Posted by: Ken Wheatley | June 8, 2011

Car wash

I sold my car shortly after Sheila passed away when I found that I was driving her car more and more, and the other less and less.

Well, today, a year and a half later, I’m finally having the car cleaned on the inside. I’ve been having the outside cleaned regularly, but, for probably obvious reasons, I couldn’t bring myself to have the inside cleaned. Sheila’s presence was evidenced by the fingerprints on the headliner, and her personal items in the various trays. But it had to be cleaned at some point, and I thought today was as good as any. So I went through everything last night and took out the hair barrettes, eyeliner pen (?), sour candy tin (which is now empty), hair comb, pins, etc. 

At the bottom of the armrest tray I found a small love note I had written to her on a Post-it note many years ago. It’s always a heart-grabber when I stumble upon such items.  

So they’re outside working on a complete detailing of the car now. Reminds me of a time when I stopped by her office unannounced on my day off, and she was so happy to see me. I was looking for something to do and saw that her car needed to be washed. So I took it to a local place and had it detailed for her as a surprise. Can still see the usual big grin on her face.

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Posted by: Ken Wheatley | December 20, 2010

The Holidays

Like the millions with heavy hearts during this time of year I’m waiting for December to be over.

It’s ironic that in December 2007 Sheila and I spoke with exuberant optimism about 2008. Little did we know. So I don’t think in those terms. It’s life. Something to be lived, endured, and experienced with the occasional highs.

It’s about experiencing as many positive things as you can. Creating as many (good) memories as you can fit in, because you don’t know when you’ll be “called” to the plate.

I miss Sheila all the time. But I’ve had no choice but to pick myself up and look forward. To do otherwise is too debilitating. I can’t do the positive things in her memory I want and need to do.

I’m creating new memories and experiences with Sandra now. I’m told that’s what Sheila would have wanted. I think everyone says that. But it’s made a big difference in my survival and outlook. I’m working on getting the tennis tournament USTA sanctioned. Still researching where to devote the money I raise.

Create memories. That’s what you’ll have, and cherish the most. Take lots of photos. And videos. Gosh…I wish I had done videos of us on the various trips.

Merry Christmas, Sheila. I love you…

Posted by: Ken Wheatley | October 28, 2010

Can’t Sleep

I’ve been wanting to write for some time, but haven’t. Not sure exactly why.

It’s after midnight, and I’m anxious for some reason. Heart’s racing a bit. Restless. Reluctant to go to bed. But that part isn’t unusual. I rarely get to bed before 1 am. Sometimes closer to 2. And then I wake up around 6. The eyes just pop open. On autopilot.

I have an early morning meeting with Dr. B. We’re meeting for breakfast. She’s patiently helping me find the road less traveled. I don’t want to raise money or conduct events just for the sake of doing either. I want it to matter. To make a difference in the outcome.

I continue to get emails from both patients and caregivers. The angst, the fear, the frustration is tangible in each letter. I’ve been there. I recognize the signs. The words. The emotions. We’re all searching for an explanation of “why.” And searching for a solution.

Maybe part of it is because we silently see our own mortality playing out in front of us.

I’m fortunate to have Sandra now in my life. We help each other. Although obviously I need it more than she does at this point. She’s had 14 years to come to terms with her loss, so I’m a novice by that standard. She’s a good woman and has been very supportive and was actively helpful on the tennis event.

I just returned from an ISO meeting in South Korea, and during the long flight couldn’t help but remember that Sheila went with me to the last meeting when it was in Shanghai.  That was our last big trip together. She was in a lot of pain during the flight, but trouper that she was, she toughed it out as always. The flight crew gave us a large bottle of Champagne, which we ended-up giving to Vic and Margaret, a couple from the UK who was also attending the meeting.

Well, writing has helped, as usual. And the eyelids are growing a bit heavy finally. So time to end…

Love you, Sheila…

Posted by: Ken Wheatley | September 22, 2010

Promise Kept – Sheila Ann Wheatley Tennis Classic

Sorry to those who have been eagerly awaiting the report (based on your gently nudging emails) of how the event went on Saturday. I crashed hard on Saturday night. I think the stress of putting it all together finally caught-up to me. And then there was tying up the loose end, notifying the raffle winners, etc. Plus my real job!

In a nutshell….it was awesome!!!! I’m so happy that, with the participation of the 100 players, I was able to fulfill my promise to Sheila that we’d have this event to raise awareness about lung cancer and funds for the Lung Cancer Alliance.

An ankle injury sidelined a player a day earlier, but we had no (serious) injuries on the day of the event. We even had people show up – dressed and ready to play – who hadn’t registered but were hoping for no-shows or injuries (joking, a bit on that last one) so they could play.

The marine layer burned off by 10am and it was a beautiful day with an ocean breeze. The La Costa Resort and Spa is a beautiful property and many of the players were thrilled to get a chance to play on their world-class courts. (The Mercury Insurance Open, formerly the Acura Tennis Classic, was played there recently)

I’ll provide more details in a few days about how much was raised for the Lung Cancer Alliance, who won what, and any other important things I can think of.

But I certainly want, and need, to thank the volunteers who busted their chops on Saturday: Sandra, Joni, Steve, Kim, Maria, Judy, Jan, Jerry, Mary E, Monica, Corinne, Alma, and Kimber. So many people commented on how great the volunteers were, and how professionally run the event was, and I owe a debt of gratitude to them for “branding” the Sheila Ann Wheatley Tennis Classic with a stamp of excellence. Nice way to start off a tradition.

Of special note was the surprise visits from Mike, Al, and Dawn.

Al and I worked together for many years and have kept in touch since he retired about 8 years ago. He and Dawn live in San Antonio and they had come out for the wedding and decided to fly out for the tennis event and spend the full day with us.

Mike is a friend and colleague. He’s a retired Secret Service guy and also a Chief Security Officer. He’s the one that I talked about at Sheila’s funeral (Mike’s wife, Laura, flew out for our wedding and sadly, for Sheila’s funeral) about being in the “Super Bowl Stadium” with me after others had left. So, true to his word, he surprised me by flying in from Utah for the event.

On Sunday, Sandra and I cooked an early dinner for Dawn, Al, and Mike.

I also appreciate that Sheila’s niece, Stephanie, flew in from Colorado to play doubles with her mom, Karen. I didn’t find out until much later that Karen was slightly injured during one of the rounds but refused to stop playing because she wanted to be there for Sheila.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank Matthew Hall at the San Diego Union Tribune. There’s no question that his coverage of the event drove a lot of the awareness, and sign-ups. So thanks, Matt, for the tremendous support. Sheila would have been so pleased with the outcome.

Stay tuned for more info on the final parts of this event, and for my comments about the future.

Posted by: Ken Wheatley | September 15, 2010

One Year…”My Heart and Soul”

In about three minutes, a year ago, my life, my joy, my reason to be happy everyday because of you being in my life ended when you took your last breath.

It’s been a long year. A very long year at times. Because I think of you, and miss you, constantly. So the minutes and days sometimes crawl by. It’s like I’m living two lives. One half laughs and does things, the other is sad. I have this ache for you that just never completely goes away. I miss you so much.

There are still times I can’t believe you’re gone. We had such a great life together. I adored being with you. You made me the most complete and content person that I’d ever felt in my life. And since this time a year ago, I’ve had to adjust to living life without your touch. Your kisses. Your hugs. Your foot rubs while watching tv. Holding your hand, all the time. Touching you as often as possible.

It’s midnight, September 15th, and you’re gone. Again.

There’s a song by Stephen Bishop that I’ve played over 114 times this year – I’m playing it now as I write this – that perfectly captures what it’s been like to lose you, and how I’ll always feel going forward. The song is: “(You’ll Always Be) My Heart and Soul.” You’ve heard me sing the song to you many times since you’ve been gone:

The years they come and go
And change will come I know
You won’t be there
My heart and soul
A different time and place
That time did not erase
The smile that lights your face
As you gaze in mine
It will always shine
And you
Will always be
An angel making sure I care
A memory that’s always there
Your dreams won’t die if they live inside of me
You know you’ll always be my heart and soul

The years roll on and on
I looked and you were gone
I miss you so
My heart and soul
The years can make you wise
Now I finally realize
That if I just close my eyes
I can see you there                                                                                                                                                               From the love we share
And you will always be
A dream so real it cannot die
A trust in faith that lets me fly
A thought so strong it just belongs to me
You know you’ll always be my heart and soul

An angel making sure I care
A memory that’s always there
You’ll always be my heart and soul

————–

Rest in peace, my love. I will carry your memory. I will work on your behalf until my last breath.

I love you, Sheila….I adore you. Always did…always will…

Posted by: Ken Wheatley | September 14, 2010

6 hours ago…6 hours from now

It’s 5:50pm.

Six hours ago, last year on this date, the doctors wanted me to talk with the San Diego Hospice people about moving you to the house. We knew the end was near, just not how near. A few days? A week or two? 

You were still conscious and able to understand me. We talked, as best you could with that huge oxygen facemask on, and you wanted to come home. I can remember you shaking your head, “yes”, and those big eyes looking at me so desparately. So eagerly. So tenderly.

But I could tell that you were suffering – having a lot of difficulty breathing – and subjecting you to the hourlong ambulance ride would have been to much. As much as I wanted you home again for my own benefit, as well as yours, I knew it wouldn’t be the right thing.

Six hours and ten minutes from now you’d be gone.

I miss my friend. I miss my wife. I miss…you…

Posted by: Ken Wheatley | September 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sweetie

Today would have been your 53rd.

I’ve been thinking about this day for most of the week, thinking back to where we were this time last year. The weather today is much like it was then – sunny, warm, with a slight breeze.

I remember being at the cottage on the beach. I went to have breakfast and you couldn’t go because you weren’t feeling well. You just wanted me to bring some fruit and yogurt back, which I did. They had blueberry, one of your favorites. French vanilla would have been better.

Even though you didn’t look well, you were still so beautiful. When I came back to the cottage you were on the porch, sitting on the lounge chair taking in the early morning sun and working on your Suduko book. Of course, as soon as you saw me, I got that big smile and tender eyes. I love you so much. I miss you so much.

So of course, I’ll be thinking about you all day, as I do everyday, and wishing you a happy birthday in heaven.

Posted by: Ken Wheatley | August 24, 2010

Around, just swamped

I’ve been meaning to write, but as the tournament time draws closer there’s a lot to do, plus I do have a job that’s very consuming as well. So the days and nights have been quite long.

But everyday new entries come in for the tournament, and I’m excited about actually pulling this off for her. Sheila would be so thrilled!!! I can just picture that cute, great smile of hers.

I appreciate all the help I’ve been getting from friends and total strangers. It’s amazing how many people, whom I’ve never met, have really stepped in to get the word out and drive participation. And the people at Sony have been amazing. Without them – especially Kim – I wouldn’t have half of what I have on the infrastructure side. As Sandra has said, it’s a tribe-thing.

Have to work on the signage this week, and the event insurance paperwork.

Amazingly, still working on the tax issues for Sheila’s former business. It’s been over a year since she sold the company, but unfortunately, she didn’t get a chance to close out all parts of it, so it’s been a baptism of fire for me.

Anyway, hope she’s happy up there, looking down on what we’re doing for her, and others like her.

Love you, Sheila…

Posted by: Ken Wheatley | August 16, 2010

Great Question – Have I ever smoked?

As a result of the article, someone asked a question that quite frankly hadn’t been asked before. We’re all searching for an answer about how someone who never smoked could come down with lung cancer. The same thing happened to Dana Reeves, Christopher Reeves’ (Superman) wife.

The answer is, we don’t know how it happened. And to answer the question someone posed – no, I’ve never smoked, so Sheila didn’t “catch” it from me.

Posted by: Ken Wheatley | August 15, 2010

San Diego Union Tribune Article – Love and Loss

How appropriate that this should be published today.

San Diego Union Tribune Article about Sheila

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