Earlier this month, I posted about Paige’s back problems and inability to lift J.P. for the past few weeks.
Unfortunately, the problem caught us a bit off-guard. We have no lift in the house for J.P., and we have no nursing help or aide to assist with his care.
We’re fortunate though to have an amazing family and friends who are willing to lend us a hand, when needed.
In the past, my sister, Catherine Brandt, has dropped everything to be our lifesaver, and this time, it was Paige’s uncle, Fred Royalty.
With one phone call, Uncle Freddie agreed to fly from Kentucky to Florida to spend two weeks being J.P.’s assistant while Paige got her back in working order again.
I call him the talented Mr. Royalty because Freddie has had some incredible experiences in his life and has opened my eyes to many things since his arrival.
That’s one of the benefits of having family help out in a pinch: There’s plenty of time to chat and learn more about what others have told you over the years.
Freddie spent time in the military. He operated a Navy submarine, joined the Peace Corps, lived in Samoa and taught in Hawaii. He’s beyond creative and has created an official Team J.P. stamp during his stay — and created the first Team J.P. T-shirt.
I’m even now able to play a song on the ukulele that I never intended to learn.
One of Freddie’s biggest joys is eating. We’ve had sushi together during his stay and tried out a Turkish restaurant in town I’ve been meaning to get to for some time.
I’ve learned how to make real oatmeal — not the instant kind — and the many things you can do to oatmeal beyond fruit, maple syrup and brown sugar. We’ve even cooked bulgur.
I joked with Freddie this week that we could start a TV show called “Cooking Adventures with Freddie and Jeff.”
I found the eel you get at a sushi restaurant in an Oriental grocery in downtown Orlando and we cooked it for lunch and put it over bulgur with carrots, green onions, green pepper, celery and teriyaki sauce. It was amazing to us, but Paige didn’t even want to see us eat it.
I think Freddie has learned a lot about what it takes to keep J.P. going. He’s helped with baths, changing diapers, getting him dressed and into his wheelchair — and even some commands for our service dog, Karina.
When we’ve had time to just wind down, I’ve been sharing my DVD set with him of all the episodes of “Hogan’s Heroes.” I guess I’m teaching him a lesson in binge-watching, and we’ve laughed together at the antics of the characters.
We all run across numerous aunts and uncles from our extended families over the years, but many are the type that you just shake hands with and make small talk. Sometimes they get a Christmas card if you’re so inclined.
But since our wedding day, Freddie was the one who shook my hand, looked me in the eye and sincerely welcomed me to the family. I’ll never forget that moment, and I’ll never appreciate him more than now for being so selfless and putting his life on hold to help my family through a crisis.
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