Sto-Lat, Sto-Lat!!

“Sto-lat” (One Hundred Years) is a traditional Polish song that is sung to express good wishes, good health and long life to a person. An English version of the lyrics are:

Good luck, good cheer, may you live a hundred years.

Good luck, good cheer, may you live a hundred years.

Good luck, good cheer, may you live a hundred years.

One Hundred Years!

If you were in Poland and it was making you nervous that you wouldn’t be able to pronounce the above words in Polish at a birthday celebration, do not panic too much. “Sto Lat” is often accompanied by vodka, which somehow makes the pronunciation much easier!

So why am I writing this post to you today? It was on September 27, 1917, that a little baby boy named Stanley was born to a polish immigrant couple who settled in Lynn, Massachusetts. Stanley was the youngest of 7 children and if he lived to this very day, Stanley would have reached that 100 Year “Sto-lat” landmark. This man Stanley that I am speaking about was my dear Dad!

Unfortunately, my Dad did not live to be 100 years old. He went to heaven peacefully on January 9th, 2009 (about 8 years ago) at the age of 91, while in the comfort of his home. On that very morning just before he passed, my parents had pre-arranged for a visit from their lawyer to their house to sign their updated last will and testament. Ironically, in just less than one hour after the attorney left my parent’s house, my Dad simply sat down on his favorite chair and moments later—- his heart just simply stopped.

My Dad was such a wonderful person who was loved by all. He never complained and rarely talked much about himself. When you would meet him, he genuinely was interested in you and your welfare and would take the time to listen intently to what you had to say. My Dad was the kind of person who loved his wife and family deeply, who was proud of his three sons, and who would always speak from the heart.

I really miss my Dad even after all these years. However, I am comforted to know that he is at peace and that he continues to lovingly watch over us (his family) from his rightful place in heaven.

“Sto-lat” “Sto-lat” my dear Dad ——- you finally made it to 100 years !  “Sto-lat” !!!

 

Unfortunately, unlike Terry’s Blog I do not have many current pictures of my Dad here with me in my RV in Tampa. However, I incorporated into this Blog a photo of my Dad (in his younger years) that you might recognize since it was previously used by Terry as the main character in a couple of his creative short stories.

Also included is the only video that I have of my Dad probably taken about 10 to 12 years ago and a photo although a bit dark of his Urn, favorite hat and a photo of my Dad’s smiling face proudly showing “The Drabczuk smile”!

Also included below are a couple of other personal comments about my Dad:

 

From my mother Stacia (his wife): What can I write about my husband?  He was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I’m sure glad I accepted his New Year’s invitation to go on a date when he called me on Christmas Eve in 1947.  That was the beginning of it all.  In May of 1949, Stan and I married.  He gave me 60 years of the happiest times of my life, but most of all he left me with three wonderful sons – Jan, Gary and Randy.

From my brother Jan (his oldest son): Growing up I always remember that my Dad was there for me. He would come home usually after working overtime and he still had time for me. He was there for both my happy and sad times. Dad gave me the direction, education and love that has made me successful in life. Every day I wish I could be more like him. Wish you were still hear Dad. Happy 100th birthday.

From my brother Randy (his youngest son): I can’t believe my dad would have turned a 100 years old today.  I also can’t believe it’s been over 8 years since his passing.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.  He was a wonderful father, husband and man of this world.  He was a friend to all that knew him. My dad was the type of guy that could walk into a room of strangers and then walk out of that room with every one of those strangers becoming his friend.   He made everybody laugh.   Growing up with my dad provides me with some of my best memories in life.  He was always supportive of me and encouraged me to excel in everything I did.  No matter how busy he was with working extra hours to support our family, he would still find time in his schedule for me and that made me feel special.  From the simple things in life like coming up to tuck me in bed when I was little or the difficult things like coming to the hospital when I was in a car wreck, I could always see in my dad’s eyes how much he loved me.  Even as an adult, when I went back home to visit, I could always feel my dad’s love.  I only wish I could be half the man my dad was. I love my dad, I miss my dad and I wish my dad a Happy 100th Birthday!

Here’s to my dad… “Na zdrowie!”

From my sister-in-law Gail (my brother Jan’s wife): Stanley was always a lot of fun and happy to see anyone who walked into his home. He made everyone feel welcome and could not wait to chat with you. He made me feel like part of the family from the first meeting. I will always love and miss him as his daughter in law. He will forever be missed.

 

From Terry (my deceased spouse, written several months ago): Gary’s father is now gone from this world, and I only had the opportunity to be in his company twice.  From the memories of Gary and his family and the short time I knew him; he was an extremely patient, funny and easy-going man.  A son, a brother, a husband, a father, a respected man.  He is missed and now a memory, but he is not forgotten.

 

A Love Note from Peru

Image Provided by: Harbor Light Hospice

Dear Friends –
I  wanted to share with you a beautiful note I just received from my Cousin Lisa who lives in Lima, Peru. Like most of you …..Lisa has never actually met Terry in person and up until now has never had an opportunity to experience his blog site (which I have now shared with her). However, somehow through the periodic emails that I have written to her she has gotten to know and to love Terry.
Lisa is such a special person and her letter came at such a good time for me as Terry was  cremated yesterday according to his wishes.  I looked over to the empty chair last night where Terry used to sit, and I realized that Terry will no longer physically be with me anymore.  Then after a moment of crying and temporary despair, I was comforted as I reminded myself that Terry truly is in a better place, and although he is no longer here with me in person, I know his spirit will continue to live within each of us for eternity and that we will meet again.
The power of his spirit is amazing. To think, in less than just one week since Terry’s passing, I have witnessed the goodness in so many of you, and although Terry’s body has now been transformed into a simple pile of dust (according to God’s plan) his spirit continues to radiate and to touch others.  In this one example…..his spirit shined a light upon the heart of my Cousin Lisa all the way to Peru!
Love, Gary
P.S.  I will be leaving the Tampa area for a few days to stay at my brother’s in Orlando.  I figured staying in a house verses an RV would be safer due to Irma. I have a blogging friend helping me post these right now, so please don’t be upset if I am not able to respond back right away.  I will learn how to use this soon and hope to carry on Terry’s torch here at Spearfruit.  Please know that I am reading and very much appreciate your comments and notes.
 ———
Note from my cousin, Lisa:
Dear Gary,
I logged into my gmail on Monday, and the subject line of your email pierced through my heart.  I broke down and cried at the inhumanity of this dreaded disease, and I have found myself at a loss for words until now.  Cesar and I both send our most heartfelt sympathies to you and to Terry’s family.  As it happens, one of Cesar’s aunts is losing her own battle with cancer at the moment, but holding onto hope and a good vibrational spirit.
Some of us are destined to be taken away at a moment’s notice.  I may have told you that Cesar’s brother Antonio left home on Christmas Day 2015 and was never seen or heard from again by the family, until his body was found ten days later, in a decomposed state.  Incompetence and/or corruption on the part of the authorities made a mockery of the homicide investigation and added to the pain and sense of injustice.  To this day, there are only unanswered questions and lingering suspicions.  That wrenching from the family bosom, and the mystery surrounding Antonio’s disappearance and death, have left an open heart-wound.  (But Antonio was a fervent Christian who lived his life in happy expectation of the next life, so there is comfort in knowing that he is where he was called home to be.)
Others of us, on the other hand, are destined to be faced with the knowledge of how and when our end of life on Earth will likely unfold.  It is an emotionally, psychologically, and physically cruel transitioning.  And yet, there is the blessing that one is given the opportunity to reflect and to reach out to express everything that needs to be expressed while there is still time and to close any outstanding emotional wounds.  Terry survived his remaining months on Earth with courage and wisdom and humanity.  I thank you so much, Gary, for sharing the reference to his blog with me.  I spent hours reading through much of it on Monday and will continue to go back to read more and to re-read the posts and comments that I already did read.  It amazed me what a sweet, generous soul he obviously was, always brightening someone’s day, always offering a kind and considerate comment.  That, in and of itself, would have made him special to the many people who knew him through his blog.  But his willingness to openly reflect on inner struggles and issues that are common to all of us in one form or another and to reach the core of others through his example clearly made him more than special.  And seeing himself as ordinary made him extraordinary.
The only thing I really knew before about Terry was his fascination with Christmas lights, and it struck me at the time that he must have been a real kid at heart.  Now I am struck by the childlike innocence and trust with which he revealed himself to himself and to everyone else through his posts. I am reminded that Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Terry really did become like a child, didn’t he, in his simple, plain, open, guileless honesty and generosity of spirit, and that touched people and made them connect.  That kind of human unity is divinely inspired.  I don’t think that there is any doubt about where he is now.
The difficult part for Terry has passed.  That is the blessing.  For you, too, dear Gary, the agony of watching him deteriorate and suffer is over.  But the void is real.  You need time to grieve and heal.  However, I have faith that you will meet some of the many people who developed a profound love for Terry, and that common bond of connected souls will make your spirit bounce once again and never let you feel alone.  Terry opened up a new world of good people with hearts of gold of their own, and I know that by reaching out to them, as you have, they will reach back.  Don’t worry about the future.  That is probably one of the most precious lessons of Terry’s mission.  You will find the path that you were destined to follow, perhaps one that you would never have found if God hadn’t brought an angel named Terry into your life.
Gary, it goes without saying, but if at some point you feel the need or desire to get away and would like to come down here, our arms are open.
I love you, Cousin.
Peace to you,
Lisa

Brotherly Transformations

Still more came to visit.

As mentioned in this past weekend’s posts, I had more family visitors.

The trip was planned for some time, and I did not foresee myself being in the hospital.  But there I was and here they came and we made the best of it.  This family visit involved my oldest brother, his wife and their daughter and son.  Gary, the usual host with the most; never skipped a beat and helped make the best of their time here when not visiting me in the hospital.  Really, who wants to go to Florida and spend their time at the hospital?

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Image Provided by: Kyrene Foundation

With the arrival of Monday came my brother and his family’s departure.  We were not able to spend a great deal of time together, but that time together was important for all of us.  They needed to see and visit with me just as much as I needed to see and visit with them.

As with all the previous family visits, there were tears, honestly, openness and the knowing that this time spent together could very well be our last time together.

Monday morning, it was only my brother to come visit me one more time before heading back home to Texas.  This brotherly time together, just us two together and talking about our relationship through the years was important.  This time together to share a hug and say, ‘I love you’ without feeling embarrassed and uneasy is what I believe to be the conclusion of a lifetime brotherly relationships and brotherly transformations.

We both came full circle in this relationship of ours and we departed knowing the love we have for each other is strong, real and sincere.

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Image Provided by: vord.dvrlists.com

The previous years and years of what use to be our brotherly relationship was transformed on Monday.  A new brotherly relationship like none other we had experienced over the years.

Why wait until the last minute for these transformations?

I have no answers; I guess that is just life.

I love you brother and your family and thank you for visiting me.

You are important to me, as is our brotherly transformations.

with each new breath

My friends this past week I have had unexpected change in plans.

After my appointment last Tuesday with Dr. C., he decided to admit me into the hospital.

Since then, much has taken place and this weekend I have more family visiting.

I plan to post everyday – this is my goal.

For the next several days, I have a favor to ask.

I need some rest, some time to catchup on me.

Comments are disabled today.

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This image was taken October of last year.

As time passes, so can better times, so do our lives, so did my better health.

I beg with each new breath, take me back to a healthier time and to a better place in my life.

Nothing to Hide

My friends the last couple of days I have had unexpected change in plans.

After my appointment this past Tuesday with Dr. C., he decided to admit me into the hospital.

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Image Provided by: bigstockphoto.ro

Since then, much has taken place and these next several days I have more family coming to visit.

At this time, I am unsure how many days I will be in the hospital.

I still plan to post each day as I deal with my current change in plans.

I have nothing to hide from you.

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Image Provided by: Medical Humour

And after these past few days, I have nothing to hide from the dedicated people helping me in the hospital.

Many of these people have seen all of me recently, as I have – Nothing to Hide.

Weekend Spent with Sister

You may remember in my post last week ‘Who is next?‘, I wrote the following –

This coming Friday, my twin sister and my mom will be visiting.

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Image Provided by: welcometosister.com

In today’s post, I write the following –

Because I will be spending time with my twin sister this weekend, I decided to take it easy here on WP.

I disabled comments for this post; I hope you don’t mind.

Thank you for stopping by today to read, and even though you are unable to leave a comment, you can still ‘Like’ my post.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Weekend Spent with Mom

You may remember in my post last week ‘Who is next?‘, I wrote the following –

This coming Friday, my twin sister and my mom will be visiting.

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Image Provided by: Pixabay

In today’s post, I write the following –

Because I will be spending time with my mom this weekend, I decided to take it easy here on WP.

I disabled comments for this post; I hope you don’t mind.

Thank you for stopping by today to read, and even though you are unable to leave a comment, you can still ‘Like’ my post.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Who is next?

In my post ‘Phone Calls‘, I wrote the following –

So, the news of my cancer spreading and growing was received on a Friday; and Saturday Gary made a couple of calls.

He called my twin sister and he called my stepmom.  Why call these two family members?

My stepmom is the caretaker of my dad who has Parkinson’s Disease.  My dad’s health has deteriorated a great deal in the past couple of years.

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Image Provided by: Kyrene Foundation

At times, it is very difficult to understand his speech and because of the medications he is on; he sleeps a lot.  My stepmom has been a part of the family for over 30 years and is in contact with my siblings.  Gary knew in talking with her, she in turn would talk with my siblings.

My twin sister, being the only female sibling, has a close relationship with my mom – they live in the same city.  Gary did not want to call my mom directly as he was concerned about upsetting her, plus a sensitive matter was to be discussed and Gary felt it coming from her daughter, my twin sister would be better received from mom.

In today’s post, I write the following –

Do you remember Father’s Day weekend?  My 3 sons surprised me with a visit that weekend.  It was an emotional weekend for all of us as we chatted about my current health situation.

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Image Provided by: Board of Wisdom

I was honest with them and they know the seriousness of my cancer and the ways it is invading my body and what we are doing to fight back.  They saw me at my worse; just a shell of a man who is weak, but still strong.  You can read more about our special weekend in my post ‘Father & Sons‘.

A couple of weeks after my son’s visit, my dad and stepmom came to visit.  They spent a week and I had many special moments with my dad, moments I will not forget.  You can read more about their visit in my post ‘Chats, Tears & Love‘.

Do I have other family members coming to visit?  Well, since you asked –

This coming Friday, my twin sister and my mom will be visiting.  Another important visit I am looking forward to because my mom and I are close.  I have written many posts about the importance she is to me.  This will be an emotional visit because my mom, she worries like most moms do and I think she feels helpless.

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Image Provided by: Quotes Pictures – QuotesPie.com

My sister and I are twins and therefore we have a special bond.  I believe if that bond were broken in anyway, there would be a great loss there.  My sister has revealed to me she is heartbroken and upset.

This weekend I will have special visits with special family members; both have been important to me throughout my life and especially now.

Months not Years

In my post ‘something changes direction‘, I wrote these words –

The results of the CT Scan and MRI came back with additional bad news.

My cancer has now spread into my bones and spine as well as additional Lymph Nodes.  It was only one month ago I had scans performed and these areas were clear and displayed nothing out of the ordinary.  The doctors are amazed at how quickly my cancer has spread.

So, what comes next?

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Image Provided by: WallpapersCraft

In today’s post, I write the following –

It was about 3 weeks ago, I received the news my cancer had spread into my bones, spinal cord and additional Lymph Nodes.

Following my hospital stay, I had a visit with my Oncologist Dr. L. to discuss my options.  One option was to do nothing and the other option was Immunotherapy.  Concerning Immunotherapy; any type of positive results is only about 15% – meaning 15% of participants will receive some type of response.  The response would be the slowing down of the progression of cancer to other parts of the body and/or stopping or slowing down the growth of the cancer cells.

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Image Provided by: flickr.com

So, I asked Dr. L. the question; how many years would my life be extended, if there were a positive result?  His response was that we are talking about months, not years.

It is mid-July and sometime in late August scans will take place to compare to previous ones.  What will they reveal?  Any changes?  We will find out soon enough and further decisions will be made.

Whatever those results and decisions, my time is limited to months not years.  I know this and Gary knows this as does my family.

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I will continue to write and publish posts until it comes a time I am unable to do so.

lymphedema

Last month in my post ‘My Feet – A Fresh Perspective‘, I concluded with the following –

Much has changed since I wrote that post back in 2015 except, I continue to appreciate my feet.  What has changed?  It was only 6 weeks ago I was walking 1-2 miles per day with some discomfort.  I mentioned in several posts about my increased pain and how it was affecting my walking.  Rapidly the pain increased in my right groin and the walking became worse forcing me to use a cane and now I am using a walker. Image1 Then came reduced physical activity and most recently a 7-day hospital stay where I remained bedridden for most of that time.  This combination has caused severe edema in my feet and ankles.

My feet continue to function and do their job even though they are swollen and tired – I continue to appreciate my feet.

 

In today’s post, I begin with the following –

In the past 2 weeks, my severe edema has become worse and after communications with doctors at Moffitt Cancer Center, it was determined I have lymphedema.  Image2This is common with some cancer patients when the lymph nodes are affected.  Since I have cancer in many of my lymph nodes and with the recent decrease in physical activity; the lymphedema is now another health condition to deal with.

This past Monday, I had a visit from home health care specialist to treat my lymphedema.  My current treatment involves the wrapping of my legs with hopes the fluid will flow back toward the trunk of my body.  With many of my lymph nodes having cancer, this process may be difficult and slow in progression or not work at all.  If this treatment is unsuccessful, then other treatments will be considered.

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Treatment along with exercise hopefully will help reduce the swelling at which time I will wear compression stockings for the unforeseen future.  My understanding is lymphedema can be temporary or permanent, therefore treatment will continue for as long as the lymphedema is present.  I hope I will eventually will reduce the swelling and improve my leg muscles so I have the ability to walk without the aid of a walker or cane.

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My pain level prior to my recent hospital stay was a 10+, and afterwards I felt the level was about a 5.  Now with the lymphedema, the pain level has slowly creeped up to level 6 or 7 and at times reaching to a 10+ again.  I have an appointment today with Dr. C. in the Supportive Care Medicine group to discuss modifying my pain medicines or taking some other approach to reducing my pain.

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With recent information concerning the spread of my cancer and the pain experienced on a daily basis; I am on a roller coaster of emotions.  I accept what is taking place with my body and my life – I deal with it one day at a time.  What upsets me the most, is the effect this cancer is having on my family and especially Gary.