My Sister, Jackie

July 28, 2017

Hi everybody. I want to talk about my big sister, Jackie Card. Jackie has been fighting ovarian cancer in a Celebrity Death Match for the past 10 years. She has been kicking cancer’s ass for those 10 years, but we recently learned cancer is going to win on points. She entered a Hospice program last week. She has been thinking about it for awhile, and came to the decision after talking with her husband, Ansel Card and her treatment team at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the most advanced cancer research and treatment center in he world. When these guys say it’s time, it’s time. She very much wants everyone to know she isn’t dead yet. In fact, we have a trip planned for Labor Day. She may not be able to go, but she is still planning on it for now.
She’s my big sister. Being the oldest, she has always led the way, clearing the path for her three brothers Robert Foos, Richard and me and one sister, Susan Morgan. We grew up in the small town of LaCrosse, Kansas, the same town in which our father grew up. Some of our teachers taught our father (that was kind of weird, by the way). Jackie was a brainiac in school. That wasn’t so good for me, because she set the bar so high. I particularly remember my 5th grade teacher questioning if Jackie was really my sister, or if I was adopted. Then my brothers followed and she then concluded Jackie may have been the one who was adopted.
She’s my big sister. She was the first to attend college. She could have gone anywhere, but she chose to enroll in Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas. I thought that was kind of an odd choice, but it was college, and to me, it was the same as attending Stanford or Cornell. It certainly was a long way from home and she couldn’t come home every weekend. It also didn’t occur to me that was the point. Now, Colby isn’t exactly the garden spot of America. In fact, about the only difference between the terrain of Northwest Kansas and the lunar landscape of the moon, is gravity. Ah, but I didn’t know about Ansel.
My big sister showed me how to choose love. She had a new boyfriend that summer, Ansel Card. That wasn’t so odd. She had lots of boyfriends. But somehow, this guy was different. He was a Custom Cutter. For you folks from the city, a Custom Cutter is essentially an itinerate farm laborer who follows the summer wheat harvest from Texas to Saskatchewan. This is a great summer job for a young single man trying to strike out on his own. He can travel through the middle of the country and get paid for it. It did have an appeal similar to a the life of a cowboy on a cattle drive in the old West. Custom Cutters, for the most part, carried a reputation as drunken ner-do-well brawlers who should be avoided by local folks and, especially, young ladies. So, of course, girls flocked to them like they go after sailors during Fleet Week. Ansel caught Jackie’s eye at the local restaurant where she was a waitress. Guess who was going to attend Colby to join their collegiate rodeo team as a bull rider? Now here’s a major twist. Despite Ansel being a dirty Custom Cutter and the guy who was after his favorite child, my Dad really liked him and welcomed him into the family. I don’t think Dad ever bothered to learn the names of her previous boyfriends. Fairly quickly I had another brother.
My big sister showed me how to face adversity. Shortly after their marriage Jackie became pregnant with their only son, Shane Card (it’s really cool Shane and I share a birthday, thanks to Jackie being able to choose when he was to be born). Shane was born with health problems requiring multiple surgeries. Now that was a struggle of epic proportions that Jackie and Ansel faced squarely. They did what had to be done and made personal sacrifices so Shane could lead a normal life. He didn’t let them down, by the way. His children, Hannah Anoa Card and Molly, now light up their life.
My big sister showed me to reach for the sky and work for your dreams. Both Jackie and Ansel made education a priority in their lives. They each earned a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate while being parents and working to support the family. I bet our 5th grade teacher would have been proud.
My big sister showed me joys of travel and adventure. She traveled the world as an expert in her chosen field of study (ask her about the nude beach in New Zealand) and she never passed up a chance to visit someplace new, whether it be for work or pleasure. If traveling to an interesting or exotic locale was available, she was in. Her passport looks worn out.
My big sister showed me the importance of compassion and family. Last year Gayle Kelly Foos had her own brush with cancer. We chose to seek treatment at MD Anderson. Jackie and Ansel were with us every step of the way, showing us the ropes, acting as tour guides and offering encouragement and support throughout the process.
Now, my big sister is showing all of us how to live the latter stages of life with aplomb and dignity. Go visit her. I guarantee you, she will enjoy the visit.

 

Why Hillary Lost

Hi everybody. I need to preface this little tome with an explanation of why I am discussing politics on my 43rd anniversary, since the last time I wrote about the election I lost half my friends. Although politics is mentioned, it is merely a backdrop for my story. It’s like the fake scenery used as a backdrop in ’40’s movies; not even close to reality but it serves it’s purpose. Stay tuned. This really a love story. And, as a bonus, I also provide an explanation for why I am partially responsible for Donald Trump’s election victory. So read on! It may be worth it.

Last August I was glued to the television taking in all the political talk available, and there was a lot.The Republican convention had run it’s course and Mr. Trump was about to be unleashed on America. Being a junkie for all things political at that time, I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise on the Democratic convention. I was particularly interested in Bill Clinton’s address to the faithful because, as Explainer-in-Chief during that last presidential election, he had been able to sway a majority of the population to stay the course and keep President Obama in office. His job for the upcoming election was even a greater challenge; he was assigned the task of humanizing Hillary and to show the country she was really a loving wife, mother and grandmother who dedicated her career to helping the downtrodden while fighting for women all over the world to gain equal rights. And, conversely, she is not the unaware automaton whose greed and quest for power was so great she caused the death of our Libyan ambassador by refusing to a launch a military rescue mission because it would destroy the narrative that the uprising was caused by a film denigrating the Islamic faith (not true, but it got really good air time on Fox { I watched that, too }).

So I popped my popcorn and seated myself directly in front of my TV, ready to watch Uncle Bill do his thing on the world stage. Finally, it was time for the major event. It was exciting. The anticipation was palpable. The way Bill decided to humanize his wife was by telling a love story chronicling their relationship from the beginning when they met in school, through their courtship and marriage, child-rearing and becoming grandparents, all the while peppering his rhetoric with all her public life accomplishments. But try as he might, the task was even too big for the Great Explainer. Hillary was never able to rid herself of the cold fish persona and Mr. Trump rallied in the last days of the election to win in a landslide (or mudslide).

I had two reactions to to Mr.Clinton’s efforts. First, Bill stole my idea about writing a life-long love story of their relationship. On this date last year I posted my Facebook anniversary ode to my wife, Gayle Kelly Foos, using that very same concept. It took me a long time to come up with the idea and compose it with wit and humor and he took it (I don’t know how he found it, though. We’re not Facebook friends). My second reaction was, “Mine was much better than his” (You can judge that for yourself in a minute). I believe I was better able to capture the heartfelt expression of our enduring relationship, but I must admit, I may have had better marriage material to work with. But, if Bill had asked me to help him write his love story instead of just stealing my concept, it is very likely we would be saying “Madame President” today. Your welcome.

So now, I want to say Happy Anniversary to my wife of 43 years, Gayle Kelly Foos. You have always been my inspiration. Last year I wrote my favorite post about our life together. I’m pretty sure I can’t top it, so I’m just going to repost it. I love you, Gayle, then, now and forever.
Jim

Michon, The Starter Child

Our daughter Michon Foos Simanoff celebrates her 37th birthday today. Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I bet you wish I would stop here. I don’t know how she got older than me, but she has been doing amazing things all her life. It is always a source of pride to have a child smarter than you, but only after she is out of high school. She started out so special she needed a special name. Her mother, Gayle Kelly Foos swears we hadn’t decided on a name and I took advantage of her wooziness right after birth to impose my choice of names for our beautiful daughter. I’m going with the concept that she was woozy and couldn’t remember when we decided on the name. It is true it was my choice. I would like to claim that is an old family name from the time in which our forefathers were roaming the European continent, but in reality I had a student by that name and I liked it. Michon alternated between liking it because it made her stand out and hating it because it made her stand out. Before she was married and became a Simanoff, most people who had only heard her name and not met her in person were very surprised she wasn’t Asian.
Michon was our starter child and therefore we got to use her for practice. By the time her sister Lindsey Foos Lebowitz came along we were old hands at that parent thing. When she was born, Gayle returned to work and I stayed home with the baby. It wasn’t because we were an enlightened couple who wanted to break the stereotypes of gender. Gayle made more money than me and we really couldn’t afford day-care. So for six months I was mama/daddy. That was a great time in my life and I will always cherish those memories, but there were a few things that were difficult. I learned that soap operas have the same attraction as crack. I planned our day around “All My Children”. When Erica would file for another divorce (I think it was 3 times in that 6 month period) I would be heartbroken for days. I learned that showering was a thing you could do without for days. I learned to clock-watch and sit by the front door to hand off the baby when Mama walked in the door. When I got after Gayle for being so rude to not call me and let me know she was going to be 10 minutes late, she told me it was time for day-care. I learned that before children I was a selfish person, but being responsible for a baby made it very easy to give that up. I also learned how much you could love a child and how that doesn’t change just because they grow up.
Back to that practice child thing: Michon believed we were the most strict parents ever. The thing she hated most was curfew. She lost the use of her new car for a week on the first night of driving alone for being 5 minutes late. I think she’s still mad at us for that. Here’s a quick aside. When Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her lead role in “Gravity” (the movie that taught us that no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse) she thanked her mother for her curfew rules. Sandra stated that, although she hated it at the time, she would have probably done those things her mother was afraid of without the curfew. We’re still waiting for our thank you’s on that one. When we dropped her off at college she let us know that she planned on staying out after curfew every night.
Her mother and I couldn’t be more proud of Michon. Look what she’s accomplished. She is Master’s educated, holds down an important job and takes care of her beautiful family. Her 13 year marriage to Lee Simanoff is strong, and her boys are, of course, pretty special themselves. We are going with Attribution Theory to explain how she is the strong, independent woman everyone knows today. It is because of her parents and the good job they did in raising her.
Happy Birthday, Michon!! We love you and can’t wait to see you and your family soon.

Love,
Mom and Dad

The Foos/Simanoff Union: The Reason there is an Honorary Jew

Happy anniversary to our daughter Michon Foos Simanoff and son-in-law Lee Simanoff. I think it’s their 13th or 14th, but who’s counting. This liaison is the reason I have anointed myself an honorary Jew. From the very beginning of their relationship it seemed to be destined to a solid future. I remember that Michon wanted us to meet this special guy (Dad, he’s just like you, except he’s smart, tall and good looking). Although Lee couldn’t tell it, I was impressed. I was into projecting the “Be good to our daughter or you won’t like the consequences” demeanor. But when he asked for our blessing to marry Michon, Gayle Kelly Foos and I were both thrilled. And since that day we gained a son.
Not only did we gain a son, we gained a new family who welcomed us with open arms. Lee’s mother, Ann Simanoff, father , Don Simanoff and brothers Michael and Dave Simanoff and more recently Britt Shirley graciously share holidays and vacation time we have together. We truly have become good friends. But now there are grandchildren to be shared. We all agree that Ryland and Max are two of the most special boys ever. Michon and Lee only half-heartedly joke that we have stopped coming to see them; we are just in it for the grandkids. While that’s not entirely true, it absolutely is a big selling point. We all share religious holidays. Who else gets Seder and Easter dinner; and Christmas and Hanukkah, too?(that Kosher thing, though, is little too hard for me, being a member of Bacon Nation). We are quite the multicultural stew.
So, everyone that knows Michon and Lee be sure and with them a happy 13th or 14th (I think) anniversary. They will be celebrating in high style. The evening starts with soccer practice and is then highlighted by a a romantic dinner at Chick-Fil-A. Perfect!

Happy anniversary you two, and many more.
Love, Mom and Dad

A Grandparent’s Love Has No Rules

Those who say money can’t buy love obviously don’t have grandchildren. It’s amazing what $6 worth of candy and a couple of stuffed animals will do to enhance the extra-generational bond. Parents don’t necessarily agree with our philosophy that more is more, but when we are in town they can only throw their hands up in frustration.
Needless to say, our trip to Florida has been a resounding success. We have many more pictures, but one grandson insists that they not be published without his express written permission because it would destroy his private life. Although I’m pretty sure I’m not Facebook friends with any of his friends, he isn’t willing to take that chance with his popularity. So off we go, heading back to Texas with only a few tears in our eyes. Goodbye boys. Take good care of your parents.

Gayle’s Birthday and other Mushy Stuff

Happy birthday to my sweetheart (that’s you, Gayle). We are finally the same age again. You are still the prettiest girl I know, and the only one who will tolerate me even when I eat garlic (that’s a not so long and uninteresting story in itself). You still make me tingle in the same way you did when I first met you at the ripe age of 15, sitting at the lunch counter of the local drugstore eating mustard-dipped French fries. Today we celebrate like we almost always celebrate our birthdays, by going to work. Even though our jobs keep us 100 miles apart today, I be thinking of you. This weekend we are off on another adventure and also get to see half of our children and grandchildren. Maybe we can practice being retired, sort of.
I love you the same as always, a whole bunch (no, flowers weren’t attached to this note. Buying gifts for each other is another story, also not very interesting. We usually celebrate with trips to make sure our children have less of an inheritance and have to keep putting up with us until we die or run out of money. No, they don’t get to choose which comes first. That’s a parent’s prerogative. Let’s just say we have plans that may be considered squatting in some major cities).

Oh, in case you didn’t know or have a secret admirer who you met when at the local drugstore at age 15 and hasn’t told you happy birthday today, this is Jim, your husband.

The Curse of Being the The Second Child

Happy birthday to Lindsey Foos Lebowitz, my youngest daughter. She is 34 years old today. Can you believe that? Today she is a Master’s educated married career woman mother of two beautiful boys. I’m so proud of her I almost burst with pride just typing this.
She is our second child so when she came along we were old hands at parenting. Her mother and I were better able to experience major milestones in the moment instead of wasting film. Like when Lindsey was looking through old photographs of her childhood. There were enough pictures of her older sister’s first 2 years of life that we almost needed a storage locker to keep them all, but not quite as many of her. She asked to see pictures of her 1st birthday and was somewhat miffed for some reason when we tried to pawn off pictures of her favorite cousin’s 1st birthday party as her own. To be fair, she was in the picture. She has almost forgiven us for that one.
In that tradition her mother and I have decided to wish her a very special birthday by traveling to Las Vegas instead of being a big bother and visiting her. Oh, your present didn’t quite get in the mail before we left. I promise we will take a picture of it, though. Love you always and have a very special birthday.

Mom and Dad

A Love Story

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May 25, 2016

Today Gayle and I celebrate our 42nd anniversary (Foos Family; established, 1974). Happy anniversary too my sweetheart! I love you. Can you believe that we’ve been married over twice as long as we haven’t? We share a delusion in which we spy someone our own age and both agree that they look much older than we do. That is a pretty good pastime that you can only share with someone you’ve known forever. So let’s get one thing straight: It’s all Gayle’s fault. First, you wouldn’t be reading this if she hadn’t signed me up on FB because I kept bugging her to see what was going on in Facebook world. Who knew I would write tomes every so often. When I’m not working, I try to limit the number of words I speak per day to about 88. I usually don’t have to worry about going over the limit. And yet, when I have something to say on FB the sky is the limit. Okay, back to the story.


If you know us you probably know we met when we were 15. Gayle says that I was after her friend, and that was partly true. Gayle and her girlfriend, Debbie Parker (the good looking redhead) were glamorously eating French Fries with mustard at the local drug store lunch counter. Donnie Rogers was hot for the redhead and talked me into going with him to try to pick her up. I think he brought me along to show how tall and handsome he was, like standing with the ugly girls at the prom so you look better. When I saw Gayle daintily dipping her fries in the mustard I was hooked. Although you could blame Donnie for that one, its was really Gayle’s fault for being there and being so cute.


Now, fast forward a few years. We didn’t go together all that time between the great Drug Store liaison and getting married at the ripe old age of 20. She went off to college without me. So it was her fault I followed her and enrolled in school a year later. And it was definitely her fault we got married. She said yes, after all. Since then our marriage has been a series of great adventures we have experienced together. How many of you have lived in eight states and not been in the Witness Protection Program?


It is absolutely her fault I earned a doctorate. She supported and encouraged me to pursue my goals and she typed my dissertation (I definitely don’t recommend that. Ask her how to spell “appendix” without the benefit of the search and replace option in the very early word processors).
Of course it was her fault we had children. Look at that picture. She was hotter than Debbie Parker! And it was her fault they grew up healthy and happy. I was gone a lot with my job. She often described her life as a single mother with money. I got to be the fun Dad who came home and played on the weekends. Now both Michon and Lindsey have their own families, Master’s degrees and careers. I would love to take credit for that but it’s really all Gayle’s fault.


It’s also her fault our grandchildren think their grandparents are pretty hot stuff. She makes sure we FaceTime often, visit whenever we can, and always bring presents.
And we’re still married. Today Gayle holds down three full-time jobs. She is an awesome realtor. She also is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Office at James A. Foos, Psy.D. & Associates. But her most difficult full-time job is taking care of me. I guess I’ll keep her for our next adventure.

The Best Christmas Present Ever

Thanks to everyone that sent us good wishes about Gayle’s successful cancer treatment. We didn’t tell many people because we were waiting for the good news we finally got. I used up all my holiday requests I ever had (63 x 9 = 567) to garner these results. ( I get 9 requests per year because I decided to make my honorary Jew designation retroactive to get 8 extra wishes per year, but that’s another story. Hey, don’t laugh, those wishes along with all the thoughts and prayers from friends and family worked.)
About 3 months ago Gayle began having symptoms that finally required a doctor’s visit. At first, she was treated for an infection and given antibiotics. (Here is humorous [not really] side note. These same symptoms can be caused by a STD or HIV. Lets just say Gayle would make a great interrogator at GITMO.) After a short session of waterboarding and when the test results came back negative, her doctor decided on another course of treatment. She performed a D&C. That also didn’t resolve the symptoms, but analysis of the tissue gathered revealed the problem. She had complex hyperplasia with atipia. This particular hyperplasia always turns into endometrial cancer 100% of the time if untreated and 25% to 45% of the time undetected cancer is already present. ( I will spend the rest of my life unlearning all those fun-filled facts about gynecological cancer. That brain space needs to be utilized for important information like the point spread for the Monday night football game or how to deduce when someone is holding a pocket pair in poker.)
Cancer. I can still hardly type those words without losing my breath. Gayle’s doctor in Victoria, Dr Gonzales, gave us the treatment options. The one she recommended strongly was treatment at the most prestigious cancer treatment center in the world, MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Gonzales offered a referral to a colleague there. I will be forever grateful to her for that referral.
Off to Houston we went. MD Anderson is an intimidating place. There are so many very smart people working there the windows vibrate with brain power. Walking into the lobby is like entering the lobby of the United Nations building. We saw a Saudi sheik and a number of Sikhs. People were speaking all kinds of languages from all over the world. Very lucky for us, my sister and brother-in-law are old hands at guiding people through the maze of buildings that make up the campus designed by architects inspired by ant hills. She has been in treatment there for years for ovarian cancer and my brother-in-law just began treatment for kidney cancer that has spread to his lungs. They are pretty experienced tour guides and they are doing very well in their treatment regimen.
We then met with Gayle’s resident brainiac physician, Dr. Frumowitz (surely he is a member of the Tribe). He analyzed the data presented by Dr. Gonzales (still my hero in this saga), and performed an exam. Then he stated, “Guess what you’re doing for Christmas”.
That brings us today. Jackie and Ansel were by our sides throughout this ordeal and also today. Our very good friends Chuck and Danna were also there to support us. Norman was kind enough to lend them to us for this time despite the horrendous ordeal he is experiencing just down the street at Hermann Memorial Hospital (more on that later). Gayle’s surgery lasted three hours. Let me tell you, that is a very long time to wonder what is going on. But then Dr. Frumowitz came back with the very best news he could have offered. The surgery went off well and analysis of the tissue gleaned there is no cancer. Gayle is cancer free. We will probably be home tomorrow.
Throughout this 3 month peek into Hell, Gayle has been a trooper. She continued to perform admirably in all 3 of her full time jobs and very seldom let the pressure of living with the thoughts of cancer interfere with her life. She certainly showed her bravery. I never loved her more.