Okay my friends, I have never done this before, but this story touched me, and I wanted to do something to help! So if you are in the area and can help May 26th, or you can donate, please do. 🙂
Repost: My Brother and His Wife Need Your Help!
By: Sam Miller
This weekend my family and I will be traveling back to my home town of Virginia, MN. Normally when we travel there it’s for fun – to visit old friends and family, but not this time. This time we’re attending Ashley’s benefit. Ashley is my little brothers wife who has been fighting a disease that has been ravaging her body.
It started with colon cancer that eventually lead to the removal of her colon. The doctors then informed her that she has SMA – Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome. I don’t really know what the disease is exactly. I just know it’s very rare and in Ashley’s case when combined with the lack of a useable colon has severely limited her ability to gain the vital nutrients she needs to thrive. At just 98 lbs – she’s a walking skeleton.
Derrick and Ashley have had a pretty difficult existence by anyone’s definition. In a small town like Virginia there are few jobs and even fewer that pay a decent salary. Derrick’s current job is delivering newspapers while most others are sleeping. It’s the only job he’s been able to find.
When he gets home he takes care of getting their two children Haily and Landon up and ready for school. Then he’s off to take care of the normal duties of life; errands, grocery shopping, buying meds for Ashley, figuring out new, unique and affordable ways of keeping his automobile on the road so he’s able to drive Ashley to her many doctors appointments. He rarely gets more than 3-4 hours a sleep per day.
Derrick has made some mistakes in his life. I won’t get into the details but suffice to say he was a typical rebellious young adult. I remember always being a bit annoyed by him because it seemed like every time I turned around he was in trouble for something else. So I used to think to myself – “serves you right Derrick.” I feel terrible for admitting it, particularly since the only thing I did different at that age was – NOT get caught.
Well things have changed. I no longer see my little brother as the immature bonehead (I mean this in the most loving big-brother way I can) that used to call me on a monthly basis looking for money to bail him out of this or that mess. In fact, I might respect Derrick more than anyone I know. I say “might” because I’m walking a fine line. I don’t want to spoil the boy with acclamations and flattery.
But seriously, Derrick has gained my respect because he’s turned out to be what every real man should be – a loving husband and father who is committed to his family no matter what. And I’ve never seen anyone so in love with his wife as Derrick is and he’s not ashamed or afraid to show it.
I came across this comment he made on his Facebook page:
“You know how you know that you re in love? When each day you search for the exact words that describe your feelings. Still to this day I have not found the words I want to say to express the love I have for my wife, Ashley Wilhelm. I often wonder if these words exist, I will never stop searching for the right words, NEVER! One other thing I will never stop doing is, I will NEVER stop loving you babe!”
It’s strange because I’ve come across this quote before but it never effected me like it did today. Before it made me cringe a little – you know, kind of like that “guard and protect your heart” guy on the Bachelorette that tattooed his wrist. If you watched that episode and sat through that guy singing to the Bachelorette you know what I’m talking about. (I can’t believe I just admitted I watched the Bachelorette. ONLY THE ONCE!)
Like most men, we’re afraid to express our feelings in a vulnerable way. Not Derrick. In fact, the one regret Derrick will NEVER have is withholding his feelings.
And now when I read this quote from Derrick I doesn’t make me cringe.
Neither does this one:
“Our Wedding Day, the BEST day of my entire life!!!!!”
Or this one:
“Me and the people who make me the most happiest my very Beautiful Wife, Hailey, and Landon.”
OK – so he could use some help with grammar and punctuation since in this quote he’s actually proclaiming that his beautiful wife Haily AND Landon make him the “most happiest”. But I’ll refrain from critiquing his writing skills – just for now. It should be noted that my own misplacement of punctuation and “seemingly” poor grammar is actually “poetic license”. Why? Because I wrote this article so I make the rules.
With Derrick, these (poorly punctuated and grammatically incorrect) declarations are not just idle words. This is how he truly feels even despite her illness, his inability to get a “decent” job, the burglary where they lost almost everything they own (with no insurance to replace it). He still feels blessed and I doubt he’d change a thing.
Derrick and Ashely came to visit us a few weeks back. She had a doctors appointment where they had to assess her health and whether or not she would be capable of undergoing a much needed surgery that she HAS to have if she has any hope of survival.
After getting over the absolute shock of seeing Ashley’s nearly unrecognizable appearance – she is so thin and frail, I was amazed and humbled at the attitudes of both Ashley and Derrick. They never once complained. They never once were bitter about the hand they were dealt. I could see in Derricks eyes how scared he was but I never once heard him complain.
That night we decided to go out to eat. Ashely got to choose where and she chose Chipotle. After eating and getting home, we were sitting on the deck and I suddenly realized Ashley wasn’t there. I asked Derrick where she was and he said – “Oh, she’s in the bathroom. She’ll be there for there rest of the night.” That’s what happens when she eats normal food. Her body can’t digest it so it goes right through her from both ends.” And he was right. We saw Ashley once for just a moment and then she returned to the bathroom where she remained until bed time. It struck me at that moment, as weird as this sounds that I even take my colon for granted.
During our conversation with Derrick I asked him why he and Ashley hadn’t sought the advice of doctors in the Twin Cities (where I live) until now or from the doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. He said it was because their car would not make the drive. They had to borrow a friends car to drive down here and it’s an arrangement that is not as easy to formulate as one might think.
We all take so much or granted. Most of us – at least the people I know have a nice or at least reliable car, a nice home, a computer, television…a colon…. Derrick and Ashley live in a tiny apartment. Because they were burglarized and had no insurance, they have no computer or television. Considering that Derrick was trying to support his family as a website designer, the loss of his computer was a pretty big loss. Their car is held together with “band aids” and as a result they can’t get Ashley the care that she needs.
This brings me to the purpose of this article. Next Saturday May 26th, we’ll be holding a benefit for Derrick and Ashley in their home town of Virginia, MN. Since I know most of you won’t be able to make the drive, perhaps you’d be able to help in another way.
I’ve set-up a Paypal account where 100% of the proceeds will go to help Derrick and Ashley buy a reliable car and a computer as well as to cover the cost of gas they’ll need to make the many trips down to the cities. They live 3.5 hours away so the cost of gas on their budget is going to be enormous.
Please help if you can by clicking on the donate button where you can donate securely through paypal or by credit card. Truly, donations of ANY size will help.
Other Ways to Help:
Another way that you can donate if you live in or around the Iron Range and have been considering getting a tattoo is to hire Derrick. He’s a very talented artist and does amazing work with tattoos. In fact I’ve been kicking around the idea of getting a 6-pack tattooed on my abdominal area. I ain’t got the time, the physical skill or the will p0wer anymore to keep the “6-pack abs” dream alive. You can check out some of his work on his Facebook Page.
Another consideration might be to hire him if you have any website or graphic design needs. He’s great with that stuff too.
If you know of any companies that wish to donate prizes or if you know how to bake – all these things would be a tremendous help as well I also saw that Derrick was requesting donations of spaghetti sauce, spaghetti noodles and garlic bread.
Finally if you do live on the Iron Rang and would like to attend the benefit it’s being held on Mat 26th at: True Hope Fellowship Church – 1 Sunrise Drive, Virginia, MN 55792 – from 4:00 to 8:00 pm
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you are not in a financial position to donate, I believe prayers are as much needed as money – even more. So keep Derrick, Ashley, Hailey, Landon and even Zeus (their pooch) in your prayers.
The full article was reposted with permission by Sam Miller – http://www.empowernetwork.com/samatedge/my-brother-needs-your-help/