My Favorite Christmas Present(s)

Dear Friends & Family,

He walked in the door with a gift wrapped in deep blue metallic shiny paper. It was the most beautiful gift wrap I had ever seen. I was seven years old and he was Jim Gatson, a good friend of my parents. He had come to our house for dinner bearing gifts for my brother and me. I remember sitting through dinner staring at that present and dreaming of what could possibly be inside. Finally it was time to open our gifts. I was careful not to rip the the delicate metallic paper. Inside the box was a pair of white knee high boots. I couldn't believe my eyes! They were the kind of boots I could only dream of wearing, now it was a reality, I had white boots! I even saved the wrapping paper, I kept it in a special box under my bed for years. When Jim came the next year he gave me a real rabbit fur jacket and hand muff as white as snow. Even though our California climate was rarely cold enough to warrant the warmth, I wore that jacket and used the hand muff often. They were so soft and luxurious. Thank you Jim for the awesome memories!

We have had a fun and busy week! We love our friends & family!

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Pest Control Operators of California
Annual Family Christmas Party
Thursday Night

Friday Morning Cookie Exchange at Margie's!

Friday Night hanging out with our neighbors and Mike

Clarissa & Emily spent the weekend in Big Bear

Saturday Night - Home Depot Center
CIF Football Playoffs
Congratulations Cousin William!
2010 State CIF Champs - De La Salle

After an amazing Christmas Concert at
 First Baptist Church of Lakewood
everyone came over for a chili dinner.

Corbin & Lauryn exchanged Christmas gifts
Lauryn knitted Corbin a steelers scarf
Corbin gave Lauryn a necklace with a heart and a key :)

A visit from the Velaquez Family-Curt's Cousins
They were in town from Northern, Ca for CIF Playoffs
Robert, Veronica, boyfriend Ashkon, Cayden, Jazmin, Lyn, us and William the football champ!
Monday Night

Clarissa's Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Tuesday Night

Krystal, Cayden, Johnny & Jacob

Clarissa, Melissa, Emily, Kiki & Christine

Ziemke Family Favorite Things

Dear Friends & Family,

It is only fitting this time of year that we take time to appreciate what we have and think of what we could give. Inspired by Oprah, if we could give our friends our Favorite Things, this is what you’d get from the Ziemke Family.

Corbin’s Favorite Things:
Fiji Water
My motorcycle
Hanging out with friends and family at parties at our house

Cayden’s Favorite Things:
Video editing
My truck
Good times with friends
Tommy’s & In & Out
The desert

Clarissa’s Favorite Things:
The smell of sunscreen
French Fries & Ranch
Lake Nacimiento
Country music

Cindy’s Favorite Things:
Iced Tea (especially from It’s A Grind)
UGG Slippers
Seat heater in my car
A soft down pillow

Curt’s Favorite Things:
The smell of the desert while riding my motorcycle
The sound of a Honda CR500 - 2 stroke
Sunrise while on a road trip
Sunshine on my body
Patron Platinum Tequila

We had fun creating this list together and guessing each other’s favorite things. We are truly grateful for all we have....from the simplest “things” to sensory pleasures. As a family, we are thankful for the gift of time and for the laughter which fills our home. And of course, we are thankful for our wonderful, supportive and awesome friends and family who have been right beside us throughout this journey. We thank God for giving us peace, happiness and hope.

This past week was super busy and super fun! Our neighbors Bob & Karen Knapp invited us to see Clint Black in concert at The Grove on Wednesday. It was an awesome experience being in the front row and center! We could almost reach out and touch him. Thanks Bob & Karen (and Adam). Thursday, Curt took Clarissa and her friends Danielle & Katie shopping for Formal Dresses in downtown Los Angeles. He really enjoyed the experience and laughter with the girls. It was all fun and games until their waiter at dinner rushed over to tell him his van was being towed away. Luckily Clarissa is a fast runner and a sweet talker; she was able to get them to take the car off the tow hook and settled for an $88.00 ticket. Our Friday girls group got together to celebrate Margie’s birthday at a sweet little tea house in Lakewood while the guys met for breakfast at Schooner or Later. Saturday we got our Christmas Tree and decorated it on Sunday, now our house is fully decorated and done-up for Christmas! Sunday night we enjoyed dinner at The Fish Company with our friends George & Denise. Today, Corbin’s class had their Chapel program and then he got to ride in a limo to Ruby’s on the pier as a reward for raising money for the school jog-a-thon. Go Corbin!

We are thankful for the busyness of the season which helps keep our minds off ALS and what it is doing to Curt’s body. Thank you for thinking of us and praying for Curt.


Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin
Clint Black Concert

Bob & Karen Knapp

Clint Black-this was taken from our seats. Pretty darn close!

Clarissa shopping with Curt in downtown
 Los Angeles for her
Mardi Gras Formal Dress

Lori, Margie (Happy Birthday), Jaime
Julie, Carolyn, Lynn, RaeLynn, Lisa, Me
at Margie's Birthday Tea

Ready to hang ornaments

Clarissa cracking up on the floor at something Cayden said.

Corbin's Limo Ride to Ruby's

Never Say Never

Dear Family & Friends,

Way back before we had kids, we used to tease our friend because she would always sit in the back seat of the car with her babies. She would tell me “never say never.” As the years passed, I would watch the stages she went through with her kids and think to myself “I would never...” She always seemed to know what I was thinking and would often remind me to “never say never.” Wouldn’t you know it, when Clarissa was born, guess who sat in the backseat with her on the way home from the hospital. Me. From that day on I learned to “never say never.”

When Curt & I decided to start a family we were excited to share all the experiences of caring for our babies including doctor visits, story time and diaper changes. There was one thing that I opted out of; nail trimming. For some reason I am grossed out by trimming fingernails and toenails. Oh and even worse to see a bloody stubbed toe, a smashed nail or a broken nail. I just can’t bear it. So from the beginning, Curt has always been in charge of nail maintenance...until now.

Because of ALS Curt has no strength in his hands and he is unable to trim his nails. A few months ago when I saw his hands were getting weak, I thought “oh no” how are we going to deal with this. One Friday afternoon, we went to lunch and I lured him into a Nail Spa. He told me “no thank you” to a pedicure and said he would wait for me. I wouldn’t take no for an answer and was finally able to convince him to try it. After only a few minutes in that comfy massage chair with his feet in warm water and all the workers swooning over his gorgeous feet, (seriously, everywhere we go people compliment him on his nice looking feet....whatever?) he was hooked. So for the last few months we have had “date days” at the Nail Spa. We sit side by side and hold hands while talking about the past or making plans for trips or parties. Curt has his regular girl Suzanne who does a great job keeping his fingernails and toenails trimmed. The last time we were there, while Curt was using the restroom, Suzanne asked me when Curt was going to get better (she thought he had hurt his leg). When I told her he had a terminal disease she immediately began crying. I felt bad for her, she could barely hold back the tears during his pedicure.

These days it is getting more difficult to get Curt out and about. It takes awhile to get in and out of the car, in and out of places and he gets tired easily. We still do a lot, but we have to limit our activities a little. I guess mani/pedis have not been a priority lately. I didn’t think much about it until the other night in bed when his toenail scratched me. Shoot, I knew there was no time for a visit to the Nail Spa for the next few days. So yesterday I took a deep breath and dove in and trimmed his nails. It wasn’t so bad. I am definitely not very good at it, but I got the job done. Yay! Never say never.

Along with trimming nails, I never thought I would have the nerve to give someone a shot. I slipped into that slowly. After “letting” Clarissa & Corbin take turns each night giving him his shot (injection), I just kind of hid out in the background. Then there came the night when no one was home but Curt & I. I had no choice; I prepared the syringe, found the spot on his arm and then closed my eyes as I pushed it into him. Each time I give him a shot it gets easier. Now it is no big deal.

This weekend I strung a new basketball net in the basketball hoop all by myself (under the direction of Curt). I repaired the ice-maker, organized the attic and helped Cayden & Corbin hang Christmas lights. These are all things I never would have done before.

Love is blind. Love helps me get past the things I am uncomfortable with and allows me to do what needs to be done. With love all things are possible. This disease is forcing us all to jump into areas that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. We have each learned to “never say never.”

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Our Company Christmas Party
December 4, 2010

 The Mariachi Band

Corbin's School Christmas Program
December 7, 2010
Ice Cream with the Melanson & Gallie (not pictured) Families
 at Fuddruckers after the program!
Corbin, Lauryn, Camryn, Nathan & Baylee


Dear Friends & Family,

Faith. Is it something we are born with, is it something we learn or is it a gift from God? I think it is all three. I was born with faith, I can't remember ever not having faith. I also know that I have learned to trust in my faith daily. Even through difficult times in my life such as; back surgeries (6 of them), a miscarriage, and Curt's battle with ALS, faith has been with me. Faith helps me stay focused on the positive and remain grateful for what I have. Faith is trusting that the right answer to a problem will come. Faith is waiting patiently until things get resolved and knowing that prayer can be answered in many ways. Faith is God. I have a quiet inner faith that I don't talk about openly. I trust in God everyday, every moment and He is why I can get up in the morning and be strong for Curt and our children.

In each situation, I surrender and stop resisting and stop trying to change what I cannot change. I try to stay in the moment and be fully open to the blessings we have received and those we are yet to receive. I stand in gratitude, look at where we are, how far we have come and what we've accomplished. I believe there is a plan for our lives and we just need to have faith. With faith....all things are possible.

We had an awesome Thanksgiving week. Thanks to all of you for supporting our family and our journey.

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Thanksgving Day at Barbara's Home (Curt's Mom)
Long Beach

Ready to work?
Lake Nacimiento

Corbin & Lauryn cruising Captain Morgan
Lake Nacimiento

Corey, Jacob, Clarissa, Papa Jim, Grandma Celia, Krystal, Cayden, Andrew
Me, Curt, Lauryn & Corbin
The adults were definately out-numbered for the weekend. Luckily they are all great kids!

Being Thankful

Dear Friends & Family,

There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy.  - Ralph H. Blum

There are many things in life that cannot coexist at the same time. For example, you can’t be hungry and full or standing still while walking or grateful and sad at the same time. Being grateful for the people and thankful for the blessings in our lives helps keep our family from being sad. I can honestly say that we experience gratefulness on a daily basis.

In honor of Thanksgiving and for this week’s update, I wanted to make a list of all the acts of kindness we’ve been shown since Curt’s illness began. I decided not to do it because if I left someone or something out, I would feel really bad. I should have kept a running list over the past year, for sure it would be a book by now.

I have always been a thankful person. Growing up in a happy home, having a happy childhood, lots of friends and many opportunities has given me the strength to face difficult situations and know that they are learning opportunities and they are making me the person I am meant to be. I would rather be the person I was than to face this ordeal with Curt, but it is out of my control. This is the hand we were dealt and I will do my best to remain positive and thankful.

In almost all of my updates I have thanked our friends and family. More than just “having” friends, our friendships have grown deeper than I ever thought possible. This is an awesome gift and only came to be when Curt was diagnosed. I can’t imagine life without our friends and family. Everyone has neighbors, but we are thankful to call our neighbors friends. They all look out for Curt and our family and we are blessed to have them so close. I am thankful for our praying friends. I am amazed by the amount of people all around the world who are praying for Curt and our family. People reach out from all across the country who have heard our story and have let us know they are praying for us.

Our children...what can I say? They are strong beyond belief. They have not used the “ALS-my dad is dying” card to check out of their responsibilities. They are each amazing, encouraging and loving. They are doing their best throughout this terrible ordeal. They love their Dad and help him a lot. They give him his shots, help him put his shoes on and keep him laughing. I am grateful for all they do.

Regarding Curt.....I am thankful he is not in pain. I am thankful he remains positive even on his difficult days. I am thankful for the dad and husband he is and the example he sets for our children. I am thankful he can laugh and we can all laugh together. I am thankful for each day we are together.

We are looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with Curt’s mom and family at her home in Long Beach. She has been busy preparing recipes that fit into Curt’s diet. More than anything we are just happy to be with family. Friday we will travel to Lake Nacimiento to spend the weekend with my parents at their lake house. The kids are each bringing friends and are looking forward to a weekend away.

Once again, thank you all for supporting us through thoughts and prayers. We appreciate each of you and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!


Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Ziemke & Shockey Families
Curt's 44th Birthday
February 2010
Torrance Beach - Prayer Service - March 2010

Mojave Desert - March 2010

My Thoughts by Bill Melanson

Many of us can remember exactly where we were or what we were doing when certain things happened. For older generations, it was Pearl Harbor or the JFK assassination. For others it was when John Lennon died or when the Space Shuttle blew up. All of us remember that day in September 2001. Today is the day that I remember getting the email from Cindy telling the world that Curt had been diagnosed with ALS. I remember sitting in my office at work, reading in disbelief, that one of our closest friends had a horrible disease for which I knew there was no cure. Tears streamed down my face as I thought of Curt and Cindy and those three great kids. It’s hard to believe that it was one year ago today that we all started on this journey.

Last week, Cindy recounted the last year. It was fun remembering many of the events that Carolyn and I, and our kids, got to share with the Ziemkes in the last year. One of the special memories for me was the Guys weekend to Jawbone Canyon where guys from all parts of Curt’s life – buddies he grew up with, friends from work, his “Troublemaker” buddies – all came together to be together with their friend. There were some tremendous laughs and memories from that weekend but there is an underlying sadness to that trip as that was the last weekend Curt was able to ride his motorcycle in the desert. The Prayer Service at Torrance Beach was another special memory. There was so much love shared that night as almost 100 people showed up at sunset to pray for Curt and Cindy’s safe journey to Mexico for a stem cell treatment. I was much honored to be asked to read a prayer that night. In September, Curt accompanied 8 guys for a fishing trip up in the Sierra, outside of Bishop. Camping at 9000 feet with a guy in a wheelchair would not be considered easy but Curt was a trooper and had a great weekend.

Memories of doing stuff with Curt over the last year are things that I will cherish but it is the intangible things that have truly changed me in the last year. The collective outpouring of love and friendship shown the Ziemke family has been awe-inspiring. Anyone who questions God’s love just needs to witness the unselfish giving and caring given to Curt and his family. Curt’s humility and strength are humbling. It is hard for me to complain about problems in my day or life when I look at how Curt handles his daily life. One night, Carolyn and I and Cindy and Curt went out for dinner. After dinner, Curt needed to go to the rest room. I accompanied Curt and helped him get situated in front of the urinal and unbuttoned, then re-buttoned, his pants for him. I never thought I would ever be in the position where I had to help a friend (a 44 year-old friend) button his pants after going the bathroom. I gladly did it because I love him like a brother but it was very humbling for me. I’m also quite sure that Curt would prefer that he could do mundane tasks by himself but has reluctantly resigned himself to the fact that he needs help sometimes.

We don’t know what the future is going to bring us. We pray that Curt’s illness will stabilize. I look back on 2010 and realize that it was a full year. I’ve developed some great new friendships with people I didn’t know a year ago – Curt’s brother Bill and mom Barbara, Cindy’s parents Jim and Celia, Jim Beedy, Steve-o, Darrin, and neighbors Mark and Kelly, and Larry Coyle and Debbie. We all share a great love for the Ziemkes. I’m not sure that I’d like to do 2010 over again and I’d certainly prefer if my buddy Curt wasn’t fighting this horrid disease. I do know that I am humbled by the spirit of God that has been shown by all of the friends that have come out to love and support Curt, Cindy, Clarissa, Cayden, and Corbin. I love you guys.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving,

Bill Melanson
Bill Ziemke, Barbara Ziemke, Clarissa, Curt, Cayden & Bill Melanson
Good Year Blimp ride in May 2010

What Makes Curt Great

Dear Friends & Family,

I have always considered myself a lucky girl to be with Curt. Whether dating in high school, newlyweds or married 22 years, Curt is quite a catch! He has many great qualities that have helped make our relationship special.

He is easy-going ~ Curt is the most kick back person I have ever met. Nothing seems to faze him. People will cut him off in traffic, steal a parking space he had been waiting for, or not follow through on commitments and he will just carry on.

Always a gentleman ~ Curt is the ultimate gentleman. He holds doors open for strangers, if someone drops something he is right there to pick it up, he rarely cusses, never farts in front of people or even me, he is very hospitable and takes time to listen to people who want to talk.

He stops to smell the roses ~ not literally, but he takes the time to notice things like a cool cloud formation, leaves changing colors, someone’s new haircut, or cool new items at Costco.

He is kind to everyone ~ Curt never puts himself above others; no matter your walk of life, be it a waiter, a car wash attendant, a doctor or a co-worker, Curt treats everyone with kindness and respect.

He can fix anything ~ He has always been interested in how things work and enjoys fixing and building. Whether it’s an auto, motorcycle, boat, house, plumbing, kids’ toys, bicycles or a broken necklace, he can fix it!

He has tons of common sense ~ Common sense is truly a remarkable quality!

He’s funny ~ He’s not one to be the center of attention or the life of the party but when he spurts something out, it is always witty and clever.

He’s a lover not a fighter ~ That may sound corny, but, Curt doesn’t have a temper. In our entire 28 years of being together, we have probably argued less than a dozen times. He is truly easy going.

He is super organized & clean ~ His closet, dresser drawers, garage, and motorhome storage areas are all organized, clean and labeled. He regularly goes through stuff and if it “hasn’t been used in a year” off to Goodwill it goes. He even makes sure the labels on soda and beer cans in his garage fridge are straight. One day I came home to find the fruit drawer in the house fridge organized; everything lined up in rows, apples, oranges, etc. That’s when I started to worry about him….jk! Speaking of clean, he is a freak about hygiene and always smells great.

He is a great husband ~ He puts me first and respects me. He walks me to my car in the morning when I leave and he greets me at my car when I get home in the evening. If he sees an errand on my list he will do it for me. He puts toothpaste on my toothbrush and helps with dishes. He has never said an unkind word to me. He wakes up happy and always kisses me goodnight. He makes me feel special, always.

He is a great father ~ He listens, he hugs, he teaches, he is patient. He spends time, quality time with each of the kids. He shows them respect. He never talks down to them. He is encouraging and positive. He is the ultimate role model.

I could go on and on about how great he is. Those of you who know him already know this list. You have been fortunate, like me, to experience his kindness and wit. At some point he has helped you, encouraged you, fixed something for you or shared a laugh with you. We all know what makes Curt great!

As great as Curt is to me, I am struggling. My subconscious wants to prepare me for life without Curt. It tries to drive a wedge of separation between us. It tells me I don’t need him and I will be ok without him. I struggle constantly with my mind. I remind myself to live for today, to stay in the moment. My mind is never quiet….except when I sleep. Thank God for good, restful and peaceful sleep.

Our days are full of family and friends. The kids, their school work, and sports are keeping us busy. Things will slow down by Thanksgiving break. With all the busyness it is nice to come home Monday nights and have a meal waiting for us. Thank you to everyone who provides our family with meals. The gift cards, Honeybaked ham, and notes from our out of town friends are very touching. Thank you all!

Thanks for praying with us.


Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

A Year of Memories

Dear Friends & Family,

It will be one year on November 11, 2010 since Curt was officially diagnosed with ALS. On one hand it seems like only yesterday that we heard the devastating news, on the other hand it seems like a lifetime ago. Over the past year we have been to countless doctors’ appointments, Curt has endured many tests, we have researched the disease, tried experimental treatments, and readied our home to be wheelchair accessible. We have spent a lot of time and money trying to treat and live with ALS. All that aside, our most important accomplishment of year #1, is that we have continued to live life at its fullest.

The other day I was thinking of all that we have done in the past year. I decided to look at my calendar and make a list. Here it is:

November 11, 2009 – November 11, 2010

Palm Springs for Thanksgiving
Christmas Harbor Cruise with lots of friends
Christmas Vacation at the lake
New Years at the Desert
Boys Trip to the Desert in January
Monster Truck Jam with the boys
Clarissa club volleyball season November-July
Cayden’s 15th Birthday Party
Our first ever Super Bowl Party
Las Vegas for Presidents Day Weekend Volleyball Tournament with Clarissa
Curt’s Big 44th Birthday Bash
Cayden’s Los Al High School volleyball team season
Clarissa’s 17th Birthday Party
March trip to the desert with the hugest group of friends ever!
Curt & his buddies Sprint Car Racing
Friday Night Lights Season of football for Corbin
A prayer service at Torrance Beach with 100 people praying for Curt
Trip to Monterrey Mexico for a stem cell treatment
Easter Dinner at our house with family
Easter Break vacation in Monterey California
Sacramento & San Francisco with Corbin’s 4th grade class
Clarissa’s Junior Prom
Memorial Day Weekend at Lake Nacimiento
Curt & Cindy’s 22nd Anniversary in Palm Springs
2 girl’s weekends in Big Bear
2 guy’s weekends, 1 in the desert, 1 fishing in Bishop
Drivers training and permit for Cayden
Volleyball Party for Clarissa’s Club team at our house
Garth Brooks Concert in Las Vegas
Visit from Curt’s brother Mike from New York
4th of July Weekend at Lake Nacimiento and then back again 3 weeks later
Clarissa to Texas in July and again in October to see Pond Family, TCU and Cowboys
A week in Oregon with family
A redecorated living room
Cayden joining Los Al JV Football Team
Friday mornings with the guys for breakfast at Adelitas - Curt
Friday mornings with 7 amazing women - Cindy
Corbin’s 11th Birthday Party
Cousins Alyson & Jeanno came to visit us for the weekend
A weekend in Palm Springs with 10 couples in an amazing house
First day of school; 5th grade, 10th grade and 12th grade
AYSO soccer for Corbin
School football team for Corbin
ALS Walk with over 90 friends!
Visit from the Pond Family from Texas and a trip to Sea World
32 parties or dinners with friends at their homes or ours on Friday & Saturday nights
1 wedding and 2 funerals

All I can say is we are totally blessed! We are blessed with friends, blessed with opportunities and blessed with a happy life. We can truly say that this past year was lived to the fullest. It was fun putting this list together and reminiscing about each activity and the special people in our lives. We could not have had such a great year without our friends and family. Thank you all for supporting us and for praying for us. We are looking forward to another great year.

We enjoyed last week with Mike, Melissa, Noelle (4) and Anna Kate (18 months) Pond from Texas. They are expecting another girl in February! We loved visiting Sea World and having them here with us. The weather was so warm we were able to spend a lot of time in the pool and sun (go Curt)!

When we visited Mike & Melissa in March on our way to Mexico, Melissa gave Curt her special Milagros Cross. A few months ago Curt found this "California Seashell Cross" and bought it for Melissa. We have been waiting for this visit so he could give it to her.  
Friday night was Krystal's brother's memorial service.
It was so touching to see Cayden's friends there to support him and Krystal. 

Once again, thank you for praying and thank you for supporting us!

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin


Dear Friends & Family,

A few years ago my mother-in-law Barbara gave us a set of dishes that had been passed through the family. The dishes have a white background with periwinkle hydrangeas and green vine-type leaves. My favorite thing about the dishes is that they are not round, square or even rectangular. They are oval; even the bowls are oval. I love the dishes; the color, the shape and most of all the fact that they came from family. A while back I discovered that one of our dinner plates is cracked. You wouldn’t know it unless you turned the plate over and looked for the crack. From the top, the plate looks perfect and strong. But, because I know it is cracked, I handle it carefully. I don’t expose it to extreme hot or cold or put too much weight on it. I never give it to dinner guests; it is my duty to protect it and make sure it remains unbroken.

Much like our fragile dinner plate so are each of our lives, cracked but intact (so far)! This weekend I was reminded that unlike my cracked plate, there is only so much I can do to protect my family from pain.

Curt had a tough weekend physically. He was frustrated with simple tasks and it was wearing on his spirit. We figured out on Sunday that he hadn't been drinking much water the past few days and realized he was dehydrated. By Sunday evening, after drinking lots of water, he was feeling much better!

Cayden & Krystal spent Saturday afternoon visiting her 18 year old brother Jared in the hospital. He had been admitted a week earlier with a bacterial infection in his heart (he had been born with a hole in his heart and had surgery when he was 7) so his heart had always been quite fragile. That afternoon Jared was up and about, eating, talking, and feeling better. Some time in the night he suffered a stroke which led to bleeding in the brain, which led to him being brain dead. Cayden & Krystal spent all day Sunday at the hospital with her parents, meeting with doctors and then waiting for family to come and say goodbye to Jared. Krystal and her parents were holding his hands on Monday as the machines were turned off and he passed away. Please keep Krystal and her family in your prayers.

Cayden & Krystal

Clarissa had a busy weekend; Homecoming game Thursday night, "Romecoming Dance" on Friday night, and a Halloween Party on Saturday night. Along with all of that, she is still trying to figure out where she wants to go to college. 

Romecoming Dance

Corbin had fun carving pumpkins with our neighbor Kelli. He has been spending a lot of time with Mark & Kelli and we are thankful they are willing to open their home and hearts to Corbin. He had a great soccer game on Saturday and then spent the night at his friend's house. Sunday we went to the Fall Festival at his school and then home to hand out candy. He has been doing good managing school work, soccer and football.

Curt & Corbin at the Fall Festival

As for myself; often I feel like I am on the verge of cracking. It is all I can do to hold it all together. After watching Curt physically struggling all day Saturday and then Cayden emotionally struggling
(while remaining strong for Krystal) all day Sunday, and knowing that there was not much I could do for them. I want to protect my family and ease the pain. I pray all day long for strength for each of us. I want to be strong and always positive. Meanwhile we live our lives like the top of the plate (as if there is nothing wrong), there would be nothing to gain from delving into our pain and wearing it for all to see. With strength we will continue to live life to the fullest even though it is so fragile.

With love,
Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Time Away

I roll over and hit the snooze alarm one more time. Where did the night go? Why am I so tired? I know I must get up soon but I dread it. Once my feet hit the floor they won’t stop until late tonight. The alarm goes off again and I lay there thinking of what’s to come. Finally, I get up and shower, wake kids, make breakfasts, pack lunches, get myself ready, get Curt ready, make sure everyone is set for school. I stand at the door and wave goodbye to Clarissa & Cayden as they drive off to high school. Then I make breakfast for Curt and say goodbye as Corbin & I are out the door by 8:00. I dread the traffic on the way to his school but love our time together, just the two of us. I love our conversations; it is a highlight of my day. He brings up some crazy things, sometimes funny, sometimes deep, sometimes questions about Curt usually about how much longer he will live or what life will be like after he is gone. Corbin is a planner so he needs to know where his Dad will fit into his future plans. I walk him into school where he scouts out a spot free of other kids for a quick goodbye kiss. Walking back to my car I think about work, errands, after school activities and Curt. I think about Curt a lot throughout the day. I cry a lot in the car. It is my only time alone during the day. The physical and emotional events of each day wear on me. I look forward to sleep, where, thank God, I am not sad and my heart and stomach does not hurt. I love sleep. I crave sleep. I need sleep.

This past weekend eight of us girls planned a weekend away to Paul & Lisa Popp’s cabin in Big Bear. We all agreed it would be a low-key, “do whatever you want” kind of weekend. We talked, walked, cooked, crafted, read and slept. Sleep, YAY! I got lots of it and felt well rested and rejuvenated. Monday morning my alarm went off and my feet hit the floor with no dread. Bring it on!

The guys and kids all got together at our house on Saturday night. They enjoyed filet mignon, homemade beans, garlic mashed potatoes, chicken wings and a lot more great food. They are all so great to take such good care of Curt while I am gone. (???)

Being away from Curt is hard for me. I love him so much and want to be with him all the time. On the other hand; I am not good if I am stressed and spent. Finding balance is what it is all about. Thankfully we have friends who can help us with balance. Whether it is whisking us away for the weekend, offering to run errands or providing meals, we could not do it without friends. Thank you friends!

Clarissa and my dad went to Dallas for a long weekend to see the Cowboys play Monday Night Football. They enjoyed the game (even though Tony Romo got injured), great seats and the new stadium! They stayed with our friends Mike, Melissa, Noelle and Anna Kate Pond near Dallas. Clarissa spent Saturday night in the dorms at Texas Christian University and once again fell in love with the school. Please pray for her as she struggles with the huge decision of where she will go to college next year.

At the Pumpkin Patch with Victoria Prince, Clarissa & Anna Kate, Rebecca Prince, Noelle & Melissa
We received quite a few comments on Barbara's story entitled Curt's Wheels. Our friend Louie sent this response with his stories about Curt. Curt & I loved reading it and we were happy that he agreeed to let us share his story on this week's update. Hope you all enjoy it!

Wheels II by Louie Rodriguez

I met Curt through Ray-Bob (Ray Schott). Ray-Bob lived two doors away and Ray-Bob used to hang out in my garage with me. I was kind of a “Shade Tree Mechanic” and worked on a few cars in the neighborhood. It didn’t take long before I had all four of the boys (Ray-Bob, Steveo, George and Curtis-Bob) hanging around. We’d fix every thing that needed fixing. Sometimes it was just a Chain or a flat tire on one of their bikes. Other times they’d help me with the cars I was working on. I tried teaching the boys how to use the right tool for the right job (a screw driver is not a chisel). I told them they could use any tool in my garage as long as they put it back where they found it and put it back as clean as they found it. George and Steveo were good at putting things back, but Curtis-Bob (as he was called around us) was always in a hurry to get “back out on the road” so I had to work with him and poor Ray-Bob would just forget some times. I have to say I had more fun with the boys in my garage than you could ever know. I hope I taught them a little bit about taking care of their cars and motorcycles. If nothing else I hope they all remember how to use their tools and keep them clean.

As the boy’s got older I asked them if they wanted to work for me on the weekends washing the Big Rig. They all said yes. On almost every Saturday morning around 7:00 we’d head off to the yard. The Lumber yard was on the docks in Long Beach and one of the biggest in the harbor. Sometimes we’d stop and have breakfast and we’d always stop at noon to eat lunch. I learned early on that after lunch I had four boys that were more like Bears getting ready to hibernate rather than boys wanting to go back to work. I always made sure the important work was finished before lunch time, because getting them to do any real work after lunch was almost impossible. I told the boys they could have whatever they wanted as long as they ate it all which they always seemed to do. When we finished the work and play at the yard we’d head for home. We’d usually stop for a before dinner snack which was usually Double Cheese Burgers, (Some times two for Curtis-Bob, Ray-Bob and Steveo, but not for George) Fries, Onion Rings and some times Taquito’s, Hot Dogs and Fried Zucchini. I always wondered how the boys could to eat so much, but being growing boys I never questioned it. Like I said the rule was, “You order it, you eat it”. Well one day I dropped my fork towards the end of or meal and bent down to get it and there between Steveo’s and Curtis-Bob’s legs was a pile of uneaten food. I guess I should have known, but they always seemed to have a healthy appetite. Either way it was money well spent!!!

One of my fondest memories is a trip Curtis-Bob took with my daughter, Summar and I in the big rig on a trip to June Mountain to make a delivery. We left in the middle of the night and drove all morning until we reached Bishop where we stopped and had breakfast and walked around a bit to stretch our legs. Before we started up the grade I asked both of them if they had to use the bathroom and both stated they were good to go. Half way up the grade I noticed Curt was squirming a little and asked him if he was okay. He said he was fine. My first thought was he might be getting a little car sick. As we continued up the grade he started squirming a little more and when I asked again he told me he had to go #2. Well as you may or may not know, the one thing a truck driver hates to do is stop on an up hill grade. I asked if he could hold it until we reached the top and he said “I think so” so we continued on. I could see he was starting to get pretty uncomfortable so at the first wide spot in the road I pulled over and handed him some paper towels and told him he had to go down the side of the hill out in the open. Believe me he was happy that I stopped. The look on his face after he came back up into the truck was worth a million dollars. I guess he held it as long as he could and was really glad I stopped. Sorry about that Curt.

Then there was the time we were at the lumber yard where I taught Curt, Steveo, George, and Ray-Bob to drive forklifts. These aren’t the little forklifts you find in most warehouses these were big 30,000 lb. forklifts more like heavy equipment. I let them move bundles of lumber around or just drive them. One day we were getting ready to go home when Curt and Steveo were putting the forklifts into the shed only this time Curt was horsing around (I know it’s hard to believe) and one of the blades on his forklifts cut the back tire on Steveo’s forklift. The pop was so loud it’s a wonder you didn’t hear it in Torrance. By the time I reached the doorway to the shed the dust cloud was still settling. It must have had a layer of dust two inches deep in the shed. It even blew the dust off of the walls. Both Curtis and Steveo were covered in a fine layer of dust. Naturally Curt and Steveo didn’t know what happened or who was at fault. Well, we had to change the tire by hand and it was a pretty good work out for the boys, but I figured they deserved it. I’ll bet if you could see their faces right now they’d still be laughing about it!

We used to take every thing from bikes, mini bike, go karts and dirt bikes to the yard on Saturday with us. The deal was we’d finish the truck then they’d get to go ride in the yard. I would fix things that needed to be fixed on the truck and they would have time to have as much fun as they wanted without anybody yelling at them. The lumber yard was about 22 acres and the only things they could hurt were themselves. I knew they couldn’t hurt the stacks of lumber and had plenty of open space to ride on. Naturally this wasn’t big enough for Curt and he’d often go outside the gate to find more adventure. One month there was a lot of construction going on outside the gate. Well Curt decided to go riding along the shore line. The sand was extremely loose and mushy, but that was only a bigger challenge for Curt. He had buried his dirt bike almost up to the tank. Poor Curt was exhausted when he came back to the yard without his dirt bike. I asked him what happened and he said he was trying to pull his bike out of the sand and couldn’t get it out by himself and needed our help. It took all of us to pull it out. I don’t think he even washed it off before he was out riding it again. I don’t think any thing ever slowed him down.

One of the funniest moments we had together was at Sears. I can’t remember if it was Christmas or a birthday, but we were there getting some Levis for the boys and we were all on both sides of the Levis isle. Curt and Steveo were on one side and the rest of us were on the other side. An elderly couple was on the same side of the isle as we were and I guess they were doing some shopping too. Curt had bent down out of site and Steveo was left standing there alone. All we heard was a loud Toot coming from Steveo’s side. The elderly couple looked at poor Steveo and just shook their heads and hurriedly walked away. I wish you could have seen that perplexed look on Steveo’s face as we all had a great laugh. That was just one more example of Curt having fun at Steveo’s expense. Poor, Steveo!

I let the boys drive my poor little Falcon Ranchero all over that lumber yard. I can’t imagine what they did to it when they were out of my site. But later as my Daughter got older she told me how Curtis-Bob showed her how to burn–out and slide around corners. Now I know where she learned to “BANZAI” a car. Had I known this I might have gotten her a different car when she graduated high school, maybe a Pinto, or Chevette. In High School my Daughter drove her mom’s old V8 Maverick or the “Mighty Mav” as the boys called it. I could never understand what my darling Daughter was thinking when she pulled a “Dukes of Hazards” off one of Redondo’s steepest streets. Apparently she sped down the street until she hit the first cross street and flew about 25 feet in the air before she landed and tore the oil pan on the “Mighty Mav” wide open. She drove down the street until she pulled into the parking lot and called me for help. She had a car load of girls with her, but naturally they were all gone by the time I got there. Well, I called Curt and Steveo to come help me tow it back home. When we got there Summar (my Daughter) said she didn’t know how it happened. Curt and Steveo looked at the oil and followed it out onto the street and both started laughing as they looked up the street. I decided to see what was so funny and saw what they were looking at. When I asked them what was so funny in unison they both said, “NOTHING.” We followed the oil up the hill and found where she landed. She landed so hard she left gouges in the street! As we looked closer both Curt and Steveo were almost rolling in the street laughing so hard. I can’t really blame Curtis-Bob for my Daughter’s driving habits, but who knows? To this day I often wonder what other driving habits he taught her!!!

Now as for the “FIRECRACKERS” I plead complete lack of knowledge. All I can say is that I personally would never have done anything like that at my school. And besides the deal was if they got caught with them “They didn’t know where they came from and didn’t even know my name” I guess you just can’t trust anyone any more!!! As for him getting expelled “If” and I say again, “If I had anything to do with it I would like to say I’m sorry!”

I love all four of those boys just like they were my sons. Each has their own personality and each has followed a different path. I hope the influence I had on the boys was a good one. I had more fun around those boys in my garage than I can ever express with words. They were all like big brothers to my Daughter and I think she loves them like brothers too! Any time we were at the yard and I couldn’t find Summar it was Curt that always seemed to know where she was. I think it was his way of protecting her.

Louie Rodriguez

Curtis-Bob, Ray-Bob Schott, Lou-Bob Rodriguez, George Kudo, Steve-O Sherrill
As a family it is fun to read stories and comments from Curt's friends. We will cherish these words for years to come. Thank you.

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin