But while that can be a lightly spoken phrase for some couples, Rick and Lezah knew exactly what they were promising. Among other health conditions, Lezah suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and diabetes, while Rick has cerebral palsy, osteoporosis, two inoperable, benign brain tumours and vision impairment.
“I take my marriage vows seriously,” says Lezah. “Rick and I are supportive of each other and we also have faith. Any time I run into something that's too difficult for me to handle, I give it to God. He takes it away from me and I don't have to deal with it anymore.”
Although Rick and Lezah fell in love on their own, there was some behind-the-scenes matchmaking at play. Lezah's mom, Hazel Jordan, attends the Salvation Army church in Guelph and met Rick, a fellow Salvation Army member who was living at St. Joseph's. Hazel told Rick that her daughter was about to move into the centre and asked him to look out for her. Meanwhile, a retired Salvation Army pastor, Major Raymond Piercey, also requested that Rick take Lezah under his wing.
“I was told by the recreation director to go to a group at St. Joe's for younger adults, called Younger Generation,” recalls Lezah. “I was introduced around the room and when I got to Rick, he said, 'You're the one that Major Piercey and your mother told me to look out for.'
“Rick says that day is the day he fell in love with me and I pretty much did the same,” she continues. “It was love at first sight for both of us. From that day on, we were pretty much inseparable, we did everything together. We knew we were soul mates. We fought tooth and nail to get moved over to the new wing in St. Joe's so we could have a double room once we were married.”
Strength and Patience
Rick and Lezah exchanged vows at the Salvation Army church in Guelph on January 22, 2011. Their wedding ceremony was officiated by matchmaker and close friend Major Piercey. Among the guests was Lezah's 17-year-old son from her previous marriage, Jordan.
“When we returned to St. Joe's after the wedding, our door was decorated with wedding bells and streamers,” smiles Lezah. “We didn't have a honeymoon, but we're hoping to save up enough money to go on a cruise next year with a line that offers trips with attendants to help you out as needed.”
“They are a couple who are very much in love. They respect and depend on each other a lot,” comments Major Piercey. “Lezah is extremely strong and patient. Everything about her is positive, in spite of her own health. She's a wonder to my wife and me in how well she copes.”
Throughout their courtship, Rick showed Lezah his romantic side, particularly when she was experiencing trouble.
“Before we were married, I was sick for a while and they wouldn't let Rick in to see me,” says Lezah. “A couple of times a day, he would sit in his wheelchair outside the door, talk about his day and tell me he loved me. He knows I like stuffed animals so he bought me a little golden retriever puppy and said, 'You can't give me a hug, but you can give him a hug.' ”
The inseparable couple faithfully attend Younger Generation on Tuesday nights and share their love of singing by performing duets at St. Joseph's Wednesday night sing-alongs.
“We also have a little routine where we go down to the coffee shop twice a day,” says Lezah. “In the morning, I treat, and in the afternoon, he treats.”
Living Out Their Vows
A few months after their wedding, Rick endured a bout of several seizures, leading to short-term memory loss. Lezah softly explains that after his first seizure, he did not remember her for a few hours. The memory loss also meant that Rick could not recall his wedding day. However, after months of heartache and prayer, Rick miraculously awoke one morning, his mind flooded by years of memories he and Lezah thought had been lost.
Despite this recent challenge and their numerous disabilities, both Lezah and Rick have incredible strength and a positive spirit, something that flows out of their love for God and their love for one another.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” says Lezah, quoting a Bible verse from Philippians 4:13. “Jesus has helped me through all the trials of my life, not the least of which is MS.
“Recently, someone called me an angel because of the way I look after Rick,” she continues. “But any wife in this situation would look after her husband the way I do. I don't think I'm doing anything over and above what a normal wife should do. I simply love this man with every ounce of my being.”
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