Friday, July 19, 2013

Life, Lifting and Loss of My Father

The photo above is my mother, Earleene on the left, My father, Frank in the center and my mother's younger sister (my aunt), Joyce, on the right when they were very young.

My mother died from cancer in 2009 and my father died of Leukemia on Sunday, July 14, 2013. Joyce is still here, kicking in Las Vegas, I spoke with her today actually.

If you have followed my blog over the years you know all about my mom and my friend Emily, who died from cancer only last year. I feel I have had way too many close encounters with cancer and death, and the loss of loved ones. 

I also had a bout with skin cancer a month ago, below you can see my chest after the cream treatment caused it to flare up. The side effects were so strong they ended up surgically removing it. I have a nice scar now the size of a lopsided quarter on the center of my chest to remind me to wear my sunscreen.

I am fine, it's actually my second cancer experience, and I have my whole body checked every six months for more. 

Needless to say, the last several months have been a bit stressful for me and my family. My father learned about his leukemia in February, he emailed me when I was vacationing in Mexico.  He endured several months of chemo again (it was his 3rd form of cancer in just as many years), and finally he decided he was done with the blood and platelet transfusions. 

My brother flew in from Europe (where he lives) and my sisters and I all cared for him, taking turns doing all of the things one needs to do. Joyce was there almost round the clock.

Here I am, in MyRedRocket (my convertible BMW), eating chocolate as I drive to my father's, he lived down the coast about 3 1/2 hours away (according to him, but none of us ever made it there that quickly).

I got out at Starbucks in King City, only to find chocolate melted on the butt of my light gray yoga pants, and chocolate on my face.....

I joined another gym at my father's place, in a city 13 miles away. In my opinion, nothing should stop you from training and my Dad would have felt the same way. 

Above I am posing at In Shape City in Santa Maria, California. I think I was a bit of a novelty to them, a new gal sauntering in, buff to the max, acting like she owns the place. I was greeted the very first day. A big guy comes in and introduces himself, shaking my hand. "You are in great shape!" he said, "You have all the guys back there talking about you." I thanked him and laughed, and explained I would be around for the next month or so.

I enjoyed my new gym immensely! I spent a lot of time there, Dad slept most of the day and mornings were quiet.

I brought a great deal of my own food, but since my brother, Derek wanted to train and learn to eat the "Kristy way", we did shopping and food prep together. He ended up losing 9 pounds I believe and will go home looking lean as can be!

I did some extra cardio everyday as most of the time at Dad's I was sitting and not particularly active. In Shape had something called a Jacob's Ladder that I loved, it was the most difficult form of cardio I have ever done. Take a look below!

After intervals for 14 minutes. Of course this was leg day too and I had done heavy squats and lunges previously. 

It's important to remember that we need to take care of ourselves when faced with a FUBAR. Do you know what that means? Many people use the acronyms SNAFU and FUBAR and have no idea what they mean. Less common but just as fun are TARFU and BOHICA. It's military speak (Dad was a marine ) -




I go  into "I'm gonna train and no one can stop me" mode when something like this happens and I get lean and mean. Many others revert to old bad habits, alcohol, drugs, smoking, over eating. Not me, I want to take care of myself.

Below is Dad's duffel bag, moldy smelling but I love it! I found it in his closet as I cleaned out his clothes.

I found these great big silky shorts, I don't recall ever seeing him in these! 

Here is my brother, Derek (left) and my son, Cooper at dinner at Jocko's in Nipomo. Three nights after Dad's death, after we had cleared out much of the house, we all went to dinner to celebrate his life, relax and unwind. Death is a very stressful event. I felt like I had been holding my breath for weeks. I enjoyed a gin Gibson; one drink and I was dizzy.

I am at my home gym, Gold's Campbell here. I came home from Dad's a few times, but was too exhausted and stressed to go to work. I was on Family Medical Leave and missed a month of work. It's OK, my staff are very well crossed trained, very capable and I kept up with emails.

I continued my quest for legs, big, muscular legs and you can see that I am getting there. Two months after my last competition I am up 8 pounds and still lean, I am quite pleased with how my physique is coming along. David keeps looking at me saying "Your legs look great!" and he isn't into all this bodybuilding stuff at all! 

I am doing fine, while losing a loved one is never easy, Dad had us laughing until the end. Well, honestly at times we wanted to strangle him, but then we would huddle in the kitchen, comply with his crazy demands and get on with the care he needed, and appreciated even at his grumpiest moments.

Sometimes I looked at the morphine and the lorazepam and considered taking it myself! But I didn't, it was my way of vocalizing the stress I was feeling.

David and Cooper were very patient, holding down the fort at home and taking care of things I had to have done. Roy was amazing, changing my training schedule at the drop of a hat to accommodate me with my weird schedule in between cities for the last month. 

Sakura sent my father a card for father's day that made both he and I cry, the words were sincere and loving. 

Friday, I was at home, I trained with Roy and then David and I went to lunch. I had a glass of champagne and some wonderful (non-dietetic) food. 

I take Derek to the airport on Sunday, he will return home and to his studies in Paris. I go back to work on Monday and catch up to a month's worth of 'stuff". My sister, Karen also goes back on Monday, she too took a month off to care for Dad. 

Then on Thursday, Cooper and David will move Cooper back to Chico, into his new apartment and I lose another loved one, but hopefully I will see him frequently. 

it's been rough, it's been difficult, it's been stressful and tiring. But I never gave up, never, I am not a quitter. I love life and death is part of life, a very difficult transition, but one we must all come to terms with.

I will miss Dad, but every time I use a microwave I will think of him (it's an inside story that only his caregivers will know), and I still have his striped socks to wear when I go back to finish clearing out his home before the house is sold. 

I will also remember how he marveled at my passion and told me many, many times how proud he was of me and my accomplishments.  I have saved all the emails where he would reply to all my blogs, he read every single one. 

Oh, and the meaning of the other "military slang acronyms"? Check them out HERE!