Quite a few people have been asking Amanda when she was going to start writing again….
And you’re going to have to keep waiting, because you got her husband, Joe! I’m making my “Cocktails” debut tonight (You might hear from me from time to time, if that’s okay.) I’m the guy, behind the guy, behind the creative woman. I guess I’m the Fourth Olive. And as I am sure you can already tell, I’m very good looking…
It’s 10:19pm, and we are watching the Democratic National Convention. Time has literally been standing still for the past couple weeks. I feel like we are just now catching up to life.
We lost dad on August 21st. He had cancer too. For those of you playing catch up, EJ Clark was diagnosed with Colo-rectal Cancer (Stage IV) in 2005 at the age of 47. E.J. stands for Earl Joseph. He was the 3rd of a few, and I am the 4th of many.
This guy has been through it all. He was in and out of hospitals constantly. He had his good days, and he had his bad days. Some days he would sleep from morning til night, and other days he wouldn’t sleep at all from being in so much pain. It was business as usual to him. Dad went through various surgeries, radiation, and over 150 chemo injections (input ‘Cocktails N Chemo’ joke here).
Along with many others, dad inspired me.
I see him dressed sharply with a briefcase in hand, in our front door way. He’s coming home from a business trip when I was 7 years old. He wore the WORST ties in the WORLD, but still managed to look so damn classy! I remember him always dressing conservatively. Black suit on a blue shirt. Blue suit on a white shirt. The last company I worked with did the same thing. They applauded white and blue shirts under your suit. Of course, I would ‘test the waters’ once in a while with a purple or a light salmon color shirt but, deep down, I knew why they ran their business that way. A person comes across respectful, humble, confident (and not arrogant) and professional. Dad was all of these.
Seriously, I can’t even begin to tell you how terrible these ties were though…
Okay, here’s one….
This one too….
This one looks familiar….(I think I wore this to school on Friday’s for basketball)
I remember sunny days in our old house. He was able to work in his office upstairs while he “cleaned out” the garage at the same time. “Clean out” simply meant turning the radio on 720, re-organize all the dirty shoes and baseball bats, and smoke a few cigarettes. And what thrilled me about this was that he was able to do all of it while AT WORK. How cool was that? My dad worked from home. I could never grasp that. Who was this person and how was he able to pull that off?
The phone was never on the hook in his office. Dad closed deals behind his desk and came out to a Cubs game on T.V. in his own living room. He rode a big fancy plane sometimes, and other times a limousine would even drive him to the airport. He must have been pretty important.
I was inspired, proud, intrigued, hopeful…
He made me feel like anything was possible. Do the right thing. Have tough skin. Be honest, and all will work out in the end. Always finish what you started. He never let me go to basketball practice over baseball practice if they were on the same day. “You committed to baseball first, so you need to see it through to the end.” (Even though I was stoked for basketball – JORDAN ERA!!!
Near the end, dad let me know that if anything happened to him, he wanted me to send an email to “his list” of people. He wanted them to be informed as soon as possible. Seems simple…
Let me start by saying that this email was one of my father’s wishes; if something were to happen to him. This is his son, Joe. You were very special to him, and he felt a life-long connection with you.
For those that are unaware, dad passed away yesterday. He went away beautifully, and the entire family was with him…guiding him home. I can’t express how empty our family feels, but we are also filled with a sense of calm, peace, and relief. EJ, his body, went through hell and back for the past 7 years. That body is like armor. I can hear him over my shoulder right now as I type, telling me,”people don’t want to hear this,” but I feel like I should tell you the following. He had over 150 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, countless hours of pain, and through it all…his mind NEVER faltered. He was as sharp as a tack until his last moments. This guy was a winner in every sense of the word. Even through all of those trials and treatments, he never showed weakness. He never got down about it. His attitude was simply, “just another hurdle.”
There was a moment 2 days ago that we thought he might pass on, and he didn’t. He was breathing on his own for a few moments longer, and making us laugh. He even wanted to pull a prank on the nurses, “I’ll close my eyes, you guys start crying.” He was joking until the end.
This cancer stuff is difficult, but we never let it get to us. It wasn’t fair 7 years ago. It’s not fair now. But, it kicks us into gear quickly. We love deep, we talk sweeter, we cry harder, we work tough, we laugh louder, and we try more. We shouldn’t worry about things that don’t matter in the end. Mom and pop’s words would be, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” We are lucky to have such amazing people in our lives. We have a huge loving family and the best friends you could ask for. Why stress about anything else? Work on relationships. Work on friendships. That is where our focus should be. All the other stuff will fall in place.
Our dad will be sorely missed. He was the rock of this family. Please have a drink to him in the coming days! 🙂
Doreen, Nick, Joe and Amanda