This is a story of the most influential and inspirational person in my life, my wife Jodi, who was my best friend, my rock, and my traveling companion; the love of my life suddenly passed away on March 31, 2016 at the age of 60. This fantastic lady was shared with me by the grace of god, I will miss her; she was the spark of light in my life. I post this as a remembrance of the love she had for family, life, traveling, and giving to others.
She was born in 1956 in Los Angeles and grew up in the Los Angeles, CA area living in the same house through elementary, junior and high schools.
Married before I was lucky enough to find her, she gave birth to 2 great kids, a daughter, now 36, and a son, now 35, 15 months apart. They had moved to Las Vegas for her then husband’s job and that is where Jodi had her first encounter with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). This is a genetic abnormality in the DNA that affects her lungs, pancreas and more. During her sons birth she got very sick and the doctors started testing her to find out why. After many negative results they finally found she had CF and was told she only had 6 months and not more than a year to live as she had already outlived the life expectancy of the disease for her birthdate.
Well her strong willed nature said NO, I have 2 small babies under 2 and will not leave them. She and the kids left Las Vegas to come back to Southern CA to meet with the CF Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, one of the few CF clinics in southern California where they took care of her for years with medicine, home IV’s and short hospital stays. In later years we were heart broken to hear CHOC’s adult center was delisted as an adult center for CF but we fortunately found an excellent caring CF team at Keck-USC Teaching Hospital in Los Angeles who took care of her for the past 8 years.
We found each other, in of all places, a weekly advertisement supplement called the Penny Saver. She and some friends got each other to place ads in the Match Maker section, the predecessor to Internet dating. Well I was single for 5 years from a previous marriage and 2 sisters at my work kept placing the Penny Saver on my desk open to the Match Maker section. I pooh poohed it but they persisted. I went out a couple of times with several ladies and what losers they were. I gave up dating but the sisters persisted, thank goodness, and I finally took another Penny Saver home and called one ad that caught my eye. I called the number to hear a prerecorded message, by Jodi, that stated she rode motorcycles loved to camp and travel, and had 2 kids about the same age as my son, now 35. I left my name, number and a short message that when I hung-up I thought oh that was terrible, I must have come off as a duffus.
Well I must have made an impression as she called back and we set a blind date at the Red Robin Restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA. She said her kids had a baseball game in the late afternoon and would meet me after the game. I showed up and waited and waited, she was late but something inside of me said WAIT LONGER. This was before a cell phone so there was no way to get ahold of one another. She showed up 45 minutes late very apologetic as the kid’s games ran a lot longer than normal in extra innings and she was still in her casual clothes from the game. Well I was glad she showed up and we went in to eat. Well this is a casual burger restaurant and we both had big juicy messy burgers and had a great conversation. After the meal we continued our talk and she gave me her phone number to call her for another date.
Well the next day she called me and asked to go out as she felt bad about being so late the night before, her treat. So we made a date for dinner the next weekend.
She set up the reservation for dinner and on the way there she said she had to tell me something about her. Well I found out later she really liked me and she was trying to scare me off as she told me she had CF and asked if I knew what that was.
Well it happen that I did know a little about it through some off-road racing buddies that donated all there winnings to the CF Foundation in the name of their niece who had CF. She explained a little more about CF in the car on the way to dinner but her being so open and with the spark I felt inside of her I told her I did not care and lets see where this goes. Well after several dates she asked me again if the CF would affect our relationship and by that time I knew she was special and said if you live 5 years or 100 years let us make the most out of it.
About a year and a half later, 1992, we were married in her home with the 3 kids as our wedding party and just our closest friends and family present. It was a hot August day so we had a pool party for the reception in the backyard, that is us.
The next day we start our traveling together, honeymoon in Monterey, CA for 3 days by ourselves then it’s back home to pick up the kids for our first family vacation to Mammoth Mountain, CA for the rest of the week of hiking in the mountains and exploring the ghost towns of the area.
Then it was on to riding motorcycles, off-road in the desert, with the family for many an enjoyable weekend. On top of that we traveled to Disney World Florida, and northern California to camp among the redwood trees, with many weekend camping trips locally, weeks of snow ski vacations in California, Utah and California and many other family vacation trips.
A few weeks after her 40th birthday her motorcycle riding days would be behind her as she shattered her wrist. 2 pins, a titanium plate with 6 screws in her arm and 2 operations made her rethink that portion of her life. This did not stop us from snow skiing and we continued to day ski locally and continued our 1 week ski vacations in winter with additional 1-week summer vacations.
Well with the kids grown, graduating and moving out Jodi and I started our own traveling.
In 1999 it was discovered her left lung was diseased and needed to have a section removed to stop the infections that were occurring. Well she had most of the lung removed and then had a long recovery process. But this did not stop her and our first trip was to be that same year on a 10-day Alaskan cruise vacation with a land add-on to Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks.
So in 2000 we decided on another 18-day cruise to Mexico, Costa Rica, and through the Panama Canal to Cartagena, Columbia; Aruba; St Thomas and Puerto Rico.
Then in 2001 we embarked on our first trip across the Atlantic, a 4-week trip to England, Scotland and Wales with a Chunnel trip for the final 4 days in Paris and a day at Disney Paris.
2002 found us on a 2-week vacation in Hawaii. And later in the year a week and a half vacation to Orlando, Florida for Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
2003 was to be a 4 week car adventure exploring Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Eastern France and Switzerland.
2004 saw us off to NYC and Washington DC for 1 week in each city and then came back home for the birth of our 1st grandson.
In 2005 we went on a 4-week car trip across America. Seeing many historical sites on the east coast.
Then in 2006 it was a 3-week train trip to see London, Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome, ending in the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy.
2008 saw another 3-week driving vacation thru France, the Netherlands and Belgium.
At this time Jodi had started to be admitted to the hospital for 2 weeks stints of IV’s with 1 week of home IV’s every 3 to 6 months. So our smaller trips started for a while locally to Portland, OR, Vancouver WA, San Francisco, CA, Monterey, CA, and the coastal road Highway 1 in CA and Oregon. She was listed for a double lung transplant for two and half years but was delisted due to the fact she needed a double lung, esophagus and heart transplant, which they would not do to someone her age.
Day trips started as we were going to Disneyland California about every other week with the grandson or just by ourselves to walk around and have fun. But this would not stop her from wanting more vacations and enjoying the birth of our second grandchild a beautiful girl in 2008.
So in 2009 a 7-day Walt Disney World Florida trip was planned with the grandkids and our daughter to help our daughter through a tough time in her life.
Then in 2010 another 10-day Walt Disney World and Universal Florida trip, us only this time.
Followed in 2012 a 7-day Walt Disney World Florida trip with just the grandkids and us.
With all the traveling we still visited Disneyland California just about every other week with the grandkids which continued up to a year ago as we live about 20 minutes away from the park.
Then in 2014 we again resumed the longer trips with a 3 week adventure to Stockholm, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; an 8 day Norwegian Fjords Cruise on Royal Caribbean and ending in Copenhagen, Denmark.
2015 it was back to Walt Disney World Florida with the grandkids, daughter and one of our sons for 7-days. Then off on a fast trip north to Vancouver, Washington in April for the birth of our 3rd grandchild from our other son, another boy.
The first week of February 2016 we were on an 8-day Walt Disney World Florida trip that was to be our last, unknown to us at the time, as we still had our grandsons first birthday to attend in Vancouver, WA at the end of April and another 7-day Alaskan Cruise with family all ready planned and set up.
If you have read all of this and viewed the photos you can see I had a fantastic short 24 wonderful years with her, thank you for following along,. Telling her story is a great healer for me as I try to show the strength that I observed in her combating this illness.
I will still be traveling and will continue to post my adventures here, Jodi would want it no other way.
SO DO NOT TELL ME YOU CAN NOT TRAVEL, she did with very low lung capacity, carrying $25,000 worth of medicines and medical equipment, requiring oxygen to fly, she was also insulin dependent due to her CF induced diabetes and was on a 2-3 times daily routine of breathing treatments she did at the rooms we stayed in and she did this since 2008 with a smile on her face, a hop in her step, a love for meeting people and experiencing new adventures.
I hope this will be an inspirational story for the many people inflicted with a life shortening condition, she helped inspire many people in the CF community and I hope this will inspire others to pursue their ambitions and dreams.
GET OUT THERE AND EXPLORE AND HAVE MANY ENJOYABLE ADVENTURES
NOTHING SHOULD STOP YOU.