Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In Memory of Jim

Ever since dad passed away, I have been trying to think of something I could do to keep his memory alive through a charitable organization.  I wanted to raise money somehow and donate it to families of patients who are sick.  I know how hard it is to have a family member who is sick and the financial burdens it causes.

Trying to come up with an idea is hard, especially when you dream big like I do. The problem with dreaming big is usually there is huge overhead and time which I am not prepared for. I saw a Man vs. Food where there was a food marathon that raised money for charity. It was pretty neat and I think it would be something dad would have liked. They got I think 3 restaurants placed about town and each team had 3 people. It's been awhile since I have seen the episode and I am probably remembering parts of it wrong, but it basically had the first person eat a pile of whatever it was, then run to the next restaurant where the person then tagged another to eat food there. Then they rode their bike to the next place where they tagged the next person who I think ran, because I don't recall there being water...but at the end they all three had to run across the finish line. I think that would go over very well, but I would have to find sponsors and spend lots of cash and it would be a full time job. I can't do that.

Then I thought of a walk, but everyone does a walk. Same with bike rides.  Half the people I know don't walk OR bike ride. So, no one would show up!  So, I just kind of kept it in the back of my head this whole time until this weekend. Coleman came into my office after cleaning out his Jeep and had a ramp ticket to Rush Hospital and this:


A TEN DOLLAR GIFT CARD WE GOT FROM THE EMPLOYEES AT RML!!!  BINGO!!!  RML was where dad was in Hinsdale, IL that was the ventilator facility before we went to Oelwein. I specifically remember how awesomely thoughtful that was when we were given that. It was only ten dollars but I tell you what! After driving back and forth from Des Moines to Iowa City, then Iowa City to Chicago, then to Oelwein all the while paying for hotels the entire time and eating out for over a year, my savings account went bye bye.  But, I don't care, I would do it all again in a heart beat. Which leads me to believe that there are other families out there who are doing the exact same thing that we did for their loved ones. So, I want to pay if forward what was given to us and give it to others who need it.


This is TOTALLY appropriate too because between my dad and my grandma, I can't even begin to think of all the tanks of gas I scored out of those two. Hell, for about 3 years of my life, my grandma gave me an Amoco card which I bought all my gas with, (And maybe a cigarette or two, LOL) Plus, its GAS, and well, Shonings and gas go hand in hand. Coleman once said he thought our family crest was a toilet.

I have been trying to think of names and its been hard. I keep wanting to play with words and be clever with the whole "gas" thing. Like, You Have Been Gassed. Or, We Just Gave You Gas.  A gal I work with said we should call it "Jim's Journey" and then call the gas cards, "travel tokens."  I like that, but I don't like "Jim's Journey."  To me it makes it sound like he is still alive and on a journey. So, I would like to implement his name somehow and I am just drawing a blank, so suggestions are WELCOME!!!

I am going to donate some proceeds from my photography business to this and I plan on putting the names of the people who donate on these cards as well as a "made possible by."  Unless they don't want me to of course. I would love to be able to donate these to Methodist and University of Iowa, and as much as it pains me to say, Mercy. Im not a Mercy fan and thats no secret, however, those are our top 3 trauma hospitals in the state and thats where people get flown to when something happens. So, this creates a drive issue for people.

I can't even BEGIN to tell you how hard it is to have to stay out of town with your loved one and miss work and deplete your bank account. Every little bit helps and I hope to make a difference in some people's lives. If anyone wants to donate money or a gas card, hit me up and we will make it happen!! I am SO excited for this!!!!

I will keep everyone updated on my progress as this comes to fruition. YAY!!!!!  Remember, throw me some suggestions!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Holidays just aren't the same without my dad's Christmas cheer. He always had a way to bring joy to everyone. It was hard. I think this Christmas was harder than last Christmas since it was so fresh last year. I think I was still in shock. His absence seemed to be much more present this year. If that makes sense.

A guy I work with made me a bottle of apple pie liquor. Its really good. Its totally a drink my dad would have gobbled right up, so we all did a shot in his memory before we opened presents. I ended up getting 2 Canon lens coffee cups. They are awesome, my dad would have LOVED those. I can hear him in my head every time I have one in my hand giggling and saying how awesome they are.  Isn't that cool!! It's even cooler since I work for a coffee manufacturer.  I love them.

It was a Snuggie year for Martha. She asked for one and ended up with 3. I ended up with 2 Scrabble boards. That's okay though, I am sure they will both get used.

Jordan got Dance, Dance 2 and Michael Jackson Dance Off for the Wii. We played that for 3 days in a row. It was SO MUCH FUN!!!

4 dudes dancing to Walk Like an Egyptian

We hosted Christmas for Coleman's family at our house on Sunday and Martha, Judy, Scott, Kelly and Zane came too. So did Jordan and her friend Brandon. He probably thinks we are all crazy. It was a ton of fun though.

This will probably be my last post on the blog for the year. I wanted to also put out there that I have started another blog as well if you liked reading this one. Its about Ehlers-Danlos, living with it and finding out everything I can about it. Dad had a lot of EDS symptoms undiagnosed and I really think that its what caused his aneurysm. So, anyway, if you are interested you can find it here:

Hypersensitive Reactions to Hypermobility

I hope EVERYONE has a happy, safe New Year!!! Love!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I See You!!

Well, not really. I have had a tracker on here since I started the blog and on every Wednesday it sends me an email that tells me how many hits the blog has had. It doesn't tell me who, just what part of the country and how long the visit was. I can see if someone just clicked on the website, or if they actually read any of it and how long they were on it. Normally I get about 5 hits a week. But since Thanksgiving I have been getting about 15-20 hits, and they are the kind where people are reading it and staying awhile.

I wonder if people are happening across my page by accident? After all, if you type "Dr Demetrius Lopes" into Google, this blog is 6th down in the results. (I wonder if he likes that, lol). You can find it if you type in "brain aneurysm" as well. Or, maybe there are a lot of people out there who miss dad and want to go back and re-read some stuff. I like to think that is the case.
I hate not writing on here anymore, but I really don't have anything interesting to write. I'm not fighting any type of battle trying desperately to save someone's life. I am just me living day to day still trying to adjust to not having my dad around. It STILL sucks. But, I can't ramble on day after day about missing him. I can envision all of you hanging yourself or pouring gasoline all over about to light a match like two people in Airplane do who are listening to Ted Stryker go on and on about Elaine.

I am just a girl who still wants to pick up the phone and tell her dad stuff, who wants to ask him his opinion, who still expects to see him sitting in his chair when I walk in the front door of his house. I still have been expecting his call today on what is my 35th birthday. So, my inattention to the blog is me trying to get over the loss. By seeing that there are people out there who are still reading it, that leads me to believe that there are others out there as well still trying to get over it. It is very touching to me knowing that.

Jordan and I this year went and got tattoos of dad's signature on our arms. Hers on her wrist, mine on the inside of my left arm. I am pretty proud of them and am so glad we got them. I spent my whole junior high and high school career forging his name so what better way to commemorate him than with his actual signature. The signature we used was actually from a letter my dad wrote to the school about me forging signatures. HAHA!! Martha found it while looking for a good one for us to use. I love them!

I have been carrying on dad's photography business and I have been really busy. I am really glad I took photography in college (University of Southern Ankeny) because I never really thought I would end up taking over for dad, let alone liking it so much. I hope to make it a full time career some day. I almost feel as if he gave me the tools to be able to succeed without him here, and I am so thankful for that. With him getting sick, I found my purpose. Weird, huh?

I have also been doing a lot of research in my spare time on everything I can find out about Ehlers-Danlos. I was diagnosed with it when I was out of high school and other than hypermobile joints, joint pain and a few other annoyances, I never thought it would be anything tragic. I kept saying to the doctors when dad was sick that I had it, its genetic so I got it from one of my parents! I knew it had to tie in somehow. I found on the Mayo Clinic website that Ehlers-Danlos is the number 1 genetic cause for brain aneurysms:

Some disorders present at birth are known to increase the risk of brain aneurysms. These include:

  • Inherited connective tissue disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, that weaken blood vessels
  • Polycystic kidney disease, an inherited disorder, that results in fluid-filled sacs in the kidneys and usually increases blood pressure
  • Abnormally narrow aorta (coarctation of the aorta), the blood vessel that delivers oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body
  • Cerebral arteriovenous malformation (brain AVM), an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain that interrupts the normal flow of blood between them
I KNEW IT!!! The problem is, Ehlers-Danlos is known as a "Zebra" disease. For example, when you hear hoof beats, you automatically think horses. So, when you have a symptom, doctors tend to think of the most logical cause which makes EDS hard to diagnose. Plus, the severity of it runs differently in people. My dad was never bendy, but his sister is crazy bendy like me. I have pain, she doesn't. Scott has pain and is bendy too. We all have tachycardia, small mouths with crowded teeth. (imagine me with a small mouth. Yeah..I know. Dad had one too!! ) We have horrible scars, anxiety, high cholesterol, TMJ, etc. These are all EDS related. EDS is a collagen deficiency. Collagen is what holds your body together in what makes up your tendons and ligaments, and your vessels and nerve pathways.

Most people who have a brain aneurysm don't know it, and they rupture at 5 mm. Dads was the size OF A GOLF BALL!!! So, unless he had some sort of jacked up collagen that made his vessels extra stretchy to allow for it to get that big, then he was some sort of walking miracle that he didn't just drop dead. So, anyway, I have started focusing bringing awareness to this disease and learning all I can about it. Maybe in making more doctors aware of this, it could change the course of treatment for those who have it. Dad was a fighter and so am I. I think this is the best way to honor him is to try and help others. If you want to learn more about it, go to:

Anyway, everyone in the family is doing really well. Jordan is a sophomore at Creighton, still studying nursing. Martha is watching Jordan's fish. Scott and Kelly are raising Zane on Thomas the Train. I am surprised Zane doesn't sound like Alec Baldwin when he speaks. Debbie and Jim are proud grandparents to baby Hunter who was born in August I think? Debbie is hobbling around on a severely sprained ankle from falling down the stairs. Joan is still loving it in her elderly community living. Adilet is back in Kyrgyzstan and we are trying to get him back here since his government is in upheaval. Not much luck there though.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday with their loved ones. I wish nothing but the best for everyone in 2011. I will try and keep this blog updated a little bit better and thank you all for continuing to peek at it now and then.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day

This weekend starts the Memorial Day festivities. I plan on camping with some friends tonight and tomorrow. Monday will actually mark the first time I have ever actually memorialized Memorial day doing something other than relaxing or hanging out. I usually let the patriarch of our family do the cemetery rounds for me...but now he isn't here to do it.

He is here:

Dad wasn't in any serious war, although he was enlisted during Vietnam. He was hiding in order of the US Navy. He spent some time in Morocco participating in a 7 day war that was in the ocean while he sat behind a radio desk on land.

Even though he didn't risk his life fighting any battle, or getting shot at by enemy fire, he managed to stay alive from dysentery and malaria (so he says). Dysentery and malaria were probably the names of the women he was hanging out boozing it up with. But aside from that, dad, I salute you. You will always be my hero.

Miss you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Dad

Tomorrow is dad's birthday. I haven't been to the cemetery since we buried him. The weather has been horrible and he doesn't have a headstone and I didn't want to stare at a mound of dirt. The headstone will be in by Memorial Day, it is 6 feet long and probably the biggest headstone in the cemetery, which I am sure he would love. We are having his fire helmet and number etched in with the word "photographer." In hindsight, we should have had a remote control etched on it.

I always enjoyed buying my dad birthday cards, looking through all the Hallmark ones to find the funniest one I could find. I never really could think of anything cool to get him present wise.. What do you get a guy that always had everything?? So, the card I got him and his reaction from it is what I always cared about most.

One Christmas a few years ago, I couldn't figure out anything to get him and I saw something online about creating your own book. So, I looked into it and basically the book is already made, and there are different kinds, like love stories, little kids books, etc. You just tell them the names of the people that you want to be the characters in the book and send them a picture and they personalize the book for you. I got some hot steamy love doctor/nurse book where I think he was the doctor and Martha was the nurse. I was able to add in a few of their friends and relatives. When he opened it he about shit. He thought that was the best thing he had ever seen. Like I gave him a winning lottery ticket. It was so awesome! I think that was the last Christmas we had before he got sick so I am glad that I was able to give him something he was able to enjoy. I don't even think he ever read it, but he took it around and showed it to people.

I will probably still buy him a card, and maybe a cookie from Fiss, get some flowers and balloons to dress his grave. Although I would rather sit on his deck, eat hamburgers, drink beer and watch him open his presents.

I always felt like everyone looked at me as "Jim's daughter." So, now it is weird to me because now I feel like I don't belong to anyone and I am just "Liza" now. It is a whole new identity that I am trying to get used to. I know I have Coleman, but it's different. He isn't my parent. It is weird to loose your blood, it is your identity, where you came from. They have all the knowledge and history of where you and where you came from. You associate your life with that person. Nothing really ever mattered or was real to me until I told him. Now I have to get used to being satisfied not telling him and moving on.

I just hope someday when I have kids, I will see a lot of my dad in them. If they aren't funny or don't have any of his mannerisms...then I will know they couldn't possibly be my kids.

Happy Birthday Dad

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7th, 2009. A Date Which Will Live In Infamy.

Today is one month since the passing of my father. I have wanted to write on this blog, but it's been hard for me to try and write anything without breaking down. I have thought of him a lot today, mostly because of his weird obsessions with war stories. He would even tell you that he was in a war. It lasted a week. There is even a book on it, he owned it and I tried reading it. I was bored to death so I quit. I might read it now, just to say I read it. He was in Morocco and was part of the communications to this ship and a couple fighter planes. I wasn't much paying attention. I don't think "war hero" and "Jim Shoning" are mentioned anywhere in that book.

I went to Hawaii in 1999 courtesy of a small cash advance from my father, which I ACTUALLY paid back thank you. I went with a dumb boy to go see my best friend who was stationed at Schofield which is the Army base on North Shore. It was awesome. I discovered lots of things on that trip.

1. The locals hate tourists
2. Amy's toddler thought garbage trucks were called "Trash Candies."
3. A pitcher of Bud Light cost 12.50
4. Staying in the married housing on the base was domestic abuse central. All I heard were couples screaming and kids bawling.
5. Pineapples grow in the ground.
6. When seeing the ocean for the first time from a distance, its hard to differentiate it from the horizon.
7. I was shocked how many Japanese people were there.
8. The bars stay open until 4 AM. I never thought in a million years I could drink that long. I was wrong.
9. Throwing up off a hotel balcony 25 floors up is fun.
10. It only takes one bullet to kill me and Amy.
11. Pearl Harbor is the COOLEST thing I have EVER seen in my LIFE!!!
12. Birds are everywhere and will walk on you to get fed.
13. When paged by a Japenese girl, my name was pronounced Ricea Roni.
14. The best place to buy souvenirs for people is at KMART!
15. Jack in the Box is the best fast food that has ever touched my mouth.
16. Bars hire elderly people to assist you in the bathrooms for tips.
17. Baby oil and Hawaiian sun is a bad idea.
18. The airport has no roof.
19. The weather changes in .5 seconds.
20. Honolulu is actually pretty dirty.

When I think of Hawaii, I instantly think of Pearl Harbor and how awesome it is. I wish everyone could go there and check it out. It is so moving and very breath taking. It really sobered me up to the reality of war having never experienced it myself. I can still, 10 years later smell the oil that bubbles up from the Arizona. Standing on the USS Missouri, looking over the edge of the ship and seeing the huge dent from a Kamikaze plane and then closing my eyes and seeing Cher in her nasty, half naked outfit dancing and singing to, "If I Could Turn Back Time." *barf* Way to put your stamp on historic US History Cher.

I bought some nick knack things for dad and I brought home a replica of the Honolulu newspaper with the headline, "JAPS BOMB PEARL HARBOR!" He loved it. He told me he took it to work and put his feet up on the desk and proceeded to lean back in the chair and read it. Mary walked in and saw it and was shocked and yelled, "What!! Not again!!!" Now, she would have to verify that story, I am not sure if it was true or not. You all know how gullible he made everyone.

Miss you dad!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

James Shelton Shoning March 25th, 1947-November 7th, 2009

I somehow thought this blog would end up with my happy middle finger sticking up at everyone who doubted dad's recovery. A big "HAH, I TOLD YOU SO!!

Sadly it isn't.

Dad was sent back to Oelwein this past Tuesday. He was doing fabulous. He even told the nurses how much better he was feeling. On Friday around 6, I talked to Martha and she had just got an update that he was very alert and doing fine.At 10:30 I got a hysterical phone call that dad was in cardiac arrest and they were taking him to the hospital. I immediately went to Scotts. We pulled out of the driveway and I called the hospital and spoke to the doctor who worked on him. She said that the ambulance was able to revive him, but he was very sick, his white blood cell count was very high and to get our butts up there. She was having him flown to Covenant in Waterloo.
I was shocked. I know nothing is wrong with his heart, so what could it have been? I thought maybe he was septic from something, but how could he have gotten that sick in such a short amount of time?

Once we got to the hospital, they had him in CT scan, so we had to wait. After watching what seemed to be 3 episodes of 25,000 Dollar Pyramid in the waiting room, the doctor finally came up and took us in "The Room."

He told us how sick he was and that it looked like that he had a stroke. He was unstable but they were going to continue to do more tests. We asked to see him. He took us back and the second I saw him, I knew there was nothing left to fight for. One of his pupils was blown and his eyes were shifted up to the right. No reaction to light at all. I just looked at Martha and shook my head no.

We decided to stop all life saving measures. At 4 AM, we took him off of life support in the ICU and gave him morphine and ativan for comfort. We all stayed by his side, telling him stories, listening to music and holding his hand. Jordan and I had chairs pulled up to either side of him and had our heads on his legs. I had fallen asleep listening to the rhythm of his quite breaths. Jordan yelled my name and I jolted awake to see him breathing very slowly. We screamed at everyone to get back in the room and we were all with him as he took his last final breaths, talking him through it.

My dad died at 10 PM.

Now the hole that was in my heart that was created when my grandma died has become the size of what feels like my entire body. Dad is the glue that holds us all together, what always held me together. He was just like my grandma, had the ability to hold every one's attention and just had a sparkling, radiant personality that just drew people in. Always the center of attention.

The center of my life that I(we) worked so hard to save has just been ripped from me. He was right, he told me that he would die because of his brain and I told him he was wrong, and he would die from something stupid. I honestly thought that. It doesn't matter though, because I secretly hoped he would never die.

I see how many lives my dad has affected. When I started this blog it was because so many people kept asking me how he was and I would forget who I told what to. I have had people as far back as college, even the navy write to me about him. I have had people tell me that their co-workers who don't even know dad read my blog because they are interested in his life through his friends.

I am so angry that he had to be so far away through all of this! It isn't fair that he couldn't be surrounded by all the people who read this every day. No one should have to go what he went through, it was absolute hell. I can't believe he held on so long. Even after we took the vent off yesterday, we thought it would be a matter of a few hours. It was 18.

My goal was to get him home. I guess if you look at it in the religious sense, he is now. If we are talking location, he will be in Carlisle soon. I wanted him home. Sitting in front of the TV watching the L Word, or Battle Star Gallactica. I want him at the bar, throwing his empty beer bottle across the table when he was done to let the waitress know he needed another one. I want to hear him sing the stupid Newfie songs and see him walk around with his shirt off slapping his chest and pretending to punch every one in the face. I want to see him taking pictures of car accidents and high school seniors. I want to see him make everyone around him turn into a gullible idiot, because he had the ability to do so. I want to hear his complete inappropriate sense of humor at the wrong time. I even want to hear him yell at me and tell me how stupid I am. I want him to meet the children that I have some day and be the goofy grandpa. Hear is dumb "hen weigh" jokes and how he would yell "SNAKES!" when he would hit those rough road patches before a stop sign or tell Jordan to look in the air at the dead bird.

No one will ever replace the man that was my father. He was truly a one of a kind man. My life will never be the same now and I think I can even go as far as saying that Carlisle wont be the same now. I hope to give him the best celebration of his life and the best send off he deserves. His life was taken from him way too young, but now his suffering is over and all of ours has just begun. I love you Big Jim. I hope you and Skippy are at peace in Heaven now. (Or Octopus Garden) I love you, we all love you......

The End

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