to dance, without music

Once I assured myself Jeff’s mask situation was secure, I headed to the other end of our house. Out of courtesy. I doubt my husband would have woken up if I’d exercised my option to use our en suite. Since he was solidly sleeping, I didn’t want to take the chance.

By the end of August 2019, with the help of Jeff’s Salsapalooza plan, our still relatively tiny store (although, comparatively, a mansion to our minuscule starter-store) had broken even YTD. We were unbelievably ecstatic knowing we’d be heading into the holiday season in great shape.

Yes, we’d have to work hard to keep the momentum going. Hopefully, we’d need to keep purchasing stock. The final quarter of 2006 could be significantly profitable, fuel the future of our business and solidify our dream.

With any luck, MHSC could conceivably close out non-red in just our third year.

Of course, we weren’t planning on letting it be a luck thing. We’d never leave it up to that. It would be a face-to-face, phone-to-phone, email-to-email, direct mailbox mail, somewhat prehistoric print, semi-regular radio, and weekly BNI thing.

That same year, we’d also created a postcard mailing advert for Jeff’s next fantastic idea – Sauce of the Month Club. We simultaneously debuted the program in our web-store.

When the very first participant signed up and purchased the plan on-line, it was a banner day.

Jeff was hilariously giddy, grinning from ear to ear. I was right there with him because he waited until I got home to tell me.

“You’re the first person I’m telling this to,” Jeff started out of the office, as I came in the front door. Opening his arms wide, he declared. “I wanted to celebrate this with just us.”

Without knowing what we were celebrating, I jumped in for a hug. Once he had me in his arms, Jeff began to dance. I followed his lead, without any music, while he explained.

I smiled up at my love, as we took waltzing steps. Without any music, I got to thinking. Jeff took one look at my face and figured out I was contemplating.

“Now, now, now,” he admonished, with over-dramatic fake seriousness. “Don’t worry about any of this,” he confidently continued, clasping our hands over his heart. “I already talked to the guy and it’s a present for his Dad.”

“We made a list of stuff he’d like!” he beamed. “And, get this… he might even get his Dad to come in with him to get it each month. So, we might not need to do any mailing!”

Quote for the Week: 2019 08 27 to dance without music jakorte

Around the Corner

I didn’t have to listen to AC/DC on the way home, either, but, I happily did.

Jeff was asleep before we even made it to the highway, not five minutes away. I was tired, too, so high-energy, head-banging was necessary.

It’s hard to fall asleep while scream-singing. Actually, I’ve never fallen asleep singing. I’ve never fallen asleep eating, for that matter.

Multiple trips from Nashville to Michigan, and back, were always well stocked. Eating M&M’s one at a time. Munching mini pretzels. Chocolate covered raisins, only on the overnight drives, to avoid messy melt.

Anyway, I had no food stuff for this short trip. I wasn’t hungry anyway, because we’d eaten. But, I did have Jeff’s chosen music that, historically, sounded best played loud. So, that is what I did.

Jeff slept through. He didn’t stir when we slowed. He didn’t notice when exiting where Interstate 94 meets US 223.

There were a few, follow-the-roadway-to-the-right, definite stay-awake curves to navigate on our usual route home. I’ve been looking at a map to try and match the terrain and the place logic.

It might have been near the Slee Highway intersection, or, might have been Gilbert Road – a little further down. I’d have to drive it again to be sure. Maybe, I’ll do that on some future western-to-northern excursion, just to pin point the memory.

If he’d been awake, Jeff would have probably launched into his habit of mimicking NASCAR announcers. “A- rrrround the corner we gooooo!” Jeff (also, sort of often) used the saying to express the notion that I’d cut a street corner a little close, for him.

Fair enough, since I almost amputated his already bleeding leg, that time I pulled into Herrick Hospital. Silly enough, even though he was totally zonked out, the lovingly familiar, would-be comment, floated around in my head.

It popped up out of nowhere on the approach; a double rainbow, though there hadn’t been any rain. At least, none that we drove through. Travelling 55 mph, in the time it took me to second glance, the sight had significantly changed.

I pulled over abruptly, but Jeff didn’t budge. I called out. I shook his shoulder. I yelled, and pushed some more.

Panicked, but not sure why, I resorted to louder stimuli. I blew the car horn three times, in quick succession, then, let one long loud one linger.

That sort of worked.

Quote for the Week:2019 08 12 It’s funny how the things people say linger jakorte

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

 

Thursday, By Appointment

In the beginning, we’d established Michigan Hot Sauce Club hours based on stock deliveries and peak times the mall was busiest. Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

Thursday was the day devoted to store-keeping. Parked in the fire-engine red and glittered, padded vinyl office chair behind the display counter, Jeff would scan new items into the register. Then, price label the goods, and find appropriate alphabetical space for each.

Not long in, we determined Thursday wasn’t going to be a big sale day. We downgraded to Thursday afternoon. Pretty quickly, realizing weekday sales were still rare, we decided to advertise, “Friday, Saturday, and Thursday by Appointment.”

I’d put the fear in him that check-ins were required, twice a day, or I’d freak out. That came about in response to a few incidents. One, notably, the time a physical therapist showed up for a home visit, and it appeared Jeff wasn’t home. After ringing the doorbell, knocking on the front and side doors, and phoning him, she called me.

She’d already looked in the front window and the office window. I asked her to please go around the side and peer into the den window by his chair. Thankfully, she did, reporting that she had knocked on the window and he hadn’t moved.

I begged her to, please, knock harder – as hard as she could. I told her I didn’t care if the siding was damaged or if the windowpane cracked. She whomped a few heavy-handed hits. That did the trick. Jeff’d been deep-sleep reclining in just his underwear.

Later, told me how embarrassed he was. I was more concerned that he’d missed the doorbell, the knocking and the phone ringing. I told him that he’d given me a panic attack. From here out, I demanded he always have his phone on the loudest setting possible, and that he keep it with him, at all times.

“Even in the bathroom?” Jeff joked, good-naturedly, rolling his eyes when I answered with an emphatic, “Yes!” I, also suggested, he should always be wearing pants or shorts. At all times. Especially, when he had appointments.

Thursday, September 29, 2006.

I worriedly called Jeff on my break at work. It was almost 10:00 am, and I hadn’t heard from him, yet.

It took me two, long-ringing tries to get him on the phone. When he answered, I immediately asked him, “Where were you?” “Morning constitution!” he quipped.  He told me he wasn’t “feelin’ too great,” and asked if I thought it would be ok if he took the new stuff down to the store on Friday.

I didn’t see a problem with that. We hadn’t had a Thursday sale in quite some time, and Friday mornings weren’t setting our profits on fire, either.

Jeff did end up bringing the boxes down that day, after lunch. He said he’d just had to force himself to “get on the giddy-up.”

Quote for the Week:2019 04 16 Adjustment is the key to almost everything 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

 

 

 

Snapping Turtle Spots

In his mind, he’d committed a grievous crime showing unusual temper. Per usual for Jeff, though, he found a humorous way to apologize.

Despite what the cute card said, his reaction wasn’t “for no good reason,” and the real crime wasn’t losing his temper.

Before we’d reached this point, before disability, and a long while after the honeymoon backseat-bottle incident, I saw a notice for a free mouth and throat cancer screening. 

I signed Jeff up. I was thinking ‘scared straight’ and ‘this is how much I care’ combined.

I’d already given him facts and articles. I’d already cajoled and nagged. I’d already yelled and cried. I was hoping a doctor could get him to quit, and offer a way to help him do that.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go that way.

He resisted, of course.

I insisted, of course.

We drove to Ann Arbor for the weekend clinic appointment. I accompanied him into the exam. When the doctor asked Jeff why he thought he’d need a screening, Jeff pointed. “It was her idea.”

I explained the chew and the diabetes and what I knew from internet-research. The doctor concurred, and said we could certainly talk about ways to quit after the exam.

The exam was brief. I mean, very brief. He asked Jeff how long he’d had dark spots on his gums, under his tongue and inside his lower lip. Jeff said he had no idea. There were many of them, but two in particular were large and concerning.

So concerning, that the doctor immediately halted his examination. He rolled away and bluntly reported: “I’m 99.9 percent sure what I’m looking at here is mouth cancer. You’ll likely have throat cancer, as well.”

We were stunned. He went on to explain that the only question was what type, which would determine the degree of aggressiveness. 

Turning to pull some supplies, he announced, “We’re going to biopsy those.”

“Now?” Jeff asked, echoing the panicked look I was aiming his way.  The answer was a firm, curt, business-like, “Yes. Right now. Is there a reason why you don’t want to do it now?”

“Nnnooooo,” Jeff drew out his answer, shaking his head.

He was advised to immediately stop tobacco use, and we were given a return appointment in 2 weeks. At that time, we would know what type of cancer Jeff had, and would be able discuss treatment options.

The timeline, itself, was an urgency marker – a 2-week turn-around. High priority. 

I drove us to a nearby restaurant, parked, took a deep breath and turned to Jeff in tears.

“Aw, might not be anything…” he waved it off. I stared at him in disbelief. “Did you not hear him?”

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” Jeff tried to reason with me.  “99.9% sure!” I countered, crying out. “Jeff! What are we going to do?”

“No sense in worrying about it for two weeks, yet.” Jeff turned his head away and looked out the window.

“Not gonna change anything…” he softly shrugged.

Quote for the Week:2019 02 05 Sometimes pushing a person to the edge jakorte2019 02 05 snapping turtle card jakorte

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