The Greatest Teacher

Dear Friends & Family,

I gripped the steering wheel, took a deep breath, placed the car in reverse and listened to Curt’s gentle instructions. “Use your mirrors, a little to the left, straighten it out, you’re doing well.” It was one of our early trips together at the Lake House, I think we were about 17. He said it was time I learned to back up a trailer. So he hooked a trailer to the hitch of my Ford Crown Victoria, and had me back down the curvy driveway of my parent’s lake house, over and over, until I felt comfortable. I can still remember his calm, gentle voice and how patient he was teaching me. Because of what he taught me that day, I have been able to back the boat into countless lakes and the motorcycle trailer wherever needed.

The motorhome was 40 feet long and the trailer was 28, we were on a dirt road in Dove Springs in the Mojave Desert and Curt moved out of the driver’s seat and told Clarissa it was time for her to learn to drive the motorhome. She was 16. I agreed that she should eventually learn to drive the motorhome, but with a trailer? On a dirt road? I just kept my mouth shut and trusted Curt (as I always do in situations like this). Calmly and gently he explained step by step how she should proceed. He taught her to look ahead and check her mirrors often. He explained why she should look ahead for oncoming cars and how and where she could pull to the side of the skinny dirt road if a car needed to pass. He reassured her that she was doing great. Although she remained calm she wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans often.

Curt, Clarissa, Cayden, Corbin & I were on our motorcycles at the bottom of one of the biggest hills in Jawbone Canyon named So Cal, watching motorcyclists climb the mountain, some with success, and some without. Without a word, Curt took off for the hill. We all watched as he climbed one of the most treacherous hills in the desert. I am a pretty easy going person and trust Curt completely. I believe in his abilities and rarely doubt him. But something about this hill always makes my stomach fill with butterflies. The hill is so steep that many riders don’t make it to the top; they are then stuck and have to figure out how to turn their bikes towards the bottom and get down the hill safely. We have seen many people tumble and slide all the way to the bottom. I would usually hold my breath while Curt was climbing the hill and let out a sigh of relief (to myself) when he made it. The few times he didn’t make it, he expertly guided his bike around and back down the hill. The kids loved to watch their Dad climb that hill. Not many people would even attempt it, but Curt always did, and would usually even wheelie up a portion of it. His confidence and grace on a dirt bike has always impressed me and the kids.

He began taking the kids on small hills appropriate to their age (well maybe not quite) and soon they each became expert hill climbers. “Dad, can I climb that one?” Cayden would ask, “Which gear?” Curt would instruct him with which gear to use and teach him how to read the trails in order to choose the best route up the hills. Each of the kids learned to love climbing hills in the desert on their motorcycles and would always want to camp close to the hills. This year, Cayden tried to climb So Cal Hill. He made it up part of the way and fell and broke a brake lever. He had to figure out how to get his bike turned around and get down the hill with no front brake. He did it expertly just like his Dad would have.

From a very young age Corbin would beg to sit on Curt’s lap and help drive the boat. Curt would let him steer and taught him to look for other boats and to stay on the right side of the lake buoys. Soon, Corbin was too big to sit on Curt’s lap and by then he knew the ropes. He and each of the kids have become great boat drivers. Back in 2009, when Curt was diagnosed, he and Corbin would sneak off from time to time with “trouble” written on their faces. I knew they were up to something, but neither would tell me where they were going. I later found out that Curt was taking Corbin to the Los Alamitos Race Track, not to bet on horses, but to teach him how to drive his big white Chevy truck in the large parking lot. Corbin was barely 10 at the time. I guess I am glad I didn’t know what they were up to. It is because of Curt’s great teaching that Corbin can now drive the Cherry Bomb (mini-van). This weekend and Easter break he drove from the Lake House along the 6 mile curvy road to the main gate with little instruction.

Last Sunday, Cayden and Curt spent the day working around the house. With instruction from Curt, Cayden installed safety grab bars by our outdoor shower, changed light fixtures in the garage, replaced a shower nozzle and much more. That night in bed, Curt commented on what a great day he had with Cayden. He said it was fun to see Cayden “get” how things work. I love that Curt is such a great teacher and gives the kids the confidence to try things and to believe in themselves.

With all that said, it breaks my heart that Curt is losing his ability to talk. It is because of him struggling to speak that I could not write an update last week. I think this has been the hardest part of the disease to accept. When he gets tired, it affects his speech. I try with all my might to listen attentively but sometimes I cannot understand him and I have to ask him to repeat himself. He is the greatest teacher and has so much to teach us all. I cannot imagine life without his encouraging words. He has the most amazing voice; it is filled with kindness and love. More than anything, I pray his voice remains as long as possible. I hope that you will pray for his voice also. Thank you for all your love, encouragement and prayers.

We spent Memorial Day Weekend at The Lake House at Lake Nacimiento. Below are pictures of our fun weekend.

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

The Group!
 Bottom - Jacob, Uncle Bill, Krystal, Cayden, Lorraine
Middle - Corbin, Emily, Clarissa, Jim (Dad), Celia (Mom)
Top -  Mike, Jim, Curt, Me, Corey

Setting up the zip line (looking down from the house)

Jacob - Zipping Along!

The Zip Line drew quite a crowd of onlookers to our quiet little cove.

The guys lifted Curt into the boat and we were able to enjoy the lake for awhile!

The kids spent most of their time in the boat.

Mike, Bill & Jim were able to get Curt into the back of the Kubota and secure him for a ride through the country.

Corbin enjoyed his drive with the guys.

The guys went to the top of the mountain to get a good view of the lake.

Corey and Corbin grilled hot dogs for the group for lunch.

We are so thankful for the sweet friends of Clarissa and Cayden!

1 comment:

Andrea Fowler said...

Praying for you all and especially for Curt's voice! What a wonderful writer you are Cindy. May God bless you and comfort you!