Real Life

REAL LIFE: A wedding surprise for the kind carer

“Love is for people of all abilities.”

By Courtney GReatrex

Chrissie Smith, 37, from Campbelltown, NSW shares her story:

My muscles strained as I lifted my client out of her wheelchair and onto her couch.
"Is there anything else I can do for you?" I asked.
Happy that she was comfortable, I walked out of her unit and into the hallway of the apartment building I worked at.
I'd been a disability support worker for four years and although it was tough, I loved my job.
I knew the important role I played in people's lives.
My son, William, 10, was born with intellectual disabilities and it inspired me to become a professional carer.
I was walking down the hallway when a familiar face came towards me.
"Fancy seeing you here," the redheaded man beamed, stopping his electric wheelchair.
"Small world," I agreed.
I'd met Brenton, 25, two years earlier, while working as a carer for one of his mates.
With tatts on his face and two piercings underneath his right eye, he seemed like a bad boy.
I was professional and polite but, as a mum to William, as well as Bianca, 13, and Willow, nine, I didn't have time for rebels.
"I'm moving in today," he explained. "My muscles have deteriorated more and I need help."
I was busy as a mum to three kids. (Image: Supplied)
Brenton had been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic condition that causes muscles to weaken, at two years old.
At 10, he'd lost the ability to walk but it was only recently that he'd lost strength and movement in his arms, too.
Despite his struggles, he had a positive attitude and a cheeky personality.
"I'll see you soon," he winked as I walked away.
I smiled and shook my head.
He's too much of a flirt for me.
Seeing each other every day, I realised Brenton wasn't as rough as he seemed.
In fact, we had a lot in common.
We both used music to calm ourselves when we were upset and both had strong family values.
Two months later, I got a job with a different support worker company so we parted ways.
But surprisingly, I felt a pang in my chest when I thought of Brenton.
I missed the lively twinkle in his light blue eyes.
Thankfully, we'd exchanged numbers so we started messaging and had lunch together.
One day, he turned to me with a serious look on his face.
"You treat me like a normal person," he said, "not like someone in a wheelchair."
I looked at him in shock.
"You are a normal person," I insisted.
I couldn't believe he'd been treated so poorly throughout his life that common decency stunned him.
Soon after, he invited me out to dinner.
As the conversation flowed, I realised we had a connection I couldn't ignore.
I'd never felt this comfortable and understood before.
My heart raced as I took a deep breath.
"I want to be your girlfriend," I said bravely.
He grinned.
"I knew you'd ask me that," he winked.
Holding his hand, I'd never felt happier.
Brenton and I connected with each other. (Image: Supplied)
After that, our relationship blossomed.
Understanding how important my kids were, Brenton arranged to meet them.
"He's really cool," Bianca admitted afterwards.
Brenton knew that meant a lot, coming from a young teenager.
Nearly three months later, we were at his sister, Tahliah's house when the two of them started whispering.
Suddenly, Brenton wheeled over to me.
Tahliah helped him extend his hand, which was holding a gold square-cut diamond engagement ring.
"You're the love of my life," Brenton choked. "Will you marry me?"
"Yes!" I squealed.
Our tears mingled together as we kissed.
We'd had a whirlwind romance but being together felt right.
Why wait when we were so happy?
I threw myself into planning the wedding but, a month before our scheduled date, Covid-19 hit and we had to postpone.
A few months later, restrictions eased and I looked forward to reorganising the event. But Tahliah approached Brenton and I with a cheeky grin.
"I got in touch with a charity," she said, "and they've already planned the whole wedding for you."
Our mouths dropped open in shock.
The charity was My Wedding Wish, which organised weddings for terminally ill or disabled people, free of charge.
Our wedding was such a special day for both of us. (Image: Supplied)
I couldn't believe how thoughtful Tahliah had been or how generous the charity was.
They'd even organised the ceremony at Gledswood Homestead and Winery, where we'd originally planned to marry.
Two months later, I slipped on my beaded, strapless gown as Bianca, my maid of honour, pinned the veil into my hair.
Walking down the aisle, past our nearest and dearest, I couldn't help but cry.
Brenton looked so dashing in his new suit.
"I never thought I'd find love, let alone be with someone as beautiful as you," he said to me. "I will be your rock to lean on, a shoulder to cry on and a pillow to rest your head on."
My voice wavered as I spoke.
"I promise to support you through misfortune and to celebrate your triumphs," I vowed. "We will conquer any challenge together."
We kissed joyfully as we were pronounced husband and wife.
Afterwards, we sat around a bonfire, enjoying a barbecue and drinks.
It was a quiet day but it was perfect for us.
Brenton never thought he'd find someone who could look past his disabilities and love him for the man he is.
That breaks my heart but our marriage is proof that love has no boundaries.
When you've met your soul mate, it doesn't matter what they look like or how they get around.
Love sees past people's differences and brings us all together.