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.