Be Like Mike? No, I Wanna be Like Jeff!

jeff

Allow me to introduce this young man, this is Jeffrey Wilson, Jeff as he was known to the world. Jeff was my only sibling, I was 14 years older, so in many ways I was like his second mom.

Jeff was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2016, we had recently lost our mom to a stroke and other ailments in 2015, so to hear that Jeff was diagnosed with Cancer was a big shock to our system. Jeff was terrified! There he was, a young 31 year old single guy with his whole life in front of him, I immediately jumped into big sister mode.

I had to be his protector since our mom, whom he was extremely close with, was no longer here. As an adult, Jeff was always the anxious sibling, a big contrast to my cool, laid back personality. Jeff would worry himself crazy about the smallest thing, it would drive me crazy, but after telling him to “chill out” I don’t know how many times, he finally would. Now here we are, dealing with a situation that I couldn’t easily tell him just “chill out”. The Doctors told him that this particular Cancer was treatable and that he would be fine. He was extremely nervous to start chemo/radiation, but after a few weeks, he began to handle it with his electric smile and usual corny jokes.

jeff chemo
Hurley Genesys Cancer Institute, Flint, MI

He completed chemo and radiation and received the great news in April 2017 that he was in remission! Whew! What a relief, now he can go back to working with kids at the local schools, something he really enjoyed. Jeff LOVED working with kids, and boy did they love him, maybe it was because he was still a big kid himself? To protect him from germs due to his weak immune system, he couldn’t return to the classroom while undergoing treatment, that hurt Jeffrey more than the Cancer diagnosis did.

jeff 1
Jeff entertaining many of the kids he’s worked with.

So just when life was back to normal, the back pain started……

Jeff suffered from back pain for a few weeks before finally going to the Doctor, once he finally went, the news was disappointing….the Cancer had returned in his lower back. Here we go again! In our minds, he’ll do chemo and radiation again and be fine. Somewhere along the line, discussion was had that this time, the situation didn’t look too good. Still in Big Sister mode, I tried to assure Jeff that he would be fine when it was becoming more evident everyday, he no longer believed he would.

Eventually on February 28, 2018, he lost his fight with Cancer, or won the battle depending on how you want to look at it.

To say the world lost an angel would be an understatement, Jeff had the biggest heart. Jeff would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need, I know it sounds cliche, but it was so true about Jeff.

Jeff would collect toys for kids that he knew (and didn’t know), he donated clothes, provide rides home or anywhere anyone needed to go, he was a HUGE wrestling fan, so he would have Wrestlemania watch parties for kids who wouldn’t normally get that experience. He donated food, money and whatever else anyone needed. I would get upset sometime because I felt he was being taken advantage of, but now I know that was his ministry. He always did it with a smile and without complaints, he truly had a calling for helping others.

After Jeffrey’s passing, I was overwhelmed with all the stories on Facebook, hundreds of people talking about how Jeff  helped them in some way, recalling a funny story where he said or did something silly (which happened a lot), or expressing how sad they were to hear the news.

I think often how, for me to be the big sister, I have learned so much from my little brother, he has shown me how to be a better person. So yes the slogan goes “I Wanna be Like Mike” but I, and I encourage you, to wanna “Be Like Jeff”.

How can you be like Jeff? Do an random act of kindness, if you know of a family or kid in need, donate something from your heart, say a kind word to someone who may need it….there are many ways to “Be Like Jeff”.

I still wear my Big Sister badge proudly, Jeff is gone, but definitely not forgotten!

dailey teachers
Teachers at Dailey Head Start (Mt. Morris, MI) with school supplies donated in Jeff’s memory.

 

Christmas in Paris!

Bonjour!

2018 has been difficult, in February, I lost my only sibling Jeffrey to Cancer at age 33. Needless to say, the holidays weren’t going to be so cheerful, I previously lost my mother in 2015, so the holidays have been rough every year since. My brother, daughters and I all lived together before they both went off to college and he passed away, so the celebrating the Christmas at home just wasn’t going to be the same.

This year, for the 1st time ever, my daughters and I decided to spend the holiday away from home, after discussing various locations, we decided on the city of lights…Paris! We have never been, so the thought of going to visit the Eiffel Tower at Christmastime was very exciting, for my daughters (ages 20 & 18) this was an opportunity of a lifetime.

This was a big trip, I always remind my girls how blessed they are because not very many kids their ages get to go on a trip, certainly not out of the country! Even though traveling to Paris wouldn’t take the sting out of spending our first Christmas without Jeff present, it was a pleasant distraction. We kept his lively spirit alive during the trip, discussing how he would have reacted to the sights we saw.

Jeff was a HUGE wrestling fan, so spending Christmas at WWE Raw, Wrestle Mania or some Cage of Death event would have made him just as happy as going to Paris made us! lol

We were in Paris for 6 days, not very long, but long enough for my girls and I to enjoy our 1st Mother/Daughter(s) Christmas trip abroad. It helped me to appreciate life even more now that I’ve had so many examples of how short life really is.

Taking a trip abroad may not be an easy thing for everyone to do, but if the holidays are an emotional time due to the loss of a loved one, it helps to do something non-traditional. Your loves will be with you in spirit no matter how you choose to spend the holiday.

Thanks to Karen Utsey at Karen’s Kustom Travel (www.karenutsey.inteletravel.com) for arranging such a lovely trip!

Christmas 2018