Friday, November 25, 2011

Being thankful

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in this country. Needless to say I have not had much to be thankful for the past couple of weeks.

On reflection, even with the loss of my precious Joanne, I do have many things to be glad about. I'm thankful that I made it to the big 65 years of age this month and still be in good health. I'm thankful for the family and friends that have rallied around me during these really trying last two weeks. I'm thankful for all the good memories from the past 23 years that Joanne and I got to spend together. I'm thankful for all the traveling and the sights we were able to see over these years.

Thanksgiving day was spent with our niece, Carrie, and her family at her in-laws house. I picked up the mother-in-law and took her out to their house east of town for a magnificent feast. I am so thankful for having Carrie in my life. She has been my rock during this ordeal and has been right there through the whole thing.

I am thankful for my sons. My oldest, Alex, called almost immediately and volunteered to come stay with me. His being here for the week following Jo's death was tremendous. This house had gotten awfully quite and lonely all of a sudden. Having him here, helping with all the details that had to be attended to was wonderful. My youngest son, Alan, and his lovely lady, Cathy, have also been very supporting. Even though they have three young girls in their household they still made time to spend with the "Old Man".

I'm thankful for all the family members, 31 in all, that came to the cemetery last Saturday to help me say goodbye to Joanne at our private burial service. Also thankful for all the family, friends, former classmates, former co-workers and neighbors who attended the Celebration of Life service we had this past Tuesday. Especially thankful for Ron & Kay Rivoli who drove their motor home all the way from Louisville, Kentucky (800 miles) to sing at the service. (Only to immediately turn around and drive 800 miles back home so as to be with their family on Thanksgiving Day.)

I'm thankful for all the cards, e-mails and phone calls I've received from people all over this great country. This has been a real testament to the number of people who's lives were touched by Joanne over the years.

So, if nothing else comes out of all of this I wish to relay one thing to everyone reading this blog: Live life to the fullest, let your loved ones know that you care and tell them often, hold the ones that matter close to you. We never know what tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saying goodbye

This has been the worst week of my life. I had to say goodbye to my partner, my soul mate, my best friend.

Joanne Marie (Priolo) Stone

June 30, 1944-November 16, 2011

We had been told in late September that Joanne had breast cancer. It was determined that she had not had it long but it was a very aggressive form and had the capability of growing fast. We had already scheduled a two week trip to Louisiana for a RV rally and Joanne decided she did not want to cancel. Prior to leaving she had all the necessary test such as biopsy and an MRI exam. It was decided that she would need to start heavy doses of chemotherapy soon after we returned. This was to be done once per week every three week for three sessions and then they would do surgery. The doctors determined that she was in such good health that she could handle this level of treatment. She felt good about fighting this battle and conquering it.

She had her first chemo treatment on Tuesday morning, November 8. It took five hours for the drugs to enter her body through IV tubes. Afterwards she was feeling good and just wanted to go get some lunch. On Wednesday she was again feeling good when she drove back to the cancer center to get a shot of something to help offset the loss of while blood cells from the chemo drugs. By Thursday she said her joints ached, which apparently was a normal reaction. Thursday through Sunday she was very tired but still kept plugging along, going out to eat and going down to visit my Dad on Saturday evening. By Monday she was having extreme back pain and could not get comfortable. By Tuesday morning she was in even more pain as we headed to the cancer center for her scheduled lab test. When we got to the cancer center the nurse immediately brought in the Oncologist and she was moved over to the hospital. By afternoon she was moved to ICU and then placed on a ventilator. By the wee hours of Wednesday morning it was obvious she was failing fast. She passed away around 3:30 AM on Wednesday, November 16.

We were married 23 years this past August. We had celebrated our anniversary while in her native Minnesota. As most people will tell you we were pretty much inseparable, especially since our retirement in July 2006. We had become RVer's in 1997 and after retirement we were able to expand our travels drastically. In recent years we had cut back on traveling due to the need for Joanne to be home to help care for her mother. Our attitude was that our parents were in their 90's and would not always be with us. After that we could continue traveling this great country. Although we did not get to go to all the places we desired, while reviewing our pictures this past week I have been amazed at how many miles we did cover and the things we saw and the places we went.

We held a private burial service at the Stone family plot in the cemetery in Byars, Oklahoma yesterday. We had 31 family members from both sides of the family. A Celebration of Life service will be held on Tuesday, November 22, at Grace United Methodist Church. This is the church where we first met through their singles group. We were married at Grace on August 26, 1988 by our pastor, Burrel McNaught. Although Burrel is now retired and usually declines doing services any longer he will be conducting the service for Joanne. Additionally, two of our dearest friends, Ron & Kay Rivoli, will be here to sing for her one last time. We have enjoyed listening to Ron & Kay as we have crossed paths with them as they travel the country performing professionally at shows and RV rallies. They are driving in from their home base in Louisville, Kentucky just for Joanne.

Based on the calls, cards and e-mails that have been coming in it is very apparent that Joanne was loved by many people throughout the country. Due to the RV lifestyle we have made friends from every corner of the nation. The emotional support that has been offered by both family and friends has been a tremendous help in coping with this sudden and unexpected loss.