Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014


Isn't it funny how we chose to reflect on those moments in life that proved their impact was great? I think about Jake on a daily basis whether it is something I see that reminds me of him or something I personally do where I pause and think of his reaction, his thoughts, smile or disagreement with what I'm doing.

Four years have passed since I slept in a hospital room praying he'd pull through. Four years since I'd wake up in the middle of the night sit by his bed - hold his hand and just talk to him. It is funny how I remember the smell of the hospital and the taste of the coffee in the shop below his room. Small things trigger my memories of what that entire experience was like.

I am pretty sure I experienced every emotion humanly possible during that time and the long months that followed. I remember the words of "encouragement" during that time. Some was so comforting and others meant to be comforting but shouldn't have said anything. Some people were silent and still remain silent - I remind myself they just don't understand.

I share Jake's story from my own viewpoint. I knew he was struggling but had such hope that it would all come together. I struggle with the concept of when do you step in to help someone and when do you let them figure it out on their own? The recreational use of OxyContin took the life of my brother - but it did not steal all the memories I have from childhood, teenage years, and as a young adult.

I remember his energy, zest for life and ability to conquer his fears something I really miss. As a family we decided on Jake's behalf to donate his organs and provide an opportunity for a second chance at life for complete strangers from the Missouri area. This opportunity has provided such great comfort and the chance for parts of Jake to live on in other people. My mind misses Jake but my heart tells me we will meet again.

On October 11, 2014 we will be hosting our first ever "Jake's Fishing Derby" from 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM at Simpson Park, Valley Park, MO. Erin and I have been working hard to find an agency to donate funds to on an annual basis in Jake's name. This will be completed before Jake's Derby. October 11th will mark the 5th birthday without Jake here with us - and we will be celebrating his 23rd.

Baby "Jake" Jesse Davis' son :)

Support, hug and love those around you. Xo.

John 14: 1-8

Monday, February 17, 2014

Balloon Release Card Found May 2011

Found in Portage De Sioux, MO out in the farm lands. 

Balloon Release Card Found 4/8/2012

Found while working a farm field north of Edwardsville, IL 62034. Between Edwardsville and Hamel off of hwy 157 on 4/8/2012.

Good luck,

This card was Brody Brown's. =)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

3 Years Ago

"As the body without the spirit is dead, so the faith without the deeds is dead." - James 2:26

I remember this day so vividly 3 years ago today. I woke up early in the morning and sat by Jake and held his hand, as I knew it would be the last time. I prayed and I prayed. The days, weeks, months, and years to follow are something that no one could have prepared me for. I know most won't understand until they have been through it-- and even then every situation is different.

Today-- on a beautiful day in Missouri we celebrated the life of Jake. As I was driving to the park today I thought back to when everything first happened my heart was filled with such sorrow - I didn't stop crying for a very long time. Even today with tears there seems to be so much healing that has happened (at least for me).

Maybe it is part of growing up or just knowing that someone has to be strong and keep it together. As many of you know we had the privilege of connecting with a donor recipient of Jake - his name was Mike.  Today I think of them as they had called April 7 Mike's second birthday. I thought it would only be appropriate to share a blogpost that Mike's wife Kathy made in honor of Jake in February 2012.

To me it is just a reminder how connected we all are... Even when we don't realize it.

"Jacob Watson Gentry

       Jacob Watson Gentry, known as Jake to his family and friends, is the young man who passed away on April 7, 2010, and provided Mike with a second chance at life. 
       Mike and I have been in contact with Jake’s mother, Virginia.  We are planning to meet, possibly in March.
       Jake’s family had a blog during his illness and they have graciously given us permission to place a link on our Caring Bridge site.  It is our hope, both his family and ours, that our readers will learn from our experiences and spread the word to your friends and families.
       While reading Jake’s blog you will learn about his personality, his humor, his family and about the tragic manner in which he died.  Any time a child dies it is tragic.  Yes, Jake was a child.  He was an 18 year old boy.  He was just a few months older than our own daughter, Kristen. 
       We know that those of you who have been our prayer warriors through Mike’s illness and recovery will appreciate having a name and a face for your prayers. 
       I ask that you continue to pray with us.  As we do, keep Jake’s family in your heart and prayers.  I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a child.  I cannot imagine the decisions Virginia had to make during Jake’s illness.  I cannot imagine how difficult her life must be now. 
       I can only pray that God shed his grace on her and her family for the wonderful gift they have given our family.  I pray that she will find peace in knowing that her son lives on in others.  I pray that God will hold her hand and give her comfort in her hours of grief.  I pray that their pain will diminish with time. 
       We will forever be grateful to the Gentry family for sharing Jake with us.  We thank God for Jake every day.  We will always honor his memory.
       Link to Jake’s blog
May God bless the Gentry family,

"You have turned my mourning into dancing, you have turned my sorrow into joy."
Lots of love, 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life After the Age of 18


What does your life look like past 18? Out of high school, awkward dances, figuring out your friends, learning the freedom of driving, conquering your first job, and planning your future.

Life past 18 for many people is that time when you figure out who you are and what matters to you. If I were to look at my friends from my own teenage years, and look at them now, including myself we have all grown tremendously.  It is amazing how in such a short period of time people can change. It is transition from teenager to young adult.

Sometimes, my mind wonders and pictures the kind of "man" Jake would be now. That feels so odd to say, but I know the difference between 18 and 21 is great. Birthdays always seemed to be a big deal in my house. What made birthdays so great? 1. My mom would make you whatever kind of cake you wanted. 2. My mom would cook whatever your favorite dinner was... Some best parts of a birthday. The conversations that surrounded the dinner table during your birthday dinner were even better. Jake and our cousin Bill (Mom's side) had birthdays 7 years and 2 days apart, so when I think of October that is what I think of often a combo birthday celebration, some silly reference to Halloween or Jake only getting birthday cards that were truly meant for babies.

I can only imagine what kind of man Jake would be now. When we lost Jake he was going through a lot and seemed to have real hope for moving forward and finding his direction. I have no doubt that given the opportunity he would have conquered what seemed to stand in his way. If you knew Jake you knew that once his mind was made up that was it. He was going to do whatever it was.

I joked with Jake probably within the year he passed that I couldn't wait for him to turn 21 so we could actually go out together. He told me he could make that happen sooner.... (ugh, of course Jake!) I am by no means an expert at grieving or have all the wisdom to tell people how to recover from such a tragedy. I do however know that somedays, anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, etc. are better than others. This one seems to be tough- maybe because my mind is wondering what I thought today would look like 3 years ago when we celebrated his 18. I would have never imagined this.

It is funny how facebook's timeline truly is like a life documentary. I can go back and read old posts, and thank you facebook for making this easier to do. I remember for Jake's 17 birthday we actually went out to dinner and joked as always, but had some real conversation about his future, and what he wanted to do. I remember realizing, "Wow, he's not a little boy anymore." My post to him after dinner was "I'm so proud of you, and I love you very much." What a great reminder of the good moments too.

Cheers to Jake,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Sad Heart

Letter from Jake's liver recipient about 4 months ago.

Mrs. Gentry,
My wife forwarded me your e-mail of Feb. 8. I am usually not at a loss for words, but it is difficult for me to find a way to express my gratitude for your family's gracious act of organ donation.  We say 'thank you' when the potatoes are passed at dinner, but somehow those two words seem completely inadequate when someone's  selfless gift saves your life. So in my own clumsy way I want you to know how much I appreciate Jacob's donation of life.

As I was on the gurney awaiting my surgery, I was alone for some time while they waited for everything to be prepared, and I couldn't help but reflect on how my day of hope had to be a day of great sorrow for some family. I now know that it was your family, and reading about Jacob and his story makes the whole experience even more bittersweet. April 7 for me now is a day of reflection and gratitude, and with tears remembering your loss. I hope it provides some small measure of comfort to you and your family that Jacob was able to contribute joy and hope to strangers even in his death. I will never take Jacob's gift for granted.

I must tell you a funny little story. I hope it is one that you can appreciate without having been there. One of the surgeons, Dr. Logan, visited me in ICU sometime after surgery. She emphatically informed me that I had received a beautiful liver. In my narcotic-induced haze I told her that only a surgeon could think like that. She would have none of my nonsense and insisted on what a wonderful looking organ it was. I smile and hope you will accept Dr. Logan's medical opinion that beauty is apparently more that skin deep!

I think that my wife has a plan for us to meet before long if you are ready for that. She is very strong and has been my Rock of Gibraltar through this whole journey, so I leave the details of that up to her and yourself.  I have to warn you that I may be choked up when we meet, but even if I can't get many words out, I want you to know how grateful I am that your family made that life-saving decision on what my wife now calls my other birthday.

God bless you, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Mike Morgan

Sadly, Mike passed away on Thursday, June 21. A good friend of mine said, "It wasn't the liver. The liver gave him two more years with his family." My heart breaks for his family, although I have not lost a father, or husband if you have been challenged by the untimely death of someone you love dearly you can relate. Mike was a huge supporter of organ donation, so as I end this post, I encourage you to visit the link below, and register to be a donor. I'm also including the link to the Morgan Music website where you can read more about Mike. =)


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Balloon Release Letter

Hey All,

This is another balloon release letter from our April 7, 2011 release. We received the letter on March 27, 2 years to the day of when everything first happened. Please check it out below.

Dear Gentry Family;
Today is March 22, 2012.

My wife Michelle and I live in Wildwood MO. Our house is off the south side of highway 100 about 4 miles west of highway 109, in the middle of a beautiful valley that has been in my family since the Civil War, and we are only a few hundred feet from the spot where my grandpa and grandma's house stood until the highway department took it in 1971. I was born in their house in 1955, back when this area was called "Dutch Hollow".

My big brother, my little sister and I all grew up roaming the hills and creeks here, back when there weren't many people around. We trapped minnows from the creek for fish bait, we tied string to bacon rind and caught crawdads, we collected mushrooms, morels, blackberries- you name it- and we hunted all kinds of game from squirrels to deer. My uncle built an archery range for us in the valley, and we were seldom without our trusty slingshots stuck in our back pockets. To me, there is no better spot on earth and I feel incredibly lucky to live here.

Anyway, I was out walking around our woods this morning to check to the spring wildflowers, and by habit I wandered down along the creek to see if any turkeys were nesting yet. A few feet from my aunt Bebe's little white house, next to the stump of huge white oak tree where I had a tree house nearly 50 years ago, I came upon one of Jacob's balloon release cards.

Jake's card was found 200 feet southeast of our road sign and mailboxes, in front of a large white garage that used to house my grandpa's car repair shop. The garage was built to replace my grandpa's original gas station and car repair shop which was built in 1917 and stood approximately where our mail boxes are until it burned down in the 1960s. The shop where I learned to work on bikes, small engines, motorcycles, and cars. If you ever drive by you can see this building from highway 100.

I wanted to tell you that Jacob's card landed in a good place. We mow this yard every two weeks or so all summer, and we never noticed the card all last year but it was in plain sight on the top of the grass. It must have blown there recently. There were no balloons or string attached to the card, and I'm surprised that it was in such good shape.

I found the "Jakegentryrecovery" internet blog this afternoon, and I read what you wrote about Jake and looked at the pictures. The reason I described our home to you is because Jake enjoyed many of the same things that we enjoyed as kids growing up here, and I believe Jake would have liked it here too. Jake was a fine looking young man and he was taken from your family far too soon. I'm very, very sorry for your loss.

Rob & Chele Rambaud