Robert Slayton was diagnosed with transverse myelitis and wrote the poem below. He grew up in the Bronx and is now a professor of history at Chapman University and the author of seven books, including Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith. In 2008, he came down with transverse myelitis and returned to an active teaching and writing career. Slayton has been married to his wife, Rita, for 32 years.
Because of TM, my bladder is partially paralyzed. As a result, I stand and have to urinate every 1 ½ hours, twenty-four hours a day. On the rare occasion my sandals slip off, it’s a problem.
By Robert Slayton
I know I’m not really your guy, but I thought you’d like this story.
As you know (I assume), I’m disabled. The other night, my wife needed to get sleep as she was getting up early the next day. At 12:45 am, my sandals fell off. As I heard her going to the bathroom upstairs, I asked for help.
Trying to make it as easy as possible, I had the light on brightly and the shoes ready.
Instead, she came down with a flashlight, trying to stay in the dark as much as possible and not really wake up so she could go back to sleep without disruption. I knocked that idea into a cocked hat, despite her mission of mercy!
I felt terrible.
At 4:00 am she came down to get a beverage.
And, I figured, to shoot me.
Instead, she checked and adjusted my sandals (!) and tucked me in.
Take care of this one, Lord. She has so much grace