Jordans celebrate 50th anniversary in spite of adversity

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 8, 2004

David and Ruby Jordan recently spent four days at Myrtle Beach celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary – an event that will be long remembered by the couple and the 45 or so friends and family members who made the trip down south to celebrate the occasion with them.

Married on Aug. 28, 1954, the Jordans have had a rich life together. But in recent years, Ruby has suffered some medical problems that could have had permanently altered the couple’s quality of life.

The two still live by their wedding vows – to love and cherish, in sickness and in health – they took five decades ago.

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The Jordan’s have three children-Gwen, Ronald and David Jr. The oldest, Gwen, said she and her mother – best friends as well as mother and daughter – used to do all sorts of activities together.

But back in March 1998, when they were shopping at Greenbrier Mall, Gwen recalled, she asked to stop and sit down for awhile because she was tired.

&uot;She started telling me where her insurance papers were and I told her that she didn’t have to do all of that right now and to save that for later on,&uot; she said. &uot;The next day, she got sick and my heart was torn all to pieces.&uot;

On March 8, 1998, the family rushed her to the emergency room at Obici Hospital after David told his daughter that Ruby couldn’t talk.

After examining her, doctors told her family that Ruby had suffered a stroke and that she had a blood disease called Thrombocytopenic Purpura Syndrome, which is known to kill brain cells.

These illnesses left her unable to speak, swallow, walk or do anything for herself. She stayed in Obici overnight and was transferred to Chesapeake General Hospital the following day. After she spent a total of three months in the Chesapeake facility, she was transferred to Norfolk General Hospital to spend another three months.

After six months in the hospital, Ruby was transferred in August 1998 to a nursing home in Portsmouth. When she didn’t respond to any treatment at the nursing home, David and the family thought it was best for her to come home.

Gwen said that during the time that Ruby was in the nursing home, it was like she didn’t really exist. But once she returned home, a change began to take place. She tried to communicate with her family and friends around her with gestures and smiles.

David, who has worked at Suffolk Equipment Company also for the past 50 years, has found help in the in-home care nursing. The first nurse, Marilyn West, arrives at the home at 8 a.m. to get Ruby up, take care of her personal needs, and to sit her in front of the television set which she always loved. Because she can’t swallow, she had to be fed through a tube in her stomach four times a day.

West’s shift would end at 4:30 p.m. David’s hours at work were from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and when he arrived home, he would take over until 8 a.m. the following morning.

Later he used a home health care service which sent other nurses to the home. They tried speech therapy on Ruby but she still never responded to any treatment.

With all of David’s work and financial obligations for his wife, he never complains and always wears a smile.

David has a special van that is equipped for his wife’s wheelchair and after they had packed for their Myrtle Beach trip, they were on their merry way.

&uot;She remembered the route and gestured with her hands when I should turn right or left. We tried to soak in everything that the location had to offer.&uot; David said. &uot;She has always loved fishing so I rented a boat on the Saturday of that week to go out and enjoy the sport.

&uot;Since she has been sick we have visited Baltimore, Md. and Atlantic City to see my sister. I try to make her life as normal as possible,&uot; he said.

Gwen said David usually dresses and prepares her mother for trips and shopping. They also take her to church and shopping as often as possible.

When shopping, David said, she makes her choices of clothing by reaching for a garment as they push her wheelchair slowly past clothing racks.

Although David suffered a heart attack in 1993, he says he feels great. He said he feels that God has kept him strong so that he can be available to care for and love his wife.

At home, David said, he talks to his wife and she seems to understand him clearly.

&uot;I also know what she needs and when she needs it, but I guess after being married for 50 years, that’s not hard to do,&uot; David said. &uot;I cherish my wedding vows and I think everyone who takes them should honor them.

&uot;If your spouse gets ill or becomes disabled, do what you can to help them. After all, I know that if the shoe was on the other foot or if I were in her place, she would do the same for me.&uot;

Evelyn Wall is a regular

News-Herald columnist. Reach her at 934-9615.