I hope they’re dancing

When Ann Alaimo joined her husband Sam in Heaven last Friday, I hope the first thing he did was take her in his arms and waltz her around the room.
Sam’s been waiting 25 years to see his wife once again, and 38 years to hold her, and caress her, and, yes, dance with her.
Sam, or “Big Sam” as we all called him, became a quadriplegic in 1981 and spent the next 13 years flat on his back. He passed away in 1994.
Only a respirator kept Big Sam alive. Well, a respirator along with his enormous desire to live and the enormous commitment of Ann to help him do so.
The Alaimos converted their living room into Sam’s bedroom where, not being able to move a muscle from his neck down, Sam passed his time, surrounded by machines, but able to gaze out the front window if he chose.
Ann “slept” on a little bed in the same room, always on alert should an alarm sound indicating something amiss with Sam’s breathing apparatus. Then, she’d hop up and swing into action. Always efficiently and always without complaint.
The front door of the Alaimo home was always open and through it visitors streamed on a daily and nightly basis. I was one of them. Often, I’d bring my daughter, a toddler at the time. Ann and their daughter LuAnn treated Greta like a princess.
I’ve written columns and blogs about Big Sam and once observed that those of us who visited Big Sam regularly did not go there for him as much as we went for ourselves. Ostensibly, we were visiting a bed-ridden friend who needed cheering up. But it was we who got the most out of those visits. Big Sam had a way of raising our spirits and sending us off better equipped to face the world.
After a while, I believed I understood why. If what it takes to be with God is to lose our physical lives, then Big Sam, who used to say, “I’m nothing but a brain,” lived a giant step closer to God than did we. To visit him was to experience a glimpse of Heaven.
In Heaven, of course, there are angels, and visits to Big Sam’s home allowed us to enjoy one of those too. Ann Alaimo was an angel on earth.
And now she is where she always belonged, and always wanted to be.
In the presence of God and in the arms of her beloved Sam.

Ed Ackerman