My dear cousin, Jay Mathews, passed away Sunday morning after a tortuous 3 year battle with cancer.
I – and his family & friends – are devastated. He gave without asking, told the same corny jokes as my Dad, and was enthusiastic about life. He grew up on the AuSable River, as all my cousins did. He was a hunter, a fisherman, He worked in every kinds of profession you could think of: lumberjack with Uncle Claude, septic (Honey Wagon), carpentry, Weyerhauser (which left his lungs a bit messed), tree trimming – a jack of all trades, and master of many things.
And since I have come back to Michigan and have my diagnosis he’s been a Knight in Shining Armor, calling me with the family gossip, dropping by. He was going to take me on a riverboat ride to revisit the places we grew up with: Oxbow, Camp Gingerquill, Canoe Inn (now Gates), it was to be glorious.
When I was hit with the Christmas ice & snow storms, he came to help not only me, but my neighbors dig. What he didn’t say is he’d just finished another round of chemo and radiation, and had a knee replacement. Looking back, as he broke thru the ice encrusted snowbanks, I can’t imagine the extreme pain he was in. But he said nothing.
And so, I guess I should not be surprised that he told his family to not let me know that he was dying, losing the fight. When we spoke not so long ago, I asked how he was doing, and he said, “Great news! No more chemo!” and I wondered about that statement as I had heard that from my Mom’s drs. But he assured me all was good, going on about how his baby grandsons were going to be moving in across the street from him.
We griped about Medicare & Social Security, we talked about retirement vs disability. Investments, stuff.
We talked about the loss of Bonnie Fieren’s husband, he assuring me even tho I couldn’t go to his funeral we were going to all get together for a summer picnic. The whole of the Wells’ Cuz clan.
I will miss you, Jay Jay. You left us too soon. I was too slow to gather us all together one last time. But I am grateful for these last 5 years, getting reacquainted. I love you, Cuz. I’ll see you a bit later.
Vicki – feeling sad.
I am so sorry that I haven’t been on the computer even Facebook for a month or two. I was writing one final email, and Cindy has not been well. So, I should have been there for you. I am still hanging on a string. But when she was in hosp-4 days, it was very evident that she did not want me there.
She has come lost weight from 150ish to 109! I pray every night for her. I wondering if I might become a Catholic or a Jew. Been to so many wonderful docs at Natl Jewish. I the was sitting in room with a friend of hers whom Catholic and asked her just how many beads are on the rosary. I told them about you. Then I told them about my younger brother, who hated the prayer–now I lay me down to go to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, If I die before I wake, bless Craig! and ever other that come to mind. My dad wrote me once, he said he does not think about me every day…but every few days. I loved my dad, and he was so honest! This is to say, Prebyterians are way too lax–but I do pray for you every so often. I think I told you that when we evaculated for the fire, it was your rosary that I wore, asking our Lord will be done. I am going thru the worst pain I have yet, I think I am losing her. But you my dear are in the greatest pain I have seen. Don’t count the days, but sometime soon I will call you. You are so precious, I have nothing to compare. If you want to talk before I call–email me your number and I will call you and even though I have not been able to talk to anyone, but my therapist. Today I know where I shall be united, and I plan on barrel racing on a big write horse to get there, Don’t submit this. Again, long term I still want to help others. I love you and always will. I have been blubbering. My sister came for 3-4 days and helped us unwrap many boxes. She left saying if you don’t stay with Cindy, I would have to move in with her!Whoa, that could never be! We have both been competing for the best town-crier. I won last week. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Two BFFs!! How honored I am and deeply touched by your outreach to me. I couldn’t be prouder that you have carried those rosary beads into battle. For me the comfort of the beads moving thru my hands stills the racing of my mind, the blur of my focus. I can still see them with you.
I am so fearful for you both, because your life pact is to be together thru the end. And now Cindy seems to be the sufferer and you her caregiver (a scary thing, eh?)
Jay and I got reacquainted about a year after my dx. And he got it. Text, then call. Often waiting a day or so for my response. Then one day he stopped in, and told me he had been diagnosed with throat cancer. In the years since there isn’t anything we haven’t shared. A dying person to a dying person, with the same fears, wonder, shock. Our conversations were like a confessional: “Do you think our moms could see us making love?”, “Do you think they are disappointed with how we’ve changed since their passing?”, what is a sin? What did we each think about heaven? and on and on.
And when each was backsliding, we would say “you cannot go before me!” and we’d pinky swear.
And I’m still here, living as you, Sue, way beyond our diagnosis, watching people we love passing away. And yet we are still here.
I get embarrassed now that I’m alive, at yet another funeral. Is that crazy? Maybe so. But I would have given my life for all my family that has died to save them, because I’ve been given so much more than I ever asked for.
I’m praying for you and Cindy. It breaks my heart.
All my love, Vicki
Papa, we sure could use some help here. For Jay, rest in peace. I know you did all you could to stay to see your twin grandsons. But you gave them a home right across from you and made sure they were taken care of. It sucks that God didn’t let you at least have one more year of remission, without surgeries or pains.
Sometimes there are days I just don’t feel like facing God. These days have been like that. There’s a long list I am taking if I get to those pearly gates, and they all begin with “why?”.
Love my Colorado girls. Hope to speak soon. Love & Blessings, Vicki