On an unusually chilly August morning, 5 brave souls met at the shores of Lake Minnetonka for what it was to be a totally new and exciting experience (as usual as it happens with Jack’s). None of us knew exactly what we were in for but were willing to give it a go. That kind of feeling is very familiar to all of us at Jack’s. We all face a very unknown and uncertain present and future when we deal with our loved one’s cancer, but we face them head on.
As we sit at the picnic table wondering what we're doing there and how cold it’s going to be in the water, we share a few minutes of camaraderie and check in with each other. These moments are what Jack’s is all about. Aside from the different adventures that we take on together, we cherish and look forward to hear from each other about our different challenges. One of the things I look forward to when we meet is to be there for my fellow Jacks and listen and offer help when needed. I also look forward to voice some of my concerns, fears and insecurities when it comes to caregiving for my spouse.
I’m very fortunate in a very unfortunate situation in that even though Eva is going through metastatic breast cancer, she’s one of the very blessed ones where meds are working and are extending her life beyond the original prognosis. I’m extremely thankful for that and for being able to still enjoy life with her however in a much different way than before diagnosis. I try to stay in that place of gratitude and try to stay in the present, but I must admit that the fear of what the future will bring is ever present in my mind.
But I digress…back to the flyboards…
Our instructor Rodney is a very relaxed, safety conscious and easy-going dude. He has been in this business since 2016 and has probably heard all the questions from newbies like us. Still, he’s very patient and continually keeps coaching us on how to do it better. We on the other hand are very wide-eye and wondering how much is it going to hurt as we hurl through the air and “crash land” on the water… However, we are also very excited and looking forward to experience what is like to fly through the air propelled by the water jets as if we were in a 1930s Flash Gordon serial.
The first one of us to go had the disadvantage of being the guinea pig. That honor goes to Kyle. As he moves through the water, he resembles a dolphin gliding on top of the water on his way to the area where Rodney will “fly” us.
Once they reach the designated area, we wait with baited breath to see how Kyle is doing. It takes a few tries with a few dunkings before he rises form the water and conquers the air! He’s flying! He’s out there for what it seems a very long time, enjoying his flying and really getting up there. Eventually we go back to our table and keep watching as we continue to visit.
One by one we go and take our turns. As I take my turn, I do have butterflies in my stomach, but if you know anything about me, I can’t wait to go and conquer this new challenge. One of the most important tips to remember when you first start is to keep your upper body as high as you can when gliding over the water to the flying area, or you will be gulping half the lake on the way there (which I did despite Eric’s warnings)
After a few tries and much coaching by Rodney, I take off and feel very comfortable flying. I get more confident (or should I say cocky…?) and make sharper turns and go up and down as I master this new sport. Finally, I decide to call it quits and not push it any more as I get tired. I think I’m finally maturing some and learning when to call it quits so I won’t get hurt.
As we face our challenges in life as caregivers, we face unknown challenges, like flying over water, and as I said before, we face them head on. We don’t have really an alternative and hope that we can do the best we can. One thing that we don’t and can’t do is quit. No matter how tired we may be. We keep pushing ahead and hope we can create a manageable and rich life as we all navigate these unknown waters while we care for our loved ones.
I can’t wait to see what the next adventure is at Jack’s and to share with my fellow caregivers. Best wishes to everyone and keep the faith.