Saturday, January 27, 2007

Suzan Smith-Warren 9/08/55-1/28/06

I started to do this post with a sad picture DVD with a sad song in honor of my big sister, Suzan. Suzie passed away one year ago tonight from brain cancer. She suffered for a year and a half with it. She had a seizure on July 15th 2004 with my daughter in the car with her. Through the grace of God, Suzie was able to pull the car over and out of harms way. She then kind of zoned out and was just staring off into the distance. My daughter was able to get out of the car and go into a store and ask for help. She was never the same after that night. But I know Suzie, she would rather be remembered for the fun things she was involved in. So I'd like to share a few of my favorite times with her, with you.
Back in the 80's, Sue, my mom and dad and I formed a bowling team. We bowled together for a few years. Sue was more interested in not breaking finger nails than bowling strikes, but never the less we seemed to always win the first half of the league. The second half someone else would win and we would have a bowl off to crown a champ. We only won that once in about five tries, but there was this one time. Going into the last night of the first half, we were four games back and needed to win all the games that night to tie and force a roll off. We were told that the roll off, if it happened, would be the same night that we bowled. I was working at the Fresno Bee at that time and would go to work at 2AM, so I took the next day off knowing we would win that night. Sure enough, we won! Now for the roll off! But no, now we're told roll off sometime before the next week, but not that night. I was ticked. I wasn't gonna get paid for the day I took off and let it be known with the league secretary. She got upset and when asked what was wrong by another bowler she told him I upset her. This other bowler, all 300 LBS of him loudly proclaimed that he was gonna kick my a$$ for upsetting the secretary. My sister heard this and threw her bowling ball across the walkway and got in this guys face. Now my sister was all of 130LBS but she blasted that guy and he backed down. He never did say anything to me about what happened and ended up quiting the league. Don't mess with my big sister!
Suzie had a great sense of humor too. She was the quickest with the comebacks of anybody I ever met. I'm good but she blew me away. She would get laughing causing me to start laughing. The next thing I knew, we both would be laughing at nothing but unable to stop. Mention "Granny's water" and that would do it. We would be on the floor laughing! I don't even remember what was so funny about it, but we laughed. There was the time when I worked at Carls Jr ( a fast food place ) and was working the drive through. When a person came thru and gave a order, everyone in the back would hear it, not just the person taking the order. When she came through this one time, I gave the "Welcome to Carls Jr" speech and asked her what she would like. She said "A big order of you, baby!" Back then, there was only a black and white TV screen showing the front of the car in the drive through, so I had no idea who it was. I got flustered, but being the professional, went on as if nothing had been said. She continued to say clean, but provocative things on the speaker and by the time she came around to the window I was blushing. When she arrived, everybody in the back had come to the window to get a look at the chick that was so hot for me. She got a good laugh out of that!
She had done something along that same line one day when I was in 9th grade. She had a black camero and picked me up from school one day. She had the T-tops off and when she pulled up in front of the school and honked the horn and called to me, "Baby! Here I am!!" Now there is a lot that will happen to boys just hitting puberty when they see a hot older woman (all of 20 years old) putting her arm around a guy and giving him a big smack on the cheek then peeling out in front of the school. Lets just say I heard a lot of "Who was that? Is that your girlfriend? She's hot!!" Never did confess she was just my big sis.
Suzie had such a huge part in forming the person I became. I'm a Beach Boy fan because of her. I enjoy racing because of her. I love the beach because of her. Even after she married and moved out, she always had special time for me. When I lived at the coast and my Bronco broke down, she loaned me her truck for a week because she could get by, but I needed a vehicle so as not to loose my job. The time I had a broken ankle and was going to a Christmas formal, she gave me her Camero to use to impress the girl. It was tough just to drive with the ankle, but she thought enough of me to trust me with her car and she loved that car! She just loved me more!
Thank you Suzie for all the times we had. The places we went, the talks we had and all the laughs. There will never be another that fills that place in my heart. I look forward to the day when I once again get to hear you say, "I love you, little brother!", cuz I love you too!!!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Let's go Surfin!

Took my life in my own hands this weekend, taking seven kids to the beach. January is really one of the bests times to go to the beach as the weather is usually pretty good and not much wind. Now for those of you that don't have a real ocean near by (no Mike. Lakes, no matter how big, don't count) I gotta feel sorry for you. There is nothing else like hearing the crash of the waves, smelling the salt in the air and seeing the girls...uhhhh, I mean kids playing in the sand! Every time we go there, I never want to leave.
Anyway, the kids went boogie boarding and had a great time. Even if the water would have froze Leonardo DiCaprio faster than a sinking ocean liner! They had a great time, as did Yvette and I. Our next trip, she and I would like to take our horses and stay overnight at the Madonna Inn. Ridding into the sunset on the beach. Can that get any better?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Top Ten

I have to admit, I saw this on another blog and am stealing the idea. But it looks like fun! So all of you who read this (yeah probably just Mike) list your top ten! It's just a fun top ten of the things you like, things that make you smile. So comment away and if you don't have a blog account, enter other or Anonymous!

Ok, here are my top ten! (where is Letterman when ya need him?)

Leaving out the "givins" like family, friends, and The Big Cowboy in the sky,

10) that campfire smell

9) getting really lost in a good movie and wondering where the time went when it's over

8) getting into bed with clean sheets right after taking a shower

7) sitting on my horse, looking at the mountains, both of us content

6) going on "adventures" with my wife

5) getting to brag that I lead my Babe Ruth team in my last year, my church softball team, and the last softball team I played on (most of the kids were in their mid 20's I was 43 years old) in home runs! (ok, so it was only one each year but hey it was one more than anyone else had!)

4) the t-shirt I received from the Little League team I coached that won just 2 games all year, but what a great group on 8 year old kids! The shirt has the team picture on it.

3) seeing a father cry when he watched the DVD of the photos I took at his daughter's wedding. (he was happy! not thinking I spent all that money on this!!)

2) relaxing in the hot tub with a beautiful blond! (yes my wife is blond)

1) watching my wife when she doesn't know it. Man, she is beautiful!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever!"

My beautiful wife, Yvette, is starting her training for the 3 Day Walk for breast cancer. The picture above, is the shoes I got her for training for the walk. She's such a Oakland A's fan, I had them made special with the green and gold.
She will be walking 60 miles in 3 days, this time in San Diego in mid November. It's a very emotional thing for her to do, as she has had many loved ones touched by this awful disease. She walks for them and for the many who will be diagnosed with it in the future. In her last walk, she endured shin splints, lost toe nails, and pain like she had never felt before. She walked in the cold fog of San Francisco, up hills and through rain. Was it worth all the pain and would she do it again? In her own words from the diary she kept.

"YES!! It was an experience I will never regret or forget! What did I learn? I learned that people CAN make a difference. I learned that no matter how small a part I played in this, I was & am a part in finding a cure! I learned that I can go on, I can take one more step, I can make a difference & I have the courage and the strength to do it!"

Yvette, you are truly my hero!

Looking Back

While doing some cleaning this morning, I came across the baby book of my step-son Jayson. Jayson was 10 months old when I first met him. He was living with the young lady that would later turn out to be my first wife, Debbie.
Leafing through this book brought a flood of memories back. Seeing pictures of him as a baby, toddler, and young man and remembering the places that we lived and visited were tough sometimes. There was a picture of him and I at the beach (see above) at Santa Cruz and another of the two of us at Yosemite on a very cold day. There were also a few pictures of his mom, him and me. How long ago they seemed to be. Debbie was so young in those days, but then she was only 22 years old. I often feel cheated when I think of her. Not so much for myself, but for the children she left behind. (For those of you that may not know, she died of leukemia in 2001. We were married for just over 10 years.) There are times when the three that I had with her, Archie, Tyler and Cheyanne, have a rough go of it, but Yvette has done a fantastic job at walking the line between being the mom and not replacing Debbie. I wish I could do as good a job with Joshua as she does with my three.
Debbie had another son, before Jayson. She had him when she was 16 years old. She never talked too much about him, I believe it hurt too much. She had a rough childhood and at that point in her life, she would do anything to get out of the house, including getting pregnant. So she did. She had a boy and put him up for adoption. He would be around 24 years old today, and I have no idea where he lives. In the back of my mind, I hope he somehow can find me. I'd like to tell him about his mother someday.
And that brings me back to Jayson. He and I have had a bit of a rocky time of it the past eight years or so. While Debbie was sick, I kept her home so she could be with her children. It meant a lot to her and also to the kids, but that meant that I had to rely on Jayson to help sometimes with her. He had to do things that no kid should ever have to do, and for that I'm really sorry. I know it was hard on him as it was for me too. After she died, Jayson's father took him from his two brothers and his sister to live with him and his family. Jayson also has a couple of brothers from his father. His father and Debbie were never married. I have always felt it was a money thing, Jayson would receive survivor benefits and there would be no more child support to pay. That's not to say that I don't believe that Jayson wasn't loved, I do. But believe it was mostly about the money. Jayson was not allowed to come over to my house to visit his brothers and sister, nor was he allowed to even call. If my kids, or myself called there, we were told that he wasn't home and he would be given the message. He never returned a single call.
All this sounds very sad, but out of the blue, I received a call from his father telling me that we were invited to Jayson's graduation from middle school to high school. We went and saw him graduate. After that, when the kids would call, he would be home and get to talk to them. We went to his high school grad in 05 and he came to Suzie's funeral with his step-mother. He stayed for a few hours with the family and then called and asked if Archie and him could go to a movie the next weekend. They did. So things have gotten a little better. Cheyanne still misses him dearly,and he keeps telling her that they will do something together, but still haven't, but I have hope.
Some day I hope to be able to spend a few hours with him, just the two of us. I would like for us to go through his baby book and his box that holds all the stuff from his childhood, that I still have up in the closet. I'd like to talk to him about his mother and about he and I. About living at the coast and special memories I have of just him. I hope that day comes.