Charity With Respect

My wife and I are a couple enjoying our 33rd year of a loving marriage while coping with profoundly different physical disabilities. That simple fact makes us a remarkable success, yet the need to hire Personal Assistants provides ample opportunities to meet people who exhibit the Code of Chivalry. The average applicant for the position of Personal Assistant keeps the job only two weeks because it takes special qualities to handle everything from transportation to financial transactions seven days a week. Our knight in shining armor is Curt. His dedication to the job has lasted over 16 years.

Coping with disabilities to pursue active lives resembles a daily war fought on many fronts. Like the knights of the Round Table, Curt is prepared to achieve small victories with instant displays of personal valor. When we go to restaurants or stores, a common reaction from servers and clerks is to ask Curt what we will eat or buy. He bravely responds, “They are paying the bill with money earned from their college degrees. Don’t ask me. Ask them.”

Curt does his job for a fraction of what he could earn as a hospital or nursing pool professional. He repeatedly illustrates the chivalrous trait of charity by taking two and three other jobs to supplement our meager wages. Frankly, those other jobs have been sacrificed when it is necessary to exhibit the depth of his charity toward us.

Curt puts a human face on the idea that a married couple with disabilities is capable of running a home and small business while maintaining relationships with friends and family. That philosophy was set in granite the day my wife’s father died. While she left with her aunts to grieve at the family home, I phoned Curt, who instantly said, “I’ll call the nursing pool and cancel my commitments for the week. I’m available 24/7.”

Curt lost $300-$400 in wages by making this commitment. He earned our lasting loyalty by placing me in a position to greet mourners at the visitation and permitting our physical needs not to disrupt our family’s grieving process. Curt’s deep sense of loyalty amazes us daily. When we improved our office by moving to a smaller town, Curt moved even though he commutes several miles for other jobs.

Many medieval knights mastered implements of war. In his modern capacity, Curt masters the implements of our war against immobility. On any specific day, he is instantly required to fill wheelchair tires with air, check the water level in power chair batteries, mount portable ramps, or transport wheelchairs or computers for repair. For the able bodied sports fan, the best example of a modern knight without a horse is a football player. Athletes entertain crowds for six-figure salaries. Curt Preston sustains our community life and deserves a six-figure salary.

William Karr, Illinois

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