Friday would have been my Papa Jim’s birthday. July 13th. Oh was he a man. The best kind of man. Hard working. Strong hands. Conservative and didn’t take any shit. He respected a strong work ethic and a self-made man. He cussed like a construction worker but never in front of a lady. I never heard him say the F-word, but Nathan did. He was gentle and sweet. He gave the best shoulder rubs, hugs and cheek kisses. He loved to dance and loved country music. He adored his horses and the ladies. He SHOWED UP in the lives of the people he loved. I never doubted for a second how much he loved me. Gosh I miss him. How a man so tough could have eyes so gentle I will never comprehend but always understand.
Saturday was all about my Papa’s son, my mom’s younger brother, my uncle. Mike Sprenger. My Uncle Mike loves to joke, to tease and to laugh. He was always the one to light up the room when my family got together. My mom and brother also have a sister. Between the siblings they have 8 children giving me 7 cousins. All of us would get together 1-2 times a summer growing up. And oh I loved my Uncle Mike for his quick wit and his tender heart. Just like my Papa. As I was going through old pictures I found so many of me as a little girl sitting on my uncle’s lap. Proof I always adored him.
My uncle Mike went to work for my Papa. Jimmy owned his own construction company called Sprenger Construction in Moscow. The company became my uncle’s. He has the same work ethic as my grandfather and I respect the hell out of them both.
In 2011 my uncle was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. (Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.)
So many memories are hazy or disguised with what we want to remember. But some moments are engraved with perfect detail into our memory. I clearly remember the moment I got the phone call from my mom with the news about Mike’s diagnosis. I was in Portland, OR at a technology conference for teachers. My phone rang in between sessions so I stepped outside the hotel. I can still see the electronic sliding double doors and the hotel entrance. It was a sunny day for Portland in February. My heart sank with the news but at the time I didn’t fully understand what it meant for my family.
It started in his feet. Slowly my uncle went from a walker to a wheelchair to a power chair. Through the years he lost his ability to control his power chair on his own, to losing his ability to talk, to a feeding tube to no longer able to breathe on his own. Today he’s in a wheelchair that he can not manipulate. He has a Tobi Communicator that he can control with his eyes to allow him to speak and text and even post to social media. His eye movement, a slanted smile and raised eye brows are the only physical function Mike has left.
But his mental and emotional abilities are limitless! Mike is determined to live his life to the fullest despite this ugly fucking disease. He still goes to work every single week and runs his construction company. He spends a ton of time at the lake, travels and loves the heck out of his family. He is a true inspiration.
4 years ago my cousin Kim put together a fundraiser for ALS. It is a big golf tournament and auction she organized. This weekend I went with my mom, grandma and the boys. We got to the Moscow Elks and Country Club around 11am. The teams were already golfing and drinking.
There was a silent auction, live action, lunch and booze. Lots of booze.
I had a great time and was so happy that I could show up to give my love and support to someone so deserving of it. I am so proud to have the Sprenger blood line pumping through my heart!
Sunday was just a family day. I started my day cooking breakfast for my family and then kicking my ass in an intense 30 minute workout!
Nathan, the boys and I did some running around. We checked out the RV show in the Sportsman’s Warehouse parking lot and dreamed of the camper we’d love to have.
Then we BBQ’d hamburgers for dinner and hung out in the backyard.
Into another week. We head to Harrison on Friday for the PBA Classic bass tournament and I can’t wait!!!