Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A changing wind

Today the sun has come out, just like any other day, but maybe a little brighter. A light rain storm blew through the Bay Area yesterday, and with it came a changing wind. This morning you can see forever. Beyond the Bay and off to the hills in the distance, the Farallon Islands sit on the horizon so clear you can almost make out the rocks on their shore. A changing wind.

The night before last, our dear friend and warrior Om, lost his battle.

Om went to school with my husband Glenn. Although Om was a brilliant man and designed some impressive innovations in the tech world, I am not the right person to tell you about that, because I really never knew that part of Om. I knew quite a bit about a different Om.

A zest for life.
Although a disease doesn't define a person, in Om's case he lived with diabetes which caused many close encounters with death for years. It robbed him of his health, impacted his eyesight, almost cost him a leg. But it never took away his zest for life.

Some people tip toe through life. Om danced. I don't know if he always danced, but certainly once he married his wife Ena, Om danced. He possessed a joie de vivre that few do.

A couple of years ago, I got a call from Om. He asked me if I would consider going on Deal or no Deal with him. He LOVED this show and thought nothing could be better than to be a player on that show. In his mind I made a good candidate for his support group, along with Ena and his niece. Now you have to picture Om. His health was not good. His heart was not functioning properly and he was easily tired. He was on the transplant list for a heart and kidney, but he wouldn't qualify until he could go a certain length of time without a heart incident. But Om was committed to the idea of doing this show. We got together at his house to practice.

To be selected for Deal or No Deal you have to send in an audition tape and we were getting that put together. I had had shirts made for the support group to wear that said OM on one side and NO DEAL on the back. Om's niece's pitch was to remind the producers, her uncle had had a brief run at fame already as the Mosquito in an ad for a travel website. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOPcYdjAFws
He was ready for run #2. Ena said something along the lines, you have to pick Om because we love to dance! We each did our part as we tried to prepare a pitch for the show. Om's pitch was he was doing this to help bring attention to the thousands of people waiting for a transplant. He wanted to inspire them to hang in there. But he also wanted to make a DEAL! But about 20 mins into it, Om looked as though he might faint. The prospect of the game show went on hold as he continued his battle with his health. "We'll do this after you get better," was my thought.

Friends are important.
Om loved his friends. I really can't speak about other friends, except I know he felt close to his neighbors and enjoyed their yearly get togethers. I know he loved his family, and his children and of course his angel of a wife Ena. But I witnessed many times how much he valued his buddies from High School. If there was an event, despite health issues, Om would be determined to be there with his buddies.

The first time I knew how much they meant to him, might have been the first time even he knew how much they meant to him. We had a trip to Turkey planned. A sailing trip, our first bareboat cruise. Dana, Chuck, Stephanie and Glenn and I were planning on going, Om wanted to go too. He had recently had heart surgery and his health had been bad. Honestly, if I can speak for myself, I was a little skeptical this was a good idea. But Om was determined.

He and Ena glowed on this trip. Om brought along a huge satellite phone to keep in touch with business. Honestly I don't remember him using it though. I do remember him in the Turkish bath with the other buddies, walking in and realizing for the first time it was a coed bath with one hot naked girl in it. They quickly backed out of the room to return with boxer shorts and towels wrapped around them...

And I remember him sitting in the cockpit turning to the buddies and saying "for years I have thought about nothing but how sick I have been. This is the first time I am thinking about how well I am." I believe that was a turning point for Om. Everything I saw from him from that trip on was more about what he could do, versus what he could not.

A perfect example of this would be September three years ago. Our daughter Allison was getting married in Columbus Ohio. Om wanted to go. He had to go, his buddies were all going to be there and it was important. But Om was undergoing Dialysis nearly everyday.

He found a center in Columbus, and coordinated with his Doctors, so he could undergo dialysis in Columbus. I don't think anyone ever impressed me so much with a tenacity that was driven by love. When I saw him dancing with Ena at the reception I was thrilled to know the photographer captured the utter look of complete contentment on both their faces.

Last year, before Christmas arrived, Om had a kidney and heart transplant. We visited him in the hospital. There were the warnings about germs and safety, and there was Om. The color in his face had already improved. they threw in a cataract surgery and he could see without his glasses for the first time I recall. He was excited about the life he was regaining.

During the past year he enjoyed parties and he danced at Mike Cihaks wedding. He came to support us at our Wine Wars in Marin. He planned on attending our holiday party and the Cihak's Christmas Eve. His health had taken a turn for the worse after a bout with a virus. The other night he was not feeling well, his wife insisted they go to the hospital. Om said no, they had an appointment the next day, it could wait. After staying up with Om until the early morning hours, Ena went off to bed for a few mintues rest.
Later, Ena walked into his room to find Om had died during his sleep.

He fought a courageous battle. He honored us all by showing us how much friends mean and how it is important ALWAYS to see the things you can do, and not be bound by the things that would restrict us.

I will always picture him with a huge smile on his face, grabbing his Ena, and leading us ( on another cruise) through Spanish streets to find a place to dance.

The winds come and have changed our lives and Om is no longer here with us. We all are very sad and will miss him so much. But I really truly believe he is smiling. Because I know without a doubt the man is dancing.