The 80’s song by the Australian band Men at Work comes to mind as loss once again comes knocking on our door. The longer we exist on earth, the more frequently this unwelcome visitor appears at the threshold.
I lost my parents in 2009 and 2017. My father-in-law passed in 2014. Recently, two classmates passed as well. In November, I had to put down our 16 year old feline family member after being diagnosed with renal failure.
Over the weekend, my sister-in-law called to inform my wife that their younger brother was no longer with us. He was only 46 years old, but had lived with diabetes since childhood. My wife looked at me and said “now there’s only 7 of us” referring to the four members of our family, her sister and spouse, and her mom.
While longevity is certainly what we all wish for it does come with this caveat. The longer you live, the more frequent visits from loss will occur.
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. I Thessalonians 4:13-14 NKJV
In past years, we would alternate each year who would write the Christmas newsletter that would be included with our Christmas card. In 2017, that traditon ended as a result of two painful losses we suffered that year. They were always a great way to wrap up the year and look forward to the coming year. It is in that spirit that I write this blog post.
2021 began with us in Texas assisting Renee’s mom following major back surgery. I was able to telework from there for the IRS as a Contact Representative. That is just a fancy way of saying tax collector. At the end of the month, we returned to Utah for a few days before the family went back to help mom while I remained. February passed with us spending our anniversary and birthdays apart for the first time.
As Easter approached, the family would return and this time only Renee would leave to help mom. The rest of us stayed in Utah until Mother’s day when we would all remain under the same roof for the first time since January. Renee spent 6 months helping her mom and was happy to be back together in Ogden as was I.
Summer was filled with swimming lessons which Karri enjoyed greatly. In June, we met up with Jim as he traveled from San Diego to his new home in Colorado with his pups. We would pay them all a visit in July to see the new place and spend some time together. Summer ended and Karri began kindergarten.
As Fall arrived, changes began to occur professionally. Jesse and I would both start new jobs. I reapplied to the school district after the part-time job I had previously held was made full time. The position with the IRS which allowed me to telework was moving to the next phase where I would begin placing levies and liens against taxpayers. I was not looking forward to that and was grateful to be offered a position as Site Tech at a nearby high school.
In November, we traveled to California to attend San Diego Comic-Con after missing it for several years. It was the largest crowd we had been around since the onset of the pandemic. With all attendees required to be fully vaccinated and wearing masks, it was good to be back amongst the fans.
As 2021 comes to close, we hope the challenges we faced in the past year will not be repeated and that many new blessings await us in the new year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.
Each of the logos above is from one of the schools at which I have taught or been a staff member. After graduating from Christ for the Nations Institute in 1992, I served as a youth pastor and began teaching 4-6th grade in the church’s private school. I would eventually move up to 7-12th grade to teach and coach athletic teams. In 1996, I attended Oral Roberts University working during the year as a student worker and over the summers coordinating faculty payroll.
After moving back to California in 2003, I was employed by Excelsior Education Center as a computer tech and an instructor. I taught at the high school for a short while before moving to the Prep Academy, their junior high. I even attained a California teaching credential. I left education again in 2006 until I rejoined the Silverado High School staff as a computer tech in 2015. I left that position in May 2019 to join my family in Utah after a prolonged and unplanned separation.
In September 2019, I became an office assistant part-time at Bonneville Elementary School entering attendance. In April 2020, I transferred to Ogden High School after securing a position as a part-time computer tech. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced my resignation and another departure as I began teleworking for the IRS full-time helping taxpayers with their tax debts.
After the computer tech position was converted to full-time with benefits, I reapplied with the Ogden School District. The position was not offered to me and I remained with the IRS. A few months later another computer tech position within the district became available and I reapplied. I am now returning to education at Ben Lomond High School and the “Friendly Fighting Scots.”
It’s exciting to be going back to where I once belonged. Whether it was as a teacher or a staff member, I always enjoyed being in education. I hope the rest of my career is spent there.
On August 27th, I was preparing to start my day of telework when I began to feel pain in my chest that radiated up into my neck and down my left arm. Knowing that my father had a heart attack at 38 and died after one at 67 (on this date 11 years ago), I promptly made my way down the hall to awaken Renee. She drove me to the ER where the pain intensified. I spent several hours there while the doctor ran multiple tests concluding that there was no evidence of heart damage. I was prescribed aspirin and nitroglycerin for emergency use. While picking up the prescriptions, we decided to get a flu shot as well.
The pain was less intense, but continued until the following morning. At that point, the pain disappeared and I felt like a rung out towel with very little energy. My BP which was normally around 130 over 90 was registering at 90 over 60 all that day. Renee consulted with a virtual nurse who recommended a return trip to the emergency room.
Upon arrival, the staff ran the same tests as the day prior. However, this time the reaction was much different as I was told to strip and was connected to IVs and had defibrillator pads placed on my chest and back. The electrocardiogram and blood enzymes now showed that I had suffered a heart attack. I also had a fever which puzzled the doctors who hadn’t considered the flu shot I had while having a heart attack the day prior. I was admitted and moved to the cardiac care unit.
The following morning, I was given an echocardiogram and saw Renee for a moment before being taken for an angiogram. The angiogram revealed that I had an artery that had closed causing the heart attack. The artery had reopened and the cardiologist decided to place a stent to restore proper bloodflow. There were also two arteries in another part of my heart with 60% closure.
I spent 24 hrs more in the hospital before being discharged with new prescriptions and lifestyle changes to make. I was given two days off of work and told to avoid stress for two weeks. My manager allowed me to watch colleagues instead of diving back into my workload the 1st week after the heart attack. The following week, windstorm damage kept me from picking up a full workload. The building my phone was tied to was without power all week long.
A full two weeks after the heart attack, I resumed a normal workload. The 1st day seemed to go quite well. The 2nd morning I was to continue working brought about a very different outcome. Even before I could start my day, my nerves were on edge and I had a pit in my stomach. Anxiety began to consume my whole being to the point where my hands started to tremble. As someone who usually has very strong self confidence, this was out of character. Fortunately, I had a very understanding manager that gave me a day to relax and observe a colleague for the day. I had heard of heart attack victims suffering from depression, but this anxiety was highly unsuspected.
The next day I resumed a normal work schedule with the knowledge that anxiety like depression could be lying in wait for me. I got through the day ok again. I never considered that a physical distress might prompt a debilitating mental distress. There is a history of mental illness as well as heart ailment in the family tree.
I must now work on both my physical and mental well being as part of the recovery process I find myself living out. The Bible sheds light on my heart health and this new battle against anxiety. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV
As the end of another year approaches, it’s time for the sending out of our annual Christmas newsletter. If you don’t receive it the old fashioned way, you may dowload and read it here. We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Our granddaughter arrived on December 5th to end our year on a high note. She is adorable and will be thoroughly spoiled whenever we have the chance. Our year end Christmas letter is available for your reading here. Once again, if you want more current information on us, friend us on Facebook as it is updated more frequently than this blog which has now been relegated to once a year posts.
Another year has passed and the blog has been a desolate place since I last posted anything. If you tried coming here in the last year to find anything out, I apologize for the lack of activity. Facebook is the best way to keep up with us and our activities throughout the year. We have had highs and lows this year which are catalogued in our annual Christmas newsletter that you are free to download and peruse. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I don’t think the blog world has missed my infrequent posts on this website. Facebook saps any desire to write posts on this blog so I recommend anyone reading this that is not already a friend there, add me now to keep track of the Zeliff family exploits. Time as expected has continued to march on in our lives. Another year has ended and another is set to begin. If you desire to read a recap of the events that transpired in our lives over the last 12 months, I encourage you to download our annual Christmas letter linked below. Hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas and a happy new year.
We returned to Comic-Con after missing the last few years since 2010. This time we brought a newbie with us to attend her first Con. Sabrina, Jesse’s girlfriend, had never attended Comic-Con so this was her first exposure to all there is to take in and do while in San Diego for the convention.
Thanks to my best friend Jim, we were able to come down a day early and get settled into his condo in Santee. We dropped off our stuff and hopped on the trolley to head to the Convention Center. Our goal was to see what we could do outside the convention center on Thursday as we only purchased passes for Friday. After about an hour ride on the trolley, we hopped off and headed to the Merchandise area in the Marriott to pick up the shirts we pre-ordered for Jesse and Sabrina. They decided to go with the Steampunk version of the 4 designs that were being sold. We stood in line, a common theme while at Comic-Con, for about a half hour before reaching the area and obtaining the shirts. Afterward, we headed to the Omni for the annual SDCC Blood Drive sponsored by the tv show, True Blood. We ended up spending 4 hours waiting for our turn to donate. In the end, Renee was denied the opportunity because her veins were so deep, but we both received the blood drive swag anyway. Jesse and Sabrina were glad when we finally exited, but we had to rush to make the trolley as we were late for dinner with Jim and his daughter’s family back in Santee. We enjoyed a great time with them at Oggi’s Pizza before calling it a night.
We were up early Friday morning and rushing to the trolley so we could get our passes and get on to the show floor as quickly as possible to try and get autograph tickets for the WWE signing at the Mattel booth later that day. Despite nearly sprinting through the pass lines (careful to get exactly the bags with capes we wanted) and circling the convention hall at a rapid walk, the tickets for the signing were already gone by the time I arrived at the booth. I was encouraged to come back early to get in the stand by line for a chance to get an autograph. We stood in an extremely long line for posters/poster tubes from the Fox booth only to be told they ran out before we had even journeyed 1/3 of the way. We wandered the booths on the expo floor stopping at several Steampunk booths which Jesse wanted to see.
I eventually left everyone to get in the standby line for the WWE signing. I struck up a great wrestling fan conversation with a British kindergarten teacher who was teaching in Hong Kong. As the WWE wrestlers appeared, the crowds chanted their names and I held out hope we might be able to get an autograph. A few weeks prior, I had found a Daniel Bryan t-shirt in the bargain bin at Hot Topic for $5. The week prior to Comic-Con, he had been named the title contender for the WWE championship at Summerslam. I brought my shirt and was pleased when I was able to get it autographed and a photo with Daniel Bryan. I chatted briefly with WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley though his autograph was hardly distinguishable after singing so many things that day. I left that booth pleased and reunited with the family at The Tick booth where I snagged one of the few remaining 25th Anniversary Tick shirts in my size along with a “SPOOON” bumper sticker.
We wandered the Expo hall some more stopping at many booths before returning to wait for the Del Rey/Random House Star Wars novel signing by John Jackson Miller. I wanted to get a signed edition of his Lost Tribe of the Sith: Collection they were giving away. I was able to get one for myself and one for my brother Chris thanks to Renee standing in line with me. We went back by The Tick booth and I was able to get a signed collection of Tick comics by the creator Ben Edlund who was very nice and took time with each person in line. By now, Sabrina was excited about the chance to go to the XBox Lounge at the nearby Hyatt. We walked over to the Hyatt and she was able to try the new Halo game and enjoyed playing their new XBox One system. She also got a badge that encouraged her to visit many booths on the expo floor to collect Halo badges and Helmet pins. She managed to get all but one as the vendor ran out before we arrived.
Renee and I managed to walk a little of the Gaslamp Quarter while Jesse and Sabrina hunted Halo pins on the show floor. We saw several areas that were outside the convention center that looked cool. One big disappointment was the limited availability of the Godzilla Encounter. I had hoped to see it, but they only gave away 300 tickets each day. All in all, we had a great time and hope to be back again next year. We ended our day after a trolley ride back to Santee with a trip to In-N-Out Burger. It was enjoyable and thoroughly exhausting. It’s funny how we forget the energy you burn when mingling with over 100,000 other excited people at Comic-Con. Though the lines were longer than ever and we didn’t go to panels as we had in the past, we enjoyed ourselves and talking with fellow Con attendees. If you have never been, it really is a great experience that I recommend everyone try. If you want to see more photos from Comic-Con, check out my profile on Facebook.
Social media has pretty much made this blog a moot point, but I will write a new entry occasionally to justify its continued existence. This past weekend was Jesse’s birthday and Mother’s day. Since he had to work on Saturday, his birthday, we decided to drive down on Sunday following church to have a combined birthday and Mother’s day meal. We also delivered the cards and gifts that grandparents, aunts and uncles sent to him at our address.
After picking him up, we made a trip to Best Buy so he could spend some of his birthday money and then we drove to a discount theater to watch a movie. After spending a few hours there, we went to find a restaurant for dinner. Deciding that we were not willing to wait over an hour for a table at the Cheesecake Factory, we settled on Outback for dinner. Before returning to the Dream Center, we searched unsuccessfully for a hardware store before trying Walmart to get something Jesse wanted for his room. Renee was happy to see Jesse since I had seen him the Sunday prior while in LA to attend the Adobe MAX conference. Jesse and I had gone to see Iron Man 3 and eat In-N-Out when I came down.
The summer heat has arrived and we are glad the cooler is working well. If you have summer plans that bring you out to California, be sure to contact us as we would enjoy spending time with you.