The Ask

02 Dec

I have spent a lot of time over the last week and a half thinking about this post.  Should it be about Thanksgiving?  Gratitude?  Community?  It’s about all of those things and also includes love and one important lesson learned from having cancer.

Until I had cancer, I was always in control of everything in my life. Maybe not the healthiest way to live.  Not needing anything from anyone…ever.  Even after I had a c-section I told people we were fine.  I was up cooking and cleaning two days after I was released from the hospital.  We had a two and a half year old, and a new born, but I refused any dinners or help.  I didn’t want anyone to have to go out of their way for me.

Five and a half years went by.  Mac was about to start kindergarten, Quinn was eight and we had just moved in with Adrienne and Stella.  Then on a June morning, all of our lives were changed forever.  The summer of 2010 is blurry.  I went to chemo every Monday.  I wore a bag of chemo twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  I went to radiation Monday-Friday for five weeks.  By the end of it, I was taking Vicodin and Morphine and the pain still had me napping like a newborn.  I couldn’t stomach anything that wasn’t white and bland.  But you know what?  My family still needed to eat.

Mac had just finished our families sixth year at the El Cerrito Preschool Co-op.  I worked in the office.  Over the years it became our community.  And there was no saying “no thank you” to help.

Food arrived often.  The kids called it “The cancer train.”  They loved it because it was real, warm food and more often than not, included dessert.

It was through that time that I began to realize that accepting help is good for us, but also good for those doing the helping.  People want to do something.  And by saying no, I’m not giving them the chance.  I like to help people, and so do lots of other people.  And it’s good for our kids to see us helping out friends and even strangers.  It helps them learn what community is.

Now that I am coming to the end of my life, that education is really important for my children.  When I am gone, they will know how many people care about them.  And that community will continue on for them.  Wow, writing that made me tear up.

A few weeks ago, two very close friends asked us what we really wanted.  Was there somewhere we really wanted to go but couldn’t afford to?  Something that needed to be done around the house?

Adrienne and I talked about it.  She has never been to Hawaii and I really wanted to take her there.  But we were also practical.  The stairs leading to the back yard were in serious need of being replaced.  A few years ago I had replaced the three bottom stairs, but the whole structure was unsafe.  We decided that would be our first priority and Hawaii would come second.  Our friends sent out this letter:

“Hello friends,

The time has arrived for us to come to you with an ask on behalf of Jay and Adrienne – an ask for your financial support for their family’s needs and wants.

First, they have an opportunity to have their dilapidated back stairs rebuilt. A friend, David Granger- who owns Apex Construction, will donate most of the materials but will need to pay his crew to do the work.  We’ve already received an anonymous donation of $200, so the family now NEEDS $500 to complete this long overdue project and put their minds at ease.

Second, while Jay is still feeling well enough, he would love to see Kauai and would love to share this with Adrienne.  This is a wish – not the spectacular San Francisco turned into Gotham City for a recovering little boy wish- but a wish of a dying man to experience and share the beauty and wonder of a magical place with the woman he loves.  They’d love to visit Poipu and have found a place called Whaler’s Cove where they fantasize about staying.

As Adrienne has already shared in her most recent Muddy Feet Memoir post –  they don’t need a bucket list for the life they already treasure together. This is evident, but they do have these two things they need and want would accept your help at this time.

If you are so inclined and able, Jay and Adrienne would humbly and gratefully accept whatever you are able to donate.  Any money received will go first to rebuilding their stairs.  If any money is collected beyond $500, ideally it will be used toward a trip to Kauai. In the event a Kauai trip isn’t possible, please trust that any donations will be used wisely and lovingly.

Logistics: Checks can be sent directly to Adrienne Waterman, 910 Virginia St., Vallejo, CA 94590.
Thank you for hearing”
Within a week and a half, friends had sent enough money to replace the stairs.  On Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, the contractor and a coworker of his, (who both donated their time), arrived at 9am and by 3, the stairs were complete.  I wish I had taken a before picture, but here is an after:IMG_20131129_162455
Beautiful, aren’t they?  Adrienne has lived in this house for nine and a half years and she said it was the first time she had walked down stable stairs.  Our friend who did the construction also donated a bunch of the materials.  Over the weekend, we had friends relived that they didn’t have to walk down our old stairs.  What a great gift.
I keep having dreams where I can’t get things finished.  Last night’s dream had me standing at the sink with a pile of dirty dishes that never seemed to get any smaller.  I dream I’m at the store, trying to finish the shopping and I can’t find anything I’m looking for.
The dreams and the stairs, and the pain in my right lung got me thinking about Hawaii.  Sure, I’d love to go.  But it seems like a giant expense when all I’d be able to do is sit in the sand and stare at the ocean.  No snorkeling or boogie boarding; my body couldn’t take it.  And besides, Hawaii doesn’t seem that important anymore.  Being at home with the kids and finishing projects around the house has become more of a priority for me and for Adrienne.
I looked around at the house.  A year and a half ago, I started painting the bathroom.  My body hasn’t felt well enough to finish it.  Our dishwasher has become a giant dish drainer since it stopped working last year.  The house could use a thorough cleaning.  My mind has turned from the exotic to the seemingly mundane.  Although I am a Taurus and do love being at home.
So there it is; The Ask.  It still feels almost taboo to me to ask for anything.  But cancer has taught me over and over again how much people care for me and my family.  It makes me cry as I think of your faces and your un-ending generosity.  Thank you for reading my blog, for commenting, for sending me facebook messages, emails, food and money.  I am blessed and my gratitude is sincere and true.

Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Uncategorized


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4 responses to “The Ask

  1. Tamara Uppendahl

    December 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    In fundraising we talk about how giving is equal to the “runner’s high.” That helping others actually provides an endorphin rush for people. I’m glad you’ve realized that not only does it give others pleasure to help you, but especially now when your friends and family probably feel powerless over this evil – cancer. Not only do you deserve all of this, but it has come to you because of the great things you have put into this world.

  2. Annette

    December 4, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Jay you are one of ,if not THE bravest most amazing person I’ve ever known. My heart goes out to you and your family and my help as well. I think of you often although too much time has gone by not seeing you and knowing what is really happening in your life. You gave me your blog address a long time ago but the little piece of paper got buried under piles of bigger paper.By some miracle and a nagging feeling that I had to go through my clutter, I just re-discovered that paper with your blog address on it today! And today I read your blog for the first time. My motto is better late than never and today I will do what I can to help you and your family.

  3. Eric Ayers

    December 5, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Whoa. I did a double take when I saw the address as we owned that house when we lived 2 doors down in 918 Virginia St. Sorry the stairs didn’t get fixed prior to you living there… Thank you for sharing your story which your children will treasure years from now. I know as I lost my mom to ovarian cancer in 1991 while living in 918, and can only wish I had her story, in her words, to cherish. May God’s comfort and blessings be upon you and your family.

    p.s. I was a Junior High, High School Band classmate of Theresa (Judd) back in the day.

    Eric Ayers

    • jaydeyoung

      December 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      Teresa almost always makes reference to your family when she comes over. She told me about your mom. And the half pipe. I feel blessed that I have the time to write things for my kids to read when I am gone. Thanks, Eric!


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