Aloha!

Patty in the Wai'oli Hui'ia Christian Church in Hanalai.

If you remember sometime back in an earlier post when Patty was in the throes of chemo, we made the decision that we were going to make our yearly trip to Kauai in 2011 come hell or high water!  Well… we did it!  We just returned from eight amazing days in Kauai!  I thought of putting up a post the night before we left but it dawned on me that wouldn’t be too smart.  Why would I tell the world that we’re going to be away from our home for 8 days?  Being an ex-cop… I should know better than that!

We left bright and early on last Tuesday morning, June 21st.  Patty’s sister Dottie was so generous to donate some of her frequent flyer miles to the cause and flew us both First Class to Kauai and back!  What a treat!  A treat to see what the “others” have!  I mean… wide seats… leg room… real food with real silverware… real cloth napkins… oh and did I mention free drinks?  Champagne… mimosas… more champagne… more mimosas!

I’m going to try to keep this post brief and will elaborate more in future posts, but we had such a good time!  Some highlights… a condo with a lanai overlooking the ocean…

We woke up to this sunrise our first morning. Gorgeous!

We somehow ended up at a Kapa’a Rotary Wine and Pu Pu party and felt like wedding crashers…  Only us… but we had a ball!

The server took this picture for us. Everyone behind us knows each other... we just showed up for the wine and pu pu's!

One night we ended up in a local’s bar (that our Hanalai pastor recommended)… This is another story!

I couldn't miss the opportunity to take this picture of Patty hanging out at the Tahiti Nui Lounge in Hanalei with a "local"! She almost looks "local", or is it "loco"?

This trip was to celebrate several things; first of all we celebrated Patty’s one year cancerversary on June 22nd.  Second, we celebrated our 17 wedding anniversary on the 25th.  Since this past year has been such a trial for us, we felt this anniversary was special… it was a new start for us.  As such, we renewed our vows in the Wai’oli Hui’ia Church in Hanalai on Saturday, June 25th.  The Pastor, Ahu Alpha Goto performed an amazing traditional Hawaiian ceremony.  He’s a really cool guy and from what we heard at the Tahiti Nui, he’s one of the best surfers on the north shore of Kauai.

Here's a picture of the historic church.

There are so many blanks to fill in, but I wanted to keep this post short.  The bottom line is we had an amazing trip… just what the doctor ordered.  We were finally able to relax and take a week away from cancer.  Yes, cancer was an occasional subject of conversation, but the topic of vacation and relaxation came up more.

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Happy Father’s Day!

My dad!

Sadly I lost my dad three years ago.  I guess I shouldn’t say “sadly” because he lived to the ripe old age of 94!  Come on, I hope I can live that long and still have all my senses about me.  He was sharp until the day he passed.  His body just wore out.

I have so many great memories with my dad.  He was the king of the “one liners.”  I remember one day talking to him on the phone.  He was probably in his mid 80’s.  Out of the blue he said: “Ed… do you believe in the hereafter?”  I thought he was getting deep and responded:  “I guess I do.”  Not realizing he just set me up for the zinger, he came back with: “I keep going into the bedroom wondering what the hell am I here after!”  Zing!  He got me.  Another time I was telling him that Patty and I started walking regularly.  He returned with:  “Remember, I used to walk four miles a day when I was in my 70’s.  (Ok, here comes the zinger…) Then I found a shortcut!”

He was “older than most fathers when I was born.  He was 42.  I was a surprise.  Having a father that was older than my friends fathers bothered me when I was young.  I was 12 with a 54 year old dad and all my friends dad’s were in their late 30’s and early 40’s.  But his age didn’t stop him from being my dad!  He was always involved in whatever activity I participated in.  He was my baseball coach for every team I played on.  He never turned down an opportunity to toss the baseball around in the back yard.  Not only was he my baseball coach for years, I look back and he was also my life coach.  He taught me right from wrong and instilled a sensitivity in me that I’m so thankful for.

My dad had a unique was of showing disapproval and discipline.  It was the “look.”  He didn’t have to raise a hand to me, he’d just have to give me “the look.”  If I got the look I knew it was time to stop whatever it was I was doing.  My dad did spank me one time.  I was young, around 5 years old or so.  My mom caught me and a friend playing with matches.  She was more the disciplinarian in the house.  But this time she deferred to dad to handle the dirty work.  My dad came home from work and she met him with: “Joe… I caught Eddie and Max playing with matches today!  You need to spank him!”  My poor dad.  I know he didnt’ want to spank me.  He really didn’t.  But, mom gave him the orders and he had to carry it out.  He took me into the bedroom and very formally said: “Drop your pants.”  I was already crying without any formal spanking because I knew I had let him down.  He sat in a chair and told me to lay across his lap.  Then in a sad voice he said: “Son, this is going to hurt me more than it’ll hurt you.”  He swatted me two times.  He didn’t hit me hard at all, but enough to make his point.  I remember it like yesterday.

My dad was so proud when I became a cop.  I’ll never forget the big hug he gave me when I graduated from the police academy.  It was a hug like I’ve never had from him before.  He was so excited when I started work that he bought a police scanner so he could listen to me when I was working.  He was the first to call me when my shift ended to get the dirty details on some kind of exciting call I responded to. He never missed a shift.  He’d even go to bed with the scanner on when I worked graveyards.  I’m sure my mom just loved that!  I was able to take dad on some ride-along’s.  He loved it!  I remember one night dealing with two drunks who were fighting in an alley.  Dad wanted to help me break it up but I made him stay by the car.  I sent one drunk in one direction and the other in a different direction.  Things never go as planned and of course, as one of the drunks wanted to challenge me and prove to me how tough he was.  Before anything happened, I was able to give him a face first resting position on the hood of my patrol car while I handcuffed him.  I remember glancing up at dad, and there he stood leaning on the open passengers door, with the biggest grin on his face as if saying “that’s my boy!”

This is something… I can feel a lump in my throat as I’m writing this!  I do miss my dad.  You don’t realize it until they’re gone.  It’s been a little over three years since he passed and there’s hardly a day when I don’t think of him.  Funny, about a week ago I was in the kitchen and I thought “I should give dad a call!”  Damn… I don’t have his new number!

So today, if it’s at all possible, give your dad a big hug and tell him that you love him!

“I could have sworn…”

Here's Patty and Avery at the Susan Komen salute to breast cancer survivors at Petco Park.

“I could have sworn my lymph nodes were swollen!”  That was Patty’s comment as we left her oncologist’s office this morning.  (by the way, have I ever told you that this woman just kills me!)

Patty had her six month follow-up with her oncologist this morning.  Needless to say, the past 48 hours have been filled with Patty’s anxiety of this pending appointment.  48 hours ago wasn’t too bad but as the appointment grew closer, so did her anxiety.  I think this is a normal reaction of anyone who has been through countless doctor appointments, tests, poking and prodding here and there and learning they’ve been diagnosed with a life threatening disease.  I’m sure this anxiety will be a precursor to every appointment from now forward.

Bottom line to today’s appointment… drum roll please… she’s doing great.  The oncologist is very pleased with how Patty is doing and how she looks.  The oncologist even said that Patty “looks healthy!”  What a good feeling.

Poor Patty… I know she agonized over this appointment and was certain that the cancer had returned.  Not that she’s been experiencing any symptoms or anything like that, it’s just the games that the mind plays.  The next appointment is in July with the pulmonary doctor to do a chest x-ray.  I know we’ll go through more anxiety, but you know what?  Patty is a very strong woman who will ace that test with flying colors!

Tomorrow is a big day for Patty.  She is meeting with her hair stylist to put some color on her grey hair.  She’s really excited.  I’ll post a picture for you tomorrow afternoon!

Hope…

Wow!  Can you believe it’s already June!  Where did this year go?

We’ve been pretty busy.  Looking back to Memorial weekend, we did the usual barbecue’s with friends.   We stayed up way too late two nights of the weekend which really made me realize that we’re not in our 20’s anymore.  It takes days for us to recover after being up past midnight!   Doing that two out of three nights is painful!  That’s just wrong!  How did I get old?

We received some bad news the other day about a friend of ours who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and cancer of the liver.  For Patty and me, learning this news hit way too close to home.  Everything we went through over this past year came back to us.  I just had this sickening feeling in my stomach when I heard the news, similar to the one I felt when I learned the news about Patty. Patty felt the same.

Our friend and her sister are very close… they live just blocks from each other and do pretty much everything together.  This will be a difficult road for her, but she is a very strong woman.  I’m confident that the support system between her and her sister, her husband, family and friends will help her on her journey.

I talked with a man I know about six months ago who was asking about Patty.  This was back when Patty was in the throes of chemo.  I told him she was doing as well as could be expected at the time.  He shared a story with me that he said he hasn’t told many people.  Two years ago this coming August, he was diagnosed with liver cancer.  He said it was bad and the doctors told him since it had spread pretty much throughout his liver, that there wasn’t anything they could do for him other than make him as comfortable as possible.  The prognosis was not good at all as they predicted he’d live for another six months at most.  He said it took a while but he finally accepted their prognosis.  Even though he accepted it, he didn’t give up researching any possible treatments to buy him some time.  He told me his research revealed a doctor at UCSD Medical Center who was trying a new technique for people with liver cancer.  He met with the doctor as soon as he could.  The doctor told him that people could survive with only 27% of their liver.  The liver regenerates itself and, in time, can re-grow back to its original size.  He told me he had nothing to lose so they scheduled his surgery.  The doctor removed 70% of his liver, taking the cancer with it.  Long story short, here he is, 22 months out of surgery, his liver has grown back to 100% of its original size and he’s cancer free!  Amazing story!

Cancer has been in the backseat of our lives for a couple of months now.  It’s not the first topic of discussion for us.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s brought up pretty much every day, but it’s not the main topic, until we learned of our friend.  Learning of her diagnosis brought cancer back into the forefront.  Like I said, it hit too close to home.  Patty told me the other night that if there was one thing she learned through her battle, it’s that life can be unexpectedly taken away from you in a second.  It can be taken away by cancer… taken away by a tornado like the poor people in Joplin,Missouri… taken away on your daily drive to work. You never know.  This may sound a bit cliché but it’s so easy to take life for granted.  Most of us have our health other than a few new aches and pains we feel when we hit our 50’s.  We have our family and friends who are all doing well. It’s just the way it is… day in and day out.  As a result, we get complacent about life and take it for granted.  Patty said once you face a life threatening disease, it all changes.  You appreciate everything!

I guess what I’m saying is that there is always hope.  Never lose sight of that!  Hope is the trust that circumstances in the future will be better.  It’s not a wish that things will get better, but an actual belief and trust in God from deep within your heart, even when there may be no evidence that anything will change.  Only God knows the outcome of each and every one of our lives.  We just need to believe in Him and have hope and faith for a positive outcome.  It all comes down to God’s will.

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26