at the wheel

Visions of a mangled Buick danced in my head.

It wasn’t that much of an extreme over-reactive leap, considering.

The previous week, Jeff had accidentally put the car into reverse instead of drive. At the gas station. He managed to crumple a bit of the hood of the vehicle behind him.

Luckily, “It was a junker and the fella didn’t care.” At least, that’s what Jeff told me. Right before he told me, “I gave him 50 bucks, and he was happy.”

“What about our car?” I wanted to know. “Nothin’’” Jeff smiled. “Not even a scratch.”

I was curious about that. How did he damage the other car without damaging ours, and where did he get the $50 from? “Well, I wasn’t going all that fast,” he chuckled. “Buick’s solid.” The money game from the store till.

Anyway, that’s why the ‘Did Jeff tell you about the car?’ question, riled me.

Split-second, internal conversing commenced. I would have noticed that, right? I couldn’t have walked right by the car and missed that, right?

“Oh, it was so funny,” she laughed.

‘Funny’ caught my attention. I rationalized. If it was funny, it couldn’t be that bad, right?

“I looked out my window and Jeff was sittin’ in the car with the door open, and one leg hanging out.”

“One leg out?” Flashback to the time he decided to hang his blood-spurting leg out of the car on our way to the hospital, conveniently located at the end of our street.

“Yep.” she continued. “I looked out again, and he was still there, and the car was still running!”

Again? How much time had passed between the two look-sees? Then my brain caught up.

“The car was … running?” I gasped.

“Yeah, but don’t worry, hon. He woke up.”

“He. Woke. Up?” My stomach dropped into a downward flip-flop. A heart skip had me clutching the phone and the counter. “He was sleeping? And, the car was running?”

“Yeah, it was just a few minutes.”

‘Don’t worry’ is one of those knee-jerk, antonym inducing commands. I was worried. “Ok.” I said, and thanked her for calling and letting me know.

Jeff wandered back into the kitchen with the last of the shopping.

“So…” I raised my eyebrows, and peered over my glasses. “Wanna tell me about falling asleep… in the driveway…:

Jeff took a deep breath.

“With the car running…

 Big-mouth bass impression.

“And one leg hanging out?”

“Oh, geez,” he protested. “I was just waitin’ for the end of the song.”

Quote for the Week: 2019 04 30 Some people assume the worst case scenario jakorte

Couched

To say that I’d become accustomed to coming home to some sort of weird situation, is putting it mildly.

This time, Jeff was sitting-up on our living room couch. His head was bent as if he were scrutinizing his foot-ware. It took me a moment to realize he was fast asleep.

The sitting-up-sleeping thing wasn’t the unusual part. It was the fact that he’d couched. We rarely used our formal living room, even though it was right inside our front door.

All the good stuff, like the TV, stereo, surround-sound, book cases and treadmill lived in the den. It was where we spent the majority of our evenings, at home.

He woke up as I finished rustling in. “Oh, hey!” he said, cheerfully, like he hadn’t been completely conked-out. “You’re home early!”

I checked my watch. It was, indeed, a few minutes earlier than normal. “You’re right,” I agreed. “It’s only 5:45.”

“Huh. 5:45?” Jeff frowned. “I was just resting a minute after… oops!”

Wind-milling his legs for propulsion, he pushed off the couch, unsteadily heading toward our Dale Earnhardt shrine-home office.

Paused in the doorway, Jeff threw his arms up in frustration. “Aw, dang it! I never got the groceries put up!”

“When did you go shopping?” I asked, following. Gathering up bags, Jeff answered, “On my way back from dropping off the boxes.”

“When was that?” I prodded. He thought for a few seconds.

“I dunno.” He replied, pulling on his beard. “Sometime around 2:30-ish, I guess. I think I was home by 3:30.”

I was still processing that Jeff had been shoe-inspecting, sleep-sitting for over two hours, when the house phone rang.

Grabbing a few bags on my way to the kitchen to answer the call, I commented over my shoulder. “The milk’s probably no good, but everything else should be ok.”

“The milk’s probably ok, too,” Jeff hopefully argued, as he followed me.

I wrinkled my nose. He just laughed, and headed back to the other end of the house for the rest of the goods.

“Well, you’re the one that’s going to have to drink it…” I amusedly called after him.

I set the groceries on the counter near the phone, and picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Hon!” the cheerful voice on the other end greeted me. We were lucky enough to have the sweetest, most sunshiny neighbor.

“Oh, I’m just checkin'” she chuckled. “Did Jeff tell you about the car, today?”

“About the car?” I squeaked.

Quote for the Week:2019 04 23 Resiliency adaptation jakorte

 

a skosh over…

So, I got to thinking…

Shocking, I know.

I had already determined that I have been blogging “A Year of Memories,” for more than a year.

I was curious, though, to figure out exactly how long it’s taken me to get to the part that started it all; the reason.

Not counting previous mentions of memories in the multiple runs prior to “A Year,” I’ve discovered it’s been way longer than I thought.

Shocking, also: my first post under this categorical title, was published…

September 29, 2015. At 9:08 PM, to be exact.

 

I didn’t know I had so many stories to tell. Short ones, long ones.

Funny, sweet, philosophical, melancholic.

182, in my unofficial skim. Mathematically, a skosh over 3.5 years.

Unbelievably, I have so many more.

Believably, I’ve nicely managed to keep putting off the inevitable.

 

There are going to be tears. There will need to be hindsight – without self-blame.

There will be horrific truths and horrifically funny, sometimes inappropriate, recall.

 

There will also be love.

Between every word. Within every line.

After the laughing. After the crying.

 

Stick with me. Stick with us. Stick with it.

I promise: we’ll get back to laughing, again.

 

Quote for the Week:

2019 04 09 for every tear a joy jakorte

 

 

Bystanding; Beside You

Little moments change us every day.

Mostly, we hardly notice; adjusting with a four-second, second-thought: next time I’ll…

It’s the tremendous moments that throw us. Moments so life altering, we clutch our chest, gasping it in. Release comes way too slowly; a barely audible woosh, because there are no words and there never will be.

Just as misleading as “A Year of Memories,” losses pile on.

a daughter, a father and husband, a brother, a mother and friend. pls, a closed head injury, stage 4 lymphoma, melanoma, and some sort of vague, obviously understated, emergency surgery I still don’t know enough about.

This is your year of firsts.

The first day, the first week, the first month. The first winter, spring, summer and fall. The first birthday, the first holiday, the first missed ritual. The first of many commonly ordinary, unspecial wishing days.

It’s ok. It marks time. It gives us a measured outline, a flowing structure. 

It’s ok to have an honest day;  especially, an honest holiday. 

Holes lives leave cannot be filled, cannot be fixed, and are not meant to be, anyway.

They’re yours – to have or to hold or to heal.

I just want you to know: you’re not alone.

I’m walking beside you, because, that’s what love leads to.

Quote for the Week:

2018 12 04 It's ok to have an honest day jakorte

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Happened.

When I finally realized it could happen, within our budget, within our time frame. I got to work.

I created flyers, postcards, judging guidelines, tasting labels and signs, decorated donation jars. I made sure we had my emergency event supply kit, as well as a first aid kit. I organized the program and timing of contests. We made many trips to the local dollar store for supplies and décor.

We recruited family and friends to work. The weather cooperated; the vendors showed up. Two of Jeff’s friends came from Ohio with one of those humungous dancing windsocks, and set that up. (There’s a story about these two, I also have to tell.)

When it was time for our live interview, Jeff came and found me. Carting two folding chairs, he walked me over to the outdoor radio set-up. He looked around, and snapped his fingers. Lifting one in the air, Jeff observed another seat would be needed, but first. he had to go check on something.

He wandered away as quickly as a wanderer can, and never came back. So, that’s how I ended up at the tech board, fielding questions about things I wasn’t 100% sure about and providing information, alone.

I didn’t really mind, and had no trouble doing it by myself, but when I asked Jeff what had kept him away, he sheepishly admitted he just hadn’t liked how he’d sounded when we’d recorded a small pre-spot at the radio station studio.

For as loud and happy as Jeff was, he shied away from spotlights. He loved parties, and loved planning. He just preferred to be one of the crowd; in among the people, where the action was.

The hot sauce eating contest began with only a handful of participants. That number dropped pretty quickly. Three rounds in, there were only two. The guy who became the second-place winner finally quit when his tears started to burn his cheeks. He walked away with $25.00. The first-place winner ridiculously took another spoonful hit as a ‘Victory Lap,” and then announced she was off to spend her $50.00 prize at El Chalupin (aka The Grasshopper) in Adrian for a Mexican dinner.

Jeff and pretty much everyone spectating, were astonished by that. I didn’t think it’d be worth it for anyone to go as far as they did. Chili-heads are a fierce, feisty and fun-loving bunch, devoted to fiery foods. The fiery food vendor and selling community were the most enthusiastic folks I’ve ever done business with. Jeff fit right in.

Many of our vendors were just as dedicated, just as friendly. I have many stories to share about them. That’ll be coming up.

Thought for the Week:

2018 11 20 Share your enthusiasm cultivate and curate jakorte

 

 

 

 

 

MIS: Second to Last (MIS-adventure)

While they were vampiring me for a suitable hydration vein, Jeff was happily wandering around looking at stuff.

By now, race start was only two hours away. I told Jeff he didn’t have to stay with me. “You should go watch the race,” I said sincerely. “Just come back and get me later.”

“You won’t be here that long,” the needle wiggler commented. “You’ll be outta here way before the race starts.”

I was starting to feel a little fuzzy, and wondering how that was gonna work, when Jeff found another staffer and pulled him aside.

These are the things I heard him say, before the vicodin fully kicked in.

“This is so cool!” he exclaimed to the other one.

“NONE of my friends have ever been in here. I’m the only one!” He sounded pretty pleased about my predicament.

“Hey! Is that blood?” referring to a spot on the floor. “Which driver is that from?”

It wasn’t from a driver. It wasn’t even blood; just a permanently stained splatter spot of some other sort.

Jeff was actually disappointed. “Awww,” he said. After a beat, and with some thought, he added, “Guess it’s kinda a good thing you don’t see too many drivers…”

“I was hoping you had a good story to tell me…” he continued. “Got any good stories?”

 “What else is here? Do you have an operating room? Can I take a tour, see everything else?”

Before I slipped into lala-land, I barked at Jeff. “Hey! Over here! I got a problem and you’re taking a tour!? Get over here and hold my hand!”

“Ok,” he agreed, “but, this really is cool!”

They sent me back to the infield (in a cart, I’m told) with a paper RX for Vicodin for when we got out and wishes for good luck.

I said I’d be fine, as Jeff headed off into the stands, ticket in hand. I mostly slept in the van with the cargo door splayed. I remember being happy about blankets, but, honestly, I’m not sure why. Not only are MIS race weekends usually hot, most times muggy, being in the middle of all that tire/tarmac and exhaust generated heat made it even hotter.

Some things are super clear. Other things… yeah, no.

I do know I wobbled a third of the way across the infield to the bathrooms twice on my own.  

Occasionally, I would notice people sitting nearby, but never thought much of it.

I later learned that Jeff’s friends next to us and some a few rows away had taken shifts to make sure I didn’t need help. One of the women had even followed me to the bathroom. I had no clue.

I don’t remember packing up the van, or leaving. I don’t remember how we got the van back to his Mom’s house, or how I ended up in bed at ours.

I do remember waking up around 9 PM and wondering what had happened.

Quote for the Week:

2018 08 28 it doesn_t take much for some people bad situation jakorte

 

The Daily List

I guess you could say, somewhere in the middle, I somewhat started on a weird winding road of acetic acceptance.  On the daily drive home, I used to think to myself, “I wonder if today’s the day I’ll get home and find him dead.” I decided I’d have enough of that scenario in my head. I felt it was time to let it out.  Time to ask for help.

I wrote a letter to some of Jeff’s friends and family. I’m surprised I don’t have a copy of that letter, but I don’t. I asked everyone to come see him, to tell him he was important, to see if they could convince him to take better care of himself, to stop chewing tobacco. I don’t know which came first, in a chicken or the egg sort of way – either I told him, or he found out about it.

It’s one of the few times I made Jeff really mad. He said I made him look stupid. I shrugged and raised my voice. “You are stupid! You’re not doing enough to help yourself.”

 It was also one of two times, I made Jeff cry. Tough love is tough on the person giving it, too. If he cried, I cried. If I cried, he’d try to cheer me up or make me laugh. Not exactly an even exchange, but, somehow, we’d both end up laughing.

He said the problem was that he was bored being stuck at home with nothing to do and no one to talk to. The meds made him foggy and mostly he just watched TV, or read, or spent hours at the computer. 

So, I started a daily Jeff list. Only 3 or 4 things that I’d like him to accomplish that day.

It wasn’t all chores. It was some mundane tasks, a few challenges, and some silly stuff.  I found a few of my lists in between orders in the store files. Don’t know if Jeff put them there on purpose or if they accidentally got filed away with paperwork. Some of the highlights were:

Launder bed sheets (I’ll put them on when I get home.)

Check the Power Ball #’s. (No one matched all 5 #’s, but I’ll take anything!)

Water plants (I love our garden!)

Don’t forget to check the NASCAR channel. Al Unser Jr. is expected to retire today.

Go through papers on the dining room table, please.

Call Kapnick’s and find out how much the sweet cherries will be. The sign says “place orders now.”

Research Michigan vendors who might sell us their hot sauce at wholesale.

Figure out what meds you need to re-order.

Wear socks! It will help the rubbing of your feet.

Call the doctor re: Anodyne machine

Defrost the chicken, so it will be ready to cook for dinner.

Set your alarm for med times.

Take naps often – feet up, please!

Quote for the Week:

2018 04 17 Routine jakorte