I met Wendy in July of 1997 when she was only in her fourth month of coming to terms with her illness. In March of that year, her doctors told her that she could hope for only three to five years of life remaining. But the clock was ticking much faster than anyone realized at the time.
On our initial date, I experienced the first of many burdens that come with being close to a scleroderma patient. Wendy was heart-set on dancing that evening, even though she was connected to an oxygen machine by a fifty-foot cord. We took the machine with us and managed to 'cut the rug' in spite of the difficulties. That was when I realized that there was more life left in Wendy than in a lot of people who take their good health for granted. She had won me over, and the joys that she brought me easily began to overtake the inconveniences.
Wendy found solace in her large, caring family that extended from Mobile, Alabama, and the surrounding communities to the Macon, Georgia, area where she grew up. Most of all, she cherished moments spent with her children in Georgia, either on the phone, or during the special times they were able to be together. Though she was unable to care for them on a daily basis, her love for them was unconquerable.
During the fall of last year, Wendy's condition worsened, and the hospital became an increasingly familiar environment for her. By the time of a longawaited New Year's trip to the Smoky Mountains, Raynaud's phenomenon, a complication of Wendy's scleroderma, had begun its horrible assault on her hands, resulting in the amputation of two fingers the following spring. Wendy was losing weight and her health, but not her faith or her determination to make the best of her situation.
My love for Wendy grew steadily, and her family and I tried to help her achieve some satisfaction and happiness in the days she had left. But her illnesses would not wait, and she passed away peacefully at home amidst her family in the twilight of a warm, July day. Her legacy lives on in her children and the memories and love she left behind. We will always love Wendy.
Story posted 12-16-98
Story edited VH1: JTD 8-21-03
Story Editor V1: Judith Devlin
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