What a Friend Jim has always been

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I recently received a wonderful, yet tear rendering e-mail from an old, dear friend of Jim’s. I love hearing from his friends. It helps me to recall who Jim was when we met. It helps me remember the man I met, fell in love with, married and still live with. In our new life together, it is often difficult for me to stop, re-focus and see the man sitting next to me was in charge of millions of dollars worth of government equipment and a star in his field in the Air Force. I know these things yet with each day he progresses into a disease that robs him of abilities, it also robs me of my clarity of him. Thank you Jorge for writing and for still loving a wonderful man and friend to us all.

These are my friends Jim and Karen.  Please read and watch as much as you can.  Jim is my buddy from the Air Force.  He was also my volleyball and basketball partner in the Air Force…we would take on anyone no matter how good they were…we always thought we were better.

Jim and I met in Bremerhaven West Germany in 1987…ever since we have been best buddies even though we were only stationed together once in our Air Force career for less than 3 years.  

Jim is also the reason I never took up racquetball, even though I thought I was a very decent racquet sport player.  The first time I stepped foot in a racquetball court he humiliated me to the point I never stepped foot in a court again.  He was that good. The year I played with him he was number 2 or 3 in the Air Force in Europe…deadly with a racquet. I wear that as a badge of honor.

Jim came to my house on Christmas Eve in Germany and asked me to help him troubleshoot a defective radar when everyone else was spending time with their families…he always thought I was a radar whiz…I never turned him down.  There we were on Christmas Eve, working on this radar in the winter cold, trying to make it better.

The first time I visited East Germany was also with Jim…19 days after the wall came down….Dec. 1989.  Jim had been stationed in Berlin and served as the best tour guide you could ever have…we had a blast. 

Years passed…we were silent friends…normal for Air Force buddies…didn’t need to talk, but when we did, we would pick up right where we left off.

At one time he was stationed at Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, NV around 1998. I was in the Mojave Dessert at a Communications Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California.  My Squadron was prepping for an Operational Readiness Inspection and I knew Jim had been augmenting the Inspector General’s team assessing different Air Force unit’s ability to perform their mission.  I convinced my Flight Commander to pay for Jim to come over and give us a ‘once over’ and let us know where we could improve.  His report was so comprehensive, we had no problem with the real inspection…we excelled!  Call it payback for the time I helped him troubleshoot that radar in West Germany on a Christmas Eve Day.  That’s what we did.

When he was about to get married, I was attending a specialized radar school in Biloxi, Mississippi.  He was to get married in North Carolina.  I took a ride to my friend George’s (fellow Puerto Rican and radar troop from Bremerhaven…also our protégé) house in Crestview, FL and then we drove to North Carolina for Jim’s wedding.  It was the natural thing to do…anything for Jim. We played a round of golf in the morning prior to his wedding. I was so honored to be there with Jim and Karen on this special occasion.

So yes…we were there for the official beginning of Jim’s and Karen’s lives.  I visited Jim afterwards in Vegas…even after they moved to Virginia and  I was a defense contractor.  Shortly afterwards, he was diagnosed with early onset.  Ever since, my friend George and I have been struggling with his diagnosis…nothing even remotely close to what Karen has had to endure for the last 5-6 years.

I miss my friend…but not as nearly much as Karen has missed her husband…we love you Jim…

George and Jorge with Jim and I at our wedding. Jim was so glad they were there. May 1997.

George and Jorge with Jim and I at our wedding. Jim was so glad they were there. May 1997.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (2)

2 Responses to “What a Friend Jim has always been”

  1. Now in the later stage of Alzheimer’s it is impossible to clearly see the man that was. I loved thee way you put it, clarity of him. Joe has gangrene in one foot from a blood clot. I don’t know what it means, where it will take him. I think this may be close to the final curtain. I know he would welcome this and I do and I don’t. Living in a room with no windows. I think and pray for you and Jim. Our video….Goggle You Tube type in I’ll Be seeing You with Deane Johnson. This is a Preview of a special PBS filmed. Love…………

  2. Jorge Cordero says:

    I love this picture of us together.

    The two Puerto Ricans who had more than our ethnicity, names, Air Force specialty, and love for sports in common. We had Jim and Karen as our friends.

    Love you guys!

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