Today I am grateful for my husband, Terry. Today just also happens to be his birthday. So, for my fourteenth day of my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness‘ series, I will take you on a walk down memory lane.
I met Terry in the fall of 1983, just a few weeks after leaving home in Leavenworth County to attend college at Wichita State University. My first room mate in my dorm was a valley girl; seriously, she was from that infamous valley in Southern California. We couldn’t have been more different, but we made the best of it. She invited me out one weekend and we tried one of the local clubs called Backstage. Remember all that horrible pop music from the 80s … everytime I hear Lover Boy or Duran Duran or Def Leppard, I flashback to that night.
I wandered around while Jill fit right in. I ended up in the balcony, watching the lighted dance floor. A guy approached me and asked my name. I told him it was Jon. His immediate reply was ‘Don’t give me that shit.’ I was a bit taken aback by his aggresive response, but I was also used to people’s unbelief in my name. I whipped out my driver’s license, which I had placed in my back pocket, having left my purse locked in Jill’s Volkswagon bug. After a somewhat rocky start, we spent the evening dancing and talking.
Over the next few months, I got to know Terry very well. He took me out on his dirt bike to the motocross courses carved out of the Big Ditch by him and his buddies. I listened to him play his Ibanez Artist (the same one he still owns and plays) and his trumpet. I’m still amazed at his musical abilities, which he seems to have passed on to our daughter, Rachelle.
Three years after meeting Terry, we had our first child, Derek. By that time, we had moved in with his father, whose health was beginning to decline after years of smoking. We purchased a house in Benton (about twelve or fifteen miles east of Wichita) and soon after Rachelle was born. We spent several good years in Benton, until we discovered Terry’s health took a nose dive. After months of test and inconclusive diagnoses, a hematologist determined Terry had sarcoidosis, but not of the ‘normal’ variety which attacks most people’s lungs; rather, his variant attacked his kidneys.
Faced with the prospect of a chronically ill spouse who would probably need my help to cope, I felt I needed a support network or safety net to help with raising Derek and Rachelle. With the passing of Terry’s father in 1991, that left only his sister living within an hour of us. I had no family living in or near Wichita. I also knew I could make quite a bit more income moving to a larger metropolitan area like Kansas City.
I found a new job without too much stress or effort, but selling our house became a problem. Terry and Derek stayed behind in Benton. Terry single-handedly remodeled our one hundred year old farm house as best he could, while still suffering from the effects of his disease. Rachelle moved in with my parents and I worked a ton of hours, sleeping in my brother’s attic and visit my parents (and Rachelle) on the weekends. Finally, in the fall of 1997, we were reunited, renting a house in Lansing so the kids could attend school in that school district. We also ended up renting the Benton, House, since we could not find a buyer before Terry and Derek migrated north.
Terry soon found a job working for H&R Block’s call center in Lenexa. He steadily moved up the chain of command, but suffered the axe during a reorganization and lay offs in the early 00s. We did manage to find a beautiful home to purchase in Lansing and some nice automobiles (including a luxurious Buick Park Avenue Ultra and a nearly new Firebird Formula). Terry joined the local SCCA and won F stock in Solo II and Rookie of the Year.
Terry found local judo and jujitsu instructors for both Derek and Rachelle on post. He fully supported Derek as he competed locally, regionally and nationally as a judoka and in wrestling at Lansing High School.
We also joined a local church and eventually became the inaugural members of the praise band for the expanded contemporary service of that church. That endeavor forged a lasting friendship between Terry and the bass player, Sean. Even though neither of them play for that particular praise band, they still play together in their band WolfGuard.
We’ve come full circle now, with the children grown, off on their own, either married or still pursuing a college education. We’re left with the Rotts and a nearly empty house. Thanks to Terry’s previous experience in construction and at least two other remodels (his father’s house and our other house in Benton), he is once again putting his expertise to good use as we update our home in Lansing.
For a guy the doctor’s almost gave up on over fifteen years ago, he’s still kicking and still looking good. I thank God every day he’s still with me.