Monday, November 08, 2010

Secondary characters, MS, and my brother

I received a nice review of SEA OF SUSPICION from The Romance Reviews last week--Thanks, Arkali. The thing I really liked about this review (especially as the reviewer wasn't sold on the romance between the hero and heroine) was what she said about the secondary characters...

"One of the strongest points of the book is the secondary characters. Some are morally weak, some are sympathetic, and then some are truly the best of humanity. Case in point is Nick's friend and co-worker, Ewan. Ewan's wife, Amy, is dying of multiple sclerosis. The love and tenderness he has for her is absolutely touching. I know that people the world over deal with tragedy like this every day, but that makes it no less noble."

This meant a lot to me for personal reasons.  If you have read the book you might have noticed the dedication.

"For my late sister-in-law, Helen Sarah Margaret Beddow, Nov 14, 1964 to July 15, 2004, whose life was cut tragically short by multiple sclerosis"

Now I didn't base Amy or Ewan on my brother or late sister-in-law. I didn't use them as templates. But I had witnessed the rock solid dedication of my brother to his ailing wife and the steadfast care-taking and valiant wars he fought with health service officials to care for her at home. He knew if she went into hospital she'd die from boredom or superbugs and she'd miss out on the chance to be part of her young girls' lives, and they'd miss out on her. My brother never gave up his job--always high intensity stuff, not working the check-out at Walmart. He had two girls to bring up and a wife who needed constant care. After pointing out it was cheaper for the health service to provide homecarers from 7 am to 7 pm than for Helen to go into hospital, he managed to scrape together enough funding for those 12 h shifts. Which meant on top of a full time day job, raising two girls, he cared for his wife for those other 12 hours a day. This went on for years and years as Helen's MS progressed (which was one of those nasty varieties with crippling attacks and little remission).

He didn't sleep through the night for years. It was important to turn her at regular intervals so she didn't get bed sores and he slept lightly because he was terrified she was going to stop breathing. The most moving thing to watch was when he would hold her hand and call her darling and treat her like a normal dignified human being.

Helen died in his arms six years ago a few months shy of her 40th birthday.

My brother isn't perfect but he's pretty close and he deserves every happiness that he has now found. So although I didn't base Ewan on him directly, I did embody Ewan with all my brother's strengths.


  1. Your brother sounds like quite a person -- and I bet he didn't complain or question what he was doing. Inspiring.

    Beautiful post.

  2. Shawn, he just did what had to be done and usually with a smile. It didn't mean it wasn't hard. Reminds me to buck myself up :)

  3. Louise Beddow3:27 pm

    I am so proud of my dad when I think back to everything he had to do to take care of our family when I was growing up. He's always been so strong for us. Makes me realise just how lucky me and my sister, and of course the more recent additions to the family as well, are to have him.

    This is a really lovely post Toni, miss you all.

  4. Louise--they did a good job with you :) You and J brought joy to their lives.

  5. Jenny Beddow9:44 am

    I agree with everything you and Lou said, i feel so lucky to have such an incredible man as my dad, and he deserves all of the happiness in the world :)
    Thank you for this post Toni
    Hope you are all well over there, missing you lots xxxxx

  6. Thanks, Jenny. I hope uni is treating you well!! Your mom would be proud as punch of you both :)