When Ted McQuiston read about Anna Clark losing her sight in an automobile accident he was moved. He became her eyes. She became his wife.
A 65-pound slab of pavement crashed through the windshield of her pickup truck and into her head, blinding her and nearly killing her.
Anna, 50, lived in Bellingham for 22 years, working as a waitress and nurse and studying dance and theater at Western Washington University.
She left Bellingham in 1991 and later moved with a son, Jameson, to Pennsylvania.
She was driving Jameson home from a dental appointment when a chunk of loose pavement flipped off a tractor-trailer rig ahead of her. Jameson, then 11, was cut by flying glass but managed to unbuckle his mother’s seat belt, move her to the passenger’s seat and drive the pickup to the highway’s shoulder.
“I have two heroes in my life,” Anna says. “My son and my husband. And God.”
Ted McQuiston, 45, was recuperating from a stroke at a convalescent center when he read about Anna in the Erie, Pa., newspaper, “and it just touched me,” he says. The stroke left him without the use of his left arm and robbed him of his short-term memory.
When Anna arrived at the convalescent center about eight months later, he decided to help her get around. He’d lost peripheral vision in his left eye and had a slight idea of what it’s like to be blind. “I put myself in her place,” he says.
She would hold onto his suspenders as he’d lead her down the halls of the convalescent center. Romance followed.
They were married in Erie last month and a few days later headed to Bellingham for a honeymoon visit with Anna’s three children. They decided to stay and plan to build a life for themselves here, just like any other newlyweds.
“Ted and I have this deal,” Anna says. “He’s the eyes and I’m the memory.”
“We really didn’t expect her to be all right,” says her daughter, Nikla Knotts, 27, who lives a block away. “We expected there to be brain damage, but there wasn’t.
“It’s just like the old mom back. It’s wonderful.”
“Like she said, Ted’s her eyes, and she’s his memory,” says Mary Kriegisch, a friend in Erie. “It’s nice they have companionship, so they don’t have to go through this alone.”
Not everyone thought it appropriate for two disabled people to marry. “People were telling me I couldn’t, I couldn’t. I hate that,” Ted says.
“I kind of like it,” Anna responds. “I like to prove them wrong.”