The Good Life

It has been awhile since I have made a post. I have been extremely busy between going on a beach trip with the family and going to Raleigh for work. Last weekend Isaac and I went to Kure Beach to meet up with some family members. It was SO wonderful to relax and enjoy each others company. And poker. What is a family vacation without poker? I enjoy it for a few hands then get bored and go “all in.” Surprisingly this last time, it worked out in my favor and I won a huge hand.

At the beach I had the pleasure of getting to know my aunt’s neighbor, John Fonger. John would come by every morning with a fresh batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies and cigars to smoke with the boys. He made a total of 4 dozen cookies for us while we were there! He invited us to come to his hot tub one night and showered  us with cookies, ginger ale, and homemade cocktails while we soaked and listened to the waves crashing less than 50 yards away. He took my dad on a ride in his BMW convertible and he and his wife joined us on our family taco night.

John has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and his days are numbered. Some doctors have told him he has a few moths to live and some have said he may have another year. Either way, John and Penelope have prepared for his death. It was a reality check to be in conversation with John and hear him say things like “When I’m gone, Penelope will be moving to Texas.” My young and fragile mind had a hard time comprehending how somebody can face death like this. As my dad pointed out, most people in hospice are stuck in bed, dying slowly. John is full of life! Other than minor bells palsy symptoms, he looks full of life and energy. How can something so horrible be destroying him on the inside?

I have thought about John every single day since meeting him and I don’t think he knows what an impact he had on me. In his hot tub that night, we asked John what he is doing different now that he knows about the cancer. He said “every morning I wake up and eat a chocolate chip cookie and drink only the best rum.” He laughed deeply and exclaimed “I’ve gained a lot of weight!!” What an amazing man. What an amazing life he has lived. He will never get to see any of his four grandchildren reach the age of 7. He only has a few more precious months of looking out at the ocean and enjoying God’s creation.

John helped me to remember how precious life is. I admire the strength of his sweet wife, Penelope. They both seem to be handling the situation like brave soldiers. John said he is so thankful that he has gotten to make peace with the Lord and cherish his last days with those he cares about. In that sense, it is a blessing. Many people are torn from their lives in an instant with no chance to make wrongs right or say goodbye to their loved ones.

On the drive back from the beach on Monday night, Isaac and I talked a lot about John. As I held the hand of my true love, I wept for John and Penelope. I thanked God for the opportunity to meet such an inspiring couple and thanked Him for each breath that I have been given.

Here’s to Uncle John (as my cousins and I referred to him); every time I eat a chocolate chip cookie I will be thinking of you!

Eric and John--men with their cigars!

"It is well, it is well, with my soul." (photo by Alex Wright)

3 thoughts on “The Good Life

  1. Courtney, I laughed then cried at your post. Thank you for taking the time to document this amazing weekend. Love, Dad

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