A Jeff Day

We had an awesome visit, laughing and listening to Jeff stories; g-rated versions, revised for the one, single-digit aged member of his audience. Covering youth into adulthood, he regaled us, and our impressionable-aged nephew, with hilarious MIS and other misadventures.

Falling asleep in the bathroom for hours, being so unruly his brother and buddies stuffed him into a race tire. How his Mustang got totaled without his help, sitting on the front lawn with a for sale sign, in park.

Jeff recounted having fun jamming his buddies (all the same size and stature) into a tiny Fiesta. Driving to Ohio, for bowling and drinking and a breakfast they called, “a heart attack on a plate.”

He’d said that he’d consume a pound of bacon, a loaf of toast, and a half-dozen eggs. I’m not sure that part wasn’t a bit of an exaggeration. Although, I don’t have any doubt it was a necessarily-big, semi-sobering meal before the return drive home.

“Don’t do that.” Jeff said when he told this particular story. “Don’t drink and drive. We’re lucky we’re all still alive.”

All of these stories, I knew well. I enjoyed them, because he was enjoying himself. It was so much fun to watch others hear them for the first time.

Jeff would end each hilarious story, endearingly, with a serious advisement. “I tell you this,” he’d said to our nephew, numerous times. “I tell you this, so you know what not to do!”

Reminiscence is therapeutic. Sometimes. Sometimes, not. I found myself sadly wishing that everyone could have had a last “leave them laughing” day with Jeff like this one.

Paused, sweet revelation allows me to gift you this tear-drying truth:

This Jeff day was like any other – truly, like every other. Filled with stories and laughter; wisdom and care.

No matter who you are, no matter when that last day was, every single person who ever knew Jeff  had a last Jeff day – exactly like this one.

Quote for the Week: 2019 08 06 It’s a rare person who doesn’t leave behind jakorte

Not Napping Music, Not

The same evening, between other commercials, I addressed the schedule for our up-coming weekend plans.

We were closely booked, which would require a bit of running. Over the past few weeks, we’d canceled a few social outings.

Among those, one was an overdue family visit. One was a much anticipated ‘meet the baby’ date. We’d previously discussed rescheduling the baby outing for Saturday evening or Sunday after church. When I asked Jeff if he’d been able to arrange it, he said he’d been thinking about that.

“Maybe, Saturday at lunch time, would be better,” he hemmed.

“We can’t, tomorrow.” I answered, quickly, shortly.

Jeff’s brow furrowed.

“We’re going to Lansing, tomorrow.” I reminded him.

“Well, huh.” Jeff scrunched his lips to the side, and puffed out one cheek. “Maybe, we can reschedule that for when I’m feelin’ better?”

“We’ve already canceled, twice.” I pointed out. “We can’t to cancel, again. Besides, the store is already covered for tomorrow.”

It wasn’t always easy to find someone willing to tend shop by themselves for an entire day. We’d already cancelled our scheduled helper’s shift, once, too.

“Mmm… maybe, you can go without me, this once…?”

“Absolutely not!” I popped back. “I’m not going without you.”

I missed my cousin’s wedding in Georgia, because Jeff simply couldn’t make the trip. The advice I received from a non-family member was that he was a big-boy and he could take care of himself for a weekend. I stood my ground that time, too, and refused.

I was terrified enough; always wondering each weekday, if that day would be the day. I can’t even imagine what would have become of me, if I had left Jeff for a weekend, and Jeff had left me forever that weekend.

I badgered my continued opinion. “You can sleep in the car on the way up, and back. It’s what you’d be doing at home, anyway.”

Jeff sat there, lips pressed, two cheeks puffed out.

I’m not even sure he was trying to come up with an argument, but in case he was, I enticed and cajoled. “You can pick the music.” I stated, with unarguable finality, “even if you’re gonna sleep through it all.”

That got a smile. “AC/DC, it is!” Jeff crowed.

“You realize, that’s not really napping music.” I conveyed; fair point.

“Yeaaahhhh,” he wheezed on purpose, followed by a sinister Mutly laugh.

“Maybe, I’ll bring Kid Rock, too. I can sleep through anythin’ and one of us has gotta stay awake for the drive!”

Quote for the Week: 2019 07 23 your people will understand if you can’t make jakorte

 

Not, yet, we haven’t!

Before I made it back to the kitchen, the phone rang, again.

Jeff grabbed that call, too. Another one-sided conversation commenced.

“Oh, hi! How are you?” he greeted, warmly.

“When’s that?”

“Oh, on the 6th? Well, that’s our anniversary. Let me check…”

“Hey, they’re takin’ pictures for the church directory,” Jeff shouted out to me. “They wanna know if we can get our photo done next Friday. We don’t have anything planned, do we?”

“Not, yet, we haven’t.” I answered. “What time is the latest appointment? Probably can’t get there before 6.”

“Didja hear that?” Jeff asked the caller. “Ok. 6 o’clock, it is. What’s that?”

His voice swelled with happiness and pride; his answer booming out of a mile-wide smile. “We’ve been married 5 years!”

“Not, yet, we haven’t!” I shouted back.

“Didja hear that?” Jeff guffawed. “She said, not yet, we haven’t.”

I wonder what the other person’s impression was of my retort. To Jeff and I, it was a silly, humorous complaint and retort. A full-swing, fast-paced verbal dance, we often threw at each other. It stemmed first from frustration, and later, my fear.

Years before, Jeff had either done something I had asked him not to, or hadn’t done something I had asked him to do. Whichever it was, my ending escalated to, “You keep that up and we’re not gonna make it to our 5th anniversary!”

I continued to use it, after that. Sometimes, joking. Sometimes, not.

I used it when he’d come back from the kitchen with a bowl of ice cream, never having asked me if I wanted some. I used it when Jeff accidentally said something that could be hilariously misconstrued as a complaint, but very much wasn’t.

I used it after philosophical discussions, when we could not find a common ground. I used it when things didn’t quite go the way I wanted. I used it when he’d joke with a waitress that I needed a whole ‘nother day to look at the menu. I used it to emphasize the damaging stupidity of chewing tobacco. I used it, creatively, in countless ways.

No matter which way it went, though, Jeff’s reply followed formula, too. It always started with, “You wouldn’t be so lucky!”

It always ended with a variation of a good-natured, extended promise. “I’m gonna live ‘til I’m 80! You’ll see.” “I’m gonna live so long, you’d wish you’d gotten rid of me.” “I’m gonna be botherin’ you for a long, long time, Wort.”

I don’t doubt the person on the other side of the phone knew we were kidding. I just wonder if  our conversation ever crossed their mind, again.

Quote for the Week: 2019 07 02 Some inside jokes are easy to explain jakorte

More Brewing

More Friday, September 29, 2006.

So, back to this particular day. Over unrushed, non-churdled coffee, I asked how Jeff was feeling. He told me he must be getting better, because he felt pretty good. He was less tired than he had been for the last few weeks.

We had a quick conversation about maybe buying a cappuccino/espresso maker and a popcorn machine for the store. His targets, he’d explained, were the massage and hair salon clientele. He figured there was usually a person or two waiting, and the smells would be tempting. Plus, it’d make the whole place a little better on those extra hot summer days when the wind drifted in, confirming evidence of the adjacent farm.

“And…” he preened. “I already looked and they’re not that expensive.”

It was a creative and very cute idea. I knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as he thought; I saw issues. I brought up food licensing guidelines. Jeff immediately responded that we already had our food handler certification. I pointed out that preparing food to serve as opposed to just opening a jar of salsa and handing someone a cracker wasn’t on the same level.

I tasked Jeff with finding out if there was even piping for water available for our store. My optimist said that wouldn’t be a problem. If there wasn’t, we could just increase our water delivery for brewing. I countered; how would we clean up or clean our equipment?

“We can use the salon sink. I already talked to the owner, and she likes the idea of coffees.” Jeff offered, smiling proudly. He’d done some leg-work on this.

“With the hair dyes and bleaches?” I questioned. “I have a feeling that would be a bad idea, even if somehow it was approved by the licensers.”

Jeff tugged his ear, reasoning aloud. “Well, there’s always the bathroom sink.” I asked him to check on that, too.

I told Jeff I thought it was a great idea, but we had to see if it was workable.

Getting up to leave, I had another question for him. “Do you even know how to use one of those machines?”

“Nope.” He replied, with confidence. “But, we can always learn it at home, first.” That typical Jeff answer made me giggle.

With a quick kiss, we mutually advised each other to ‘have a good day.’ Then, I was out the door.

Quote for the Week: 2019 06 04 when asked if capable jakorte

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.”

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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

 

Dog Gone, Repeat

It was more than a little bit my fault. I was going for the mail, when our mischievous little bit darted through the door on a Saturday afternoon. She silently slipped behind me, which was amazing, as she was an unusually heavy-footed pup. Stealth really wasn’t her style.

Sadie had slyly wedged herself against me as I  turned the door knob. I looked down at her adorable face and foolishly said, “Stay.” I don’t know why I thought that would work. Never had in the past.

She took it as an invitation to tag along. Sadie pushed through the slight crack, pranced down the drive, t turned a hard right without hesitation.

By the time I got to the street edge, she was out of my sight. I forcefully bellowed her name, hoping she’d hear me. It’s safe to assume most of the neighbors heard me, because Jeff showed up at the door.

Coming out of the house, he called down to me. “Why’re you calling her? Is she with you?”

I wailed the obvious. “No! She ran away!” Then, quickly requested, “You try calling her!”

Instead, Jeff did an about-face and headed back inside. “Let me get my shoes!” he tossed back-over his shoulder.

“Ugh! You don’t need shoes to shout!” I shouted, as the door closed behind him.

Left on my own, I started scouting for Sadie. Within seconds, I spotted her sneaky spots squeaking between two houses on the other side of the street. I headed that direction, only hesitating to glance toward the house when I heard the front door slam, again.

Jeff had wandered back outside, with a firm grip on his car keys and slippers on his feet.

Sadie heard the slam, too. She took off at a sprint, again, heading around the curved corner of our street.

“Argh! I think she’s just gone around the corner!” I informed my husband, assuming he was going to track her down by circling the neighborhood.

He didn’t. Instead, he just stood there next to our old beige Buick, repeatedly hitting the lock button. I surmised he was just having some sort of bumble trouble. But, I was wrong.

The car horn beep-blasts served as a Sadie beacon. She showed up panting and smiling. Just sat her cute little butt down by the driver’s door. Ready and waiting, eagerly watching Jeff.

“Whelp….’ Jeff tossed the keys from one palm to the other. “We need to go for a ride, now.”

“Um, no, we don’t.’ I countered. “Let’s not reward her for running away.”

“Oh, no.” Jeff shook his hands and head. “We’re not rewarding her for running away! We’re rewarding her for coming back!”

When it was obvious I wasn’t immediately following his train of thought, he clarified. “It’s happened before.”

Narrowing my scowl, I put my hands on my hips preparing to ask how it was that I didn’t know of this before, even though I knew the answer.

Before I could formulate an appropriate scorn, Jeff added an addendum.

“Besides,” he reasoned. “It’s a good day for an ice cream, anyway.”

I processed his Jeff-logic and realized the rub. Sadie knew what would happen if she wandered. Jeff knew what would happen if she wandered. That explained her carving a familiar path, and matched his lack of concern. They both waited patiently.

Of course, the ice-cream tricked worked on me, as well.  I laughed at them both, then headed inside to get my purse.

Those two were made for each other, and made for me, too.

Quote for the Week: 2019 04 02 a pleasurable punishment encourages repeat jakorte