A request for donations to help my brother’s family.

My older brother, Wes Jenkins, lost his wife of 26 years, Debra, on Monday to pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, my brother has been chronically underemployed for quite some time now. This last month she required round the clock hospice care that has racked up some serious bills for him and his family.

I don’t often ask for donations and I’m not entirely sure my brother would appreciate me doing so, but I’m putting this out there anyway because you guys have in the past been so very supportive of me when I hit a rough patch, and my rough patch doesn’t compare to what my brother is going through right now. If any of you can spare a few bucks there is a GoFundMe page that’s been set up to accept donations on the family’s behalf.

I am truly thankful for the past support you folks have shown me and I would like to preemptively thank you for any help you can lend my brother now. Thank you.

jenkinsfamily

My dad passed away one year ago yesterday.

I was going to write something about this yesterday, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. I’m still not sure what I’ll say about it today. It took me a couple of days before I managed to write an entry about his death when it happened last year. I miss him and I think about him pretty often, but that’s probably not a surprise to anyone.

Reflecting back on it now it occurs to me that I’m entering that stage of life where losing people close to me is going to happen more frequently. My father-in-law passed two years ago — it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long — all of my uncles on my mother’s side have been gone for years, my grandparents have been gone for over a decade, good friends of mine have left the world sooner than they should have, and now it’s been a year since my dad died. Some of those deaths were unexpected, but the last couple haven’t been.

I’m not sure how to feel about that. My reactions are mixed between the emotional and selfish side that wants to hold onto loved ones for as long as possible and the logical, rational side that says this is a part of life that shouldn’t come as a surprise. I guess the best that I can do is to appreciate the good times we had and that I continue to have with those still here. If your dad is still around today give him a hug for me. I bet he’ll appreciate it.

 

My father has passed away.

Albert Axsom — Jay to his friends and family — died in the early morning hours on Monday, July 21st, 2014. He was 73 years old and his 40th wedding anniversary to my mother was just the day before he passed. The cause was complications from a blood clot in his arm that had broken up and migrated to his lungs. He was on life support and my family made the decision to wean him off of it and let him pass peacefully. I was present and a part of that decision. It’s a decision I’ve been thinking about ever since. I’m still convinced it was the right thing to do, but it still bothers me. It’s part of why it’s taken me several days to write this entry.

Jay was not my biological father, but you’d never have known just by observing us. He took on three kids that weren’t his own when he married my mother and always treated us as though we were blood relatives. He was the only father my sister ever knew as our biological father had died when she was only a couple months old. He did his best in trying to raise us and he took pride in us as only a true father can.  He was a voracious reader of books until his eyesight deteriorated too much from diabetes to see the words on the page. He loved to cook and always had a new kitchen gadget to show you or recipe to try when you came to visit. He and my mother spent their summers making jam and preserves which they gave away to just about everyone they met. His cabbage relish is still one of the very few ways I’ll ever eat cabbage.  He was one of the most friendly people I’ve ever known and was able to strike up a conversation with people he’d just met as though he’d known them all his life. He wasn’t always easy to get along with — no one is — but you never doubted that he loved you.

Dad’s passing isn’t entirely unexpected as he has been suffering the effects of his diabetes for many years. Near the end he was having trouble seeing his computer screen and had taken to just listening to recipe videos on YouTube. He had to get around using a walker and was almost always tied to a portable oxygen tank. Trips to a clinic for dialysis had long been a routine for him. All of that is over for him now. He was as good a father as anyone could have hoped for and I am going to miss him terribly in the days and years to come.

Sylvia Browne manages to be wrong one last time.

Sylvia-BrowneSelf-proclaimed professional psychic Sylvia Browne, whom I’ve written about previously, has passed away at the age of 77. Some 11 years short of her prediction that she’d die at the age of 88.

I mention her passing not as an opportunity to gloat or celebrate her death, but as a final point to the fact that she was a charlatan who made herself rich preying upon grieving and desperate people while providing no real benefit to anyone outside of herself.

Alas, she is (was) not alone in lacking the scruples required to not take advantage of vulnerable and gullible people. Plenty of other “psychics” will fill the void left by her passing in short time. The best we can do is to continue to point out their techniques and try to educate people to avoid being scammed.

A small update on my whereabouts.

keep-calm-and-fuck-cancer-15I’ve not posted anything in over a week and I apologize for that, but I have a good excuse. I was waiting, along with the rest of my wife’s family, for the inevitable to happen. Last Thursday my father-in-law lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

This is the third time in my life that I’ve watched a family member slowly subcomb to the insidiously slow death that cancer brings with it. The first time was when my biological father died of it 40 years ago when I was five years old. He was only 55 at the time. I wasn’t old enough to really understand what was happening, but that didn’t stop the experience from leaving me a little emotionally messed up for awhile.

The second time was my grandfather back in my 20’s. He at least made it into his 70’s before passing. I wasn’t there for the bitter end and, because of other obligations, only saw him a few times over the months that he suffered from the disease.

My father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer almost 10 months ago and he lived a lot longer than his doctors expected him to. I, along with my wife and her family, were at his bedside at the end though I suspect he had vacated well before that point arrived. He didn’t look like the man who had welcomed me into his family with open arms despite the fact that I’m an independent Liberal atheist and he was a moderate Republican episcopal. He was literally a shell that was holding onto life for as long as it could manage even as various parts of his system were failing. It was not an easy thing to experience, but then that’s something that far too many people are familiar with. Then the situation was compounded by learning shortly after his death — while viewing and funeral arrangements were being made — that the wife of a longtime friend of mine had passed away from cancer on Saturday.

Lets just say that it wasn’t a good weekend. Needless to say, I’ve not had much inspiration to write anything during this time. Though I intend to try and get back into writing more often in the near future. It seems I’ve been coming across things that I want to blog about more often as of late so I’ll try to actually get around to doing so.

That’s what I’ve been up to. What about you guys?

Saying goodbye to an old friend.

A happy Melvin from 2009.

It is with a very heavy heart that I announce that Melvin, the Official SEB Cat, has passed away. Melvin came to live with us 8 years ago on my birthday — August 25th, 2004 — and he was the best birthday gift I could have hoped for. We got him from my sister, who had taken him in after he was mauled by a dog. She spent the money at the vet to get him patched up, but already had her own collection of cats and a dog and really couldn’t afford to take on another one. So she called us and we said yes.

He was never much of a lap cat, I can only think of a handful of occasions he ever got into my lap and almost never into anyone else’s, but he did like to be near people. He would sit on the arm of the chair or couch so you could pet him and often he would come up and tap you on the shoulder to get you to follow him to his food dish so he could be petted while he ate. He become an indoor only cat for most of his time with us, something he wasn’t always happy with, but he made the best of it. He moved with us four times over the years and always managed to turn the new place into home.

A pic taken just under a year ago of Melvin hanging out on our computer desk.

Over the last 6 months he had lost a lot of weight dropping nearly 5 pounds and then over this past weekend he took a sudden turn for the worse. He was lethargic and having trouble focusing, dehydrated, not eating, and having trouble using the litter box. A trip to the animal hospital Sunday became a transfer to our regular vet on Monday to the news today that he wasn’t improving despite intravenous fluids and other treatments. He was uncomfortable and tests pointed to a likely cause being pancreatic cancer.

So today Anne and I went to the vet’s office immediately after work where we spent a little time with Melvin to say goodbye. He was conscious, but still unfocused and was obviously uncomfortable despite being on pain medication. The doc came in and administered the drugs that would put him to sleep for the final time. It was stunningly fast. Literally a matter of moments. He licked his lips two or three times as if he was tasting something and then he was still.

Melvin is not the first pet I’ve had to let go, but he is the first one I was there for when the time came. It was a heartbreaking thing to do, but I knew it was the best thing for him. Any other decision I could have made would’ve just prolonged the inevitable and made him suffer unnecessarily. He had a pretty good run at 14 years of age and trying to coax anything more from him would’ve been selfish. I know all of this and yet it doesn’t make me feel any better.

Goodbye old friend. You will be deeply missed.

It is a sad day for memes: Mr. Trololo has passed away.

The song wasn’t particularly popular back when it was released in 1976, but it eventually found fame on the Internet nearly 40 years later and now the man who sang it has passed on:

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Eduard Khil was a beloved Soviet crooner who only won sudden international stardom two years ago when a 1976 video of him singing “trololo” instead of the songs censored words became a global Internet hit.

Khil, best known as Mr. Trololo, died Monday at age 77.

He had been hospitalized in St. Petersburg since a stroke in early April that left him with severe brain damage. The stroke was the cause of his death, said Tatyana Mamedova of Petersburg-Kontsert, which organized Khils concerts.

Soviet crooner Mr Trololo dies in Russia – People Wires – MiamiHerald.com

Contrary to the claim in the article, the lyrics weren’t censored. They just didn’t really have any according to Mr. Khil himself. The had a lyric or two, but thought they were pretty bad so he just made up some vocalizations and winged it resulting in eventual Internet fame.

If you’ve never heard his rendition of “I Am Glad, ‘Cause I’m Finally Returning Back Home”, and if you’ve been on the Internet for any amount of time it’s hard to imagine how you haven’t, then here it is in all its glory:

That man could sing.

Elisabeth Sladen, actress who played Sarah Jane Smith on “Doctor Who”, passes away.

Well my afternoon just took a major downturn:

Elisabeth Sladen dies, aged 63 – Digital Spy

Elisabeth Sladen has passed away at the age of 63.

The actress is best known for portraying Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures. The cause of death is not yet clear.

Just as Tom Baker was the Doctor that got me started on watching Doctor Who all those years ago, Sarah Jane Smith was the first companion I got to know. When she returned to reprise the role in the new series with David Tennant as The Doctor, it finally made the show feel like a real continuation for me. Not to mention it was great to see her take on the role in the Sarah Jane Adventures spin-off that was developed for her after her new series appearance.

I don’t normally get upset over the death of a celebrity, but I have a lot of fond memories from my childhood of watching The Doctor and Sarah as they traveled through time and space. So I’m feeling this one a bit more than usual.

Thanks for the great memories Sarah Jane.

Sarah Jane Smith and The Doctor

My Uncle Dan has passed away.

My mother called last night with word that her youngest brother had died around noon that day. He was 65 years-old. His death wasn’t entirely unexpected as he’s been battling cancer for some time and had been in and out of the hospital more than once recently. Still that doesn’t make hearing the news any easier to take.

Of the three uncles I had on that side of the family my Uncle Dan was my favorite. Uncle Bob died when I was fairly young and I barely remember him. My Uncle Gene, who passed away two years ago, always scared the hell out of me as a kid so I never got particularly close to him. So my Uncle Dan was the one I got to know the best. He was the goofy uncle who was always laughing and making jokes. So much so that when he occasionally became serious about some topic it was always a bit of a shock to me. Growing up ADD without knowing it I always felt like a bit of a goof-ball outsider myself and my Uncle Dan was the first person to show me that it was OK to be a bit of a goof-ball. As a result my Uncle Dan’s passing will probably be the hardest of the three for me emotionally.

I didn’t react with any grief at first hearing the news—it always takes a couple of hours before it really sinks in for me—but I could hear the emotion in my mother’s voice. She’s the oldest of four and she’s now outlived all of her younger brothers. I grieve not just for myself, but for the pain I know she must be going through. There seems to be a commonality among oldest children that they often feel responsible for their younger siblings. It’s a role they never seem to grow out of, my problems with my own older brother are probably rooted in that very issue, and I know my mother often saw herself as being responsible for her brothers. Not that there’s anything she could have done in this situation, my Uncle succumbed to cancer, but rationality often takes a flying leap in the face of strong emotions.

Needless to say I didn’t sleep well last night so it’s going to be a long day at work today. I doubt I’ll be able to make it down to Florida for the funeral due to financial issues, but I wish I could be there. I’d been meaning to take a trip down to see my aunt and uncle and cousins for years, but time and money just didn’t line up to make it possible. That only makes me feel worse about not making it to the funeral. This is the part of the entry where I would normally close with some pithy insight into the nature of life and death, but I don’t have anything to offer on the front.

It’s a sad day in SEBLand: Inventor of the Hawaiian shirt has died.

I declare today a National Day of Mourning as the inventor of one of my favorite shirt styles, Alfred Shaheen, has died at the age of 86:

As tourists from the US to Hawaii after World War II, many began to bring home colorful but cheesy looking shirts and sundresses that would be cause for much amusement among friends.

Shaheen began to change that in 1948 when he opened Shaheen’s of Honolulu and began designing, printing and producing “aloha” shirts, dresses and other ready-to-wear clothing of better quality.

Among those seen in Shaheen-designed shirts of that era was Elvis Presley, who wore one for the cover of his 1961 soundtrack album “Blue Hawaii.”

Such Shaheen originals now sell for more than £500

“Before Shaheen came along, there was no Hawaii garment industry. There were mom and pop stores but no real modern industry,” Linda Arthur, a professor of textiles and clothing at Washington State University said.

I loves me some Hawaiian shirts. Those and t-shirts comprise the majority of my wardrobe. OK so I’ll admit that until I saw this news story I didn’t even know someone had invented Hawaiian shirts, but it’s still a bummer to hear he’s passed on.