A Love Forever Strong

Life Matters Newsletter - Spring / Summer 2021

Roz and Tommy held hands as Chaplain Jonathan used a slightly updated version of their original wedding vows from ten years prior - connecting past and present with their strong bond of love.

Hospice and palliative care is more than just treating pain and symptoms for a patient. We provide a holistic form of care that treats the whole person and the emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of their lives. We also know that life does not end with a diagnosis or even hospice care...there is life left to live and moments to celebrate. Playing a small part in making celebrations possible is something we are grateful for each and every day - because every life matters. And we can help families create positive memories to carry them through the end-of-life journey and beyond.


So, when Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region (HPCCR) Chaplain Jonathan Allen learned that a very special patient, Roselynn (Roz) Skidmore, and her loving husband, Tommy, had a 10-year wedding anniversary coming up, he jumped at the chance to make that momentous milestone a memorable occasion!

When Roz received her ALS diagnosis in 2016, she was in her early fifties. As she describes it, she was “at the height of her life.” She was physically fit, active in her church, enjoyed her career, and loved spending time with her family. Her son, Jesse, two-year-old granddaughter, Hadley, and new grandson, Hendrix, are the lights of her life.


Tommy, though, is her soulmate. When you meet them, you know this is a love like no other. Tommy adores Roz; you can see it in every move he makes. He tells us that he, “knew the minute they met he was going to marry Roz.” And they did just that on January 18, 2011 when they married in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on a gorgeous tropical beach with Jesse, her son, and Kelsey, Tommy’s beautiful daughter, as their witnesses.


In 2014, Roz and Tommy had just returned from an action-packed trip to Costa Rica where they swam with sharks, rappelled down a waterfall, and ziplined through the jungle. They were so enamored with the beautiful country of Costa Rica that they planned on spending part of their retirement years there.


But shortly after their return, Roz began to feel that something wasn’t right. Her normal daily activities became harder. After two years of tests, doctor visits, and progressing symptoms, she learned she had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) - a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.


When you get to know Roz, you learn that she has a history of taking the most challenging of situations and turning them into an immense source of strength. True to form, she did that with her ALS diagnosis.


She found the positive in this new challenge and made it her faith-based mission to raise awareness and spread hope and happiness wherever she could.


From raising over $12k in her first walk in support of ALS to raising another $15k in her second and so many other incredible achievements - she’s a beacon of light through the hope and joy she shares with the world. And those who have had the pleasure of meeting her, even for a moment, know that’s just who she is - in her heart and soul.


Getting to know Roz and Tommy Skidmore has been an incredible inspiration and pleasure. When they asked Chaplain Jonathan if he could perform a vow renewal ceremony, it was an opportunity he could not miss!


“I feel blessed to participate in this very poignant and meaningful ceremony,” Chaplain Jonathan expresses.


Though COVID and other unforeseen circumstances tried to dampen the spirit of the occasion, the Skidmore’s love and excitement in celebrating their vow renewal was too strong to let obstacles get in the way.


As the date approached, Roz’s condition began to decline, leading to an adjustment to their ceremony. The plan for Roz in a wheelchair by Tommy’s side in a larger ceremony in their spacious living room was no longer possible, and they made the difficult decision to have her stay in bed. Due to COVID space restrictions, this limited the attendance to a maximum of four, but this would not keep them from having a very special and intimate ceremony.


As Roz has described after being told three times in the past four years that she only has months to live, she “chooses to believe Christ is in charge of that decision, not man.”


So when the day of the ceremony arrived, she was ready. The beautiful couple dressed in white – just like their wedding day. In place of tropical flowers, were delicate pink roses. And a lovely bouquet of 10 balloons – one for each year of their marriage - added a very special and meaningful touch.


Roz’s father arrived early with flowers and a precious kiss on the cheek. Due to his own health concerns he reluctantly, but lovingly, departed prior to the other guests arriving.


In a small, intimate ceremony, Roz and Tommy held hands as Chaplain Jonathan used a slightly updated version of their original wedding vows - connecting past and present - with their strong bond of love - a love forever strong.


We would like to wish the Skidmores a very happy 10th wedding anniversary. Your story, and your love for one another, inspire us.

 

Learn more about Roz and her work to raise ALS awareness in her September 2017 profile in Lake Norman Woman Magazine at

https://issuu.com/lakenormanwoman/docs/lknw_sept17_issuu/50

 

Visit https://www.hpccr.org/life-matters-spring-summer-2021 to read more from our Spring / Summer 2021 Edition of the Life Matters Newsletter.

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