to share a story that is both an accumulation and magnification of all types of love.
The story is about Marianne Page and Larry Orr. In 2008, the couple met at a sporting event and instantly formed a very strong friendship, which like many couples soon turned to love. Eight years later, they decided to get married. Also like many couples, when their wedding day finally arrived each was full of anticipation and a little apprehension about where their story would go. However, Marianne and Larry were starting their future together with one distinction from many other couples, they had each experienced spinal cord injuries in separate accidents earlier in their lives and as a result both are now paraplegic.
Despite their physical constraints, both Marianne and Larry led very active lives. Each was fully independent, active and enjoyed similar sports and recreation together. In fact, they met at a wheelchair tennis camp.
They knew there would be adjustments to their new life but what they didn’t anticipate is that one month after their wedding the couple would experience a major setback. After hearing a loud noise in the kitchen one morning, Marianne rushed in to find her new husband lying on the floor having had a massive stroke. His first few weeks were spent at IMC and then he was transferred to the VA Medical Center in Salt Lake.
The result of the stroke was significant damage to the brain causing additional paralysis of his right side, speech and memory loss and other long-term effects. Larry is working with physical, occupational and speech therapists to improve his condition but progress is slow and comes with many ups and downs.
Doctors and therapists agree that Larry will have better recovery when he can return to his own home. However, it was quickly apparent that the house in which Larry had lived independently as a paraplegic for around 12 years, was not equipped for the challenges brought on the by stroke.
“I started making calls to contractors,” Marianne explained, “I was just trying to get the minimum done to make it possible to get Larry home.” She chuckled when she added, “I was hoping it would just be knocking down a wall and adding a ramp.”
It became quickly evident that getting her husband home was going to be a larger project than she had anticipated. This is where all of the other types of love that I mentioned earlier are revealed.
Marianne’s longtime friend Bonnie Holley visited her home with the intent of providing them with a new oven. Instead, Holley quickly realized that there was a lot more to get done and took the responsibility of seeing it through. Bonnie began making calls and getting other friends involved. Those friends included Neuroworx in Sandy, where Marianne and Larry had spent a lot of time, Heart 2 Home and Home Depot. As word has spread, Marianne has become overwhelmed with the compassion and willingness to get in and provide labor, materials or financial assistance.
“Many of these people don’t know me or Larry or had even heard our story,” Marianne explained.
Although they have had several delays along the way, the plan is to reveal the completed renovation to Marianne and Larry on Monday with the hope that Larry will be able to finally come home to stay.
Coretta Scott King said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, a heart of grace and a soul generated by love.”
I think that Marianne and Larry would agree and they have also asked me to extend their thanks for all of the people who have made this possible. Their entire story with pictures of the home can be found at larryandmarianne.blogspot.com.
Happy Valentine’s Day!