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Duet – Maria and Lindsay Dalmon

Seeing this lovely photo of Lindsay and Maria prompted us to re-tell their heart-warming love story first published in our i am magazine a few years ago.

Maria and Lindsay Dalmon both have cerebral palsy and have been married for 30 years. Driving to Uluru in an accessible taxi, competing in sailing regattas around the world and paying off their first home in seven years are just some of the highlights of their marriage.

Lindsay: I was born in Perth and am an only child.  My parents brought me to Sydney when I was six to attend The Spastic Centre, now known as Cerebral Palsy Alliance. When I was a child, very little was known, let alone understood, about cerebral palsy – even by doctors. What I remember most about growing up was people assuming I had an intellectual disability.  I don’t think this is such a problem today as the public are much more aware of, and accustomed to, seeing people with a physical disability.

I got to know Maria when she was the assistant computer operator at Centre Industries, and I was her boss. Then we went to Japan on an exchange trip where we spent a lot of time together – it soon became obvious to me that I loved Maria and wanted to share my life with her.

People were supportive of us marrying but some were apprehensive.  Probably the hardest time for us was the first 12–18 months when we had to learn to do things for ourselves, because until then we had both lived with our parents.

I love Maria, period.  She is wonderful to be with (even when she beats me at sailing), fun loving and has a great outlook on life and our disabilities. Together we’ve done some great things like our road trips and representing Australia with Sailability

It’s impossible to imagine life without Maria. Being married has enabled me to achieve almost complete independence because there are things I can’t do that Maria can and visa versa.  So that makes us almost completely independent as a couple.

Maria: I come from a very close family with two older brothers. As a young child I wore long calipers and my parents bought me a standing box to strengthen my legs. My brothers and I used the standing box to play ‘shop’; our favourite game when I was the shopkeeper and they were my customers. We would play shop for hours, not realizing I was having exercise at the same time.

I met Lindsay at Centre Industries. He was my supervisor and I was always very fond of him and admired him from a distance. He seemed heavily disabled but so very capable.  Somehow I knew that if he asked me out, I would spend the rest of my life with him.

In 1978, we were chosen to join a group on a goodwill tour of the Spastic Centres of Japan. At this stage we were friends but nothing more, but we spent every spare moment together and really got to know each other.

We dated for a year before Lindsay asked my Dad if we could get married. He agreed but said we must wait two years before marriage to prove we were serious about each other.  Twenty one years later, we’re still going strong and share a beautiful home of which I’m very proud.

My parents loved Lindsay, but they were worried how we would cope. It was a difficult time just after our marriage because we had both been living with our parents and now had to fend for ourselves. Many a meal landed on the floor!  And now – our bodies are ageing and many everyday tasks are not as easy as they were.

I hate to think of life without Lindsay.  He has a very gentle nature and I always feel safe and secure with him.

He has a brilliant mind and always knows the best thing to do. This drives me mad because sometimes I like to argue a point with him, but I don’t know why because he is right 99.9%  of the time.  He’s also helps me with the house chores –  our disabilities complement each other so we are able to work together to achieve our goals.

Marriage has made me an independent woman and has forced me stand up for myself.  Before marriage I relied on Mum to do everything for me and to fight all my battles; now I fight my own battles.  I no longer worry about what will happen to me when both my parent pass away.