Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Honey-ism...Closet Combat

Reflecting this morning on our early years together as I watch my sweet girl sleep, I remember the morning when I came home early and unannounced from work. Honey and I had only been living together a short time then...maybe six months. I worked the night shift as a production worker in an automotive plant and she was a second shift police officer. We had one vehicle and 'hot swapped' every day with a mere thirty minutes to spare.
This was a difficult time for us financially and we were adjusting as a new family with all the baggage that comes with going through a divorce but we were happy and enthusiastic as most new couples tend to be. Then and as she has our entire marriage, my honey loved to sing when she was happy and has a beautiful voice...
There'd been a major breakdown at the plant, so they'd sent the entire shift home two hours early. A rarity but a welcome change in routine and for me with the long drive, particularly appreciated. I hadn't called for fear of waking her. It was one of her days off and I'd honestly just thought it'd be an opportunity for some extra snuggle time.
Entering the house, I could faintly hear honey's voice...singing. Coming into the kitchen the low hum and thump of the washing machine told me that she was doing laundry. For those following along, you remember that my girl has always been an early riser. She loves exercise and has been a fitness fanatic most of her adult life. Coming down the hall to our bedroom, her voice became more distinct and I could tell that she was in the closet. I grinned...instead of announcing myself, I'd thought...
I'm gonna SCARE her! 
Some of you will see where this if going...I'd been her martial arts instructor for nearly two years and she'd held a black belt before starting her training with me. A typical male brain fart...sneaking into our room, I spied her bent over in the closet pulling clothes from a basket to hang them. Tip toeing closer I quickly closed the gap and grabbing her on each side of her waist, I'd cried YAH!!!
Her reaction was immediate....and painful. Straightening, she'd executed a perfect spinning back fist to the left side of my head, followed by a back kick to the abdomen that knocked me completely out of the closet! Stunned I still noted her fierce expression as she turned to face me fully...and burst into laughter as she realized who it was standing there bewildered and swaying like an oak caught in a high wind. Between peals of glee, she'd rushed out to hug me exclaiming.
"It really WORKS!"
Needless to say, I'd never surprised my honey in that way again...even knuckle draggers learn...eventually! Her laugh has always been infectious and plentiful. Even throughout the past five years of cancer, she's managed to hang on to that...until recently.
These past few months have been horrific for her. Physically and mentally as this damn disease strips from her the abilities to do even daily task. Now with hospice care, we try not to worry about the little stuff. I'll get to the laundry and the housework...but my focus is on her. I want to hear that laughter and see that smile....more than anything. It happens occasionally. She hums sometimes and rarely, she'll sing at a whisper. I relish both.
Though diminished, my girls spirit still shines. She clings to hope and knows that for us all in the end, the love we share for each other and family is the one of the things that no disease can alter. Hoping to head to the water park today...time will tell but it won't be because she won't try!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Weekend Report...

A honey-ism and a weekend report...

We had a terrific four day weekend with my family is SD. While hectic, she had an absolute blast and loved spending time with everyone. We had some challenges. She was sick a few mornings but it passed quickly and my honey amazed me with her stamina and tenacity once again. Though unable to assist a lot with the plantings and yard work going on, she spent most of the weekend outdoors and walked more than I thought possible! While I was gone visiting my father, she tripped getting out of a chair on her flip flops and suffered a fall, (her feet and ankles are to swollen for any regular shoes) scrapping her head and much to her dismay, she needed help getting back up. Luckily, it was in the grass and she was quickly surrounded by family members that lovingly helped her and not only tended to her scrap but quickly figured out that oversized water shoes would be a better solution for her feet.

Within a few hours they had her new foot gear and met us at a local landmark. A beautiful water falls park that we so enjoyed. When I noticed the grass stain on her hat and asked if she'd fallen, I got the eye roll and the "I'm fine." standard answer...she'd added that her family had taken care of it, so I should quite 'mothering' her. :o) For my girl...this is HUGE. Here's a link to the park we visited.

If I could change just one aspect of my life, (aside from my honey's cancer) it would be to have gotten closer and more involved with my family sooner. We all have reason's...job's, geography or distance....but in hindsight, (which of course is EASY!) if you have a loving and supportive network of people in your life, whether by blood or not, MAKE THE EFFORT to be a part of it!

Yes, it's messy at times and can most certainly be maddening with scheduling and your own commitments but I believe and KNOW that in good times and bad, those memories are precious...and truly in the end; are all we and our loved ones have that cannot be taken away. It saddens me greatly that I deprived my own children of this...yes it would have meant leaving their friends behind BUT if I'd done it early....could'a, should'a, would'a!

Even though she hates it, we're getting a wheeled walker for my sweet girl this in fact. The risk of falling is simply to great. We are going to the local waterpark this Thursday and plan to spend the afternoon floating on inner tubes and soaking in the wave pool. She worries about how much effort this involves...for me! Silly ol girl!! I'm just thrilled that we're GOING!! I told her that if she can stand to be with ME in a swimsuit publicly, everything else is easy! LOL!

Thanks to the efforts of my sister in law (We LOVE you Lisa!) and the kindness and generosity of so many people on the gofundme page she started, I'm able to take some extra time off from work and make more of these memories with and for my girl and our family. Thank you doesn't begin to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to all of you.

We are back to draining her lungs daily and she does need her oxygen now more often than not. Today, she's been resting more but is still eating very well and other than some anxiety and fatigue is doing well. Her hair is slowly coming back...think G.I. Jane buzz cut! :o) Her smile and laugh are just as infectious as always...she has begun to pray aloud again...something she had stopping doing for some time. She gives thanks for her family...her friends and for all of the wonderful people who have shown her such great love and support. She gives thanks for what she is able to do...and simply ask for the best days she can have for as long as she can have them. She continues to amaze and inspire do you all.

I'll get some pics of the water park adventure up ASAP. Honey sends her love as always...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A quick honey update....We've had to start draining her lungs again daily, which is dispiriting for her as we were going as long as six days. She's tired and I know this latest development makes her anxious. SO...I'm taking her to the lake today for a picnic lunch and to soak her toes!

This afternoon, we'll take in the new Wonder Woman movies and then I'm grilling her steaks with all the trimmings and some ice cold Corona! :o) Thanks to all of you terrific folks for the kind comments on my page and for supporting my girl! We are truly blessed by each of you and your thoughtfulness!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Jim & Tj (A.K.A. honey!)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Ride In The Rain....

A honey-ism. 
A Ride In The Rain...
As honey and I began our relationship those many years ago, we began like many couples do that are either in or coming out of a failed marriage. Hesitantly...with baggage, preconceptions and expectations that were no doubt skewed by the desires of the heart. Add children into that mix and you have the potential for the very LEAST, there's going to be some fairly severe adjustments for everyone involved. It's messy under the best circumstances. Period. 
Our first romantic moment was actually anti-climatic. It'd been storming for several days and as usual, I was spending a Sunday morning at the dojo trying to catch up on the paperwork and cleaning the facility. The school was closed and I clearly recall my mood as being bleak. I was going though a difficult divorce and felt like I'd failed...yes, it takes two to do that but it didn't change the way I felt. It was nearing noon and back then I was a smoker. As I was preparing to leave, finished for the day; I remember'd that I'd finished my last cigarette on my way in deepened my annoyance. 
Scowling, I gathered my key's and heard a knock on the locked main glass door. I remember stopping and staying inside my office, hoping whoever it was would realize that the closed sign meant just that...I wasn't in the right frame of mind for a prospective client. A few seconds passed and just as I'd begun to hope my ploy had succeeded came another serious of knocks...more of an insistent banging. Grumbling obscenities under my breath, I headed to the door and reaching it; saw my honey huddled close to the building to try and avoid the steady drizzle.
Unlocking the door, I ushered her in greeting her but adding that I was just about to leave. Tj had nodded, clearly nervous (unusual for her) and smiling had blurted. “I was just sort'a driving around and saw your car here...I thought'd like to get some lunch?” She'd smiled again as she finished but I could tell she was clearly not in her comfort zone. As I mulled it over, thinking more about getting that smoke ( I never smoked at the school or in front of students) than anything else, she quickly added. “You don't HAVE too! It's not a big deal or anything...” 
Chuckling because I'd never seen her uncertain about anything before, I'd started to answer but she misinterpreted my reaction as a rejection and started to hurriedly excuse herself. I placed a hand on her shoulder as she started to turn away, saying. “Whoa! Lunch would be great!” Meeting her gaze, I'd grinned, adding that I did need to make a quick stop first for my nicotine habit.
She'd just bought her very first new vehicle a few months before. A white Isuzu Rodeo...(which years later would become our oldest son's first car.) she was very proud of it and honey was not a smoker. I'd assumed we'd just take both vehicles so she surprised me by stating. “Tell you what...why don't we just take my car and I'll bring you back. We can get your smokes but I'd rather you not light up in it. Is that ok?”
As we stood looking at one another, I still recall something in my mind sensing that she wanted...or rather needed to tell me something that was important to her. Shrugging, I'd accepted adding that I could smoke after we ate. Back then, smoking in restaurants was acceptable. I no longer remember exactly where we ate but I do know it was typical to what we have done most of our relationship. Honey had a healthier, sensible and a salad and I had red meat and potatoes in some fashion or another! LOL! Our conversation was, the school, kids and some good natured ribbing about my eating habits and smoking. The rain had picked up and we both talked about how we enjoyed driving in it. The smell...the rhythmic thump of the wipers and especially the sound it on the metal roof. 
Hurrying back to her SUV, we both got in damp and a little chilled. Grinning broadly, she's asked if I wanted to go for a ride and I'd quickly agreed. Being a sheriffs deputy, honey knew all the backroads and this is were we drove. In the winding roads of the Tennessee countryside, traffic was light and after a while, we came to an abandoned gas station out in the middle of nowhere. The rain was coming down in a torrent...pounding the vehicle and blotting out visibility. Pulling in, she'd parked and we both just sat listening to the drumming deluge. Lightning flashed, illuminating the sky as thunder rumbled and boomed in it's passage. 
Haltingly...she'd broached the subject of her past. Telling me a little about her upbringing and some of the tragedies she'd endured. Her feelings of inadequacy...guilt...rage...all of these things came tumbling out. She'd cried..gripping the steering wheel in a iron grip...great soul wrenching sobs that had her shuddering. As I leaned across the seat, I gently pried her hands from the steering wheel and held was all I could do. She was mumbling apologies...embarrassed at her loss of control. I'd heard only bit's and pieces but enough to know that she was in agony...seared by a torment that she usually kept hidden from the world. 
Almost in sync with the storm, as the rain slackened, her sobbing subsided. I could smell her damp hair and the light perfume that she wore. Pulling away from me she'd sniffed, rummaging for a tissue in the doors panel. What little mascara she wore was in ruins...blowing her nose and clearing her throat, she'd again turned toward me and mumbled apologies...a final flash of lightning close by illuminate us both in it's brilliance, the crashing boom loud enough to startle each of us. In that moment, I saw her as I suspect she'd rarely let anyone see her...vulnerable, with a sorrow that was achingly deep. 
Reaching across to wipe away a tear with my thumb, I'd kissed her. Softly...tenderly. It was a brief kiss but as I leaned back I saw her eyes open with surprise and even a little shock. My mind instantly roared into self recriminations...what had I done! I'd certainly breached my role as an instructor and mentor! Shit!! you've done it! 
As all of that raced through me, I started to pull away...sputtering what I'm sure was inarticulate nonsense...when she reached out and pulled me back, returning my kiss with one of her own. It was passionate and full of need, lasting sweet long minutes before we parted; each breathless and full of desire. There'd been no groping...but it's intensity had been unlike anything I'd ever experienced. I was lost in her eyes and wanted more but instead she hugged me fiercely, whispering into my ear that she was sorry before abruptly letting me go and putting the vehicle into gear, heading back towards town. 
It was still drizzling...and I couldn't help but watch her as she focused on the road. I'd asked if she was ok and she'd simply nodded. I'd apologized and she vigorously shook her head, mumbling that it was her fault...she'd been stupid. Although I asked several more questions and tried reassuring her that she wasn't guilty of anything, I got no further response. In time we arrived back to my own vehicle and I remember the swirl of confused emotions that I know we both were feeling...we had ignited a spark but neither of us had any idea what to do with it. 
As I opened my door to get out, she took my hand and squeezed. Locking eyes with me, her's had misted and she said simply. “Thank you.” I squeezed back, replying in kind before getting out and watching her drive away. I really doubted I'd ever see her again...but even then I'd known. 
She'd taken my heart with her that day in the rain.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Honey Update...

My sweet girl 14 months ago in training for a 50+ competition....For those following along, you'll know a lot has changed for us these past months. My honey has been battling multiple types of cancer with a courage and vigor that have been truly amazing to behold. There is no quit in her.

Unfortunately three weeks ago, the choice was taken from her. The chemo treatments (after another long ten day stay) had beaten her immune system and body into a state that was no longer sustainable. The decision was made to focus on quality instead of quantity of was the most difficult day of this process thus far.

We've been home a little over three weeks now and she's still struggling to eat anything solid. The lingering effects of treatments can last for as long as 10-12 weeks...time which she feels is being wasted still being sick and unable to do the 'normal' things that she so desperately wants too. The mouth and throat sore are healed and next week they'll likely remove the PIC in her arm.

The hospice team has been truly wonderful. They are an amazing group of loving and caring folks. Many of you here and our friends and family have also been a source of constant support and inspiration for both of us and I sincerely thank each and everyone of you. I know that my replies are often delayed and if I've missed someone, I apologize. The days seem to's not intentional.

The most difficult part has been watching the one I love the most, slowly be diminished both physically and spiritually. It's like staring at the sun as it slowly sets in the horizon...she's becoming less communicative and interested in the world around her. I'm told this is normal. I accept that...but it sears my soul to bear witness to the dimming of such a bright and beautiful beacon of hope and tenacity. Her kind and loving light is still there...but it's beginning to flicker as if caught in a strong wind.

She prefers now to sleep on the couch...a perplexity that I couldn't understand until a friend of her's told me that her greatest fear was of passing in her sleep and me waking to find her next to me...still...even now...she worries of me first. I think and believe that we are still far from there...but I could be wrong. Please God...let me be right...just this once.

And so....this will be my last sad post. I will instead be posting "honeyism's" from now on. Tales of our journey before this low point...of who she is and why I love her so very much...It won't be fitness this forum may not be the right venue but follow along if you wish...unfriend me if you don't. It ain't that hard.

As always, my girls sends her thanks and much love to you all. Her eyes still sparkle in delight at your comments and your own personal victories. She is still prayerful for those facing their own struggles and heartache. As I mentioned...there's no quit in her.

As she so often told her own fitness and martial arts students...DON'T CHEAT YOU! Do your best and never worry about how other's perceive you...they don't live YOUR life and haven't the slightest clue of what you're capable happy with who and where you are as long as your moving it forward, it's ALL good!

Yes dear...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Honey Update...

A honey update...She had a visit from a furry friend yesterday and enjoyed it immensely! :o) At six days out of the hospital, she is feeling a bit better physically. Eating is still challenging but the sores in her mouth and on her lips are nearly gone. Her throat seems to be healing the slowest and there are still periods of nausea and vomiting. Improving...but in small degrees.

The most difficult challenge so far had been the spiritual one. Adjusting to the idea of hospice care has been a stark reminder of the limitations of mortality. It's been disheartening for both of us. I think the even at her sickest, she always felt that she was 'fighting' the damnable cancer...for her, the cessation of chemo feels like quitting. She knows intellectually that isn't the case but it FEELS like it! After 14 months, I understand her weariness...but it hurts my heart to see her so melancholy.

Our hospice nurse has been terrific and is slowly making a personal connection with my honey. I marvel at the ability of such special people to dedicate themselves to helping (and I dare say, loving) other's facing such daunting challenges every day. It's a rare talent indeed.

We sat down and made a list of all the things cancer cannot do...
1. It cannot stop love.
2. It cannot diminish character.
3. It cannot crush spirit.
4. It cannot stop friendships or family.
5. It cannot change or alter the essence of WHO YOU ARE!

While I know that we will have periods of darkness and moments of despair, I am continually inspired by the members of my family and friends from around the world and all over the country that support us with words of encouragement and acts of kindness and generosity. They send cards, goofy electronic stickers and personal messages that bring smiles and outright laughter to both of us. My dear sweet SIL actually started a fund raiser a few days act of love that initially made honey and I uncomfortable but one that undeniably was done out of concern and love. SO...I am going to share it here as some of you have suggested. Please do NOT feel obligated in any way! I do this out of respect to my sister in law....we love you Lisa.

Thank you isn't even close to being enough to everyone that's helped us along the way...just know that your thoughtful and loving comments mean more than we can ever repay.

My dear honey continues to meet each day head on...we try to wring out as much joy as we can from each moment...sometimes to my sweet girl's annoyance! :o) Yes...I CAN be quite the pain in her butt! I told her that she should have read the fine print in our marriage contract...WOOHOO! :o)

I'm going to try to start posting, at least weekly some "honey-ism's." Tidbits about our life together and lesson's learned along the way. I'll try to keep most of them light...and hopefully give you a glimpse into some of the why's that I think my girl is so wonderful! Follow along if you'd like..I know it's not related to her health and I may get some negative feedback. So be it. If it becomes an issue, I'll move it exclusively to my blog.

Here's wishing all of you a fantastic day and a wonderful rest of the week! Honey as always, send hugs and kisses and continues to pray for those whom are also facing hardships and family issues. Much love to y'all!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Best You...

After what for some has been a stressful and challanging week, I'm hoping that this finds all of you in a better frame of mind and ready to move forward. There's been far too much hate and discontent of late...and not just with the election stuff.

As adults, most of us have had to learn how to deal with thwarted goals, delayed plans and things that (from our perspective) have just been difficult to accept. It's part of life. Fair is a word that generally only applies in sporting life, you win or you learn. For me, there has never been a lose.

Difficulties? Yep. Set backs? Gawd...too many to count! But you know what? I'm still here. Still. here. That's what really matters my friends...because the reality is one day, no matter what... we won't be.

Each of us experiences heartache, pain and loss. How we deal with these things is a matter of attitude. Pure and simple... it's one of the reasons that we must cultivate and cherish those folks that inspire and ecourage us. We all need a hand getting up once in a while.

As individuals, I also believe that you must learn to keep an open mind (and heart) to those whom disagree with you. I'm not talking about the caustic and the hateful here...I'm not advocating wasting precious time on those that cannot discuss without name calling and finger pointing BUT I am saying to give yourself permission to LISTEN and decide on what's best for you.

It's ok to say no. To agree to disagree and move on. If this past few years has taught me nothing else, it has shown me that I need not agree with you to respect you. The world would be a truly boring place if we all thought exactly the same...we need that diversity...that diferent perspective. Some of my closest friends have widely different world views than I. Our lives journeys have been unparralled and so we see things from altered viewpoints.

It can be maddening...but it's also usually refreshing. Teachable moments are something we should treasure and pass along. Not all knowledge is in books and matters of the heart mean little if not shared. If you have friends...true ones...not likes...not those folks that you nod at in passing, tell them what they mean to you, include them and make time for them because you never know what tomorrow may bring.

Like you all, I've lost friends and family. Some came home, draped beneath our nations flag...for those, I remember my oath.

This is our time...what we choose to do with it is up to us. SO...I thank each of you for your support...your time and effort to help others. What I challenge ALL of you to do (including myself!) is to be a brighter beacon. Work towards and FOR those things that inspire you or that you desire to see a change in! Be it fitness, health or social and political change...DO SOMETHING POSITIVE to make it a reality.

Be responsible and accountable...blaming others is always the easiest path and when looked at truthfully, it's usually the falsest one as well. Some things are beyond our my honey's cancer...I hate it.

 I can't change it and that makes me hate it even more...but if I refuse to accept it will it change the reality? No...not one damn bit. What I can do...what I strive to to make each day as full and as rewarding as possible for both of us. Be positive. Be involved. Honey shares this experience with others that are struggling to cope. It's hard...sometimes overwhelmingly so...she does it anyway.

Do I agree? Hell no...but I am inspired...and sometimes a little daunted.

I hope this finds each of you enjoying the weekend and your friends and families. We're all pulled in mutilple directions every day...remember to make time to work on being the best version of YOU that you can be!