Henry and Marion Brechbill have been married 47 years. Henry has been in a wheelchair 22 of those years after a car accident. The Seeley Lake branch of the Aid Association for Lutherans will be holding a benefit auction on October 16th at 7:30 p.m. at the Seeley Lake Community Hall. Monetary donations may be made by sending them to AAL Branch 5657, P.O. Box 716, Seeley Lake, MT 59868. Please make a notation on the donation "Brechbill Benefit." All proceeds help pay for the ongoing care Henry needs each day.
by Patricia Swan Smith
For the Pathfinder
October 14, 1999
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana
If there were ever a loving example of "for better or worse, in sickness and in health," it would have to be Marion and Henry Brechbill.
As they get ready to get their picture taken, Marion and Henry take each other's hand and smile at one another. Marion says they hold hands all the time.
The love is so apparent in the 47-year marriage. And Henry has been in a wheelchair 22 of those years after a car accident left him a quadriplegic.
"We still have a lot of fun," Henry said. "And Seeley has been good to us.
"Our family, all of the churches and so many people in Seeley have helped us through so much. We really applaud them for standing behind us all these years."
Then Henry smiled and threatened to tell a story about Marion.
Marion says "If it's not nice you better move out!"
Henry laughs and looks down at the controls on his wheelchair, and Marion says "Ah you've got your wheelchair turned on and you're ready to go."
She smiles, shakes her head, and waits for Henry to speak. Of course what Henry has to say is all wonderful, so there was no need for an escape.
He talked about how Marion helped get the health center started, and he said that since she was a registered nurse they spent a lot of time helping other people.
"We made a lot of trips to Missoula helping people," Henry said. "Marion was always there for everyone."
And while Marion loves helping others, she is overwhelmed with emotion when she talks about how much help she and Henry have received over the years.
"We just couldn't have made it without our family and all the wonderful people in Seeley," Marion said. "They have been so good to us for so many years. I wish we could pay them back."
And while Marion gives the credit to everyone else, Henry is quick to point out how much Marion does for him.
Marion has been his primary caregiver, but an injury to her leg three years ago, which recently landed her in the hospital for 10 days, does not allow her to do as much as she once did.
Marion said she wouldn't have been able to have made it in the hospital all that time if it hadn't of been for Henry's sister Ellen Turner. "She stayed with him the whole time," Marion said.
"We sure appreciate her," Henry said.
Besides having a sister in Seeley, two of their four children live here. They now have 12 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.
"Our kids have always been there for us," the Brechbills said.
The Brechbills moved to Seeley in 1955, and both of them say that Seeley is the best place on earth to live.
Before the accident, Henry worked at Gray's Sawmill, and then he went into a logging business with his brother.
Although their lives changed dramatically after the accident, the love and humor has stayed.
Henry said he just hit another Big O, which is his way of saying he just turned 70, and Marion is 71.
If you ask Henry how tall he is, he grins and says "Five foot, eighteen inches."
Marion laughs and says, "He's always had a sense of humor. He gives the nurses such a bad time."
And while nurses and visitors get to witness a lot of love and humor when visiting the Brechbills, they need to make sure they don't bring any germs along for the visit.
The note on the screen door states how much they love company, but that if you have any sign of a cold or flu, please do not come in to visit until you are completely over whatever you have.
"Henry is so sensitive to any type of illness and has had pneumonia more times than we want to remember," Marion said. "Each time he gets pneumonia, it takes more and more out of him. We just can't afford to have him sick. We love to have company, but we have to be very careful."
The Brechbills make the most out of everyday, but the fact that the care for Henry is expensive and the needs increase over the years cannot be forgotten. Medicare does not cover all of the expenses, and that's where the love and support of the community comes into play again.
The Seeley Lake branch of the Aid Association for Lutherans holds a benefit auction every other year to help cover those expenses.
The benefit auction will be held Saturday, October 16th at 7:30 p.m. at the Seeley Lake Community Hall.
If you would like to donate an item for the auction or just get more information, you may contact Herb Schiefelbien at 677-2143; Bill or Jackie Buitenhuis at 677-2901; Karen Anderson at 754-2658 or Lucille Wilhelm at 754-2371.
Monetary donations are welcome and can be made to "AAL Branch 5657", P.O. Box 716, Seeley Lake, MT 59868. Please make a notation on the donation "Brechbill Benefit."