Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Admiration

We all have those people in our lives. The people we hold with such utmost adoration and admiration. For me, I can easily tell you its Amie and Michael Searcy.

I have had the honor and pleasure of knowing Amie since I was 17. I was nervous the first time I met her because I wanted her to like me so badly. Her brother, who I was head over heels in love with, told me she was the most important girl in his life. Only 18 months apart, Andrew and Amie have a bond that most brothers and sisters do not. I swear they speak their own language at times. They start a story or a quote and don't even have to finish before they are both laughing. And the rest of us are standing looking at each other having no idea what the heck they are laughing at.

Amie and Michael married six months before me and Andrew, 11 years ago. Shortly after their first child was born, they moved to Utah to pursue Michael's dream of obtaining his doctorate in Archeology and become a professor. He received his Master's degree at BYU then they moved shortly before their second child was born to Oklahoma to continue his education at OU.

With tears in my eyes, I cheered as I watched Michael cross the stage with his doctorate last Friday night.

I can't speak highly enough about this family. They have sacrificed for Michael's education. Amie is the ultimate homemaker. She is an extraordinary cook, making things from scratch daily. I've never had a meal that I didn't love (oh, and the peanut butter cookies she makes from Ritz crackers? Devine). Amie is a musician. She was an elementary music teacher before children and still plays for kids as often as possible. She created a music playgroup where preschoolers come to watch her play children's songs at a nursing home while the elderly residents sit and watch. I had the chance to go with Maggie a few years back and it was such a neat experience. Most importantly, Amie is the most loving, fun, and patient mothers I've ever seen.

Michael has worked multiple jobs while going to school. His Master's thesis is currently in discussion with a publishing company to become a textbook! Many tenured professors are not published. He's creative and artistic. My favorite--his documentary on mullet chasing at a BBQ pork festival in Memphis he made years ago. His smile is infectious. It could be because his mouth is big--when he smiles it's literally the biggest smile that you naturally smile right back. He's a cool dad--the kind who really PLAYS with his kids but is consistent and loving too.

Their children--Izzy, Max, and Elliot--are seriously some of the best children I know. I'm not just saying that as a proud aunt (which I am). These kids are terrific and such a joy to be around. Maggie's favorite people in the world. Izzy is mature, kind, and smart. Max is hilarious. He and Maggie are only two months apart in age and love each other so much. Elliot is not so much an 18 month old baby but a little man. These kids are awesome.

In the last eight years, they have lived with less income than most people could make manageable but they have done it without issues. Don't get me wrong--it's been tough and they've sacrificed, saved, and done without. They have NO debt. Michael is finishing eight years of schooling and they don't have a student loan to pay back. They aren't swimming in credit card debt like most Americans. They have no car payments, no unnecessary bills. They either save up to make a purchase or simply go without. We all keep saying they should write a book about how they've managed to raise three kids, go to school, have only one income, and come out with no debt.

On April 1st this year, our family received a major blow. Amie was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Luckily, this is a HIGHLY treatable cancer that typically needs surgery and then radiative iodine treatment. Being the strong amazing person she is, Amie faced this with such incredible grace. She told us all she was ready "to get this party started" and booked her surgery for a week later. It wasn't an easy surgery and she is still feeling some side effects (her voice is still stained and it is gone by the end of each day), but Amie finished it amazingly well. Radioactive iodine was at the end of April, putting her in fairly strict isolation for several days where she couldn't be around anyone and then restricted her to no contact for a week. No hugging her children, no kisses goodnight. She couldn't be within six feet of them. A woman who has spent her last eight years dedicated to her family and home couldn't do what she loved most. But Amie handled it the way most wouldn't--with continual grace and love. Michael, in the midst of final preparations to defend his dissertation, stepped in to handle his family. He became Mr Mom and shouldered the burden of the home during that time. And just as I would expect from him, he didn't complain. He handled it with grace and love.

It is only now that we have received the word that she is cancer free and that Amie is on the mend that I am even willing (or able) to write about what happened. For the last fifteen years of my life, I have considered Amie a sister. I have so much respect for Amie and the person she is. I can only wish I am half the mother that she is.

I am incredibly proud of Michael and his accomplishments and can't wait to see the next chapter and adventure in their lives. Just so grateful that I get to be a small part in it too.

Amie and Michael--love you and admire you both so much. Thank you for being such great people in my life and the role models I admire so. Thank you for being, well, YOU.

11 comments:

Amy said...

What a moving post, and honor to your SIL & BIL, as well as their children.
Amazing family members are such a blessing, and I'm willing to guess that Amie & Michael are just as blessed by you & Andrew as you are by them!
Wishing you a joyous Wednesday!

Carla said...

Beautiful post for an obviously beautiful family. I don't even know these people but got teary eyed reading the post.

Congrats to them for all of their dedication and hard work!

Myshel said...

Jenny,
My father HAD thyroid cancer. It was a very hard process to go thru, his voice too was strained. He has to go every couple of years and come off his thyroid medicine to check to make sure its still gone. When this happens he swells up and gets moody, BUT it's been YEARS ago that he went thru his surgery, and radioactive Iodine treatments. He is doing FANTASTIC. I sometimes forget it even happened. He is healthy, his voice as it use to be, he can still sing with is guitar. He has to take medicine everyday, but other than that, he's great. Your SISTER is going to be PERFECT. I too have a sister (in law) that I love with all my heart. I call her my sister, because (in law) is NOT what I feel for her. It's a wonderful thing to have (in laws) that you truly love and get along with as if they were your true blood relatives. We are the lucky ones. I will keep you sister in my prayers, but I know, thru experience that she is going to be just fine.

Amanda said...

Wow! I do not know Amie and Michael and I too like a previous commenter got teary eyed reading this. I call my in-laws my in loves. We are not united by law, but by love, so my SIL is my sis-in-love. :) My aunt had thyroid cancer as well. She went through surgery and radiation and that's been almost 2 years ago and she is FINE now--100% healthy. Her adult children got tested and 1 of them had the gene that carries it on...upon further testing come to find out SHE (my aunt's daughter) had the same cancer at the same time as her mom. My cousin had the surgery and is now fine as well. She had her children tested and 2 of the 3 of them carried the gene so they had their thyroid removed (they were 8 and 5 at the time, I think). They are all 100% healthy now. :)

Sounds like you have an AWESOME family that surrounds you. If you ask me, you are ALL lucky to know each other. :)

Lyndsay said...

I remember seeing one of your tweets a while back saying that cancer had hit your family again. I remember saying a quick prayer right then and there for whoever was suffering. I'm so glad that your SIl is doing well!

Jacki said...

Beautiful post and glad to hear that Amie is on the mend. I too remember that tweet and send some positives wishes into the universe for you.

(I think you are a pretty fabulous mother, I bet Amie does too!)

snekcip said...

Jenny, what a beautiful post. Your SIL/BIL sound like a wonderful family! I remember Izzy updates when Allie was battling cancer. Amie sounds like a wonderful person. I think it's awesome to have such wonderful relationship w/her. I just know she could equally say that you as well, has been a proven, friend and wonderful SIL! Cancer can be such a scary roller coaster! I as well experienced thyroid cancer. I can remember the day I heard the BIG "C" word and I immediately started to panic. Well panic, suddenly turned into "survival mode" and I researched everything there was to know about "TC"! I can remember the " strict isolation" I felt after the treatment. I even had to use a "different bathroom", use disposable utensils, dishes etc. The hoarseness was short-lived, and I'm glad to say, I'm totally cancer-free. I will take meds for the rest of my life, but you know what "rest of my life" doesn't sound bad at all! :)

Amie said...

Gushing from the beautiful post and sweet comments!!! We love you too, Jenny! Now we'll see how much Andrew still loves us after 1000 miles in the car :)

timi68 said...

Jenny, as always your post brought me to tears. I remember back in the day when you would post pics of Izzy with Allie and I would admire the two and say what beauties they both were. Amie and Michael are lucky to have you in their lives and I'm sure they feel the exact same way about you. I have the same type of relationship with both of my husband's sisters and I know exactly where you're coming from! God bless all of you! :)

3fishies said...

I'm stunned. I cannot believe Amy dealt with cancer. She has had so much going on her life. Obviously she has handled it with her normal strength and grace. I meet her once at Allie's party at your house. Very sweet sweet lady. Praying for continued health and happiness for her. I know you love her but as usual you put it in writing absolutely beautifully!!

Tammy said...

Enjoyed reading that. Thanks for sharing. It is so special to have people in our lives to admire and love--especially family! Great seeing you guys last week.