Michael J Fox ruined my life…

for love or money

Being a child of the eighties was something that well, only us children of the eighties fully understand. It was a time of freedom, rebellion, exploration, awesome music from all genre’s, cocaine and money. Lots of money. Ok lots of cocaine too but that’s neither here nor there! We as a nation oozed money, it poured from our skin like Don Johnson sexy sweat! Our country was thriving on a robust bond market, a sizzling hot Wall Street, real estate, and oil, black gold, Texas tea. Our parents (or so history would have you believe) were reaping the benefits of an administration that fostered free trade along with the opening of borders and capitalism. Dancing in the street led us all to be a bit Footloose.

A country had emerged from two decades of war, drought, protest, reform, political unrest and of course who could forget the gas crisis? Line after line of cars waiting, hoping there was still gas left when their turn arrived at the pump.

Our youth of the sixties fought racism, fought for woman’s equality and against war, people of the 60/70’s cared more about social reform than capitalism believing higher education created unequal social classes, while caring for one another through shared progress brought much higher rewards. Citizens struggled with the after effects of Vietnam and in doing so turned their backs on soldiers who were struggling mentally when they came back ashore. A recession in the 70’s showed us higher interest rates, and economic instability with most Americans struggling to earn enough money to survive. Our country was tired, emotionally spent having put forth so much effort in finding balance, only to be rewarded with a lying president (Nixon) who stepped down, cover-ups, just plain dirty politics and a new administration (Carter) that did nothing to create or foster stability.

I remember these times well. Worrying about how much money was left at the end of the week and where it should be utilized. Do we buy more gas that we can’t get or food for the table? My parents arguing about money and finances, over interest rates and fees, they were always working just to survive.

When things began to turn around in the eighties it became clear Americans were looking to become more self-involved as opposed to socially invested. Americans were looking for relief in any way shape or form. That relief appeared in the form of fantasy. But like many Americans Fantasy has a way of mimicking reality.

New television formatting arrived and with it shows like Dallas, and Dynasty were on top of the Nielsen ratings chart. Fading away was American staples like All in the Family, Chico and the man or the Jefferson’s; these shows broke new ground showcasing America’s struggle with diversity and acceptance. These shows handily worked at creating a better vison for America through entertainment. The eighties arrived and popular television shows turned self-centered, focusing on money, wealth, fast cars, lavish homes and expensive clothes. Changing the face of what America perceived as being American. Intertwined in this new gluttonous direction was a story line focused on the philandering practices of each cast member, showcasing a need for greed in both monetary and the flesh. We were a country desiring an escape. So many years of war, hate, death, struggle and need. The eighties came and took that from us each and every night corralled in either 30 or 60 minute segments.

As a child I too felt the pain. We never spent a lot on food, clothes or shoes. Food purchased was just enough to feed us in hopes dad had a good week on the road. (He was a salesman during this time) The change in the way I perceived how life should be lived came with a little family television show called Family Ties. It had everything I described above, as its two main characters were children of the 60’s now raising a family in an 80’s world. Struggling with a former social conscience while enveloping themselves in an emerging capitalistic society.

Their son Alex Keaton was an upstart young Republican, fighting against his parents democratic values, learning along the way that when you merge the two an amicable resolve can always be found. It peaked my interest as I identified with young Alex. A lad who didn’t have much but wanted more despite his parents trying to create a well-rounded giving child. It became my first taste of a capitalism fantasy.

That fantasy grew as most movies around this time also focused on the imaginary cash flow that Hollywood felt every American was living with during the Reagan era. Every high school film focused on kids coming from households either struggle or affluence. Either way you and your friends would end up driving BMW’s, Ferrari’s, Jeep Grand Cherokee’s and Porches. It was Weird Science but girls were at the ready and no one seemed to ever wonder where the money came from unless it was Risky Business. We all knew what pot held that cash! Of course if things didn’t work out the way you had planned there was always a Breakfast Club nearby to reignite friendships and ease your disturbed young mind. Or you could just have a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The world would stop, just for you because you were young, smarter than your parents and that combination always led to success.

But during this time as we emerged from high school wondering what awaited our young eager minds, we were not met with BMW’s or Ferrari’s, rich girls or money. I was met with three jobs, working hard just so I could find my Bright Lights Big City. It was hard and tiring, leaving me many times sleeping on the side of the road in my work truck, or in my own car at the back of my dad’s restaurant.

Why? Why did I work so hard? Because I had a dream. A dream to one day be successful, own a BMW, live in a giant mansion and become the Secret of my Success. Michael J Fox had shown me that it was as easy as being a part of a family that always did the right thing, having a dream, sneaking into a large company, assuming another’s identity while dating the boss’s wife or girlfriend then once inside the inner circle just woo many wealthy investors with you childlike wit and charm! Bam! Money and success are all yours!! On top of that if you have to choose For Love or Money you can’t lose! Education be damned! Our ambition will win out every time!!! It was the eighties remember!!! Michael showed me time and again through different directorial visions that is how it’s done!

Unfortunately my brain believed all this could be true and as I worked hard providing ideas while trying to prove that I was willing to go that extra mile, work 14-16 hours a day looking for just a snippet of financial excess. Something happened. The truth, I was nothing more than an employee. You see the movies and television told me hard work paid off, long days, endless hours helped you get noticed and ultimately afforded you a seat at the head table. But 90% of the time it does no such thing. Don’t get me wrong, you are valued, I never felt as though in some small way I wasn’t valued at the jobs for which I worked the hardest. But unlike what Michaels movies had taught me, there was no monetary reward at the end of a hard day. That to this day is held for the exceptional family member, investor or capitalist. Not the hard working outsider. Of course maybe I just didn’t work hard enough, or my ability to recognize opportunity wasn’t sharp. Either way I walked away with only the satisfaction of doing a good job. I only wish I hadn’t been brain washed to believe there was more. For that Michael J Fox you crushed me.

Today, I have an enlightened social conscience, a family that makes the Huxtables look lame and I am trying my hardest to instill a solid work ethic combined with education so when my four children hit the world after college they have an ability to choose between a capitalist lifestyle or a socially conscience one. Hey maybe I’ll have one of those children that can do both, you know that ultra-rare animal, the one that leaves you in awe whenever you gaze upon its presence; the philanthropist? One can only hope.

So as I creep up on my 50th year, struggling at times to make ends meet, still keeping just a slim hope that Michaels words, ideas and strategies might just pay off. I think; Fuck it!

In the end I could never stay mad at you Michael J Fox! I guess you really didn’t ruin my life and your movies allowed me to dream big. I try to share dreaming big with my children because of you and truth be told you are still one of the funniest actors I have ever seen. Hopefully my children can figure it all out. Succeed where I have failed. Heck someone has to take care of me when I get old, and they are not allowed to warehouse me in a convalescent home! I will not be put in an institutional Cocoon but prefer instead to be On Golden Pond.

On-Golden-Pond-2

 

 

She fights

Every morning she wakes up between 4 am and 0930. Her sleep is not natural as pills determine the night or days slumber routine. Weight is something she cannot gain and although there would be some envious of this side effect it is anything but glamourous. Her eyes work somedays while others they are filled with a blurry focus similar to gazing through a plastic milk jug. Her breathing is labored at times and she needs oxygen throughout the day and night to help keep her lungs strong. Pain is everywhere and nowhere, moving from an arm or a nervous leg to her back, sides, head, teeth and eyes. Medication is everywhere, we have pill bottles around every corner (figure of speech) waiting to either empty or crack open in dire need. 23 little pills, swallowed three times a day. Each pill with a specific purpose, each pill supporting another as they cross paths within her tired system.

Each day is a new adventure, wandering from upstairs to down. There are moments of greatness! A trip to the basement, or a stroll to the tree outside, down the road. Muscles yearning for mass from not that long ago, arguing with her central nervous system over usage, proper form and desire. Prioritizing each need hoping it can guide her successfully towards a much needed strong finish.

The garden yearns for her touch, her flowers and fruit trees scream for attention! There is one big draft horse and its little Donkey friend who stare at the house wishing she could come out and play. Little do they know she stares right back?

Her teaching job calls to her as she misses each and every child who ever graced her classroom door. Their quirky attitudes, laughter and stories, making each day special in its own way. Instruction, knowledge sharing, testing, creating, and showing each child no matter their background that her classroom was always a safe place to be, a wonderful place to learn.

Friends come and go, happy to see their friend has made it to this place of reclusion. She moves about between the kitchen, living room and bedroom. Little stints in each area much like a 7th grader changing classes. Sitting just long enough to learn and appreciate either her surroundings or emotional moments shared between herself and her children. She laughs and loves to have endless conversation with her friends. She knows she will pay for it as with any two hour visit there is a three hour nap post get together with her pillow. But when she awakens she smiles, for a visit is something special when not more than three months ago there was talk of her not surviving.

She longs to be free. Free from this damn GVHD! Free from this home that has somewhat imprisoned her for hours on end. She longs to hop in the car and drive herself to the fabric store, feeling that independence so taken for granted not that long ago. Oh occasionally she spreads her wings and drives to a softball game, or over to the produce market. They are after all straight shots and if her eyes get to bad I am but a minute away. But it still isn’t the same.

The feeling of exhaustion from walking to the car, shortness of breath after lifting a couple bags or fruit, closing the cars hatch and finally sitting back behind the wheel. This is a mental war with her physical being that’s being fought and has escalated rapidly. There are times she wishes she could just tell herself to knock it off and get with the program! This runner, swimmer, biker mom who could out move most people on their best days now needs help just to get up the stairs. She is cooking dinner again and slowly starting to do laundry (because she wants too!). Anything to make her feel normal, like nothing has happened and life is just as it was or should be. She is sewing and drawing which are two things she very much enjoys. She is constantly trying her hardest to gain just a little more ground. No matter what that ground may be.

People constantly ask me how she is doing. My response is always the same.

No better, no worse, just one tough lady who is happy to be home.

Jacy survived chemotherapy, she survived remission, then recurrence; she survived chemotherapy once again and then watched with the strength of a thousand draft horses as a new immune system entered her body during a BMT transplant. She has survived every GvHD (Graft vs Host Disease) complication known to man and lived after putting her big girl panties on willfully accepting a new trial drug to combat her symptoms. Her doctors tell us each time we visit that we are in uncharted territory. She was not expected to survive but when asked what her thoughts were she said; I am not leaving my family! End of story! You can do what you want, but I am not leaving my kids or my husband.

And she hasn’t.

My wife has always been a fighter. She fought for our relationship in the beginning, she continually fights for our children; she fought for our daughter and fought for hundreds of children in Haiti. She fought this thing call Leukemia and now fights GvHD. She is currently fighting a bit of trapped in the house depression, along with an ability to hold onto hope for herself and her future. She fights against the elements, hoping one little organism isn’t out there with her name on it, waiting to attack! A nasty little bugger giving her something else to fight for with her back up against the ropes. She fights for herself and her need to succeed. She fights because that’s who she is and what she does well. She fights while keeping a patented Jacy smile affixed firmly upon her face.

She fights to come back to church, and pray.

She fights to have some semblance of her old life back.

She is my hero and that’s why I will always fight for her.

jacys hand

 

 

 

 

 

Lets talk about????

Today while driving our children to their various locations of education, we crested a stretch of roadway that always leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy if I hit it at just the right time. You know sun placement across the tree tops, smell of damp dew in the air, that sort of thing. In the morning my brain is at its most active as this time in the car allows me to correlate the days activities into a hopefully well thought our prioritized list.

Driving through this little moment of Zen, I looked over at my teenage son and remember when my father used to tell me how a morning’s dawn was one of the most peaceful serene moments in a day. It bothered him that I usually slept right through it, missing the earth’s transformation from dark to light. I wondered if one day he would be in the same situation thinking the very same thing, wishing he had listened to me way back when?

And there it was. That moment when one thought creates a burst in the mental dam! Will he have heard anything during his adolescent tenure while fighting against his need to challenge the bull? All Teenage boys go through this period, some sooner, some later, but at some point their testosterone tells them it is time to challenge the bull. It is where they learn to take a beating (metaphorically), get up, learn, and try again. It is a period of time that molds them into the men they will become, learning to follow rules because it is the right thing to do. It is also when they fight an overwhelming need for acceptance from not only their parents but friends and love interests, or prospective love interests and this is where personally and socially things can begin to become, well, convoluted.

Let’s talk about sex.

Now both my sons and I have had “THE TALK”, and we have held this little sexual information conference on many occasions. I have felt it overly important as my parents and I never really covered the bases besides the obligatory: don’t have sex, it leads to kids and you will be in a lot of trouble.

We have discussed everything (if you are uncomfortable please leave now) from their own penises, to female body parts, how they function and what purpose each intricate portion serves. They were “grossed out” in the beginning for having such conversations with their father, but it has gotten easier over time.

The gist after all from my perspective is a little saying I have shared on numerous occasions with any teenager that will listen to this old man.

Boys are boys, girls are girls and you are all just friends until you get into college. It is impossible for you to commit to someone else until you discover just who the hell you are. Then and only then can you decide whether or not you are able to share yourself with someone else.

This is wisdom not handed down to me but learned the hard way as my entire youth and young adult life was spent chasing someone else’s dreams in hopes of finding out who I was. As a 49 year old man I still have not chased my dreams, I know who I am now, (and I kind of like myself) but have no ability to discover myself further due to many responsibilities that rest upon my shoulders. I have been blessed with wonderful friends, children and an equally excellent partner in life. But to have learned much more about myself at a younger age would have been worth its weight in gold.

What worries me as we continue into town on this serene morning is even though my focus was off when it came to myself, I did have a great youth, meeting new friends and dating some super awesome young women. But that’s just it, we dated. There were phone calls, in front of parents, and nervousness when it came to even talking to some of these girls. I was always terrified to ask a girl out. If there was a girl I liked it took me weeks sometimes to get the nerve up to do it! The funny thing is they always knew it was coming, boys just act stupid when they really like someone. It was the way it was. I heard lots of no’s. And even though it crushed me at times, there were some yes’s as well. It was fun, exhilarating and exhausting at times. We learned whether or not we actually liked each other or if we should just remain friends. In one case a girl I had liked for a really long time actually said yes, we went out on one date and everything that could go wrong did! When the night was over we tried to kiss and we realized instantaneously it felt like a brother and sister trying to smooch! YUCK!!! We had been friends for so long we had become family! It was an important lesson learned and taught me so much about myself and how my relationships affected people in ways I wasn’t even recognizing.

This is what’s eating at me! Our children today don’t need to do that anymore. Somewhere over the last thirty years we have gone from nervous dating to sexting! The theme is hooking up not going out! Our children are partaking in a very dangerous game of emotional instability centered on sex, photography, and one night hook ups all done through their phones! There is no more nervousness in making an impression! No more terror about what you should wear, how you should look, will she like me for who I am, will we have a good time and will she still like me when she gets home. Nope! Kids today are playing a very deadly game, combining image and self-worth, which can only lead to disaster! This really worries me! No, let me re-phrase, it scares the hell out of me! They are no longer asking for dates, but naked pictures! Texted or Snap-Chatted from their bathrooms, bedrooms and cars! That’s right mom and dad, while you are out working, doing laundry or watching Dancing with Stars downstairs your little angel has her or his pocket computer squirreled away popping high resolution photo’s for all to see. There is no worry about how it will affect someone or the damage caused if any of these pictures leak. And let me just say from what I am hearing the girls are as aggressive, as the boys!

None of them have a clue what they are doing or the implications associated and trust me, if you are reading this thinking; not my little angel or slugger! You are dead wrong. It has become a game for our children and they don’t understand the ramifications one bit.

Now we all know the mental end of it. Girl sends picture to boyfriend, boyfriend shares with all his friends because well, he is a teenage boy and that’s a half-naked girl! (Not an excuse, just the facts) Girl finds out about picture sharing and is devastated (rightfully so), feels as though she cannot look anyone in the face at school because she doesn’t know who has or hasn’t seen her naked. This scenario goes any direction you place it too. Boy/boy, girl/girl, boy/girl, girl/boy, it does not matter! It is damaging and cruel leaving psychological scars upon its victims that take years to repair. A few children have even committed suicide from suffering through their inner torment. These kids feel they doing something harmless but do not have the mental faculties to see the long term effects of their actions.

But let’s look at the legal aspect. Same scenario as above only now mom and dad are aware and have decided taking action is the appropriate response.

Police are notified, School is notified, an investigation ensues.

Our children are placed in handcuffs and hauled to jail for questioning. Why? It is the trafficking of child pornography. It doesn’t matter that said child wanted to send this naked picture, the child is underage. It does definitely matter the moment said child shared picture with friends, that is the very second they became a trafficker of child pornography. Remember all parties are underage.

The minimum sentence for trafficking is dependent upon your particular region but from what I could find doing a little old fashioned research it carries a minimum of 15 years!! 15 years in jail because two kids sent nudies to each other then, shared them with the world! Of these sentences vary upon severity and incidents. But the outcome is the same. Someone is getting arrested, someone may go to jail, many may have their lives ruined forever and someone may have to register as a sex offender.

So who do we blame? Because this is America and someone needs to be blamed for this heinous act continually perpetrated amongst our youth!

OURSELVES….

Didn’t see that coming did you?

We as adults are being outwitted and outplayed, not just by our children but society as a whole. It is our responsibility to keep up with technology and yet much as our parents did, we have taken a stance of ignorance. Touting such phrases as; it’s too complicated, if I need it worked on I’ll give it to my kid, they understand it much better than I do, why does it have to have so many features, it needs to be simpler. Funny thing about those blurbs are they come from recalling my parent’s excuses when it came to working this hot new little item called a VCR. Funny how it fits into today’s issues with computers and technology as a whole.

The problem is by taking that stance we are essentially giving the keys to the inmates so they may run the asylum. Our society as a whole has turned to electronics as a babysitter, a pacifier, a walking teacher loaded with information used under the guise of homework and learning. But the dark underbelly lurking inside is too much temptation for our young minds to handle. We have decided to accept its positives turning a blind eye to the negatives believing we have raised our children to know better. To be strong enough not to try and locate the end of the internet along with all of its little side roads and travels.

I began researching this issue after wondering just what exactly was on my teenage son’s phone. After searching through its contents we found some questionable apps and began wondering just what they may hide and why anything needed to be hidden at all. A long discussion was had about the power he held by owning his phone and using the technology appropriately. It also shined a light on our ability to monitor just what he was using his phone for and why. We spoke to him in detail about what is going on with others across the nation and how serious some of the offenses can become.

Today, he turns his phone in nightly. Yes now and again we slip up on that and don’t catch it and he feels a certain victory as is he has gotten away with something, but in the end he loses it for a few days and as he puts it; his social life is dead! Re-affirming my earlier comments about how sad it is our children no longer know how to date or socialize face to face for that matter.

The password cannot be changed. If it is he loses the phone again for a specified period of time. If it happens twice the phone is gone permanently.

When I ask for it, no matter where or when, he must turn it in without question. If he tells me to wait a minute while he erases texts, the phone is gone for a specified period of time. Second offense the phone is gone permanently. He is reminded to text as if a parent were reading it, for, as I often do, they just might be. Am I so naïve to believe he will never text inappropriate things? No, he has just gotten better at deleting them before I get ahold of his phone.

If he so much as thinks about touting that it is in fact his phone, I remind him it is not his phone, it is my phone, under my name, my contract and until he is 18 it is my job as a parent to ensure his growth as a human being, his safety from doing expectantly stupid things and until that time comes that he is an adult with all its super fun responsibilities. Tough shit.

I hate the goddamn phone but in today’s world it has become somewhat of a necessity. So we as parents who choose to arm our children with these boxes of mystery must become incredibly proactive. We must be on the watch out constantly because as soon as we learn one aspect of this electronic wonder there are numerous other factors working against us. The largest perpetrators working to defeat our parental policing?

Apps.

No matter what we do, or how we do it there are numerous app’s working to thwart our actions. Checking your kid’s iPhone and find it clear of all wrong doing? Look again. For there are numerous applications to help hide what junior doesn’t want you to see. These apps are the anti-parent. They share information then make it disappear! They capture screen images from the very transparent app for you to keep in a secret locked folder that only you have access! If that wasn’t enough to have a locked folder there is even an app to hide the app!!!!!

Here are a few app’s to keep an eye out for!

Calculator applications. There are a ton of these but here are a few of the more popular ones.

Best Secret Folder

Secret Photo& Video

Calculator hide

HiCalculator- Private Album

Private Photo

Fake Calculator

 

Individual app’s with unique app pictures that lead you to believe they are something other than what they are which is a locked secret folder.

Settings lock

Secret Piano Icon

Keep Safe photo vault

Don’t touch this

HiFolder

Vault

Hidden Secret Files

Photo Umbrella

FileMaster

iDiscrete

HIDE

Picture safe

Private photo

Album lock

My Media

 

Snapchat

Snapchat is a fun little app, there is no doubt. Many parents I know use it exactly the way it was intended, for amusement. The issue is still the same, if there is a way to abuse something, we as human beings will determine what that is and exploit it! Thus the issue with our children. Naked pictures, under the guise of anonymity that can be captured, saved and shared. Scary.

Yik Yak

Another social site that offers discreet chatting with locals in your area. Unfortunately from what I have witnessed many times it is sexually explicit and self-deprecating. There are comments made in reference to teens that are demeaning and hurtful. Another opportunity for those who remain unethical to berate others from behind a hidden wall.

Of course there are the standard sites that everyone visits such as Facebook, Instagram, twitter, Tumblr etc.. Some would say these sites allow our children to be more social to a broader section of society and to some extent that is true. They still need our daily supervision as it is easy for them to post or repost an item they might find harmless but in reality could be detrimental to someone else or themselves. As I remind our children on a regular basis, once it’s (whatever you post) out there on the internet there is not taking it back. It is there forever, for all to see. It becomes your electronic legacy.

So as I drop the kids off and ask them to have a nice day, I smile and wink. They tell me they love me and run off to school. The high schooler who is sans-phone for not turning it in at night again grumpily gets out of the car, reminds me what time to get him and then slowly gives me a sly smile and says; see ya!

He walks away and I wonder, besides all the other advice I hope he remembers will he appreciate this struggle we went through together? Will he be thankful we diverted him at every chance he had to derail?

I don’t know, but I do know this, no computer or application can give you the feeling I had the first time a girls said yes to going out with me. Nothing can replace that first time holding hands or the very first kiss. Nothing replaces a nervous heartbeat, the smell of perfume or watching the sunset together with her head on your shoulder. And nothing feels like the world does when the sun comes up in that certain place on the road that gets me every time firing my brain into overdrive allowing me to feel alive.

Hopefully one day my children will understand that without looking it up on their phone.

4/14/16 addendum

Tonight after reading my blog, my teenage son came into the dining room and sat down. Calmly and with the maturity of an adult, he asked if I would please stop writing about him on my blog. He felt I portrayed him in a somewhat negative light and he didn’t want people to think badly of him. I have never been more proud of the way he handled himself and the conversation that ensued.

So let me add this, it has never been my intention to show any of my children in a negative light.  Only to share with other parents that we all are in the same boat! I am saddened that I have hurt his feelings. He is an amazingly funny, warm and generous young man. I am overwhelmingly proud of who and what he is becoming as he spreads his wings and there are numerous others who care for him as if he were their own.  My use of him came naturally as he is the only teenage reference to date in my household. His offenses are minor in nature even though at times they bring forward major topics of discussion.  I will honor his request and cease to use him as a basis for my writings because I love him and respect his wishes.

~Betty~

 

 

 

YOU….

As of late there has been a long enduring power struggle taking place within our home. It seems our 15 year old has taken it upon himself to follow in his father’s footsteps despite my best attempts to thwart his actions. To say I am disheartened would be an understatement.

My mother once told me at the height of my rebellious, disrespectful path that she hoped I had children and they were all J U S T L I K E M EEEE! Thankfully that didn’t happen, yet the one that is like me, JUST LIKE ME has embraced my persona of old with full-fledged gusto.

I once had a teacher in high school, I believe she was my French/English teacher who at the end of my junior year grabbed me, pulled me in close and with a quiet voice asked me a question that’s stuck with me for 33 years.

What are you going to do when your looks are gone?

That’s all she said, then with a smile wished me a good summer and went about her business. No explanation, no further words of wisdom, just that, a wink and into the classroom she vanished.

Now it wasn’t that I was a particularly great looking kid, I was average at best. But that damn question would pop into my head out of nowhere and it haunted me from senior year and beyond. 

What are you going to do when your looks are gone?

Why would she say that to me? What was its purpose? Was it a joke? It took many years with it rolling around my head when one afternoon while pondering the good old days I figured out exactly what Ms. Kaplan meant.

It really had more to do with my personality than anything. About buckling down and putting myself and my future first! I treated everything as a joke. I still do to this day but on a much smaller scale as life has honed my ability to recognize the importance in certain situations. Take an average kid who likes to be the center of attention, make everyone laugh at all costs and who is willing to go along with just about any plan that may arise to ensure I was someone’s friend and well you had me. You also had a gigantic recipe for disaster.

Late for class? Who cares, I am with my friends. Disrupting class, oh well I made everyone laugh, who cares that I missed todays assignments and disrespected my teacher. I’ll apologize with an honest smile on my face and a caring tone in my voice. It will all smooth over, it always does. Sent to the office for cutting class? A twinkle in my eye, some cool charm and I will get out of it. Trust me.

Ms. Kaplan saw this in me. She never bought any of my bullshit and there was rarely a time when one of my sly patented smiles ever got me anything other than a smile in return.

And so here we are. Today I asked my son the very same question.

What are you going to do when your looks are gone?

For you see unlike myself, my 15 year old is a very good looking kid (got it from his mother). He has a million dollar smile and has learned to use it to his advantage. But he is struggling ethically and scholastically. He disrupts class to be the center of attention, does anything, anytime, anywhere to make someone laugh, and has a very strong sense of who he is and what he wants to become. So needless to say when I posed Ms. Kaplan’s question to him he merely stared off into the distance not knowing what to say.

He looked just like me.

I explained the importance of this question and what it ultimately meant to me. I explained that for the most part these people he is trying to impress will be long gone from his life 5 years from now. I tried my best in showing him the importance of working hard now for a later reward. That all his dreams of participating in college rodeo are rapidly slipping away as he chooses his in the moment friends first, making them laugh while slacking on his responsibilities and rarely living up to his word. I even explained that saying no to your friends sometimes is ok and if they get mad or don’t want to be friends anymore because you are chasing you’re dreams that’s ok as well! The hardest thing to explain or get him to understand was that a few of my closest friends are the ones who understand when I’m busy, care about my dreams as I care about theirs and at one point or another before we became good friends we may have even told each other to Fuck off at some point. Respect was earned and friendships arose from the ashes. It is ok!

We only want the best for our kids, parenting hopefully through learning from our own mistakes, but one sentence spoken through echoes of my past brought it all home, and it hurt.

It hurts because I don’t want to see him fail yet his stubbornness is strong (yeah that one’s mine). It hurts because if he keeps going he is going to land hard and that will hurt him, although that may be exactly what it takes. It hurts because we love him as we love all our children.

A repeated theme came from our discussion and I thought I would share.

YOU

Only YOU can make a difference in YOUR outcome

YOU are the only one in charge of YOU no one else

YOU are the only one who can chase YOUR dreams

YOU have the power to say no

YOU are the only one responsible for YOUR grades

YOU are the only one responsible for YOUR homework

YOU are in charge of YOUR emotions, no one else

If YOU need help then YOU need to ask

YOU should rely on YOU to complete tasks, if you receive help fantastic but make sure it’s YOU that determines if they are complete

YOUR word is really all that YOU have that explains who and what YOU are

Only YOU can hate and only YOU can love

YOU need to remember we love you always

And YOU were a gift from God, don’t waste that gift.

All of this came from one child struggling to find YOU in himself and one English/French teacher who haunts my past.

Thank you Ms. Kaplan If you touched me this way from so long ago, I can only imagine how many you touched during your career.

And all of this insightfulness was because of YOU.

 

 

 

 

So you’re an expert? Hmmm?

One of the greatest things about the internet is its ability to connect people and share information. Sharing information creates an ability to learn, understand and grow. It is what helps us better understand ourselves and the plight of those around us.

Today during my usual coffee and cruise (the internet) I stumbled across an article about how I should be raising my child. Notice I said “should be” because apparently I am doing it all wrong! There were a couple interesting pointers from this apparent “expert” to which I chuckled for the sheer naivety. In the end I felt the article to be immature and lacking. Scrolling to the bottom an authors name with picture prominently displayed led me to do a little research.

She is appears to be an early thirties mother of one 5 year old girl. She is also a child psychologist.

Why does this matter to me? Because as I let out a heavy sigh, the sigh reserved for those of us with years of experience under our belts handling multiple children spanning several age groups and personalities. A humorous analogy popped into my head.

Taking serious advice from her on exactly how I should be raising my children is the equivalent of relying on a new probationary fighters experience to get me out of jam during a fire. I know she has countless hours of clinical time, with countless papers studying the human child, but just like a new firefighter has countless hours in the burn room and on the training grounds none of that matters until it is your own out in the real world. That ladies and gentlemen is the game changer.

So yes you may have a few good ideas, you just lack the experience to back it up when things go sideways.

As any well-worn parent will tell you, raising children is NOTHING like they envisioned while pregnant with their first child. The process is not static but continually dynamic and though incredibly rewarding will humble any human being. I hope she does a re-write in twenty years after a few more kids, I think her Democratic approach will sound a bit more like a combination of Autocratic, Democratic, Laissez-faire, and Paternal. For no one way truly encompasses all situations.

Thank you for the morning laugh though… (insert Betty Rubble giggle here)

 

 

Rodeo

Sun slowly rises from the east, it’s that time of morning when neither dark nor light can decide who has a larger grip on the atmosphere. There is softness in the morning light engulfing all within sight while a single dull ray tries it’s hardest to squeeze through the blinds into my sleeping area. A rattling, squealing noise rambles off in the distance, my groggy head rises from the pillow instantly recognizing it to be a John Deer carefully dragging a plot of dirt that will soon be either a place of speed and scores or a cushion for the unfortunate. It is time to rise.

Coffee brewing brings a smell that always snaps me into the present. My bones hurt and joints crack as I carefully pull my pants from the floor while checking my shirt for damage, or wrinkles that may indicate I slept on it last night. Real estate is a premium inside our 3 horse trailer and it’s not uncommon for clothing, bedding and blankets to become a tangled web easier to let be than untangle. Some days it’s so bad we head out the door wearing whatever comes easiest. When the day is through it really doesn’t matter as most everything we own is covered in a mixture of dust, sweat and animal fluids. It is just the way it is and you wear it with pride.

My son and daughter have risen, our horses need to be fed and so do they prior to today’s activities. Microwavable breakfast sandwiches a cup of coffee/ orange juice, brush your teeth (not necessarily in that order) and its check in time. Afterwards they hook up with friends then start warming up horses. Their day is full, between caring for horses, warming them up, performing, helping in the arena, helping buddies during events then cooling horses off and feeding for the evening they are constantly moving from sun up to sun down. It’s good for them both as hard work, camaraderie and competition help mold them for adulthood.

Stepping outside words of good morning are echoed from our trailer neighbors as well as every parent you come across. Hands are shook, smiles, laughter and stories are the topic of the morning. These are wonderful solid people, many come from ranches and are second or third generation rodeo families. In the distance an announcer is checking his equipment with a repeated; TEST, TEST echoing across the grounds. The grandstands slowly begin filling as family and friends file in to watch the show. It is the very beginning of a weekend that will not disappoint.

A few words from the announcer, the National Anthem then goat tying starts the day with poles running in the big arena. Seniors and juniors vying for opposite space. The sound of two announcers reverberating gives notice to those not surrounding either ring that competition has in fact begun. Nervous parents run back and forth ensuring their kids have all they need while others move about on horseback with all the confidence of seasoned rodeo veterans.

I love the smell of horses and saddles, there is just something about it that leaves me feeling content. When I am around horses, either walking or on horseback my brain quits moving at a hundred miles an hour, my heart rate slows and the world just seems to be, well, at peace. Horses have kept me grounded, given me purpose and I’m always trying my hardest to learn each and every ones personality and quirks. These four legged creatures have kept me sane while missing my wife, both at home and during every rodeo for the last two years. Standing alone, along a fence line watching my daughter tie her goat after jumping from the dizzying height of her little pony there is nothing for me to think about, no stresses, just pride at watching her do something she was terrified to even attempt not that long ago.

As quickly as I am at parental peace with my daughter, my son texts me that it is time. Saddling his rope horse, climbing aboard and heading into the warm up pen we slowly work up from walk, trot to lope. Some good solid stops getting lighter in the mouth each time and he is ready to go. My son is aboard the Steer Wrestling horse trying his best to clear his mind, readying himself for competition against some of his closest friends. In no more than two hours’ time we shift gears and horses warming up the turn back horse and cutting horse. There are many events in rodeo and his events of choice are Tie Down Roping, Team Roping, Cutting and Steer Wrestling. My daughter competes in Goat Tying, Poles and Barrels.

When not warming up our horses, I enjoy helping during the cutting with turn back duties and then it’s off to the return chutes where hanging with my friends watching the performance while moving calves and steers keeps us all busy for the remainder of the day. We stand tall and constantly yell, cheer and help these kids feel good no matter their outcome in the arena. For little do they really know just how amazing they are and as parents standing in the same spot every rodeo we have the privilege of witnessing their continued improvement from countless hours of practice throughout the year! It is a great weekend that’s all about them, a payback for their hard work.

Red sky and a setting sun shining through a permanent layer of dirt hovering in the air tells me the day is done. There are scrapes and bruises, kids kick the dirt from their boots and clothes, while chaps and bull ropes are hung with care. The announcers’ booth powers down, arena lights begin to glow and the stands are emptied. Horses are washed and fed, bbq smoke and laughter comes from every camp as war stories are told with glee. A perfect tie-down, the best team roping time of the year, did you see the air under my but when I got bucked off? Laughter and friends after a long day helping knock off the day’s highs and lows, chuckle at knuckle head moves and pat those on the back who lead in their events. Young men and women forging friendships they will have for life over a shared love of friendly competition and the ranching way of life. These kids or small adults wander the grounds in packs like coyotes looking for their next free meal or easy place to crash. They are funny little versions of ourselves who pretend to the best of their abilities to appear grown-up. I love watching them interact with each other, they are truly funny. At the end of the day these are the stories we adults will share with our grandchildren.

Country music blares from every corner of this place as I sit in my chair, boots off, enjoying a beverage, soaking it all in while wondering just how much longer I am going to make it before falling asleep. Before long I have my answer. It is dark, chilly and a fire is blazing for warmth, most everyone has already crashed with the exception of a handful of us. My son heads in to hit the hay letting me know what a great day it’s been, my daughter is out cold in her tent. Once inside he is out cold in two seconds. Turning everything off and checking our horses one last time after bidding a goodnight to our friends I slowly make my way inside, my pants hit the floor and somewhere there is a clean shirt hidden inside my messy bunk. Oh well, stretching carefully across it, before I can completely exhale my lights are out and tomorrow the smell of coffee will start this cycle all over again. What a great life!

Let’s go, lets show, lets rodeo…

 

More….

Grass glistening under the morning sun I can almost feel a damp chill through the outer liner of my boots. There is so much to do here on the ranch, something I’d taken for granted prior to Leukemia entering our lives. Every day waking to a cup of coffee, a list of projects, horses that need riding and good close friends who share my love for our equestrian lifestyle.

Life was slower, moved more efficiently, our time allotted carefully with separated responsibilities tackled by two active adults. Yes it wasn’t always perfect, there were collisions of schedules and an occasional finger of blame pointed in the others direction for absence of responsibility. We thought; how could life possibly be any busier? Oh how wrong we were.

Today, I have nowhere to be, (a rarity) the list of stacked up chores is overwhelming. None of these written down labor intense segments of self-importance are of any severity in the grand scheme of things. But the sun is out and even sitting here typing now feels like a guilty pleasure for which I should not partake. My wife is asleep. She doesn’t really sleep all that well anymore. Her medications are leaving her on a revolving pattern of slumber that is tiresome to watch. I spend as much time as I can inside the house making sure she is ok. She has so many medications taken daily it blows my mind at her ability to keep track! But she does, and often time after double checking I’ll find she is to the pill in her counts. We have Oxygen tubing running across our bedroom floor as she needs a consistent O2 boost so her saturation levels remain above normal. Feeding her has become difficult as these little pharmaceutical wonders leave her stomach tied into a burning knot most of the time. When she does eat it’s an egg sandwich, just toast or on really brave day’s carrot cake. She is doing well getting up and down the stairs, but prefers and wisely so to have someone with her when she does.

Somedays she stares blankly out the rear window of our little ranch house; to say I wonder what’s on her mind would be a false statement. I know. One doctor telling her to stay inside, another telling her she shouldn’t even be here at the ranch, it is to dangerous, while a third claims the occasional trip across the grounds couldn’t hurt. It’s a conflict of emotion, an experiment in mental strength, a dichotomy filled lifestyle. Does she risk it or watch from the bleachers? Should she enjoy what’s in front of her peering through a “boy in the bubble” perspective or run with abandon into the countryside? There is more, there is always more and when you have stared at four hospital walls for 8 months you pray to the heavens above for more. Once granted you now stare at four household walls and you pray for even more! More time with your children, more time with your husband, more time to be outside with your animals, more, more, more! To many opinions, to many rules, to many drugs, to many trips to the hospital to many restrictions, yet only one life.

Outside the birds are pleased, blue skies above them, food is plentiful below and they sing with glee. Our brood of horses’ knicker and snort at the prospect of roaming green fields. Four dogs have all found places in the sun, soaking up its brilliant heat and not one barn cat remains inside the barn. The air cool and crisp, combined with those warm rays of light makes for a glorious day to be in a right here, right now frame of mind. A solitary moment, to myself, outside with my eyes closed tight selfishly dreaming of the way it used to be, the way it was. A small pebble under a giant blue sky standing here calmly taking it all in, occasionally looking out across our property while absorbing its natural beauty my smile comes on the weight of heavy shoulders as our once normal life has been replaced by these solitary random moments.

I wish there was more…

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The scary stuff…

The scary stuff hides in plain sight, we try our best to ignore it but in reality the scary stuff is what lets us know we are living.

I am terrified of death. It surrounds me with in your face realism, implication and pure dishonesty. Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling wondering when it will come, how it will come and have I done all I could to let those I care for know just how much they mean to me? Have I spoken a word in haste leaving someone disappointed or was I able for just a moment to make someone’s day?

Do you close your eyes and feel all the world has to offer or do you clench your teeth frustrated by the very movements within your realm? Do you drift away from the sight, sound or smell of another place thankful for having been there or do you grasp tightly to the past angry at what the future holds in store?

I cannot control the panic within, a feeling there is something more and I am running out of time. That I haven’t lived to my full potential, achieved all my dreams, helped all that could use assistance, or been the best human being I could possibly be. My brain runs out of control and there are moments the thought of trying to stop it long enough to grab any form of tangible information to act on is overwhelming.

So the scary stuff creeps in, like a game, toying with my ability to reconcile myself.

I stare at my wife while she sleeps, scared she won’t be there in the morning. Two years of this nightmare have worn away my ability to be realistic about things at times. Watching all she has gone through and yet she still tries to smile, to have a positive attitude, even when she really doesn’t want to anymore. Being at work is an eternity as my subconscious leads me into a room of dirty tricks. How is she? Why won’t she answer the phone? Has she taken her medications? Are the kids helping her? Is she eating enough? Has she walked today? I know she is ok, she has her phone to call me, and my mother is right next door, able to check in at a moments notice. I know the kids are helping and our close friends/family are doing their best, but the scary stuff keeps pushing my insane fears into the light so I may remain bewildered and lost.

Stressed beyond what I ever felt I could handle, my stomach, head and neck hurt all the time. I have ridiculous nightmares always revolving around the loss of someone near me. Last night it was one of the boys in a vehicle accident. The scary stuff lurking in my brain won’t let me gloss over anything in a dream either, its graphic and designed to always leave me terrified upon waking. The scary stuff knows how to leave me down and out through shock value. I am tired… All the time….

What do I do? How do I control it? It feels at times like a giant weight upon my chest. Somedays I can’t breathe and find myself sobbing for no reason at the very stupidest of things. Like an imaginary scary creature hiding under my bed, only I know it’s there, only I can feel its presence, and only I can battle it when it comes out at night to play. It is my burden to bare.

The scary stuff is what tears at your soul, leaving you scarred, hurt, but alive. We all have scary stuff lurking in our brains, without it we would never understand the value in cherishing every moment on this earth. For the good stuff is even sweeter if you’ve had to deal with the scary stuff life is made of.

I wrote this tonight because many have asked me repeatedly how I have been able to handle everything through this Leukemia/Bone marrow transplant infused portion of our life. Truth be told, many days I don’t! I do my very best to juggle everything while keeping a smile on my face, sharing a joke here and there, trying to keep my children smiling all while letting my wife know she is the very center of my universe. I vent a lot on friends and I believe in having faith! God looks over us all and challenges us daily, it is up to us as too whether or not we accept those challenges. There is always hope, and even though the scary stuff is a reality in my life, my way of never letting it win is by writing about the fear so others who read this know its ok to feel everything I just described. If you take time in recognizing your flaws, sharing your pain and understanding there is always a better day ahead, the scary stuff doesn’t stand a chance. It may not be today or even tomorrow, but faith is there waiting to put the scary stuff we all feel and worry about right back under the bed where it belongs.

 

 

 

Home..

Nothing crushes a man’s heart or weakens a hardened exterior quicker than watching your wife cry. Witnessing her rapid release of pent up emotion while absorbing ones surroundings with tremor like sobbing there becomes a moment where no perfect words for comforting leaves you helpless at best. Oh a hug will always suffice yet truth be told there really is nothing you can do but watch and stand fast for any request needing fulfillment.

And so went the first ten minutes inside our little farmhouse once Ms. Jacy crossed over its threshold.

She tried her very hardest in keeping it together, after all she had been given a very warm greeting, some would say almost spastic from her dogs, eight months was an eternity for them as well! Of course there were hugs and high fives from her children, then there was the “Welcome Home” sign along with flowers on the deck. But my poor wife was falling apart before my very eyes and all she could manage to utter between gasping breaths was; I never thought I’d see my home again.. I thought I was going to die….

Standing embraced under the dim light of our kitchen bar she continued sobbing while my heart continued hurting. I could say I understand, but I don’t, not really. Yes I have clung tightly to a faithful vigil of spirituality and positive stature, with an occasional doubt creeping in only to become squashed through a refusal of acceptance. Yes I have walked side by side, never wavering, always spending every moment possible next to her witnessing each and every change in her mental and physical status. But to say I fully understand what she is feeling would be a complete falsehood. Only she knows what lies underneath her weary exterior and at this moment it is sheer joy mixed with uncontrolled emotional pain.

The old me in this moment would calmly say; everything is going to be ok (the unknown possibly positive note) and don’t cry, this is a happy moment, you should be happy you’re finally home (the condescending response of unrequited knowledge) along with there, there, there. (Well that’s brilliant huh?)

What I have learned is this was and is going to be a very traumatic experience for my wife for a very long time to come. The pain associated with this process will not just go away. Living with the thought of almost dying along with not knowing for sure how much time she may have left on this planet in conjunction with guilt for being gone from her family, but mostly her children will not evaporate overnight. She is in a great deal of discomfort every day reminding her of all the physical pain she has suffered thus far. Also reminding her daily this journey is a long ways from being over and with multiple appointments and medications filling her every moment there seems to be no end in sight. This experience has taught me allowing her to grieve for her former self is perfectly normal and my place is to simply love her for who she is, the person she has become and the woman I fell in love with because nothing else matters. She has looked at me and wondered out loud why I would still want her, for she no longer looks the way she used too. But what she doesn’t understand is all I see is the woman I married, she is extremely beautiful to me and always will be! I have accepted that if she hurts, I hurt, if she laughs, I laugh, but most of all if she needs an answer or an opinion to always tell her the truth! Never ever sugar coat it with some horrible regurgitated response as if you’d spent one to many hours watching Grey’s Anatomy. She deserves respect and she will receive it.

Once she gathered her breath and dried some tears she asked to go upstairs to our bedroom. This is the task I have feared most for she has not one ounce of muscle left in her legs. Making it up the three stairs of our porch was a bit of a feat. We decide to try so we start slowly and after several small breaks she has made it onto the landing, out of breath, tired but excited to do so on her own. Once in our room she moves quickly to our bed where she quickly lays down and much like a cat upon its favorite pillow, my wife curls up with a supreme look of contentment on her face. She is home.

The next two days go fairly well. Ms. Jacy makes it slowly up and down our stairs, sits in our recliner to remain immersed in our family and is able to gaze upon the property from our large bay windows. She is so happy to be home and by the middle of the second day begins worrying about going back. She wants to stay home.

It’s easy to say the times away will become shorter, but we don’t know, it’s easy to say this if for the best, but really the best for her is to be home with her family. It’s easy to say any number of things with hopes of quelling her fears. But like I said before the truth is always best. So as she tells me she doesn’t want to go, I simply tell her I don’t want you to go either and this sucks! For the simplest fact of the matter is; it does.

Yesterday we loaded up her belongings, she said goodbye to her oldest children and with little ones in tow we headed back to Saratoga. It could be for three days, or two weeks, we just have to learn to be flexible and play it by ear. We couldn’t do any of this without the support of her loving family and we are forever grateful for all of their sacrifices.

I am not sure if she will ever get used to being gone as each day away the fear of something going wrong and her never coming home again is always hovering over her head. I like to think of it as we actually have money (you know like old family money) and Saratoga is the family vacation house! Complete with family members who are always there and are always happy to see us while we vacation and rest in the serene mountains overlooking the Silicon Valley.

As I pulled out of our driveway I could see fear on her face and my heart began to break once more. The thought of leaving her beloved home, children and animals was tearing her apart! By the time we hit the freeway a combination of denial and medication left her fast asleep. Thankfully she slept the whole way and once in the driveway to her dads house she put on a super brave face as we exited the car entering the apartment, her second home. She was happy to be there, but its just not her home. We turned all the heaters on, put her stuff away and slowly strolled over to the main house for a relaxing visit with her family.

Making the drive up to the main road, headed home I felt alone, very alone and empty. I was so happy she was home, so happy to see her each morning, I had forgotten to take inventory of myself.

It was a long sad drive home….

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Welcome home Ms. Jacy..

Eight long months Jacy has been away from her home. She has wondered many times if she would ever set foot upon this ground again. A place set deep in her heart where we laid a foundation for family. Many sleepless nights filled with fear, never knowing what’s lingering around the corner in regards to treatment. Waiting, sometimes not so patiently for her life to change, either succumbing to this nasty beast raging inside or feeling a warmth associated with victory shining upon her tired face.

Today all that changes

This morning after a series of appointments inside Stanford’s Medical Center Jacy Mirelle Franceschi will climb into our family mini-van for a two hour drive back home where she will step foot once again firmly on Blue Sky Ranch ground! Jacy has been given a green light to a three day pass! A required experiment to see how she handles being a little further from her Stanford safety net. To date Jacy’s numbers are holding and Stanford is doing their best to slim down her appointment schedule. Jacy still has severe GvHD and needs regular treatment, but there comes a point where it’s better to throw caution to the wind, allowing her to come home for small segments so she may become mentally stronger. Hopefully this will boost her spirits, work a little on some depression and help her body to heal faster. It is and will be a momentous occasion, and at the risk of sounding cliché; to say we are excited is an understatement!

As excited as we ALL are we are also completely terrified! During this last week we have been working on sterilizing a farm house! Let that sink in for a moment, two words that just don’t go together, sterilization and farmhouse. It has been an extremely hard project, and thankfully we have been blessed with some awesome assistance! (Thank you Alisa, Isabelle, Cody, Jake, Jessica and Lynette)The house is clean, neat and smells fantastic! Yet the house is only one issue we must face, from this point forward we must work to keep it hospital clean in combination with watching what we bring into this rickety old structure! This is going to be no easy task. But the alternative is unacceptable.

Here is a little explanation of how things will change. Starting tomorrow whenever a family member goes out to the barn and works horses, show pigs or sheep, they must strip down and shower putting fresh clothes on before coming in contact with Ms. Jacy. Why? Because spores, organisms and germs can enter our beloved family member through her lungs, causing her GvHD to expand sending her on a one way trip back to the hospital! Our dogs must be bathed constantly as to not cross contaminate or carry any spores into her area. Jacy must be protected from the sun at all times, continue with a regimented treatment of 23 medications 3 times a day, two breathing treatments a day and oxygen therapy at night while she sleeps as her saturation levels drop during this period due to GvHD of the lungs. She is still dealing with GvHD in her intestines as well so her diet is being watched as food doesn’t seem to stay with her, leaving her unable to gain any weight. She is also dealing with GvHD of the eyes which leaves her vision incredibly blurry one day with moderate vision the next. Later next week she will have her eyelashes permanently removed hoping to limit damage being done to her corneas. This along with her tear ducts being plugged will hopefully promote more inner moisture and further the healing process. It also means we need to limit the amount of dust and dirt her eyes come in contact with and keep on a regimented medicated eye drop treatment. Oh by the way speaking of dust and dirt, if you have been to my house/ranch then you know we are BIG on recycling products for re-use! Guess what? All the reclaimed concrete that constitutes 3-4 inches of depth on all our drivable areas? (Driveway, pathways, barn circle) well she can’t be exposed to it. The doctors are worried about all those nasty little bugs and germs crawling around in the dust associated with concrete breaking down. Yeah it’s going to be a scary tough go, but those are just some of the things we must consider to keep her healthy.

Ok enough of the scary stuff, now the good stuff.

None of us can wait until she is here! Just the thought of walking onto the property after all this time is more than I can comprehend. Today my wife will finally sit with her family, eat her own food, and laugh as she tries to wear her old clothes (she currently weighs 110). She can sit in her own living room able to look out at the ranch and see all her beloved animals spread across our property. Tonight, she will shower in her own bathroom, watch TV in her own bed, sleep next to her husband and wake up the next day wondering if she has won the “I get to be home” lottery.

Just think about it for a moment. Think about what that would mean to you, if you had traveled the very same path. I think about it all the time, night and day. I think about what she must be feeling, where her head is at right now and how can I make a difference. With that being said; since I know my wife occasionally reads my blog I say this.

Jacy

8 months ago you headed out of our driveway knowing you would be home in 3-4 months because you were going to conquer this thing called Leukemia like you have conquered everything in your life. With style, class, a smile on your face and the ferocity of a lion! 5 months ago you stay positive but things really weren’t looking so good. Multiple problems and a case of GvHD the likes very few had seen. You began struggling mentally and physically because the odds were stacked against you and it looked as though options were running thin. Four months ago you weren’t any stronger and terms like Power of Attorney and DNR or Do Not Resuscitate orders are being thrown around with a palpable seriousness no one could fully comprehend. You still fight; Scared and tired, some days wanting to throw in the towel yet you continue enduring pain, nausea, poking and prodding with that same patented smile we all love so. Meanwhile the only sleep you receive is either drug induced or through sheer exhaustion from being woken every hour for meds, a B.P., temperature check, physical therapy, Infectious disease consults or doctors just making their rounds. Three months ago a glimmer of light, your body turns around just enough to give everyone some hope, especially you! Almost two months ago a New Year’s surprise, your doctors have said we think it’s time for you to go. And go you did, with the very same determination and ferocity you strolled into Stanford with 8 months ago. It is one of a million reasons I admire you as a human being, not just as my wife.

I have no doubt this next chapter starting with three days home here and four days home there will be handled the very same way you handle everything. You are an amazing woman with a family that loves you. It will be difficult and very trying on us all, but mostly on you. But it is without a doubt the last step towards your permanent residency back here where you belong and I cannot wait until the day we saddle up head out across the back 40 and either laugh or cry about this dark time in our lives that we survived together. It will be glorious..

I love you

To everyone else, please say a little prayer for my wife tonight as I am sure this afternoon will be emotional beyond our wildest expectations. Once again for those who have supported our family through these last two years without fail, I cannot thank you enough! We still have a very, long road ahead of us and we are still very scared, but there is no doubt in my mind without all of you praying and caring for us the way you have we wouldn’t be where we are today.

God bless you all,

More to come….

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