If you don’t have a tissue handy you might want to stop and go get one. I am fortunate to be have the ability and talent to create beautiful portraits. I am fortunate to have the gift of time. I am fortunate to be able to give back…so I do.
I heard the story of this precious family third party and immediately asked for their number and it if would be ok for me to contact them and offer them a complimentary portrait session. Sherry was so excited and through tears…quickly agreed. I asked Sherry if she would be so kind as to tell me her story and I don’t know a better way to share than in her own words.
“Yes I would love to tell you my story. I think you find it very interesting. Maybe it can help somebody.,
When I met Pat, it was the worst time in my life. I had to quit my job of 22 years because I was hospitalized twice because of stress. The doctor’s told me I would not live another 5 years . At that time I had raised my son by myself and my job had become my identity. So when I quit my job I had lost my identity and I fell into a deep depression.
I was 30 pounds overweight, was miserable and the last thing I wanted was a man in my life. I had to pull the carpet out of my room and I needed to put tile down due to my allergies. My son’s girlfriend worked at a gym and I asked him if he knew of anybody that could put tile down cheap cause I didn’t have a lot of money. He asked around the gym and Pat said he would do it.
Pat at that time spent a lot of the time in the gym. He loved to body build and lift heavy weights. He always liked to look good. He was really muscular. When he showed up at my house to give me an estimate, of course he caught my attention. When he shook my hand and told me his name was Pat all I could see is his beautiful green eyes. But I thought no more men. He gave me a cheap deal so he got the job.
The next day he showed up to start the job and I was so sick with depression I couldn’t get out of the bed. Everytime he walked by my bed he would check on me. He put a fan on me and checked on me all day long. I thought maybe there is something special about this guy. He later said as soon as he stepped out of the truck and looked at me he got butterflies in his stomach and felt like he was 17 again. He said he fell in love with me that day. It wasn’t that way for me . I had been married a couple of times and I felt men always quit at marriage and they couldn’t be trusted.
Needless to say, he kept trying and won me over to date him, but I was still not fully convinced. We were together almost a year and my depression had gotten worse. I was at the point where I was literally housebound. I wouldn’t leave my house. Even the grocery store would freak me out. Imagine that. He came to me and said he could help me but I would need to be willing to go into a mental hospital for seven days. Depression runs deep in my family and I knew I needed help. So he convinced me to go and said he would be there for me every step of the way, but in my heart I really didn’t believe him.
Everyday he came to see me and stayed with me as long as he could. After seven days I was released. I walked out of the door and there stood Pat looking at me with his beautiful smile and picked me up and swung me around and told me how much he loved me. I have never had anybody love me that way. His love is so unconditional. After I came home he took care of me. He bathed me, fed me and stayed up with me until I would fall asleep. He was always by my side. It was then I was able to give my whole heart to him. He taught me how to love again and how love should be and love doesn’t give up no matter what!!! This is definitely a once and a life time long. Most people don’t get to experience it and I thought I never would.
After I got better we got married on December 8, 2012. We were so happy. I went to dog training school for 3 months and lived in Austin. I wanted to do something I loved and have fun. He came to see me on the weekends. He had owned a construction company for 26 years and things were getting slow. He was going to help me open up a dog training business and it would be ours. We were soo excited completely starting over with the one we love and doing what we love. Life couldn’t get any better than this. We were so active with our dogs and we loved to have fun. Pat loved to dance. He looked so goofy but I loved it. We both have a goofy side and we would laugh for hours at each other.
Three days after I got home from Dog School, I woke up in the middle of the night and Pat was sitting on the bed. He said he couldn’t breathe. I stayed up with him until he finally fell asleep. The next morning, I called the doctor and said he needed in right away. I thought maybe he had pneumonia. He had pneumonia when we got married. So I thought it was back. The doctor listened to his chest and heard something weird. So they ran another test. Next thing I knew he was rushed to the hospital and they did a heart cathe.
There he was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and Kidney Failure. I was in shock to say the least. They told me that he would live a year if he was lucky. Oh my God how could this be? Someone finally loves me unconditionally and now God is going to take him away from me. I was in shear panic. We just got married starting a new happy life and I could not wrap my head around it. When they told Pat, he just shook is head and said, no, no and starting crying.
We cried for weeks and then we got angry with God and screamed and yelled around the house. Finally, I thought to myself I need help. I am going back into a depression. I wanted to make good decisions and live my life right so I could help him. I called my church at that time and told them the devastating news (it was a large church). The pastor had no time to talk to us. He was too busy. WOW!!!! REALLY!!! I kept looking and asking anybody that would listen for help. My friend told me about The Covenant Church in Willis, Tx. She said it was a small church and she really liked it. So we decided what could it hurt.
We went up to the doors, they opened them and grabbed us and hugged us. They had no idea what we were going through. The love that I felt in that church and those people there is indescribable. I felt at home. So we kept going and I kept reading my bible looking for answers. Looking for a way out. Looking for healing. Looking for peace. Everybody took time to talk to us, including the pastor and his wife. And everyone really cared and loved us and prayed for us. They keep in touch with us all the time. They are always there for me, my little support team.
At first I was mad at God….but I have learned a lot about Jesus Christ by reading my bible. Jesus doesn’t cause things like this to happen, but he may allow it to bring us closer to him. While reading my bible everyday, soon I began to get peace. Then I got grace to be able to deal with Pat’s sickness. Then God gives us the strength to make it through each day. Now we are asking for endurance. For the long haul.
This is a slow death, the worst way I think a person can die. The heart pumps everything, eyes, ears, kidneys, liver everything. So Pat’s sight is bad, his hearing is bad, he hurts all the time, his memory is bad, its hard for him to breathe. But he still seems to wake up with that beautiful smile in the morning and tells me how much he loves me. The closer I have gotten to God the more committed I have gotten to Pat.
I love Pat with all my heart and I love taking care of him. Sometimes it gets hard and our life is a roller coaster, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We have a love that some people never find. I truly believe God put us together, to not only take care of each other , but also show us what unconditional love is.
The biggest thing I have learned from this is God created us to be an image of him. He showed his love for us by dying and suffering for us. Whatever Pat and I go through in life is nothing compared to what Jesus went through on the cross. His number one thing that he wants is us to love other people the way he loves us. When you ask, you will receive. When you search you will find. God will never abandoned us. Once I realize how much God loves Pat and me I quit worrying. God loves Pat more than I do and he will take care of him. One thing is for certain Pat will not die one day sooner than God has originally planned when he was born.
Thank you for asking for this. I would have never taken the time out to do this for myself. It’s a rough draft but I think it will work for now. Thank you for letting my mind go to all the beautiful memories Pat and I have shared.”
For those of you who believe in the power or prayer please lift this family up. In the hour plus I was fortunate to spend with them you’d have never known this beautiful man was sick. Although he was clearly tired by the end of the session….he smiled, he laughed, he joked, he was super friendly, up for anything and I could feel the love of this family. Many blessings Garris family! Thank you so much for sharing your story and allowing me the honor of documenting this precious time in your lives.