When a mullet is more than a mullet.

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It came from my mouth like venom through a snakes bite. Over and over again I struck, not just during one opportunity but through countless encounters. My victim continually wandering into my lair, setting himself up for attack, never backing away but every now and again wincing just a little. It was cruel and at first unintentional, but intentions can change with the wind, leaving the recipient wondering what the hell. Soon every attack had intention and meaning, usually in front of others as if it made me a better person for calling out my victims perceived flaws. It didn’t. My strikes were evil, demeaning and showed that I was nothing more than a full-grown bully. Others would join in and like a pack of hungry dogs we feasted upon our victim’s distress. Gnawing, tearing away at his very fabric, and never once thinking about the consequences or where it may leave him emotionally. All in the name of the past, our perception and what we felt was humorous.

Last night, awake, staring at the ceiling, my mind raced over the last few months and how hard it’s been for me to keep mentally strong. Focusing directly on each child’s needs, where I may have succeeded and where I have failed. Wondering about the future and what it holds for this family I continue trying to plan the next step. Our children will need their father to be overly understanding as emotions are high. My game needs to be spot on as to not let them get away with things they shouldn’t all while easing up just a bit allowing them to feel whatever emotions they feel in regards to their mothers absence.

My daughter and 15-year-old son have presented the largest challenge.

Parker knows who he is and is very comfortable with himself. He tells you how he feels and makes no bones about you overreacting to any portion of his mental/physical/educational progress. His mind in some areas is a bit regressed while in others he is wise beyond his little 10 year old years. Lately though school has been a significant challenge for him. Myself, the school and a dear friend who has been assisting him at home have all come up with a solid game plan to keep him in play. We want him to rodeo badly as we think it will be a good distraction and it is after all what we do as a family. He wants nothing to do with rodeo and fights us at every corner. Frustrating to say the least.

Jessica my 11 year old daughter is coming into her own. Straight A student who always strives to please. She is currently expressing herself by being defiant, to everything, and I mean EVERYTHING! She has a problem controlling her weight, it is a giant burden for her that she takes very seriously. Since mom has gone back into the hospital and been gone for these four months I recently found she is sneaking food at night again. A sort of coping mechanism for her emotional status. She hides the food out of fear. Fear that she will get in trouble for eating after hours. There was a time when this was a huge issue in our family and we even went as far as building caged doors for our pantry to keep not just her but all our little vultures from eating us out of house and home. She is struggling hard, not just with the eating, but back talking, arguing, and picking fights like a drunken sailor with only hours left on shore leave! Somedays she marches around with her fists all balled up and you just know, like a back alley brawl it’s about to go DOWN!

Our rodeo cowboy Jake has also been “bucking” (see how I did that?) the system as well! He hits everyday toes turned out, hand locked tight ready to turn out and hit it hard. More times than not he hits the dirt hard, but the boy saddles up and just keeps trying. Jake too has been working at finding his place amongst all of this family drama. He carries a lot of responsibility when it comes to the ranch and he is such a large man sized boy I often forget he is just that; a boy. He struggles with his grades, constantly. He is also struggling to make the right decisions when it comes to friends and after school extra-curricular activities. We have all been there and I think it’s why we want better for our children. I have made no secret about my past, about my high school experience. I chose the easier way out and I need them to learn from those mistakes. Taking the easy way out put me close to ten years behind in life. Unfortunatley like his father he has this need to experience things, to learn the hard way, and it scares the shit out of me. We have been butting heads very hard over the last few weeks to a point I feel like we were going nowhere. Lately besides grades, his behavior and his decisions when presented with an opportunity to run astray with his friends have not been good. I have also been riding him pretty hard about his new, old school hairstyle. Emotionally he looks like a beat dog.

So here is where I am going with this whole thing.

Today as we are preparing for a family visit with Ms. Jacy my gander hit the fridge. There upon it is 20 or so pictures of our family from over the last two years. Do you know what I saw? Our kids, our happy well adjusted, personable children. Smiles on their faces, hugging their bald mom, laughing with each other, holding up trophy buckles, works of art, hugging the dogs, yes the dogs are family too! Our children that I spent all night worrying about how I was doing as a father all looked ok. Each one showed their own style! Their own version of who they are at the very moment a shutter froze them in time. I saw four individuals, four young people choosing their own paths regardless of anyone else’s wishes and doing it with confidence. It was an amazing moment filling my heart with joy! But you know what stuck out the most? Jakes mullet.

Jakes mullet stuck out like a white flag waving from the trenches! Telling me it was time for me to wave that flag, surrender and ask forgiveness. For you see each one of our kids has something I constantly pick at, like a good parent should! You know, a slight course adjustment or suggestion to help them understand they aren’t fitting into a classification, a social mold if you will. A couple of things dawned on me in that very moment. One, why should our children fit into any classification? Are we not supposed to allow them a certain freedom to find out who they really are? If that means some heartbreak now and again then so be it! It will teach them how to handle themselves in tough emotionally charged situations. And two, no matter the other out of the norm issues I had in fact been particularly hard on Jake and for what? A chosen hairstyle?

When Parker said no to rodeo, claimed art as his thing and took to ditching a ball cap in favor of a flat brimmed drivers cap making him appear very artsy in deed, did I scoff at the notion? Hell no! In fact it is 100 percent ok that he hates rodeo, horses and all that goes with it. That is his choice. He has tried it, given it a good go and ended up in the hospital a few times! Trust me his thought process may change at some point and if it doesn’t so be it! That’s who he is, we love him for it and by the way the kid is very creative! His art shows a caring heart, personality and great love for all things.

When Jessica started stealing food from downstairs to hide in her bedroom. Eating at all times of the night even though we spent countless hours chastising her for such behavior did I freak out? Well YES I freaked out! I freaked the hell out! Worried my daughter’s weight issues would expand, she would be uncomfortable with herself and have huge body issues as the result of bullying! But somewhere along the line I realized the problem was not all her, part of the blame was us, more importantly me. So I pulled her aside and let her know it was ok to eat. If she felt hungry, just eat, take what you want and eat it. My only rule? Let me know you are going to eat so I can approve it or find you an alternative. She looked shocked as though the words coming from my mouth were some form of cruel joke! But nothing shocked her more than when I told her as long she is comfortable with herself, as long as she can look in the mirror and love herself for who she is, then who cares what anyone else thinks. My job is to educate you, help you make the right choices and hope you come away a strong and confident woman. If that strong and confident woman is what society deems as overweight or out of the norm then tough shit! I told her I loved her and gave her a hug. She left with a huge smile.

One thing I have repeatedly told all my children is find who you are, embrace it, make the most of it, discovery is how you find yourself so that when you are an adult you can be happy with the person you have become and you will never shrug off reinventing yourself. Yet here I was tearing apart those very values by continually ridiculing, mocking, terrorizing and just plain bullying my son over a stupid haircut! Now let’s be frank, the mullet is hands down in my opinion the dumbest looking haircut around, conjuring up images of Billy Ray Cyrus in two sizes to small faded jeans jumping around like an idiot! But that’s just it, it is my “achy breaky” image of what that haircut means to me. To him it represents several of his rodeo heroes, men he looks up too, that he wishes to emulate! I am sorry that just isn’t a bad thing and if it is what defines him as a person right here, right now, then so be it! This is how he takes those words of advice and runs with them, learning, crafting and molding the person he wishes to become! Somewhere I lost that, somewhere I felt it was ok to tear him down over and over again. On the fridge there was a card with a picture of him with both long and short hair. You know what? He is the same kid! The kid I love for who he is, not what his damn hair looks like. Today I sent him this text.

“Hey, just wanted to tell you something that’s on my mind. I know things have been rough lately between us, I hope you are learning from each encounter as I am learning from them as a father. I believe you are trying your hardest in school so don’t let yourself down. Continue to strive to always be a little better for yourself, not for me. I realized today I need to lay off you about that damn mullet. I have spent my whole adult/fatherly life preaching to you kids to be your own person and yet I contradict myself by giving you crap! If that hairstyle defines you right now then so be it! I apologize for all the grief I have given you. I am proud of you for being comfortable with who you are and that is one of the most important things for any young man to achieve. Keep up the good work, have a fantastic day, I love you…”

He replied by saying thanks dad, it’s just a rodeo thing and I don’t care about the mullet grief. I am working hard on my grades and I love you too.

Maybe it was just me.

So bring back the mullet son, business in the front, party in the rear! Either way, a mullet, a few well-placed photographs, and a sleepless night all combined so I could learn when fatherhood crosses the line into parental bullying, ending with the discovery that your child, hell your children are really doing just fine…

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There is light..

Home…

Home is where the heart is.. Piny the elder

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones, the ones at home.. Mother Teresa

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned… Maya Angelou

Imagine if you will, life has thrown you a curve, well ok, more like life has thrown you a curve and you forgot not only your uniform, ball cap, mitt, cleats and cup but you weren’t even looking in the general direction as this curve, this speeding 90 miles an hour curve ball hits you square in the head! (Sorry I love baseball, my blog, my analogy)

Now just as you get up, dust yourself off in preparation for righting this horrific wrong, this lack of observation on the field; coach comes out and says your contracts been cancelled. You no longer have a home. Years of familiarity, friendships, camaraderie, and your family (the team) gone with a simple decision. All done while following well written rules allowing others to decide your future.

That is how it seemed yesterday when we began discussing care for Jacy.  You see, after a bone marrow or Allogenic Transplant, there is five or so days still confined to a hospital room but as soon as your white cells begin to act appropriately you are released for out-patient care.  No big deal right? Wrong..

We live over two hours away and learned that all patients must live within a one hour maximum radius to ensure rapid response from the appropriate physicians should a dire medical emergency arise. Also there would be numerous doctors appointments that could only be held at Stanford.  So with high traffic flows and population density this limited our choices for a recovery lair. Stanford has housing available near campus, but we had been warned those are hardest of all domiciles to acquire.  Our next best location for Stanford provided housing was in and around the San Jose area.  Although tempting, something didn’t feel right in my wife’s heart about abandoning her family and San Jose just seemed so far away from Stanford and home. If you need to be confined unwillingly then right next to campus seemed the most prudent course of action.

Either way three months away from home, away from her children and farm. None of it felt right and it was eating her alive.  As we listened to contractual stipulations ensuring all healthcare recipients were in full understanding of terms and agreements, it felt so wrong to have such a momentous life shift bring further pain through separation.

All the way home she felt as though her life was being ripped away.  She couldn’t grasp the reality of having to live so far away.  No matter where she ended up for those three months her sister would be with her as she needed 24 hour care.  But just the premise of her children being so far away while she stayed in a foreign place with surroundings unfamiliar was eating her alive.

It was bothering me as well.  Although I fully understood the reasoning’s behind these decisions we had no control over, I just wanted to make things easier. Not just for her, but for our children.

And then yesterday it hit me, her dads house. He has an apartment off the main house that could be kept clean, her sister would then still be home, her family would be surrounding her, and we could come visit in a place familiar to our children. A place where they could see their mom, love on their mom and then go off to play with cousins. A place where her rehab was surrounded by peaceful redwoods and stunning views of the silicon valley!  It was the perfect set-up! After talking about it with her family everyone was on board!!! Our only glitch! In the paperwork defining areas of acceptance, the Saratoga mountain range was excluded.  A case may have to be fought and fought hard I pondered! For you see travel time from her dads house to Stanford is 35 minutes, there is minimal traffic from the route we take and that alone makes it closer than San Jose!

Every family members fingers remained crossed as Jacy called the social worker today in hopes of pleading a case.  A case built around what her entire family felt was best for the patient, their sister, daughter, mother and wife. Total family care, a place that is like a second home, and peace of mind for all involved.  Cant we please overlook the Saratoga mountain range clause? PLEASE?????

The answer; YES!!!!!

That is right our first ray of light through this medical tunnel of darkness! No argument, no pandering, just a good old-fashioned yes! Of course this after the social worker mapped it ensuring all was above-board! We heard Yes!!! I almost leapt from my seat upon hearing the news! She was ecstatic, I was relieved, her fathers fears eased and an entire family able to give this woman we love all the support she needs!

Our first hurdle down and it was a psychologically big one!

Tomorrow brings another day and something, anything to look forward too.

Dont tell me I should be happy!

Ok so here it is, 5 days since my boy headed off to college and now I am seeing on Facebook and hearing through conversation there are hoards of children cleaning out their rooms, packing up boxes, loading up trucks, trains, planes and automobiles, all to adorn the entryways of higher learning.

Since my boy left early to attend a freshman backpacking trip (super idea), my personal experience with watching our son vanish in the rear view mirror gave me a bit of a leg up in the separation anxiety arena and the raw emotions associated.

None of which I was prepared for in the least! It pretty much has gone something like this over the last several days.

  • Cried at the thought of him never really “living” here anymore
  • Cried at my burnt toast
  • Cried at the sight of the dog licking its ass
  • Cried over feeding the fish
  • Cried because the coffee I was drinking was the same as his
  • Cried when I looked into his room (oh wait that was because I was going to have to clean it)
  • Cried at the prospect of dying alone (whoops an unrelated topic, sorry)
  • Sniveled at the thought of mowing the lawn

Went to bed, woke up the next morning (yes that was the first day)

  • Cried at the thought of crying
  • recited over and over again: I am so sad, why am I so sad?
  • Transferred money into his checking account (you guessed it cried again)
  • Cried while cleaning his room (not out of sadness but disgust! It was really gross!)
  • Cried because I couldn’t remember just how in-depth our “sex talks” were? Lord knows we can’t afford to be grandparents quite yet or have him come home and ask if that “thing” looks like a rash!
  • Heavy sigh over whether or not he will take care of himself. Yet with the food plan we purchased he better come home a little chubby! (secret note-he can eat all the cereal he wants when he wants it at no extra cost! Uh SCORE!!!!)
  • Cried just to cry, hey its my emotional breakdown I can do what I want!

Seriously though, it has been an adjustment and although there have been some wonderful, caring responses to my irrational dilemma there is definitely one thing I have learned through this entire process.

Dont tell someone who is grieving over their kid going to college to; Be Happy!

Note I said grieving.  You see I have come to this conclusion after several days of watching Cody “ghosts” walking around our property. We parents who are sending our first born out into the world are in fact grieving.

Grieving or to grieve: 

grieve verb \ˈgrēv\
: to cause (someone) to feel sad or unhappy

: to feel or show grief or sadness

Yeah that second definition fits pretty well!

So when a parent says: it’s just so empty without little Jonny at home. or I see little Jonny around every corner in our house or I feel like a part of me is missing without my son at home.

Responding condescendingly: Well aren’t you happy for them? I mean this is what you worked all those years for isn’t it? Is in no way the proper response.

Yes I am incredibly happy for them, ecstatic,, euphoric, jubilant, seriously over the moon! But that is not the point!

I am sorry if your plan was to have kids and ship them off the very moment they turned 18. Got your little tax deduction all those years and now OH BOY I see a new office in the house or that bar/game room the wife and I have always wanted! Well that wasnt me, it was never me. I had children because I wanted children. To be a part of their lives, invest in everything they do, watch with pride when they succeed and coach them when they fail. I had children hoping to leave a better legacy than before and something strange happened along the way. I fell in love with them first, parented them second and after they grew, became their friend.

My son means everything to me, I am incredibly proud of all he has accomplished, I know for a fact he will succeed at what ever he applies himself too.  But he is still a part of me, he is still a face I look forward to seeing every single day. A smile and laugh that can erase even the harshest of days from burdened shoulders. I can’t turn back time and say yes to hunting trips when I had to say no, I can’t turn back time to sit a while longer in his room chatting about everything and nothing at all, I can’t turn back time and laugh while he annihilates me at Halo, I can’t do anything, but sit in his empty room, listen for a voice that’s not there, wonder how he is doing at that very moment and if it’s all he ever dreamed it would be.  The sadness is not for him, the sadness is for me…

The only thing I can do is have a sense of humor and faith.

So as you run into these “newbies” yeah that’s right 5 days puts me in veteran status y’all! Tell them you understand, listen with compassion, feel their pain, and let them know you are there to talk if need be.  Because they just shipped a human being that took 18 years of hard work, molding, love, dedication, devotion, grey hair, and lots of tears out into this world.

Turn on the news if that thought doesnt scare even a childless couple I don’t know what will..

Alright, enough sniveling. Be happy everyone!!!

 

 

Three sons

 

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There once lived a man who had three sons.

A smart one

A big one

and a, well a, very talented, exceptionally gifted, with a wonderful crazy sense of humor one.

These three boys were as different as different could be.

The smart one wanted to spread his wings and fly, see the world, make his mark all while bringing his form of justice to the unjust.  The smart one holds a higher sense of moral responsibility combined with a sly dry whit that usually becomes apparent for those who don’t understand by a wicked smile, etched upon his face.  He’s a charmer when need be, mean when cornered and generous when the moment suits him.  His eyes are piercing, mannerisms awkward at times, he is almost ready to walk forward into adulthood. Handsome and fit, he is everything he believes himself to be. Ready to mount up and ride off into the sunset. This son will go very, very far in this world and I know deep inside no matter what he does it will be a success and he will make it look to have been easy..

The big one- Well lets talk about the big one. When I speak of his size it is in reference not only to his outer appearance but his inner one too.  Big hands, big feet, big arms and legs. Big heart.  He loves a good laugh and is gullible as hell! His smile is infectious, his eyes bright and unassuming.  He will lift a tree off you if you promise to be his friend. He is neither dimwitted nor overly intelligent. Yet his mind works in ways that most with high IQ’s would never understand. If you need help he is usually the first to arrive and the last to leave, that is unless his feelings are hurt, then he mopes for a while, kicks some dirt, forgives you and gets back to the task at hand. He is every-bit the young man I hoped for and someday he will hopefully be every bit the man some mother had hoped her daughter would find.

The crazy sense of humor one- Sweet and cute, silly and timid, sly and outspoken, wild and at times overly emotional, this lad encompasses them all. There isn’t a young woman or mother who hasn’t doted over this charming, good looking young man.  He loves a good practical joke and will do or say just about anything to make you smile. Witticisms roll of his tongue like a barrel through Niagara falls.  He is a mammas boy and you better not hurt him or the smart one and the big one will make your life miserable.  Besides the last time those two checked this lad was brought into the world for their amusement.  He loves all things big and small, and has a deep sense of responsibility when it comes to the lives of animals.  Don’t let that cute smile fool you either, cross him and like the Tasmanian devil you will end up on the wrong side of a knuckle sandwich! Don’t say you haven’t been warned. This boy will always be a charmer and those around him will find him hard to resist.

The man spent all his time trying his hardest to raise these boys. Give them a definite sense of right and wrong, good and bad, all while recognizing the pure evil some people hold inside.  Manners and behavior, work ethic and rest time, just and unjust, teachings done while taking care of a family struggling through tragedy.  The man loved those boys more than anything in the world and wanted nothing more than to see them succeed in life.  Live to the fullest! Never, ever be afraid to follow your dreams, and never let anyone tell you; you can’t! The man spent endless hours working on them, honing them, shaping them for an unknown future, in hopes the work he put in would pay off in the end.  Oh they didn’t always see eye to eye and many times the man would growl like that of a cornered mountain lion only to get a sharp stab from one of the young juveniles wielding a stick. But in the end out of respect the three boys always came around to the mans way of thinking.

He loves them all and they love him.

There once was a man who had three sons…

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WHO DID YOU THINK I WAS REFERRING TOO???

Just Kidding

my kids

Oh yeah there is one feisty sister too, but thats for another story!

 

 

The Face of Leukemia 2014

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2014 Day 1……..

364 days to live.

364 days to wake up every morning, count our blessing and live. 364 days to write a new and exciting story! You see my dearies pontificating New Years resolutions involving the standard fare of weight loss, higher education, finding love, spending more time with our children, adding onto the house, finding a better job, saving more money, vacationing more, visiting family and friends and so on and so on is just not my style this year. But watching my wife live is.

364 days, until I can count 365 more days of life lived, 365 days written into the history books of our family. Cancer has this funny way of cheating you from a reality lived by so many others, changing the way your life story is told.  Cancer also has a way of sticking in your craw like an annoying persons laugh or an itch you just cant scratch.  It’s there, no one else can see it, no one else can feel it, only those who have it, or love someone burdened by it understand, yet the rest of the world just goes on with its business of worrying about resolutions for which a majority will sadly never achieve.

A new year a new fear.

We are winning this battle! Jacys superwoman body has done incredibly well! The last bone marrow draw showed no signs of Leukemia swimming in her blood, lurking in the darkness like an evil monster. Consolidation therapy starts on Monday and she will begrudgingly return to the hospital for 5 days of chemotherapy.  Her strength is back, she is feisty as ever, feeding horses in the morning and an occasional walk in the afternoon! (rumor has it she was spotted jogging on a levee, but its only a rumor) The next round of therapy will knock her down again and from what we understand recovery gets harder each time she finishes a session. She will come home weaker and a little sicker. Chemotherapy is not for the light-hearted, these patients (my wife included) are my heroes as I have witnessed the strain it places on the human body.  Yet Super Jacy has never deterred from her mission. Kicking cancers ass one cell at a time!

A fear still remains though. What if it (Leukemia) comes back? What if her white blood cell count doesnt recover? What if she catches a common cold during these periods, (something that could kill her) what if?????? These are fears we will live with for the rest of our lives.  Every cough that arises, every sniffly nose, every fever, everytime she feels run down, for the rest of her life she will need to go have blood drawn and see the doctor. 3 more times to go, 3 more week-long sessions, three more weeks of hell.  In the end, a small price to pay to live. Jacy promised me she loved me enough to beat this, she is keeping her word.

Day 1…. Today began our 2014 journey and Jacy spent it the only way she knew how.

It was a day filled with visiting friends, making her children laugh, planning a birthday party for her son and wondering whether or not to shave the small patches of hair fighting against the laws of chemistry. Little strands hanging on for dear life, trying their very best to make my wife look like a chia pet. Biggest decision of the day? Shave the head or let those little hairs grow only to meet an untimely death in 4 days.

With the beginning of a new year I wonder about the thousands of other spouses, significant others, and children all living and loving someone close to them with Leukemia. I worry about the ones who struggle to support their loved ones without the means of expression such as writing brings to me.  Do they lay in bed at night afraid of the darkness, wondering how long, why them, all while scooting a little closer to the one they love just to feel their body heat. Are they ok, do they know its ok to feel the way they feel, can they find peace? I am sure they do and I am just rambling, but its in my nature to worry about everyone and everything.

So welcome 2014! I welcome you with open arms (and Betty’s arms are plenty big enough) for the hug of a lifetime! 2014 we hope you are filled with many misadventures, happiness and love! But most of all 2014, we pray you don’t leave us reeling like your bastard predecessor 2013 did! But if you do, not to worry, the story you tell will be interesting none the less…

364 days… The story begins right now…

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The Faces of Leukemia (December 12, 2013)

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Sun shines upon my face, the warmth of its gentle touch brings peace to a troubled soul. I can stand outside, I can walk freely, I can run in the sun like a 6-year-old child filled with glee.  I, I, I, I, I……..I can.

Today came the slap in the face we have been waiting for, a realization that she cannot. Yes I knew this, yes I tried my best to shield her from this simple fact. But today not through talk but action, she realized finally and fully that she cannot.

Tears flowed like rain….

A healthy vibrant (although exhausted) mid thirties woman no more than 22 days ago has been reduced to a small stepping, feet shuffling, woman trapped within the confines of her own home.  She puts up a wonderful theatrical front for all to see. But once the curtains have closed the orchestra’s plucked its final chord, the seats silenced through desertion. She no longer needs be onstage, whats left of her energy and spirit emerges. For now, a bit broken, for now a bit low, for now a heavy weight upon her heart. For now sadness as a simple act of vacuuming the floor leaves her spirit crushed, her emotions raw.

When she feels as though she “can’t”, she looks into the mirror for strength, what she sees is not what you would expect. It is not the woman who 22 days ago had a full head of hair, its is not the 14 pounds lost from her full perfectly formed body, it is not sadness in her desperate eyes. Desperate only for answers as to why?

It is who she perceives to be the real “faces” of Leukemia.

(These are but a very small portion of family and friends we love and cherish all of you)

These faces that she loves so, who have taken up or absorbed her every waking morning since the moment they first met. The faces of her friends and extended family, the faces of those who uplift her in spirit and love.  The faces of Leukemia are far and wide, reaching as a pebbles ripple in a calm lake. Starting out with a small splash, tight and circular expanding, eventually touching every open space upon the water, becoming still upon reaching an open shore.

The faces of leukemia are all those touched by this disease. It starts with the victim, and I say victim because by definition that’s what you are, a victim. Every person within the victims sphere is touched, then every person who is friends or family with those people are touched and the ripple spreads.

One person affected by this disease turns into hundreds if not thousands of people effected. All reaching, all wondering why? Just as Jacy wonders why?

Just as I quietly wonder why?

So how many people can become the true faces of Leukemia? How large would a collage of faces become? What can we do help those people as they themselves process what is happening to those they know and care about?

We gain knowledge and we fight! Not for a week, not for a month, but for a year, and a year after that and we continue to fight! Because Jacy is not the only face, because there are hundreds of thousands of victims out there, hurting as she is hurting, wondering as all of you are wondering and sharing the very same pain and experiences. We fight!

Writing is how I fight. Helping with a Bone Marrow drive that not only will help my wife at some point but maybe find a match for someone else is how I fight. The faces of Leukemia range from a year old to the elderly, they are victims and as I have explained so are their families, friends and loved ones.  For them as well as my wife we must fight.

It is not enough to just walk through this world oblivious, thinking this will never happen to me. Because I guarantee if you know someone with cancer, if you have heard of cancer if you have felt the sting cancer leaves upon you then Yes it can happen to you.

So today and everyday we must keep the faces of leukemia in our minds, the faces of all cancer patients in our hearts and we must fight…. Suffering a loss is not an option, celebrating a victory no matter how small is….

We must keep kicking cancer ass, one cell at a time..

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The Face of Leukemia (December 7, 2013)

 

IMG_2037Hair:

We trim it, grow it, wax it, shave it, style it, comb it, do crazy things with these human DNA carrying follicles for attention. Hair, its funny we don’t really think all too much about hair as it’s an assumed portion of our anatomy. From the day we are born all of us walk through life with hair of some kind layering our bodies; some more than others and some less than others by choice, but hair none the less. imagesCAQUXXXU

But there is an elite crowd of human beings walking this earth. They belong to a very special club. A club that no one wants to join, no one person is standing at the clubhouse door banging fervently to get inside. No one..  Yet rumor has it close to one million people are card-carrying members of this fraternity.  One million people have come as close to death as you can get then climbed their way back inheriting a lifetime membership along the way. One million people. Think about that for a second….

So what do these one million plus club members have to do with hair?

They don’t have any! That is right, not one single follicle, not a stray, a sprig, a whisker or unkept eyebrow. It hasn’t been shaven down to the epidermis or plucked by a crazy tweezers wielding lunatic. Every single hair, all 140,000 strands of color enhanced, vanity driven strands are gone.

This of course is the norm when you are enrolled in the chemotherapy club, everyone’s worst nightmare right?  Its funny really when you think about it, we as a society put so much emphasis on our hair.

Turning grey or tired of your look- Color it, trim it, shape it.

Falling out- Rogaine

Thinning- Hairclub for men/transplants/comb over

Trends- Shave it, mohawk it, pixie cut, curls, bun, dreadlocks, cornrows, bob, etc..

And yet when it has all fallen out, what emphasis is there? To wear a hat or a scarf? As a chemotherapy club member you never have to worry about haircuts, dyes, styles etc.. All you need to worry about is whether or not your noggin stays warm.  There are thousands of hats, scarfs, and bandanas to choose from, or hey just step out like Mr. Clean and rock that shit!

Imagine waking up one morning and finding all of your hair-and I mean ALL OF YOUR HAIR gone. You are lying in a bed of your own hair. Pubic hair, pit hair, leg hair and arm hair and of course the hair from your head. What would you do? How would you feel? Would you smile taking the high road and consider it just another chapter in your already interesting life? Or would you curl up into a ball, terrified to walk amongst the hair gifted for fear of being spotted, ridiculed by the insensitive or pitied by the ill-informed. I am not making a judgement for one way or the other, but if I had my choice I am pretty sure a bitchen tattoo would make its way onto my dome, helping me to celebrate the obvious. I am still alive and kicking cancers ass! Now in no way am I advocating for my wife to get a tattoo on her head. It was purely a rhetorical question.

Why am I traveling down this little pathway? Because that is exactly what happened today. Jacy started officially losing her hair. Its coming out a thin handful at a time, and when she sits up in bed her hair looks like a dog when it sheds. Strands poking out of everywhere with strands littering her pillow. Staring at this and fighting an overwhelming urge to pull them out myself (it’s the ape in me) I found myself pondering those very questions. Thinking about all the times I cracked ignorant jokes about looking as a chemo patient to friends. How would I feel? How would you feel if this was happening to you?

Now luckily enough a sense of humor is what all of our friends and family have and my wife is no different. We have joked heartily about her losing hair and tomorrow I am going to shave it all off to save her from choking to death in the middle of the night on an unruly chia pet looking clump! But just the same it has changed my sensitivity level or judging from that last crack maybe it hasn’t? I digress…

Do you really want to know how much you love someone? Do you really want to understand if you or your partner are shallow and vain? Shave each others heads and see if one of three things happen.

  1. You both laugh until snot blows from your nostrils then fall into each others arms with smiles upon your faces.
  2. You realize in that moment you partner is hands down the most beautiful person you have ever known.
  3. You stare at each other uncomfortably acknowledging you are so shallow that you cannot see the beauty within. Only the trappings of what is on the outside.

Lucky for me as I stated previously this has changed my sensitivity towards others, and as far as my wife is concerned, well I have always seen the inner beauty of this woman. When I look into her eyes and kiss her lips there is nothing else. Bald or full of hair, when she smiles at me the world is a better place.  I don’t think she really knows the power her smile and personality carry in this world but I am pretty sure she is about to find out.

Anyways, Jacy already knows how to rock the bandana! That my friends is just freaking awesome!

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Kicking Cancers Ass once cell at a time!

 

 

The face of Leukemia

What does the face of Leukemia look like?

Have you ever wondered? Is it a conjured up image? Maybe one captured from a television show or 48 hours special? A poor soul, haggard, emaciated, pale, gaunt, one step near death. There are a dozen interpretations of what Leukemia looks like.

But I ask you?

Does this look like the face of Leukemia?

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Because it is……

This larger than life human being, my wife with the radiant smile and glowing eyes is the newest face of Leukemia.

Here is her story..

Will you come with me to my doctor appointment?

A question my wife has asked many times in our relationship and depending on the workload that day or severity of anxiety associated with the upcoming appointment, my answer is most always the same.  Yes

This time was different.

My wife has been sick on and off since coming home from Haiti in June. Being the incredibly strong-willed woman she is, it was always dismissed as exhaustion, a common cold or some viral snot delivered accumulation from booger flicking within the confines of her classroom.

Headaches, night sweats, red spots in her throat, swollen gums and an exhaustion level that just could no longer be ignored.  She had it all at some point. The final straw for superwoman came when she texted a dear friend and Haitian co-conspirator who happens to be her dentist. Having tired from the continued onslaught of over the counter drugs, sleepless nights and white spots in her throat, she caved in to ask for help. After a short dissertation in regards to symptoms the immediate response was; You need to go to the doctor!

She listened.

Blood drawn, panels sent to the lab and a phone call later we were summoned to drop what we were doing and return to hematology for a thorough screening in conjunction with a bone marrow draw.

A bone marrow draw? That means cancer right? Fear instantly ran through my wife like lightning! Together we made the trip to hematology and were introduced to a well spoken, polite young doctor that instantly understood our dry sense of humor.  (this always helps) She was fantastic, easing our minds, letting us know exactly what she was doing along the way.  After an hour I was dismissed from the room so they could retrieve bone marrow and complete the testing process.

During recovery, the doctor came in and told us she put a rush on the order and we should have lab results by Thursday a mere 48 hours later.

Walking silently towards our car we held positive thoughts.  A virus, that’s  all this could be, right? Just a mean old nasty virus! In Haiti, Jacy became extremely sick for two days and this just has to be some form of tropical bug! Yep a tropical bug that’s just hanging on wreaking havoc!

Sooner than later we would discover how wrong we both were.

The next day at noon while in the round pen working one of our many horses, my cell phone came alive. Answering a call where the first words are: “I’m coming home we need to talk” is never good, so when she said those exact words I begged her to please tell me what was wrong. To my surprise, she did.

Its cancer, I have leukemia so we need to head towards the hospital right away.

Its cancer? You have leukemia? What? Did I hear this correctly? No. That’s not what she said is it? I mean we talk almost everyday around lunch and I never remember her even slightly referring to these topics. How was your ride today? or How’s work going? or Man my classroom is filled with the most awesome kids! But never and I mean ever has the topic of cancer or leukemia been the center of conversation, let alone a fear filled opening statement.

Are you there? She asked me through shakey tear filled words.

Yep, was all I could muster. Chin quivering, tears streaming, face flush with heat and feeling like someone just kicked me in the balls. I continued to stand there afraid to move, afraid to blink, afraid to breathe.

Are you ok? I asked

No, was her reply. Of course no is the only reply to such an asinine question yet at the time it was all I could say without blubbering over the phone.

We talked for a minute about why the results came back so early and the importance of leaving for the hospital right away. A few moments later we solemnly said our goodbyes.  Putting my phone back into my pocket, I continued standing in the arena motionless as my horse worked herself. She continued running circles around me finally slowing to a trot, then a walk, looking at me as if she knew something was wrong. After a few minutes with no interaction from me she moved towards me and put her head in my hand. Animals know, animals that give love in return know how and when to move in at just the right moment. I hugged her back.

My wife cried some at work, gathered herself up and cried some more. Other teachers rallied around her as the news broke, spreading like wildfire across the small campus. She received a ride home from some great co-workers so she could pack for our newly, unplanned vacation getaway to Kaiser hospital. When she pulled in the driveway my heart stopped.

Once home we held each other and cried. We wondered how we were going to explain this to our kids, pondering who should know and who shouldn’t know, wondering when do we call our parents? What are we supposed to be doing? You hear about this stuff all the time but your arrogance never lets you believe it is going to happen to you!

Feeling so confused I didn’t know what to do, how to do it or even how I was supposed to act after finding out the woman I love has cancer. I mean it all seems pretty straight forward until it happens to you! Well none of it  mattered, because the news took on a life of its own and before it got out of hand (rumors and all) my wife made a preemptive strike by posting on Facebook exactly what was going on. It worked! We were able to let everyone we cared about know without any chance for misconceptions or the possibility of someone we care about not knowing or hearing third-party from someone else.

My wife has leukemia, my wife has leukemia, holy shit my wife has leukemia, no matter how you say it, it sounds ridiculous, preposterous, and impossible. My wife has leukemia.

Leukemia

Leukemia (American English) or leukaemia (British English) is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called “blasts”. Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases. In turn, it is part of the even broader group of diseases affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid system, which are all known as hematological neoplasms.
Leukemia is a treatable disease. Most treatments involve chemotherapy, medical radiation therapy, hormone treatments, or bone marrow transplant. The rate of cure depends on the type of leukemia as well as the age of the patient. Children are more likely to be permanently cured than adults. Even when a complete cure is unlikely, most people with a chronic leukemia and many people with an acute leukemia can be successfully treated for years. Sometimes, leukemia is the effect of another cancer, known as blastic leukemia, which usually involves the same treatment, although usually unsuccessful.
Leukemia can affect people at any age. In 2000 approximately 256,000 children and adults around the world had developed some form of leukemia, and 209,000 have died from it.[1] About 90% of all leukemias are diagnosed in adults.[2]
The name comes from Ancient Greek λευκός leukos “white”, and αἷμα haima “blood”

Wikipedia

Arriving at the hospital we were sent directly to a room on the fifth floor. She was told to put on the standard issue gown and relax.  We looked into each others eyes, held hands and sat together on the bed, waiting for someone, anyone to tell us something, anything. A couple who the day before yesterday was riding horses together without a care in the world was now sitting, scared, wondering about the future for ourselves, our children, and our family.

We wouldn’t have to wait long…

Listen up pumpkin!

My dearest daughter:

You are well spoken, smart and can talk the ear off a deaf priest. You are slowly entering the pre-teen years and this of course means my shot-gun is polished, oiled and ready for action! It also means boys, mean girls, real friends, fake friends and of course more boys! As your father (and a member of the opposite sex who was also young at one time) I am struggling to find helpful advice, nuggets of wisdom to answer the many questions about life as an adult bringing you forward into this world of contradictions safely.  Wisdom that will mold you, shape you, ultimately defining who you become as a woman.  One would think by using my personal experiences you might glean valuable information into the future but our world has changed drastically and yet oddly enough in some respects remains painfully the same.

Hypocrisy

In the world of today you my daughter will be expected to stand strong, ooze intelligence images-18and roar loudly until  heard! Of course this is only after a man has spoken because you are after all a woman with a small brain, with a brain a third the size of us men, its science. (sarcasm)

You will be expected to work twice as hard, put in long hours and strive to be the very best at what you do. Then watch as male counterparts do half the work with a quarter of the effort while enjoying the same benefits associated with higher pay and owning a penis.

images-21 images-19You must learn to dress appropriately for a job. Unfortunately in our world that means treading a fine line between appearing as a stiff uptight bitch or an easy boob busting slut. It doesn’t matter what you choose someone will find you to be one or the other and depending on your choice of careers that could be advantageous, purely disastrous or end with your own reality television show. Fingers crossed for that last one!!

Understand my daughter that sexual harassment training has been developed for your protection. Thousands of hours (and lawsuits) have helped define the workplace for the modern woman! Yes thats right men did that through idiotic blunder and sexual abuse! You are welcome! Now you must sit through countless hours of training, helping you to understand the protection afforded you from yourself, from others, from a boss,  a secretary, heck in some states even your dog.  You will have the security of knowing sexual harassment does not go both ways, even though the two-way street of male harassment by a female co-worker is discussed during class. You have nothing to worry about because no self-respecting man will ever stand up and say he was sexually harassed by another woman. In the mans world that’s known as moving up the ladder.

In this modern liberated society, where are all human beings are supposed be on equal plains, you must remember your place my dear! It doesn’t matter that you hold a full-time job, or are a CEO, my daughter when you get home after a long day you must ensure household bathrooms are scrubbed, dishes done, laundry finished and dinner placed on the table by the time your “man” gets home.  Why? Because that’s what society has learned from every advertising agency across this country. Every television sitcom since beerbefore Leave it Beaver!  Just turn on the TV and notice who the advertising is geared towards.  Hint: It isn’t men, domestic partners, children oh no! It’s all geared towards women still running the household and slaving over every aspect of their families life! But of course its easy to see why, because while watching these advertisements women are either married to the stupidest man in the world, are struggling single mothers or are surrounded by little genius children who dare not lift a finger out of fear Harvard will call cancelling their tuition. Wait no that is real life, so forget that, you are screwed.

Your love life can no longer revolve around finding a partner, falling in love and living happily ever after! Todays woman should date as many men as they want, date them all at the same time (they do on the bachelorette) play mind games with them as though you are on survivor then cast them aside for fun! Hell it’s what men have done for years so good for you! Marriage is an oxymoron anyways! But be prepared, as with your male counterparts you will be labeled a variety of names and most of them posted to your Facebook page, or at least linked to it! No longer just fodder for someone’s amusement inside your inner circle, by the water cooler at the office or gossip within the grocery store or PTA meeting. Now there is a Facebook page dedicated to your demise. Don’t worry only 500 likes so far. If you are lucky it will hit a thousand before the day is out moving you up in social status! Good job Snooky!!!

Eat to stay healthy, or skinny, or skinny and healthy! You know what I mean, our society has plenty of chocolate covered everything to help you keep that unwanted weight off while pandering to your obvious weakness as a woman for sweets! So plunge into those chocolate fiber bars or 0 calorie yogurt cups that help with digestion.  Hey they are allimages-22 there to ensure you become much skinnier then you really need too, helping you fit into that size 0 dress. You know why? Society says so fat ass.  The modern-day, Abercrombie and Fitch social scale of lard goes something like this; Size 4 you are a pig! Size 5-blimp! Size 10-rehab for food addiction.  HEELLLLOOOOOO!!!! Size 0,1,2 or 3 and well its obvious you aren’t eating enough and in need of serious help you crazy bulimic! But shit its ok because you look FABULOUS!!!!! Remember Binge and Purge!!

AAhhhhh my little strudel, don’t get discouraged at least your man can eat what he wants when he wants and that should satisfy you emotionally.  Remember if a man looks a little overweight he is considered “slightly out of shape”.  If a man has a belly of any proportion images-23its obvious he is spoken for and well taken care of by some generously loving woman. If a man is sculpted with chiseled abs its quite obvious he is either gay,  bi-sexual or a slutty player in which case you should have no contact with this handsome prick what so ever. (Just ask your father)

Drink beer and belch with the boys, you will be forever known as a rude, classless hick. (Tomboy)  Drink wine and hang with the girls you are of taste and elegance ( Snobby Bitch). Drink hard liquor at the bar and you are a “Ball buster”! (Dyke) Don’t drink at all? (Square) In which case you might as well spray yourself with man repellant, cause you soda water sipper are probably a granny panty virgin. (not that there is anything wrong with that)

Speaking of underwear. Thongs are the greatest underwear ever invented! Just ask any guy they will tell you! What they wont say to your face is once a thong is spotted you are labeled, easy, a tramp and everyman is looking for that little Y at the top of you dress line or peeking out from the edge of your “skinny” jeans the moment you walk in the room and bend over.  Like a heard of wolves searching for a wounded rabbit your scent tracked and observed from the quiet corners, crowded tables and single seats lining a images-24room! In the mans world it is a rite of passing to be the first reporting a thong sighting! Yet hhmmm, you never seem to catch a woman drooling, slinking around behind men looking to see if they catch a glimpse of those Hanes briefs or boxers? That’s right the thought of a vagina cradled just so, far outweighs a mans premonition in regards to the banana hammock as Gods gift for all women to behold.   But don’t worry sexual harassment be damned at some point the truth about you both will come out! Can you say office Christmas party or coffee corner drivel?

Drive a Subaru, Miata or 4×4 truck and you are self-righteous, country hick or gay. Drive a mini van and you are a soccer mom, drive a high dollar foreign car and you are a mafia wife (well taken care of).  A man can drive what he wants (except the Subaru) and he is either thrifty, fun-loving, intelligent or a hunter. Sucks huh?

When you do decide to become a mom life gets better in the social world of today. The mini van is a must or else you wont fit in with the cool moms. (competitions to see who can haul the most kids to meets, games etc..)  If you and your husband work and raise kids your husband is a selfish bastard and you will always be seen as frustrated and incapable of handling all the challenges associated with basically being a married single mom.  If you put the children in day care you are heartless, uncaring and shouldn’t have brought children into this cold, hard world. But don’t worry, because your full-time working husband is still selfish and insensitive in regards to your emotional suffering.  If your husband stays home to raise the children and you return to a full-time position, well then society thinks your husband is a complete failure and shame on you for forcing him to stay home and take care of your kids! That’s right my dear it’s a lose, lose for everyone, especially the children.

I could go on an on but this is just a small sarcastic glimpse at what awaits you as an adult woman in today’s world.  So my advice to you is this.  Remember your dad is always here for you and will support you anyway I can, then tell the world to kiss your ass and do what you want to do! Live life the way you want to live it, heck that’s what I did and so far its working out just fine….

Seriously though stay away from the chiseled abs guy, he is only into himself and he is nothing but trouble plus I am not ready to turn a nickel in a state facility for hurting him badly.

Love,

Your DADUnknown-14

Destiny

Staring across the counter I see a boy dazed and confused, sweat beads upon his upper lip, lost in a barrage of questions that he cannot bring himself to answer.  His schoolwork and grades are slipping, he does not know why. Time spent in a classroom he cannot answer to what; a combination of blame and distrust hovers thick and dark like smoke in the air. Homwwork or none, tests taken or not, assignments finished or lost, a blackhole appears to have swallowed his brain.

Wondering why he behaves in such a way, acting out with such fervor, withdrawing into a shell behind an impenertrable fortress of emotion. I realize he sees me, not for who I am or the counteless things I have sacrificed for him, but as I saw my father. Have I forgotten what it is like to be a child?

No answer will be good enough, the feeling of stupidity overwhelming, daunting, immoblizing all but the pounding beat of a heart. Knees shaking, rage seething, teeth grinding.  Taught to speak your mind yet not in the presence of an adult during certain times that is at best confusing, because children are to be seen and not heard.  Not a word seems to pass through that porthole known as a mouth without an excuse vilifying the moment. But why?

Does the hypocrisy of parenthood travel from father to father? Can I not grow as a man, become a father who stands upon my own two feet without repeating generations of mistakes? Am I destined to become something I chose not too simply because cause and effect have burrowed into my pshyche, leaving me with unwilling lessons learned then placed ever so carefully into a tool box deep inside my brain to draw from when needed.

He moves like I move, laughs as I laugh, is impulsive, irresponsible, idiotic at times.  Disrespectful on occasion with authority yet kind, caring and generous to those he cares deeply about. He strives to be the center of attention and will do anything for a laugh. But is this all a genetic flaw or is he gleaning all this behavior from watching me? Soaking in my every movement like a dry sponge looking for damp releif.

Not willing to concede this truth of generational discourse before I can snap back into reality it is to late. My voice has raised, growling like a starving half rabid junk yard dog the pale look of disbelief tells me more than a Stienberg novel ever could.

Have I set these wheels in motion? Will he truly become just like me? Has years of self made promises to become better than the parent before me flown out the door like yesterdays trash?

A shoulder slump, a tear rolls gently over a rounded cheek as recognition of self made failure comes to fruition in his mind.

I cannot berate his behavoir towards his siblings or others as he reacts with the same exasperation that draws his eyes from within my shadow. An ear that listens quietly as tiraids rule upon a celluar network as if the conversation was considered private inside the confines of a truck.  Mimicking, learning, digesting any and all mannerisms that may help him in the future.  Me not seeing the ugly circle that may emerge from my lack of filter.

Staring across the counter he stares back as a young me and I stare back at him as my father, and there it is the circle is complete.

Destiny.