The story begins in the summer of 1998. I take dance lessons at a swing dance club in Cleveland. Of course you need a partner to dance with, Brett was that partner. I wanted nothing to do with him as far as a relationship goes and every time we met up to dance he had that glazed over look in his eyes from enjoying his time out. Man did he smell good! October 1998, Brett shows up to my house to pick me up for our first actual date. He sits in a rocking chair and my black Doberman ‘Flower’ sits directly in front of him and just watches him. I’m pretty sure she didn’t want him to move. Brett swears she was asking if he was going to be her daddy. Anyway, we go on our first date; dinner, swing dancing and walking the dogs in the rain. After 4 months we move in together.
Fast forward to May 20, 1999. Brett takes me on our first trip to Topsail Island North Carolina. He did spend some of that 12hr road trip in the back seat with the dogs! He took me to the beach to watch the sun rise and proposes to me. Of course I said, “Yes”. Our relationship was so easy. I had never had a man be so kind and polite. The thing that attracted me to him the most was that he was a Godly man. We found a church to attend.
In the fall of 1999, Brett has started seeing spots and takes a trip to the ophthalmologist. He is referred to a renal (kidney) doctor. He is in stage 4 renal failure. On Halloween night he is admitted to Southwest General and on November 3rd, hemodialysis begins. He is still working full time and doing dialysis 3-4 hours 3 times a week. Family and I are tested to be donors. It is Brett’s brother Frank who is chosen to donate his kidney. The transplant is scheduled for February 2000, but it is postponed due to high blood pressure. Brett is on 5 blood pressure medications and it is still not under control. The high blood pressure would kill the new kidney so in April, doctors decide to remove the old kidneys before doing the transplant. Our wedding is scheduled for May 20, 2000. I’m working full time. Brett and Frank aren’t working because we thought we would be doing a transplant by now. The wonderful people at Brett’s work have a bake sale to help frank cover his costs while hanging out in Ohio. We have wonderful family friends who offer to pay whatever costs of the wedding we can’t cover!
The end of April, the doctors at University Hospital decide to take out Brett’s old kidneys. Three weeks before the wedding! Sure, why not?! I remember my brother in law saying something like, “you don’t have to stay and do this”. I was shocked by that. The thought never crossed my mind to not do this. This is the man of my dreams. We had spent so many nights lying in bed crying together and praying about this situation. You know that point when you realize you have no choice but to trust God and let him handle it? This was that situation.
May 20, 2000 is here and all of our friends and family join us as we vow before God to love and cherish each other for as long as we both shall live. It was such a chilly, fun, exciting day! Family came from all over the U.S. just for us. Brett’s uncle videotaped it for us and even though the video periodically goes in and out I love watching it. The kids love watching the story of how this family started. Yay, time for the honeymoon!!! The Honeymoon was a trip to University Hospitals, May 30, 2000 the whole family gathers to pray and wait while they are in surgery. The transplant is a go! I’m sure everyone remembers that day a little different. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t handle whining well. So the day after the surgery Brett gets up and walks to the cafeteria for a root beer at my direction. I didn’t want him feeling sorry for himself and I really wanted a root beer. We wanted this done and to get on with our lives. There wasn’t time to hang out being in the hospital! We had things to do! Soon after we are pregnant! April of 2001 we had a daughter, and named her Frankie.
As the time goes on, it seems like such a dream. For a long time when we went for follow up doctor appointments at University we would always walk for a root beer just to remember. We are 16 years out now. The life that Frank gave us from that one selfless act is unmeasurable. He never questioned or hesitated in his offer. We know things could have turned out so differently. We did end up getting that honeymoon, 10 years later and it was worth the wait! I’m sure there are parts to the story I have left out and a lot more that will be added in the future. For now, we thank God every day for- the love and life we have, these children who may not be here had the story been different, the peace and focus he gave us when we needed him most and for the love we share that gets stronger every day.