A TRIBUTE TO
Jim was a hardworking family man. He had strong moral values which you don’t find today. He always joked around with me saying, “If I didn’t love you, you wouldn’t be here.” Yep, that was my Jim, a fine, loving and gentle man whose generosity knew no bounds.
We had our first Thanksgiving together – it was such a happy time. We took sightseeing trips around the state of California. Jim loved to show off his beautiful state. He told exciting stories and we shared many of them at night sitting outside watching the stars and taking in the quiet. Yes, I should have recorded those stories but he would always freeze up when he knew I was recording. He loved Lompoc and was proud to show it off.
He spoiled both Bud Jr. and me rotten. He loved our cockapoo. That dog meant a lot to him (see pic of Bud and Jim in Bud's Photo Album). He made sure that Bud was groomed every month, fed well and saw the vet when necessary. Jim was my friend, confidante, lover, protector, knight in shining armor and my husband. He always treated me with respect and felt like I was his wife. He took his responsibility of taking care of me not lightly. He promised my children I would always be provided for and cared for. We had many, many happy years and a few sad months.
Not many people knew how compassionate Jim was. He took care of me when I was sick and couldn’t sleep in bed. He knew I had to sleep on the recliner so he brought out the sofa cushions and laid them on the floor beside me so he would be by me in case I needed anything. I would sit and watch him sleep. How many real men today would do that for the woman they love – not many I’m sure. I loved to take peeks of him while he was driving seeing in my mind's eye the young handsome man I had come to know and love.
He also loved traveling with me back to my home town. My family was glad to spend some time with Jim. We went to see Niagara Falls, rode on the Erie Canal Locks in Lockport, went to the Anchor Bar (home of the chicken wing) and had the foods associated with that area. We also traveled to Tampa and Daytona Beach in Florida. My son Ricky and his wife Cheryl took us to see Jim's first hockey game at the “Pond” - the Ducks and Sabres. He enjoyed all of it. He made me eat my first wilted salad, artichokes and eggplant I had never eaten.
Back in Orange I remember him climbing those 40 ft or so "hedges" in Orange to chop them down or climbing up on the roof in Orange because it leaked and he had to cover it up. I called him my "Jungle Jim". He loved gardening and to see me cook, can and freeze items.
He was a smart man too. He helped me when I was working on updating my websites by scanning pictures and articles so that I could upload them to the site. He enjoyed that and also my working on putting together the Douglass family tree on the computer.
Jim had a doctor’s appointment October 10, 2004 and while driving to that appointment he told me that he was coughing up blood. Before that I didn’t know anything was amiss. After Xrays, it was confirmed there was a spot on his lungs. He was scheduled for a biopsy and it was confirmed that it was cancer. The doctors wouldn’t operate because of his emphysema so Jim was doing the chemo treatments. He lost some weight because he was tired and wouldn’t eat much.
We went to Colorado to visit his grandson and Dawnna (his wife) and while there looked around at homes. Since Jim would have to make a decision about the one in California he weighed everything and decided to move. In May 2005 we traveled to Colorado Springs and moved into our new home. Jim always said no matter what house we lived in it would always be my home too. Jim continued with chemo treatments and then had radiation treatments. After a few CAT scans it was noted that the cancer wasn’t there.
We were married May 19, 2006 and were hopeful that our life would be back to normal. At that time I entered a contest and was declared the winner of a trip to NY City to have luncheon with Nascar representatives and Dale, Jr. winner of the most popular driver. We were all excited.
Our trip to the Big Apple was to be at the end of November but Jim passed out on the kitchen floor two weeks before we were to travel. That was November 15, 2006. After many tests it was determined that Jim was having short term memory loss and the cancer had traveled to his small brain. Brain surgery was an option. After consultation with his team of 5 doctors, Dr. Illig (surgeon), Dr. Headley (oncologist), Dr. Peddada (radiation oncologist), Dr. Bogarin (pulmonary doctor) and his primary physician Dr. Hammerstrom, it was decided that he could survive the operation. Shortly thereafter, he had brain surgery. That was the day before Thanksgiving. The surgeon called the contest representatives and told them about Jim’s surgery. They sent me a gift basket (autographed Bobby Labonte Cheerios box and autographed Richard Petty hat along with General Mills products as pictured). Not only did I received the prize money but I won an autographed Dale Earnhardt, Jr. driver jacket and hat. Wow! Jim let me take this picture of him in it. The one thing we missed was having our picture taken and meeting with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in person. Jim would have been so excited. Maybe, just maybe, he will be seeing Dale, Sr. and Bud, Jr. where he is. Bud - tell daddy what is going on down here!
Jim’s first visit after surgery with Dr. Illig in his office is when we were told that most cancer patients who have this type of surgery have a survival ratio of 4-6 months. Dr. Peddada reiterated this same thing to us. We were hoping for the best though. Not good for us to hear at this time. It was a little better than 6 months from the surgery.
Jim seemed to be doing well the first few months after his surgery. One thing that didn’t seem to change was his short term memory loss. But he was a trooper and we tried to put some fun into our life. But that was short-lived. With other personal family problems creeping into our life, his spirits went down. He wanted to outlive his dad but that was not to happen.
He was very good at woodworking too. During the last few years of his life he made many items for many people. For me he made two wheeled carts and a stable for my nativity scene. He made one for Dee Dee too (the cart that is) as he made some square planter boxes for Leslie and Dawnna. It was always a joke when he did something that he had to measure it and make sure it was level.
A week after the surgery he was in the garage workshop working on his Christmas present for Brecken. It was a bookcase to match his toy box trough. He was great with his hands and knew it. He had such slim fingers, long and tapered. He loved being in his workshop puttering.
It was during February that we noticed the deterioration in his health. March just made it worse and in April Jim decided no more doctors or appointments. Since the surgery I had to do all of the driving. He was none too happy about that – at first teasing me about my driving and then just going with the flow. He was getting weaker by the day and finally he decided that he didn’t want to go thru any more CT scans or PET scans and doctor’s visits. With his spirits and health taking a deep dive in April, he signed up for Hospice in-home care. They were wonderful and very supportive.
My sister-in-law Hallie came to help me during these times. She knew I couldn’t manage myself and just what things will happen. She was a God send. In fact, I believe that two weeks before Jim died that she saved his life. He had fluid coming out of his nose and mouth and I didn’t know what to do. While I was on the phone to hospice, she held him up until his grandson came; then the nurse finally arrived. It was a scare for all of us.
That happened on a Saturday and on Thursday, June 14 when the nurses came; they decided that both Hallie and I needed a respite since we were up a straight 48 hours. They took Jim to the Hospice Center and I expected him back after the weekend. But his health declined. He didn’t know anyone, nor eat or talk and get out of bed. He was in hospice for 12 days.
At 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 my husband passed away quietly.
Jim was cremated in Colorado Springs and in July his grandson and I traveled to Lompoc, CA to lay Jim to rest alongside Pat (his first wife), Anderson “Bud” and Virginia (his mom and dad). This was what he wanted. We had a small gathering at which time I presented the flag to his daughter Karen. Jim served in the Navy and Army, was stationed in Korea and I felt it should be kept in the family. You can click here to read the obituary guestbook of the Lompoc Record.
I will always remember waking up on “a Holiday day” and finding my card(s) sitting on my computer. One Christmas Eve he tried "roasting chestnuts on an open fire" (in the fireplace with a popcorn popper). Of course, he never did that before so needless to say, they were burned. While Jim was in the hospital in November, I visited the gift shop frequently. Among the stuffed animals was a Christmas Kitty-Kat that sang "Santa Baby." I just had to buy it and took it up to Jim's room. He smiled and laughed when I played it--it was "our secret." That I will always miss. But, we always had fun times and memories like this will last forever; his smile, his love and the good times. Hopefully, the bad ones will fade in time.
God threw away the mold when he made Jim. Some may try to ape him but won’t come close to being the man Jim – no one – NO ONE! – can hold a candle to him. Try as they may they will never be anything like Jim. I miss Jim so much for he was the man of my dreams, my knight in shining armor and will remain so until the end of time.
December 26, 2007
6 months since my Jim's been gone!