I was told that I would not live to the age of 40 but here I am at the cusp of 49. I attribute this to meeting the love of my life, my angel, Gemma. She’s the one in the picture above. Isn’t she lovely?
In spite of the fact that I was 34, Irish-American, previously married to a man and had never even considered looking at a woman for a romantic relationship (in point of fact, I was a tiny bit homophobic at the time), I fell in love with Gemma, who was a decade younger and British, the very first time I saw her in person. To my utter surprise, she loved me back. We’ve been inseparable ever since. I still can't believe it.
And let's face it, it IS pretty unbelievable that she'd love me back. On paper I looked good (loads of education, good background, multilingual, etc), but in real life I was a wreck. In my late 20s I'd married a man who ended up being so violent that he broke my neck and killed our 7 month old son in one terrible 'accident.' A year after that 'accident,' I started seizing and was diagnosed with epilepsy, a particularly violent form which the doctors assured me would mean that I wouldn't live to see 40. Why? Because no medication could stop me from seizing, and I seize 2-4 times a week, brutally. Each seizure is the rough equivalent of running back-to-back marathons; I've broken my own bones seizing. And each seizure could be the one that stops me from breathing *too* long, or is just slightly *too* hard on my heart, and bam, I never wake up.
After I met Gemma, my seizures seemed to abate a bit. I experienced unimaginable joy the first 10 years we were together. But now I'm facing 50, and the seizures are doing what I was always told they would do - they are tearing me apart.
But that's nothing - I always knew that would happen and I was prepared for it. The problem, and the reason I am addressing/begging all of you for help is that I am leaving my wife Gemma behind. She can see me getting farther and farther away as my medical problems compound, and it is breaking her.
I wish you could know my Gemma. Surely, she would be the most impressive woman...no, take that back - she'd be the most impressive PERSON you'd ever meet. I've been so lucky that I've had the last 14 years with her.
She's always had to work full-time to support the both of us, of course. She's done that in a variety of ways: factory worker, cabin crew, model, Asda till girl, mobile sales representative, cleaner, phlebotomist...and then, one day, her eye caught a random advertisement in the paper. A job opening for a train driver. It seems that she has now found her vocation, as she has already been promoted past driver, and is now creating the material that gets taught to trainee drivers, and she does some of the teaching herself. The rail company saw her potential immediately, and they put her to work, providing the intellectual challenges that she'd hungered for her entire life.
I am so proud of her. In my opinion, she'll be running that place one day.
Except for the fact that her wife is dying and her identity was stolen a few years ago, which has caused unbelievable amounts of financial chaos in our lives. Yes, she has a great job with a great salary - that we never get to see because it is already promised to debt companies for credit cards that we never applied for and such. So now, we're selling our clothes, any jewelry we might have, Gemma mows peoples' lawns in our neighbourhood for a tenner occasionally. It's *really* that bad. As I sit here right now, it's the middle of the pay cycle and we have £26 in the bank.
I'm not asking for money to help keep Gemma happy. In fact, no amount of money could.
I am asking for assistance so that we can keep our small bungalow, so that Gemma can arrange my funeral, and be able to care for herself after that. I genuinely don't know what she'll need then. But I know for certain that she cannot continue with this beast of unearned financial burden across her back. (Did you know that when you're indebted, you accrue fees that accrue their own fees? We do.)
Part of the problem we have now IS our fault. We have been proud. Too proud to tell anyone that we needed help. Gemma's parents are the most generous people I've ever met in my life, and we struggled to ask them for a few quid here and there. If they'd had any idea how badly we were in need, we worried that they would bankrupt themselves trying to help us, and we simply couldn't abide that. But keeping quiet has only made our situation worse.
Neither of us has been able to give each other a gift of any kind for the last three birthdays, anniversaries and Christmases. Just typing that breaks my heart anew. She deserves everything. But giving her my whole heart and devotion isn't enough. She needs real, concrete help.
As you might imagine, if you were kind enough to read this far, Gemma's mental health is suffering. No, I'll just come out and tell you the truth - Gemma is suffering in every way. I thought for so long that my love could help her with anything rough, but I know now that it can't, and she won't even have me for too much longer.
Please help us. Reach out to me if you have a question - I am happy to answer. Obviously, this will no longer be a secret to her, so she might even be willing to answer questions.
Anything you can spare would be extremely helpful. When our grandmother sent us £30 for our birthdays, we turned it into a three-week grocery budget.
Thank you very much for your attention.
So here we go - I'm making this live tonight. If anyone notices and helps us out, I will do everything in my power to reach out to you personally. And I will keep this space updated as regularly as possible.
Thank you all!
DonationsSee top donations
- Richard Hammond
- Lynda Parsons
- Patrick Honeyman
No.1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the unlikely event that something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse has occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night! Learn more