Tags: disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, love, love story, Megan Cutter
We’ve gotten a few questions about how Barton and I met & the beginning of our relationship. Indeed, for many people it seemed like overnight when I said- I’m getting married! Barton and I have different perspectives, so we’ll go back and forth to fill you in.
First off, you must know that I wasn’t looking for love, not even on my radar at that point. In 2001, I had been with a guy who ended up breaking off an engagement- there was already a date, a dress etc. After some time to trying to work things out, I had had enough. Sadly, my mother died unexpectedly a month later from a reaction to medication for Multiple Sclerosis. I spent a long time working through those two devastating losses. Mind you, I had packed up the wedding dress and tucked it away in the garage thinking I would never get married, and slowly I was learning to come back out of my shell, training in martial arts, writing again, figuring out what the next steps in my life should be.
When I traveled to Tucson on February 13, 2003 for an informal martial arts seminar, I wasn’t expecting to find love. Barton came to our friend’s house for a visit, staying only for a short time. I remember being introduced to him and thinking, how does he train in a wheelchair (anyone who has trained with Barton will tell you not to be so fooled); look at those bright blue eyes. And I just couldn’t stop looking at those blue eyes.
As quickly as we were introduced, he left. I flew back to my life in Alabama, with plans to come back to Tucson for another seminar in May.
Oh, don’t worry, there’s much more to this love story…
Tags: disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, love, love story
That first day, when I dropped by our friend’s house, I was certainly not expecting to meet the woman I’d spend the rest of my life with. When I came in, everyone was the middle of an exercise, and I sat quietly near the entrance, not wanting to interrupt. When they finished, one of our friends welcomed me and introduced me to a couple people that I hadn’t met yet. Megan was sitting on the edge of the sofa; her hands shyly cupping her chin.
Our introduction was extremely casual, almost dismissive to others in the room. To be honest, I’m not even sure she noticed me beyond a simple hello. On my end, there was an immediate familiarity, a relief that I have found a forgotten part of myself. Yes, I thought she was cute, but I was much more taken aback by this sense of recognition. All I could do when I saw her was stare at her face and feel at home.
I vaguely remember doing some other things while I was there, but that single moment of connecting eye to eye resonated in my being like the sweetness of mint in the early summer breeze. I knew then that somehow we would end up together.
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, wheelchairs
I often wonder who taught Megan how to drive a chair and then my curiosity quickly turns to an amused embarrassment as I remember, it was me and while I do have some moments of lucidity in my driving, I for the most part am a maniac on wheels. Whether I like to admit it or not, somewhere in my wallet rests a faded copy of my crackerjack license.
But one of the greatest adventures I’ve had to date came the first time I let Megan take the wheel. The first time Megan visited me in Tucson, yes, the same time my apartment door was accidently amputated, I recall her first driving lesson being in the middle of the spacious University of Arizona Quad and as she got into my lap and took control of the joystick, her first maneuver propelled us head on into the only biker within a half a mile radius. This, my dear friends, was Megan’s first attempt at driving a power wheelchair.
After that first brush with fate, however, it did not take her long to get the hang of it, at least in wide-open spaces. It wasn’t long before we were racing through an empty parking deck on the edge of campus to catch the sunset over the Tucson mountains.
Tags: daily living, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, household chores, Megan Cutter, wheelchairs
I completely admit, the first time I drove Barton’s wheelchair in Arizona, I tore off his bedroom door at his apartment, and I admit when we moved into our new house, I got his wheelchair stuck in the bathroom doorway for over twenty minutes with us still inside. But I’m not responsible for all the damage in the house from Barton’s wheelchair.
In fact, Barton and I have dibs on who makes the most dents in the hallway walls. Our hallway is speckled with dents, scrapes and patches of white spackle where we’ve repaired the larger crash damage.
For now, we’ve taken three doors out and ripped off the trim, making our 1960’s house as accessible as possible. It’s not pretty, but it’s functional. There’s a black scuffmark ring around the entire house where Barton has scraped his boots against the wall or door or the handlebars on the closet door. Yes, I have harped, to no avail, on the dents on the oven, couch or bed when he uses them to shift his weight back in the wheelchair.
And how many times do I have to remind Barton not to let the dogs sit in his lap with the wheelchair still on! (Oh, the fun of a dog-driven wheelchair)
While it’s wonderful to dream that Extreme Home Makeover would rebuild a glamorous accessible house with plenty of room, we realize that most likely that will never happen. So we pick one big project a year to tackle.
Obviously when we moved in, a solid ramp was priority number one. And when our work schedules shifted, we had an electric lock installed. Still on the list: expanding the doorways, renovating the bathroom… – it’s a long list.
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, household chores, wheelchairs
So, I have to admit that for the most part, Megan is correct, I do tend to track a lot of mud throughout the house. Don’t tell Megan this, but part of me really enjoys it because I know it gets her goat. I do, however, pull my own weight in terms of chores. One of the benefits to using a powerchair is that I can and often do haul as much or more than my body weight.
Eight grocery bags at once… no problem. Entire wheel barrows of yard waste… no sweat. Rolls of living room carpeting… come on. Give me a challenge! While Megan does take on much of the smaller tasks around the house, we tackle bigger projects together, and I’m sure her back is very grateful.
As for the mud, what can I say? My chair is like a barnyard animal- it’s meant to work hard and every so often, it can’t resist a good puddle of mud.
Tags: daily living, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, household chores, Megan Cutter, wheelchairs
When I look at household chores, yes, for the most part I take them on, but don’t be fooled, Barton takes on quite a bit, too. We live within walking distance to a shopping mall, which has everything we need- bank, grocery store, post office. So there are many times when I will send Barton to run errands. And Barton always meets me in the driveway to bring groceries into the house.
While I may be the hands of doing physical house or yard work, Barton is usually right there advising me on the best way to get it done, especially when it comes to yard work.
So there is one thing that does irk me about housework: they’re called wheelchair tires. While manual wheelchairs have smooth tires, which are somewhat thin, motor wheelchairs have real tires, treads and all. And if you know Barton, he can’t stand to stay on pavement. It’s really gross when he gets stuck in the mud after it’s rained- grass, wet mud and dirt is caked all over the tires & wheelchair. And then he comes in the house- usually just after I’ve swept or vacuumed. Never fails. I can always tell when Barton’s been off-roading. There are tire tracks with bits of mud or dirt trailing through the house. We also have two Labrador Retrievers so multiply the wheelchair tracks by two sets of doggie paws, and you’re in for a whole mess.
It’s taken a while, but I don’t have a fit anymore- dare say that I may even wait to clean it up the dirt tracks down the hallway. I’ve learned to let go (okay, okay, still learning) of needing everything to be obsessively clean. Eventually, the dirt trails get swept or washed away until the next rainfall.
So we don’t have the most pristine house. So what. Our house has character.
Did I mention the dents in the walls? Oh, maybe next time.
Tags: disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, love, Megan Cutter, vision
When Barton and I are our in public, our love for each other is very visible to others- in the looks shared between us, when I ride in Barton’s lap or the way Barton puts his arm around my waist.
One day, when we were taking the bus to church, the bus driver kept looking at us. As she unbuckled the straps around Barton’s wheelchair, she asked me, “Is he your brother?” Of which I replied, “We’re married.” I had to repeat it for her to absorb my words. She smiled and said, “I knew by the way ya’ll looked at each other that he wasn’t your brother.” How interesting that though she could not define our relationship, she could feel the love and connection between Barton and I.
Often, I am told that I am so good to have married Barton, and will try to explain how Barton has contributed to our family. There is nothing that I can say that will change people’s opinions about our relationship. While many people dismiss the ability that Barton has, when people see Barton and I together, how we interact and communicate, they are able to see love in its purest form, without condition, judgment or explanation.
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, love, vision
Walking down the road with Megan on my lap and a dog on either side invites many curious and inquisitive looks from others on the street. I’m always intrigued by the variety of expressions we witness. While there are always a number of polite nods and smiles, we almost always encounter genuine expressions of joy, surprise and at times a complete look of disgust.
While I am tempted many times to wonder what lies behind the mundane responses of those who simply smile and nod, I find that I am much more moved by those expressions of genuine emotion, whether positive or negative. I realize that within these expressions, lies a belief deeply held by that person which is either reaffirmed by our presence or challenged, a belief may even be changed in that moment. They are simply expressing that shift.
While nothing I can do can assure me that a reaction can yield a positive shift, I can only pray that they are touched by our love for one another. Even those who are externally repulsed by what they see, I would hope feel a glimmer of the love between Megan and I and begin to question their initial response.
I also find that it is within these reactions, both positive and negative, that I too, am given the opportunity to learn for within both responses, I am inspired to love more deeply.
Tags: disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Megan Cutter, vision
Throughout our relationship, Barton and I have had our share of justifying ourselves, our relationship and our choices. There have been many blunt comments in the name of “being concerned for us.” We live in justification junction.
Trying to verbalize why I was in love and wanted to marry a man in a wheelchair to my grandmother who told me, “You’ll just be a caretaker to a retard for the rest of your life,” was nearly impossible.
We really gave everyone a heart attack when I decided to quit my full time job with benefits, move out of state and start a freelance writing business. How could we possibly move out of state on our own and be successful? And yet, three years after moving to North Carolina, we own a successful writing and communications business that continues to grow.
What many people don’t see on the outside is that instead of succumbing to the “we can’t” mentality, we identify what we need and begin building a solid foundation piece by piece. I hear so many people say, “We can’t, we shouldn’t, how are you going to…” Yes, we have many unique obstacles, but I’ve learned that we have to throw the rulebook out and creatively blaze our own trail.
It’s taken a long time for me to let go of what everyone else thinks and to just do what we need to do. Instead of succumbing to the belief that we cannot accomplish our vision and our mission in our relationship or in life, I’ve learned to acknowledge those concerns and keep on walking. Barton has shown me that he’s had to let go of what people think his entire life. So we nod, we smile, we may even agree and then we go home and do what we are called to do anyway.
So instead of being concerned for us, take a minute to take your shoes off and step out of your box. We don’t have one.
Tags: Barton Cutter, Poetry
I am gimp like the shooting star
escaping the firmament of the mundane.
A rusted hammer waiting
to be taken up by a master carpenter
wind lifting autumn-haggled leaves toward
ashen ceilings like hymns of youth in discordant reveille.
Awaiting Ezekiel’s chariot to be carried
as flesh, chrome and steel bound,
laughing crimson rays and
glinting determination to
teach a feather’s lingering stride.
Shackles slacken about earth’s mantle-
saffron sun creeping through the moss.
Pine’s fragrance abounds.
~S. Barton Cutter
© June 2002