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

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