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

Curt's Wheels by Barbara Ziemke

There are many things that come to mind when thinking about Curt, but the one thing that has been constant throughout his life has been his love for anything with wheels. He even started out in life in a basinette that had wheels. And, of course, his stroller had wheels. But he was probably three years old when he became fascinated with those little round things.
On any given day I could pretty much find him kneeling down in front of the sofa with his hand on a Hot Wheel or Match Box car. He would drive it around with accompanying sound effects to indicate speed, slowing down, flooring it, turning corners on two wheels, stopping on a dime and even crashing. His head would be right down there even with those wheels as they turned this way and that. It was fun to watch him as he was absolutely captivated with those little cars. He had cars, pickups, trailers, you name it. It was probably here that he learned to do what most people on the planet cannot do--back up a trailer.

Soon he graduated to a tricycle. At one point, a big kid sat on the handlebars and they broke. So Grandpa Ziemke repaired it with a single handle in the middle. That didn’t stop Curt. He could maneuver it like a pro. Next came a Big Wheel with wheels made of plastic that you could hear coming and going lickety-split up and down the street. What a racket that thing made. But, boy, did he have fun with it.

He also had a similar vehicle, but that one had rubber wheels. The rear wheels eventually broke after Curt rode on two wheels by leaning to one side. Again, Grandpa Ziemke came to the rescue and fixed it with dual wheels on each side and away Curt went.
Around that same time Grandpa found an old metal pedal car that he painted red for Curt. It was amazing how fast he could pedal that little red car.

Curt even played with the neighbor’s vehicles. The Dunigans next door had six daughters who were not interested in their boy toys so Curt had free reign with their fire truck and toy Mustang.
Meanwhile, Curt could not resist riding a two wheeler, so his sister Beverly’s blue and white Schwinn Strand Cruiser was pressed into service. He was too short to sit on the seat so he rode it standing up. He was probably five or six at the time.

The first bike of his very own was red with a banana seat. He learned to do wheelies with it. One day, while the front wheel was in the air, it fell off. When he came down he flew off the bike and bent the front fork which had to be replaced. He had minor scrapes after that one.
Curt was not only interested in his own wheels but he can remember almost everyone else’s, too. He talks about his dad’s 1950 red truck that “smelled good.” All vehicles have a certain smell which he says can come from the rubber, the seat covers, and whatever is in that particular car or truck. My best friend, Joan Parker, down the street had a Ford Cortina, he remembers.

Curt loved anything with wheels, including the shopping carts at Alpha Beta Market. He preferred those because they had fixed rear wheels and could slide around corners real nice, he says. As opposed to those at Lucky’s Market that had four wheels that all swiveled. He definitely knew his wheels.

Curt wasn’t fussy when it came to wheels or their size; just as long as they would allow him to speed around the neighborhood. He even wore Beverly’s white shoe skates. They had metal wheels and he would jump off curbs or ramps and land so hard he made the wheels flat on one side.

When he was in second grade at St. James School, his teacher often sent him to her car to retrieve something or other. He remembers that she had a turquoise 1966 Olds Cutlass. He can also remember the smell and sound of that car. Yes, sound! While getting the supplies he would jump into the driver’s seat and start the car! (Believe me, I’m just finding this out.) He still remembers the “smooth, round ignition” which was on the dash. Fortunately, his teacher never found out about this.

From third grade on, Curt went to Carl Steel Elementary School near our home. While there he competed in a number of bicycle rodeos. The entrants had to demonstrate all manner of agility and balance tests. He won many trophies and awards, including a $50 Savings Bond, during the years that he participated.

He had a blue Schwinn Scrambler, a moto-cross type bike. He remembers it cost $158. One night he and his friend left their bikes in the driveway and ran inside for something. When they came out both bikes were stolen. After that he bought a cruiser from his friend Chris for ten dollars. He says it was “ugly spray-can green“. It soon got a flat rear tire and Curt rode it on the rim to see if it would make sparks. “It didn’t work,” he says. Then he bought a red bike with gold rims from his friend, George Kudo, that he owned for a long time.
For a number of years, Curt’s Dad, Don, was involved managing teams at Tordondo Little League. About the time Curt was in fifth or sixth grade he helped Don mow the grass at the field. Of course, Curt couldn’t resist the two yellow mowers that he could ride and steer up and down the field. “That was great fun” he remembers.

Curt loved to ride his bike with his friends. One night he slept over at his friend Darren’s house, who lived four houses down. (At least we thought they were sleeping.) The boys were in sleeping bags in the living room and when the house was quiet, they slipped out and rode down to Torrance Airport where Darren‘s dad kept his airplane.

They really didn’t have a plan when they got there so they decided to return home. On the way back, they were stopped by a policeman who asked them their names. The policeman told Darren to go home and tell his parents that he was going to call and they had better be home by then. So the boys rode like the wind to beat that phone call. It never came.
In the seventh grade Curt and his friends took the basket off of a shopping cart. Curt sat on the lower rack while another boy rode his bike and pulled it with a rope. They went around a corner too fast and Curt hit a parked car. The car didn’t get hurt but Curt had a few bumps and bruises. Don found out and made the boys put the cart back together and take it back to the store.

One day during that same year, Curt went with Don to Security Pacific Bank. Don left the keys in the ignition and went into the bank while Curt stayed in the car. That was too tempting for Curt. He started the car and backed it up and pulled it forward a number of times right in the parking space. Don came out sooner than Curt expected and caught him. Don never hit the kids but Curt wasn’t taking any chances. He said he never got so close to the passenger door in his life. He was like “wallpaper” on that door.

Beverly saved up money and bought a little white Datsun. Curt often rode along with her to the store. He stayed in the car so he could “listen to music.” Naturally, the keys had to be in the ignition for this to happen. Of course he started the car and would sit there revving up the engine while Bev did her thing.

In middle school, Curt often went to Shamrock Skate Rink on Friday night with his friend, Ray Schott. He remembers that he had black shoe skates with green cryptonic wheels. He became an excellent skater who could spin around, skate backwards, and do all manner of things wearing those skates.
Curt had great balance. He could do one continuous wheelie all around our block. He says the bike was easier to balance when the front wheel was spinning, which he called the “gyro effect”. When the wheel started to slow down his friends rode their bikes beside him and spun his wheel to keep him going.

For eighth grade graduation Curt got a Schwinn Strand Cruiser bicycle. It was blue metallic with white wall tires. He rode it everywhere including down by the beach were he and his friends enjoyed cruising the Strand at Redondo and Torrance beaches.

Don said he didn’t have the patience to teach the kids to drive so I taught them all in our 1967 Volkswagen Bus with a standard transmission. It had a maroon body and light grey top. (Eventually we had it painted yellow as I considered it a taxi for all the times I dropped off and picked up kids.) All five kids learned to drive in the parking lot at West High School in Torrance and soon progressed to the street. We had a lot of fun and laughs during those lessons.
Curt was a fast learner and was very observant. One day, when he was riding along with me I noticed him watching my feet. What he was doing was observing how I stopped the car at intersections. I would let off the brake just a little before stopping so it would be a smooth stop and my passengers would not move forward a little in their seats. I was amazed that Curt even noticed.

I’ll never forget the day I let Greg, our oldest, drive his four siblings to the beach in our VW Bus. They were told to be back by 2:00 sharp! Not one minute later. Well, 2:00 came and went, then 2:30, and 2:45. By 3:00 I was frantic. I had no way of going out to search for them. And, of course, this was before cell phones. I knew how difficult it was to gather them to go anywhere let alone when they were having fun at the beach. Nevertheless, I said 2:00 and I meant it. By the time they did get home I was both extremely relieved and wanting to wring their necks at the same time. I vowed to never let them go anywhere together again.

On the next block lived a man named Louie Rodriguez. He took a liking to Curt and his friends and he often paid them to wash his big Kenworth lumber truck. Louie somehow came into possession of lots of firecrackers and somehow the boys came into possession of them, too. Unbeknownst to Curt’s parents, Curt often dropped lit firecrackers into trash cans at West High School. You can imagine the noise that made. The faculty realized who was doing it and called him into the office. Of course, he feigned innocence. But the jig was up when a custodian was summoned to open Curt’s locker where he found a bag full of firecrackers. Our sweet, angel child was suspended the last six weeks of his sophomore year and ended up at North High School. The upshot of this story is that it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Curt because by then he had his license and was able to drive our VW to school every day. It was “no pain, no strain” according to Curt. He returned to West High School the following year where, thankfully, there were no more firecracker incidences.
(By the way, Louie is still a friend to all the boys. In spite of the firecracker incident, he is a dear, kind man and has been a good friend to all of us for years. Besides, he used to give the boys the most delicious tamales! Who could be upset with a person who does that?)

After Curt got his driver’s license and before he had his own car, he often asked his brother, Mike, if he could drive his classic 1968 Ford Mustang GT. Mike let him drive it a number of times. But one time, after bugging Mike for a long period of time, Mike said that if Curt ate a whole jar of Jalapeno Peppers he could drive his car. Curt, who would do anything to get to drive, ate the peppers, drove the car for only a short while because he began to get a headache from the peppers and had to return home. He was sick for days. I’m sure Mike feels guilty about that to this day.

Another time, Curt hankered to drive his brother Bill‘s 1970 Chevy Camaro. This time, however, he skipped the asking permission part. So, one night after everyone was asleep, he pushed that heavy car out of the driveway and down the street by himself before he felt it was safe to start it. He drove it around town doing who knows what and put it back where he found it. Don and I were blissfully asleep upstairs in our bedroom right above the driveway. We didn’t hear a thing.

While Curt is an excellent driver, he has been known to put the “pedal to the metal“ as they say. I have to admit that he inherited the speed-demon gene from me. And I got it from my Dad. My husband used to call me “Lead-foot Lisa.” When Curt was in middle school, he often called me “Mama Lisa.” When I think about it now, it’s a miracle we all survived those years before seat belt laws and without those humongous car seats for the kids.

Curt isn’t the only one with a car story to tell. Before Beverly had her own car she borrowed our VW Bus one evening. She was late getting home and decided to turn off the engine and coast quietly into the driveway. It sounded like a good plan until the car didn’t have enough power to go all the way up the driveway so it rolled back and the front wheels stopped in the gutter. She couldn’t push the car so she had to start it right there under our window. Unfortunately for her, Don heard it and she got in trouble.

It seems no car was safe around Curt. Greg had a 1965 Ford Mustang convertible which Curt loved to sit in. He would raise and lower the top until the battery went dead. (Now I know why that car was inoperable most of the time.)

Curt’s first car of his own was a 1965 Volkswagen Baja Bug that he bought with a $3000 loan from our church credit union. By then he was working at a Union 76 gas station. And, in the true Ziemke tradition, he never missed a payment.
Our garage was always full of boys as Curt was continually working on his car. One time, unbeknownst to us, Curt put his Baja Bug’s engine in our VW bus. Don drove it somewhere and couldn’t believe the power our old VW had all of a sudden.

Curt wonders how we allowed him to work on so many cars in our driveway. The answer is that we always knew where he was and who he was with. He had a group of very nice friends who were respectful to us and helpful to him. How could we refuse?

It was about this time that everyone in the family had a car or two. One day, I realized that everyone and their cars were all home at the same time. I ran across the street and took a picture. With so many cars we were mindful not to infringe on our neighbors’ parking spaces. We parked three in our driveway, three on the street, and two on the lawn. By this time Greg and Bev had moved out or there would have been more cars. Parking was at a premium in our neighborhood as there were four kids on one side of us and six on the other. Ironically, the only place we didn’t park a car was in our two-car garage!
When Curt was 18 or 19 he bought a 1981 black Chevy step-side truck with four shades of silver stripes along the side and a blue pin stripe as well. He paid $7,100. The payment was $130 and insurance $132 per month. It’s amazing how he remembers all those details. Again, he did not miss a payment.
After he sold that truck to an importer who shipped it to Japan, Curt bought a 1971 Chevy truck with a self-contained camper for $3000 cash. This would be the first RV that he would eventually own.

Curt began working at American City Pest Control the first Monday after high school graduation. For the next 25 years he drove various company trucks until he became ill.

Curt married Cindy on June 4, 1988, when they were both 22. Before, during and since that momentous occasion their vehicles amounted to six trucks including two with campers and three motor homes, the famous Baja Bug, two Crown Victorias, two Ford Tauruses, one Buick Apollo, one Ford Windstar, one Ford T-Bird, two Excursions, two Suburbans, and a Honda Odyssey mini-van.

In addition to that, Curt has had one mini bike and 12 motorcycles. What with the family having seven quads, six motorcycles, two sand rails, and one dune buggy, that should satisfy anyone’s love of wheels. In fact, when they went to Glamis to traverse the sand dunes they had to maintain 26 or more tires. If you count all of the farm machinery that Curt has used at the Lake over the years, it can wear a person out.

And don’t forget his various boats. While boats don’t have wheels themselves, they did get to Lake Nacemiento, or to the Colorado River, or to some other beautiful body of water on a nice set of them. That’s where Curt’s skill backing up a trailer really shined and impressed anyone watching.

Curt has promised Cayden that he can have his big white Chevy crew-cab four-wheel drive truck next February when he turns 16 and gets his license. Cayden can drive it now with a licensed driver with him. I’ve even done the duty but I needed a step stool to get into it. Curt has been helping him get the truck teenager ready. He has guided Cayden through the installation of a special chrome exhaust and a gadget that makes different sounds like a cow, ice cream truck, etc. He also installed an air horn that sounds like a train. With my fingers in my ears Cayden demonstrated his new horn. He says his friends can hear him coming several blocks away. No argument there.

And now in this chapter of his life Curt also uses wheels to get around. While these wheels are not allowed on the freeway or even on city streets, he still gets around lickety-split in his power chair that he has mastered like only he can do. (I went to Lowe’s with him one night and he left me in the dust.) Actually, his chair is a loaner until his own chair is built to his specifications. His neighbor, Bob Knapp, was kind enough to put in ramps so Curt can enter and exit his home through the front and back doors.

While I’m on the subject of kind souls, others are also helping to make Curt’s life easier. For instance, his friend, Jim Beedy, attached bars in their bathroom for Curt. His sister, Beverly, has attached Velcro to some of his clothes so he won’t have to deal with buttons. She attached metal rings on zipper pulls making it easier for him to grasp them. She made a cloth bag that he attaches to his chair for his wallet, phone and keys as he has difficulty getting those things out of his pockets. His brother, Bill, will do anything to help him and he calls or texts him frequently with words of encouragement. And many of you have done the same and have done many other acts of kindness not only for Curt but for Cindy as well. All of it means so much.

And now, Curt has a beautiful wheelchair-equipped van that is a deep black cherry color. He calls it the “cherry bomb.” He is able to get himself and his chair in and out of it and he can drive the van by himself. (This child of mine never ceases to amaze and inspire me.)
After Curt’s Dad died in 1995, Curt took his place in our family. Curt is the hub of the wheel that we all revolve around. He is the rock, the one with the most common sense, the go-to guy that we seek out for answers and advice. And now, there are many more spokes to that wheel as all of you have joined our family as we continue to revolve around him in order to keep that wheel spinning.

With much love and gratitude,


The Walk

Dear Friends & Family,

“Lend a hand to those less fortunate than you.” That was the fortune in Curt’s fortune cookie last night. I let out a giggle as he finished reading it. Really? He looked at me with those convincing eyes and said, “Honey, I am very fortunate, I am better off than a lot of people.” Once again I giggled and thought to myself “Wow, he is amazing, here he is fighting a terminal disease and he thinks he is fortunate.” Then my mind wandered to the ALS Walk this past Saturday. At the walk I found myself holding back tears whenever I saw a person with ALS. I looked at them in their wheelchairs and immediately looked at their hands. Those bony, twisted hands, just like Curt’s. The hands that kept them from performing simple tasks along with legs that didn’t let them walk, some even had speaking devices. I wondered what their stories were, what they used to do and what kind of families they have. I wondered how they were handling this devastating disease. As I watched them my eyes would well up with tears (thank God for sunglasses) and I would get that big lump in the back of my throat. Those were quick moments in the day but there wasn’t much time to dwell on other ALS teams since we were blessed with so many family and friends around us.

Much like Curt, I feel fortunate that we have what we have. We have a relationship that allows us to be open and honest with each other, we can truly talk about anything without fear of judgement. We have what we need to provide a comfortable life for Curt as he fights this disease. We have children that are sensitive and compassionate and able to talk about their feelings. We have friends and family who provide us with emotional support, help around the house, meals and anything else we may need. We are truly fortunate. I hope that all those inflicted with ALS have what we have. That would be great!

The walk was amazing! Thank you to everyone that came and walked with us. We were the largest team with 90 people! Our team raised over $6,000.00 for the ALS Association. Thank you to those who supported us through donations, thoughts and prayers. It was a day filled with love! We were excited by the number of friends and family that came out to support Curt and our family. Thank you, thank you!

Cayden filmed and edited this video of the walk. Hope you enjoy it! There is also a slide show of photos on the right side bar. Click on the photo and you can see the pictures in a larger slide show.

Thanks for your care and concern!


Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

From Clarissa's Heart

Dear Friends & Family,

Tonight some special words from Clarissa.......

“Clarissa, you should write the update this week,” suggested my Mom.


I have high standards to live up to after what my mom writes every week, so here goes nothing.

So I was thinking, this is basically like a free therapy session, except there are 300 people reading my thoughts instead of one person listening to them. My wonderful mother said she doesn’t share what I’m feeling in her weekly updates, but I have no idea how to share what I am feeling. So I’ll start with this: I am happy for the time we have together, I’m sad our time is limited. I’m grateful for all the love and support from friends and family. I am constantly worried when I’m not with him, in case he needs help doing something. I am learning so much and growing up much faster than I ever thought. Through all this, I’m having the time of my life.

I have always dreamed of what my future would be like. I’ve planned countless dream weddings, decided names for my kids, and figured out exactly the type of guy I want to marry. Throughout these dreams, my dad has always been on my mind. I have to make sure he approves of the man I marry. I imagined him in his tux walking me down the aisle. I thought about him holding my kids, and teaching them things he probably shouldn’t be teaching them at such a young age. I imagined him picking them up and throwing them into the pool like I used to love.

November will be a year since he was diagnosed. It went by faster than any of us could have imagined. Last year this time he was riding motorcycles and wakeboarding. He is now in a big, ugly wheel chair that’s always in the way, although it can be quite entertaining to watch him mess around and do tricks. We are all making the best of it.

My Senior Year, the best year. Formal, Prom, Graduation, and deciding what College I will attend. My dream has been to go to college in Texas. Over the summer, I visited Texas Christian University. I absolutely loved it and thought it would be a great fit for me. But because of my dad’s disease, I will not be going there. I want to stay close to him and be able to come home whenever I want to or need to. I’m in the process of choosing which colleges I will be applying to.

My dad is amazing; he is so strong for us and his humor could make anyone smile. We laugh together like were best friends. He looks at me and knows exactly what I’m thinking. We help each other through the falls. Literally. And we laugh and stay positive through it all. He is the greatest father, husband, and friend. I couldn’t be more thankful for everything he’s done and is still doing for our family.

I Love You Daddy!

Your little girl ~ Clarissa

Last Friday night we had a Hawiian Luau! It was so much fun to have so many friends join us for a great evening. We even had Hawaiian weather; warm and humid and a sprinkling of rain, not typical of an October night near the beach. The luau was complete with a honeybaked ham (decorated into a pig, thanks Julie!) and lots of other Hawaiian food. Mark & Kelli surprised us with an incredible Hawaiian dancer who entertained the crowd with her amazing hula dancing! Thanks to all our great friends who came, brought food, helped out and blessed our family with love. It was truly a night to remember!

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa (17), Cayden (15) & Corbin (11)

Our little Pig!

Chloe, Lauren, Lauryn, Paige & Camryn

George, Curt, Jim & Mundo
The Party