Polio Place

A service of Post-Polio Health International


The Wedding Picture

Frances Henke; 1975; Hastings, Australia

As a convert to the arcane world of Facebook, I recently ticked the box, “married,” to the surprise of “friends.” “Is this new?” asked people I barely knew in real life. Then I found our wedding photograph and posted that to more acclaim.

It was a wedding on a shoestring. I bought the dress, made of antique kimonos, the day before. Appropriate shoes for the polio foot were a problem. I heard myself clip clopping down the aisle, thinking, Oh God! But so happy, who cared. I had given up thoughts of finding someone. I was 32. Who would marry a portly person under five foot tall, with a limp, prone to fall? But I met a very tall, very articulate writer, who on day one declared he was taking me home to meet his mother. A cheek, but he did. Sylvia was my height with three sons, all tall, who married short women. Suddenly I felt safe. Ian and I were soul mates. I knew he'd be a wonderful father but that childbearing for me might be impossible. It was.

We both are crusaders, involved in challenging areas of politics, involving serious retaliation. In retrospect, not having children was right. I came to understand there must be “spare” women to look after “spare” kids. Ian, particularly, has been an inspiration and support to many troubled people. I stopped pining for “my own” children, appreciating the real mothering I had done and continue to do. Having suffered bullying and teasing, it can be hard to believe there will be a partner out there who can see past a disability to the real person. I could easily have fallen into the trap of partnering someone inappropriate because I felt myself “damaged goods,” rather than a wonderful person who happens to have had polio. I wanted someone who would help me grow intellectually and spiritually and hallelujah! it happened.

As the late effects of polio set in, my husband has been magnificent support, as I have supported him with his heart condition. We are co-carers of each other. I look at that wedding photograph on Facebook and marvel that we ever were so young and handsome. We may have no child with whom to share the picture, but it has been much enjoyed in cyberspace. We have enjoyed our rich time together and pray for much more time yet.


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