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There Go I

There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go - Tennessee Williams

This week I am going to do something a little different. Easter Sunday, The New York Post ran a story about a man ending the life of his wife who had MS. The article was so poignant that I felt everyone who is affected by MS should be informed about this story. I hope that neither myself nor anybody else will ever be put in this position.

B’klyn man shoots helpless MS-stricken wife, then himself

For years, Vincent Tropeano watched helplessly as multiple sclerosis ate away at the body of his frail wife, Elaine. First she needed a cane, then a wheelchair. Eventually she became a prisoner in her hospital bed on the first floor of their Brooklyn home, where she suffered the indignity of no longer being able to use the bathroom. It all became too much to bear yesterday when the 74-year-old husband saw their health worker changing his wife at around 7 a.m. He completely snapped.

“Do you want to go out like this?” a naked Vincent asked his wife as he wielded a .32-caliber derringer, a law-enforcement source said.

The home aide, Rose Hall, fled the house under Vincent’s orders. She called 911 in tears. By the time officers arrived at the Bergen Beach home, the couple was dead — Elaine face up with a gunshot to the head and Vincent on the bedroom floor with a self-inflicted wound, sources said.

“After being married that long, you would think they would be in love,” said Hall, 56, who had been working for the Tropeanos for only two days. “But if he could kill her like that, I couldn’t call that love,” Hall told The Post.

Neighbors said the couple had been married at least 35 years, with two grown sons, Vinny and Steven. Their East 69th Street home is filled with pictures of children and grandchildren.

“She was his whole world,” said Nathan Bershadsky, who had known them for 11 years.

The couple used to enjoy traveling together but Elaine began to wither away from multiple sclerosis about 20 years ago. Usually talkative and friendly, she went from a cane to crutches, and then could no longer walk and was bound to a wheelchair. This year, Elaine’s condition worsened, and she entered a rehab facility. Vincent pulled her out a month ago because he wasn’t happy with her care there.

“He always had a smile on his face. I never heard him complain,” said Sydelle Mann, 74, who had known the Tropeanos for more than 35 years. “Oh, my heart is broken. This is what you call a love story.”

Just last week, Vincent built Elaine a ramp in front of their home so Hall could take her outside. “He was committed to her. You could see the love between them,” Mann said. Vincent always stayed within shouting distance in case his wife needed him, Bershadsky said. Despite his commitment, Vincent was worried about her. “He would say there’s nothing that’s ever going to change, it’s only going to get worse,” Bershadsky said.

Vincent had been telling his kids recently that he was going to kill her and himself, sources said. He was overwhelmed because Elaine was no longer able to handle their bills, the sources said. On Tuesday, cops seized eight rifles and two shotguns from the home, and he was issued a summons for not having a permit.

On Friday, Vincent was “distraught and very nervous,” said neighbor Lou Drucker, 80. “He kept walking around, back and forth, in circles. I knew there was something wrong with him.”

Additional reporting by Rebecca Harshbarger and Frank Rosario

Original story: Read More in the New York Post

If you ever find yourself getting close to this situation please seek help.

There but for the grace of God go I.

53 thoughts on “There Go I”
  1. Karin 15 May, 2012 on 4:01 PM Reply

    I can see how this had happened. I to have M.S. for the last 20 years. I use a cane and sometimes a walker. but my M.S. has affected me cognatively. I can no longer go for walks by myself as I can get lost and can’t figure my way back home. I had to give up driving. And paying the bills also. Its as if I lost a part of me somewhere and I can’t find me. I cried for about a month until my husband took me aside and said he loves me M.S. and all. We are in this together. I am a Christian and if it wasn’t for my faith in Jesus and Bill, I would of ended it years ago. It is not an easy road to go on. I just wish I was told about this part of it instead of the walking part of it. This has to be addressed more. Not to scare people but inform.

    • Nicole Lemelle 15 May, 2012 on 5:22 PM Reply

      Karin, Thanks for the read. Yes, this is something that should be addressed in the home. I for one don’t know what I’d do if it weren’t for my husband either.

  2. Lorie 19 April, 2012 on 7:22 PM Reply

    So very sad.

  3. Faye 17 April, 2012 on 9:42 AM Reply

    I heard about this the day it happened and my heart aches for the feelings of distraught that this man must have felt. He felt alone and consumed. He watched his dear wife grow to helplessness. He obviously had home health care but he needed more love in my mind. I don’t feel he did wrong. He did what he felt was best for them love. Obviously he loved her wholly and he was quite the brave man to do what he did. He also struggled with his decision as was pacing nervously before he did the final act. I feel relief for this husband and wife for I believe that they are “finally” at peace and with their higher power, whoever this may be

    • Nicole Lemelle 17 April, 2012 on 2:07 PM Reply

      Faye, I feel for them wholeheartedly. At the same time it scares me to death. Thanks for reading.

      • Faye 20 April, 2012 on 7:29 PM Reply

        I know what you mean, scared to death! Let’s just keep praying for a good ending, eh? At this point in my MS, that’s all I can do!

  4. james 11 April, 2012 on 4:25 PM Reply

    my mother is not suffering from parkinson’s and tortion dystonia anymore but i still miss her dearly. i don’t like thinking of the details but her spirit helps me through my ms now

  5. james 11 April, 2012 on 4:20 PM Reply

    my mother is not suffering from parkinson’s and tortion dystonia anymore but i still miss her dearly. her spirit helps me through my ms

  6. Tim Wooldridge 11 April, 2012 on 12:08 AM Reply

    Thanks Nicole. I can relate to this story and I can say that I sure hope that I never have to hear this again. There are other answers. God will help us to survive or move on.

  7. Karen 10 April, 2012 on 9:40 PM Reply

    A tragic story indeed, but definitely one of love.

    • Nicole Lemelle 12 April, 2012 on 5:21 PM Reply

      Karen, Yes it is ,Thanks for reading it despite it.

  8. Lisa Hammermeister 10 April, 2012 on 3:07 PM Reply

    I can only hope my husband would love me enough to let me end my life when the time comes. I don’t want to be totally bedridden or a drain on my family. I feel I will have choices and that is very important to me.

  9. Olivia 10 April, 2012 on 2:22 PM Reply

    Hmmm, i cried at my neuro visit today, then pulled myself together to call my husband. I updated him on the visit and i could feel his emotions crashing. My husband is devoted, we are in our mid thirties, we use yoga, meditation, laughter and Jesus. Thank you for sharing this, i will seek a counselor when i get the official diagnosis certificate. Prayers and love go out to all that are walking this journey. Xo Olivia

  10. zelda moyer 10 April, 2012 on 1:08 PM Reply

    i call that true love. people don’t understand unless they have or are seriously involved with someone who has a disease like ms. he loved his wife so much that he couldn’t stand to see her suffer one more day. he couldn’t stand what the disease was doing to her. we treat our pets more humanly. we have them put down, put out of their misery.

    • Nicole Lemelle 10 April, 2012 on 2:59 PM Reply

      Zelda, Thanks for reading. Next Tuesday look for something a tad bit more uplifting.

  11. Bert 10 April, 2012 on 11:57 AM Reply

    When I first read this article on Facebook, I thought, wow, he loved her so much. Euthanasia should be an option for everybody. I might move to Oregon when the time comes.

    • Nicole Lemelle 10 April, 2012 on 1:25 PM Reply

      Bert, Thanks for reading again! Sounds like we have choices.

  12. Mary Ellen 10 April, 2012 on 11:35 AM Reply

    I can understand his feelings and why he did what he did. But it makes me want to stress so much more – if things seem to be going bad emotionally with either the MS’er or the caregivier GET COUNSELING! I wish counseling was more recommended for all MS patients. What can possibly be harder on a relationship than MS? When he was talking to his kids about shooting the two of them, the kids should have immediately suggested it. All of us, our partners and even our families need to find ways to deal with this horrible monster.

  13. Nicki Watts 10 April, 2012 on 11:34 AM Reply

    This story is so sad. Having lived with MS for almost 25 years now, I can feel the pain of this man watching his ailing wife, and understand the hopelessness he felt.

    I have been blessed to have my husband of 34 years by my side during our long ordeal with this disease. Thankfully, I’ve had the CCSVI procedure 3 times and it has greatly improved my quality of life. MS isn’t easy to live with. It is a constant battle with your body and your mind. It’s a test on the whole family, but especially the primary caregiver.

    Our relationship with Jesus Christ is what gets me and my husband through. We rely on His strength each day to ride out the ups and down of MS, because in our own strength, we can do little.

    It’s hard to feel sick all the time, but keeping a great attitude about life makes a big difference. I try to look at the glass as being half full instead of half empty and count my blessings and not my troubles, even while battling a chronic debilitating disease like MS. It could be worse.

    I have a friend down the street whose a paraplegic and has been laying in bed most of his life, unable to move at all. He was in a car accident when he was 17. He’s now 45 and all these years later and with all his infections, hospitalizations and daily issues he deals with, he is still one of the most delightful guy I know. Talk about an inspiration! Whenever I have a down day, I get in my scooter and head down the sidewalk for a visit. Seeing him always helps me put things into perspective pretty quickly.

    We all have issues we have to deal with in this life. MS is the test we were given and we try, with the Grace of God to handle it the best we can.

    Blessings for a great day friends,

    Nicki Watts

    • Nicole Lemelle 10 April, 2012 on 1:37 PM Reply

      Nicki, they often say, “If I knew better I would have done better.”

  14. Christine 10 April, 2012 on 11:23 AM Reply


    These were two people at the end of their rope, and who hasn’t been there before?
    When I read stories like this it makes me believe in compassionate death/assisted suicide. I hope if I am ever in this position I have the chance to tell my family and friends how much I love them, and we can celebrate my life together before it is over.

    Yesterday I had a breakdown about my MS – I am only 27 and thinking that I might be living the rest of my life like this is so overwhelming, and I can only hope that someone, somewhere creates a cure for this disease, that is affordable and given to all who suffer.

    Love and light to everyone. xx

    • Nicole Lemelle 10 April, 2012 on 3:09 PM Reply

      Christine, Well said, “…at the end of their rope”

  15. Tracy A. Todd 10 April, 2012 on 10:58 AM Reply

    This is truly a sad story, and I can only offer prayers for their souls, and for the loved ones left behind.

  16. jasmine 10 April, 2012 on 10:52 AM Reply

    wow, this gave me goosebumps, brought me to tears all of it. i am a person with this disease and reading this was hard. i believe that the husband definitely needed counseling. my husband and i get counseling, if not just for this than for everyday stress and situations to keep ourselves “sane”. we have to. this day and age life is stressful and then throwing a life altering situation into it like MS is twice as hard. i feel that help was needed all around in this situation. a sad, sad day.

  17. SarahD 10 April, 2012 on 10:46 AM Reply

    I have looked beyond the traditional western diet and went somewhat Vegan.
    I found it made a huge pos impact on my health and I can walk with
    some guidance.
    loads of sleep helps a lot and liquid vit. D!!
    I find that my wheel chair makes a great excercise tool (assistant divice)
    dr. wehl too

  18. life well lived 10 April, 2012 on 10:16 AM Reply

    There seems to be a rash of these types of stories. I just read one yesterday in the NY Times about a husband whose wife had Alzheimer’s who took the same road: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/us/love-that-endured-alzheimers-ends-in-2-deaths.html

    One caution I have for those quick to condemn them for taking their lives in an unnatural ending is to look at how many long term spouses die within a year or two of each other. It happened by gun in these two stories, but in an only slightly larger view is it really a large deviation from the “normal” course of events for long term loving couples?

    Many with MS struggle to define ourselves when we can no longer work or do that which had always defined us in our own eyes. Is it crazy to think someone might struggle with self definition by the loss of the only way they choose to define their lives, their love of a significant other? If one accepts that premise, then the leap to choosing to go down that particular road together seems a little less crazy. Though still a little too crazy to be my choice, I can respect it if they both made the decision.

    • Nicole Lemelle 12 April, 2012 on 5:27 PM Reply

      well lived,
      I never thought about it that way. Thanks for showing me new light.

  19. Melissa Hinkle 10 April, 2012 on 10:10 AM Reply

    Last week, my daughter’s best friend was held at gun point by her ex boyfriend. He murdered her mother and a friend that was staying with them. Everyone keeps saying what a bastard he was, but you know what? All I see is someone in so much pain that this was the only possible solution he could come up with. I suspect this man felt something similar – too much pain and anguish for someone you love.

    My heart goes out to these people. No one should have to experience that kind of pain.

    • Nicole Lemelle 12 April, 2012 on 10:16 PM Reply

      I agree.Pain can drive anyone insane.

  20. Courtney Davison 10 April, 2012 on 10:02 AM Reply

    I read this story and also found myself feeling sorry for both. I’m not defending his actions , I believe more than likely he couldn’t take it anymore. I’ll be honest, I hope to die before it gets that far for me for the simple reason that I don’t want my husband to have to go through that.

    • Nicole Lemelle 10 April, 2012 on 3:03 PM Reply

      Courtney, I’ve thought the same thing about going first.

  21. Muff 10 April, 2012 on 9:56 AM Reply

    I won’t lie — I have pictured scenarios such as this, and I pray they’re just bad [day]dreams!! We do not own any guns, so don’t think it will just happen. But I do worry that as I “progress,” I’ll become too much of burden. Then I really wouldn’t care what anyone did to get rid of me. It’s a lot to take in and consider, and I hope I never have to be in that place.

    • Nicole Lemelle 12 April, 2012 on 10:17 PM Reply

      Muff, I agree I hope I never have yo be put in that place.

  22. renee lachapelle 10 April, 2012 on 9:01 AM Reply

    Whatever the reason that this man kiled his wife and himself, and it is tragic because it involves a chronic disease, the fact remains that he took care of his problem by his own hand. I can see where he was coming from. Watching his wife become so disabled and confined to a hospital bed is heartbreaking. I wonder if he discussed death with his wife before he shot her. If I were in her situation, I would like to have that choice too of whether or not to continue.

    • Nicole Lemelle 10 April, 2012 on 3:16 PM Reply

      Renee, I got the impression the had previously talked about it.

  23. Stephanie 10 April, 2012 on 8:31 AM Reply

    I pray that God takes me first. But, I understand the plight and resolution of this story. MS is an invisible, merciless, thief, intruder who takes away your very being. If you don’t have MS or have Mother, Father, Child, Wife, or Husband who you care for daily with it. Do not judge this man and his actions. You have no idea what life we lead every day having MS or what life they lead every day watching us slip away because of the MS. Perhaps, you would never do what this man did. I, myself, know I will never let it get this far.

  24. KIM 10 April, 2012 on 8:30 AM Reply

    Oh my gosh, that is so, so, SO sad. I can truly feel this man’s pain & anguish regarding his wife’s illness. I guess as a MS’er it is sometimes, SOMETIMES (and I mean that very lightly)easy for me to accept what is happening to my body, but for others it may not be that easy. I do think he truly did love her & only wanted to end hers & his suffering (his by watching her steadily decline). I do not condone what he did, but I think he felt that this was his & her way out of a heartbreaking situation. Very sad. All the more reason to find how to slow down/find a cure for this insaitable disease. I am tired of “band aids” and want a cure & not someone else’s empty promises.

  25. Dorothy Brown 10 April, 2012 on 8:24 AM Reply

    Wow. A couple of things occur to me. First, the person who said “this wasn’t love” was totally wrong. It sounds to me like he was struggling to manage their finances and realized they wouldn’t be able to afford help or any support for her condition, and proactively took a step to save themselves from more suffering. Where were their children, one wonders?
    Where were the supports?
    On the other hand, I don’t plan to stick around long if I get to that condition with my MS, so I hope there is someone who can be brave enough to help me out at that time, if I can’t take care of it myself.

  26. Judy 10 April, 2012 on 6:31 AM Reply

    How does one define love? Was it the 20 years of selfless giving by Vincent? Was it all the years he remained committed through marriage? How would his wife Elena define love? Would being given freedom from the prison she found herself in constitute love? Who knows? I do not want to judge. Judgement is easy. Living their particular circumstances was not. As you say, there but for the grace of God ….

  27. Carolyn Cordon 10 April, 2012 on 3:15 AM Reply

    This is truly a tragic story. In an ideal world, this couple would have had enough decent help to prevent the husband from reaching such a state of anguish.

    • Nicole Lemelle 10 April, 2012 on 9:03 AM Reply

      Carolyn, I need to believe in that ideal world. Thanks for reading.

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