Keli Gwyn
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Real-life Romance: Caregiver Extraordinare

Paisley Kirkpatrick and I have been friends for a number of years, having met at a meeting of our Sacramento Valley Rose chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’ve often heard her talk about her husband, Ken, and how he’s been there for her through trials and joys. I was especially struck by the story of how he nursed her through a battle with cancer and asked her to share it.

 

Here’s that story, in her words. . .

Romance isn’t always chocolates and candlelight. It’s also caring for the person you love when they need you. My husband really came through for me when I had cancer surgery seven and a half years ago. We’d had a difficult few years before my diagnosis. Our older daughter died from Melanoma just two weeks before her 32nd birthday. We were still reeling from that tragedy when I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. It seemed everything hit at once, and we could hardly catch our breath. Ken never let me down even though we knew cancer could be a death warrant.

Luckily for me, when the surgeon removed the uterus he took all the cancer with it. I was home in two days with the best nurse in the world – my hubby. After 37 years of marriage, he was taking care of me for a change. He vacuumed, cleaned toilets, did the laundry, and best of all, cooked our meals. He’s never had to fix food before so it was a definite challenge for him. He made each meal special by setting up a card table downstairs and bringing those meals to me. Apparently he’d been watching what the hospital served and tried to one-up them. Sometimes I’d wake up at night and notice he’d come downstairs just to check on me. I truly felt his love at those moments.

For the next five years we made many trips back to the hospital for check-ups. I am a worrier by nature and these exams always made me doubt. He never let me go alone, and afterwards insisted on a special lunch in celebration of yet another good exam.  When the doctor told me I was done, out of there, never to come back again, we sighed with relief. Now I can look back on my cancer scare as another bump in life, something we got through together.

I knew I’d made the right decision all those years ago when I saw him standing under a tree at an Air Force picnic. One glance told me he was the one I wanted. At the time I had no idea he was the one my ‘big brother’ took to our Uncle Bud’s birthday the weekend before because he thought the same thing.

We’ve been married almost 44 years now. I scared him one more time when I broke my arm. He nursed me through this surgery as well. My intuition about that gorgeous G.I. all those years ago has proven right. He was the right hero for me.

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Question for You

Have you ever faced a serious illness or battled a dreaded
disease such as Paisley has? If so, who was there for you?

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Paisley and her husband of 43 years live in the Sierra Foothills of California. They love to travel, with Paisley’s favorite destination being Scotland. She’s a seamstress with a heart of gold who gives away many of her wonderful creations. I rejoiced with her when, after 22 years, she received a contract for not one, not two, but five books. Her debut novel, Night Angel, was released August 21.

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About the Book

Sassy Amalie Renard, a poker-playing saloon singer, shakes up Paradise Pines, a former gold-rush mountain community by turning the saloon’s bar into her stage. Her amazing voice stirs the passions of the hotel owner, a man who anonymously travels tunnels at night providing help to the downtrodden as the mysterious Night Angel. Declan Grainger agrees to subsidize the building of a music hall to fulfill Amalie’s dream, but a bounty for her arrest could spoil his plans.

Distrust and jealousy stir flames of malice and revenge threatening to destroy their town. Drawing from past experiences, Declan and Amalie turn to each other to find a way to save the community.

Keli Gwyn

10 Comments

  • Melissa Tagg says:

    What a sweet, sweet story! Thanks for sharing!

  • This story nearly had me crying, because I remember how my dad took care of my mom as she battled cancer. Unfortunately, she didn’t survive the battle, but my dad was there beside her every step of the way. Every step.

    • Hi Lindsay, Thanks for coming by today. I can truthfully say he surprised me and showed me a whole new side to him when I was diagnosed with cancer and through the whole process. It’s probably why I bounced back so easily.

  • Keli Gwyn says:

    Marlene, this story moves me to tears every time I hear it. I love hearing about Ken’s devotion to you and how he’s been there through the best of times as well as the worst of times. That is love in action.

  • Keli and Paisley,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of what marriage is (should be!) all about. My husband and I have been through some very difficult times but I think the time that he was the most wonderful was after my father died. As the oldest daughter, I had to hold up for my mom and my sisters, making decisions that Mom couldn’t, taking care of business that was too much for her to handle on her own, etc. For several months, I simply didn’t let myself really grieve. When I finally woke up sobbing one night from a dream about my dad, Kevin just took it all in stride. Repeatedly over the next few months, I’d wake up in tears and my champion just held me, prayed with me, sang to me, loved me. In the sanctuary of our bedroom, I was able to mourn my father and be comforted by my husband. It wasn’t a physical illness, but I needed him desperately and he was my rock.

    SOOO excited for you and your books and your contract! What a wonderful gift!

    God has His hand of blessing on your head, Paisley, and we readers get to enjoy the overflow!

    Becky Doughty

  • Keli, thanks for bringing us Paisley’s story and for her heartfelt description of their journey together.

    Real life is what truly inspires us and in ways we never truly understand. Love at first sight? Love that endures through the thick and very thin?

    My mom was sixteen and standing on her front porch one Sunday. A tall straping man, a seaman who lived in her town between ships, came by, stopped at my grandmother’s pickdet fence and pointed, “I am going to marry you, little girl.” Four years later and with the permission of my grandmother he beban to “court” her … they were married for 32 years before we lost him to cancer. She was only 50 when he died and everyone told her she should date or try to find another husband … that she was too young to live alone. Her answer was always the same, “There was never another man for me and there never will be.” She lived thirty-two more years. I’d like to think they were reunited at last 🙂

    You are truly blessed, Paisley … the right one only comes once in a lifetime !!

  • Loree Huebner says:

    Thanks for sharing your story of true love with your real life hero. Beautiful and inspiring.

  • What a beautiful, romantic story!!!

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