A wife of noble character who can find?

One of the “givens” with ALS is an increasing need for assistance from care givers, and with that comes also the gradual loss of self-reliance.

When I was first diagnosed with ALS I said to the doctor, “I know its difficult for you to break the news to patients, but please know that with me I have two great assets going into this. I’m a Christian, so no matter on which side of the grave I’m standing, God is with me. And second, I have the best care-giver in the world!”

I was referring, of course, to my wife, Ruth.

What a strong woman she is!  As slowly I have lost my ability to care for myself, the more she has increasingly and lovingly cared for me.

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31).

First to go was my appetite and my ability to chew and swallow food. So Ruth took up the slack by preparing daily three 12 ounce shakes loaded with nutrients. After one year I could not even look at another shake! So for the last two years she has faithfully fed me through a feeding tube three to four times a day.

With my clothing, first to go was my ability to work with buttons, zip zippers, and tie my shoes. That eventually led to her dressing me entirely.

Getting in and out of bed finally led to using a Hoyer Lift. When my legs turned to wet noodles, and having fallen eleven times (each occasion with its own unique story line and comedy!), an electric wheelchair became my home base. Again, the Hoyer Lift to get in and out of the wheelchair. Who became the expert with the  lift? Ruth, of course.

Eventually I could not dry myself very well after a shower, so Ruth took over that job. And when using soap and shampoo was difficult—yep, Ruth took over. Now an aide helps her to shower me. With the lift they move me from the wheelchair into another chair built for showers. Then after the shower, its back to the wheelchair and the rest of the day.

Four or five times a day I use a cough-assist machine to clear my throat and airways. Who is there to help me? Yep. Ruth!

And there are other activities that are probably not appropriate to discuss in a blog!

We laugh about how little we knew or anticipated when we took our marriage vows—“in sickness and health, for as long as we both shall live.”

So, here’s to Ruth—my wife, my friend, my lover, my spiritual sister, the mother of our children. Valentines Day this year will be the 56th for us as wife and husband!

34 Replies to “A wife of noble character who can find?”

  1. Wow. That’s an incredible testimony! It seems that a good wife is more valuable than good health. I know you’re very fortunate in that regard, just as your fortunate to have an astounding spirit of faith in the God who loves you. And on that note, Ruth seems blessed to have such a resilient and steadfast husband.
    All my respect and fondness,


  2. Hi Dr. Wackes, Your daughter told me about your blog on Sunday when we saw her at church. I told her that you’ve been so dear and instrumental in the lives of my children, and that you helped Mike and I to have a more stable, loving marriage through your Biblical counsel. We’ve all read your book on marriage. Jake is marrying his fiancé in September!
    I feel so privileged to know you. And it’s just like you to be pecking out a blog with two fingers! …doing all you can do, as unto Jesus.
    I love you. God bless you, dear Brother. I will be reading!


  3. Dr. Wackes…Always a Godly example and an encouragement to others! You taught so many for decades and are leaving an indellible mark – a legacy of a man that did not just talk the talk…but you walk the walk! A modern day Hall of Faith… thank you! Thank you Mrs. Wackes for being a role model for all of us women… servant of God, a help-mate and devoted wife.
    Blessings to you both,


  4. Wow Dr Wackes….I had no idea about your challenges with ALS. Just as you taught me so much during my years at WA, you continue to teach me today. Reading your beautiful post about daily life and how well Ruth is taking care of you was inspiring and such a testament to your love for each other and the Lord. I have such great memories of you during those wonderful days at Westminster. Thank you for the impact you had and have on my life and the brave way you are facing this immense challenge in your life. Also, kudos to Ruth for being such a loving and supportive wife. You guys sure represent Christ’s love in the way your living your life. Tons of love and No Fear….Perfect Love (His Love) eliminates all fear. Happy Valentine’s Day to you both. God Bless you and keep you and know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers. In Christ, Jimmy McCann


  5. Ruth, I was Bill’s caregiver for only 5 months. No one prepared me for that role. God sustained me, just as He is sustaining you. We were married for almost 56 years but were never closer than during those 5 months. You have been Ken’s loving caregiver for over 4 years and even though you became one in the eyes of the Lord on the day you were married, the last 4 years have given new meaning to the word “one”. I thank God every day that you are on this ALS journey with Ken.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m thankful Ruth’s along for the journey, too! I write poems to Ruth for birthdays, Valentine’s etc. Here’s part of this year’s. I include it for your sake as you look forward to heaven and reunion with Bill.

      Imagine the pain
      from what some wives have done,
      when their ALS husbands waken
      to find that they’re gone.

      To stay home with me, I know, love,
      is such a bore,
      but look to the embrace we’ll share
      at heaven’s door!


  6. Many years ago, when I wore my muddy paddock boots to faculty devotions and hounded you for a WA corral so I could ride my horse to school, I had no idea how much knowing you and being mentored by you would impact my life – not just as a teacher, but as a parent and now a grandparent (where do the years go!). A devotion you did with us at the beginning of one school year was taken from a study of David and Goliath. It was called “Five Smooth Stones” – or at least that’s how I’ve remembered it. You attributed a special meaning to each of the stones David carried to his encounter with the giant. The “stone” that has been most meaningful for me was “remember your lion & bear stories”. I have recalled that admonishment countless times – remembering how The Lord sustained me through past difficulties has given me the courage to face the current one . Another of the stones was “be yourself” – David refused the King’s armor. BUT … this ol’ brain of mine can’t recall the other 3 “stones”. Do you remember the devotion I’m speaking of? Any chance you could refresh my memory on those missing “stones”? 🙂 It’s a devotion I’d love to share in it’s entirety with my grandchildren. – all kids love the story of David & Goliath.
    To say the blog has been inspirational would be an understatement. The Lord continues to use you to mentor me – you are a blessing!!! Thank you!
    In Christ,
    Kay Snyder


    1. Thanks for your note, Kay, and your encouraging words. When I was a boy my father had horses and I was the stable boy. One Sunday morning I got up late and had to clean the stalls before leaving for church. So I cleaned the stalls in my Sunday shoes. At church I put my feet on the back of the pew ahead–and you can guess what stayed there when I stood up! Much like your muddy paddock boots!

      And thank you for directing my eyes to ! Samuel 17. Perhaps I’ll include it my blog.

      1 Samuel 17:32-50 (NIV)

      1. remember your lion and bear stories (v. 34-37)
      2. don’t rely on natural methods (v. 38-39)
      3. don’t be intimidated (v. 41-44)
      4. invoke the name of the Lord (v. 45-46)
      5. remember it’s the Lord’s battle (v. 47)

      Our Goliaths might not go away;
      Situations might stay same;
      But our attitude during the battle is the victory!

      If it does go away, do not swagger, but give praise to God!

      — my greetings to Bill.


  7. Dear Ruth and Ken,
    What examples you have been to us all these many years, and now even more as you both go through this chapter in your lives. You are on my daily prayer list for God to bear you up with extra strength and peace. So glad Karen is near bye. God richly bless your days and years ahead.
    Our love to you in Christ,
    Ann and Ed Hopkins


  8. In sickness and in health you have always been a great inspiration to me. Ruth is a godly woman for all of us to follow. SInce my diagnosis of bronchiectasis and chronic pneumonia, I’ve been reminded to pray for you often. To God be the glory for all that He has done and continues to do for us.


    1. Greetings, Jeffe! I am so sorry to learn about your illnesses. I use a cough assist machine 3-4 times a day to help keep my airways from congestion. Have your doctors recommended something similar. My version of ALS is bulbar and affects my breathing. Thank you for praying for me. I will do the same for you. My greetings to Jacque.


  9. I loved reading this. I hope the Lord uses me as a wife one day as well. This was inspiring and encouraging. I miss and love you both dearly. I think about and pray for you Ken all the time.
    God bless you and just know heaven awaits. Hope to see you guys soon


      1. Baby is good. Not in school, no
        Owe school loans so they won’t give me my transcript until I pay it.
        Still modeling and acting and all that.
        Also doing princess parties where I dress up and portray a character such as Cinderella or Snow White ! Still with grandma
        She’s separating from her husband Dan
        He developed a mental illness so he’s ill, and unbearable :/
        Completely different person

        Also not with Wade anymore
        He did something mean behind my back
        He wasent a godly man anyways so it’s a blessing in disguise
        Still hurts but the Lord is healing my heart slowly every day

        Not singing right now at church
        Just dealing with many things and I can’t really commit with my inconsistent schedule
        One day I hope to be able to sing again

        Also Praying the Lord is preparing my husband for me.
        Love you both so very much
        Moving to crystal river so maybe I can see you guys


        1. Thanks for the update, Lashay. I will continue to ask God to send to you a godly husband for you and father for your little child. I’m so sorry to hear about Dan and Miki.


  10. Praise God for your relationship with Christ and your beloved Ruth. (I’ve always admired her Godly example, even more-so now.) Like you, my baby brother Jerry relied on his wife Angel for everything. By the time the VA finally diagnosed him with ALS, it was too far gone. But she, like Ruth, lovingly cared for his every need as he was confined to bed, on a ventilator for the last six months of his life (he passed at the age of 56, on October 4, 2015). Thank you, for publicly honoring God and the help-mate He gave you, over 5 decades ago. You are both an inspiration. We prayed for you at our New Presbyterian Church Small Group that meets at the Briggs home, this past Thursday night.


  11. What a lovely and noble wife! I am happy to say that my husband helps me out when I have trouble seeing, whether that’s by guiding me around dark, unfamiliar places, warning me about steps and curbs, or telling me that someone has their hand out to shake my hand. Having these people in our lives definitely makes it easier to get through the day!


    1. Thanks for your note, Virginia, and for the YouTube URL. You’re so correct about our spouses and their affectionate care. Thanks for nominating my blog. I’ll have to look into it further.


  12. Hi Ken and Ruth,

    A noble woman indeed. You are both noble people in the fact through all of you’re trials, regardless of severity, your strength of faith is rock solid. Both of you are a great inspiration to us all. Sincerely, Joe Normoyle.


  13. Prayers for you and your dear wife Ruth. I will forever be thankful to you for blessing my son Kris, as a teacher, a man of God and motivator.

    Best regards,
    Charlene Williams


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