‘Lemons + Lemonade’ 

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is a proverbial phrase used to encourage optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. Lemons suggest sourness or difficulty in life, while lemonade is a sweet drink. Since we’ve lost Jacob I think our family could make enough lemonade that would hype up a party full of 100 five year olds. Just like life with that rush of hyperactivity from the sweetness and energy of the lemonade the sugar hit has to crash and fall again. But it’s the plan to get back up again and make more batches of the lemonade that keeps you going, regardless of how bitter the lemons are.

Life handed him a lemon,

As Life sometimes will do.

His friends looked on in pity,

Assuming he was through.

They came upon him later,

Reclining in the shade

In calm contentment, drinking

A glass of lemonade.

Four days before Jacob passed away we had such a brilliant day. It was a sunny day on the 3rd Oct 2015 as we set out for a trip down the coast to Nowra for Jacob to sail in a sailability regatta (designed for people with a disability) on the Shoalhaven River. A very good friend of mine was going to be in the boat with him too as Jacob was too fragile and paralysed to drive a car yet alone steer a boat in the water. This wonderful event came about as we were writing up a bucket list of things Jacob would like to do. I had contacted an old friend of mine, the very one who took Jacob out in the sailing boat and asked him for his help in getting Jacob in the water again for a swim as this was on his bucket list too. Well the list was long when you have so many things to do in so little time left on earth.

At the sailing regatta there were many boats in the water, moving around on the slight breeze. Jacob had to be lifted in the boat with a hoist and our great friend Lenny was already on the boat as the master and commander. Once settled, they were off and racing. Ben watched his brother sail around the river on his stand up paddle board with his cousin Paul, catching glimpses of the fun unfolding with his GoPro. Lenny asked Jacob had he had enough after being out on the water for a bit and Jacob said -‘nah!’ They stayed out for 2 and a half hours. Family and friends cheered them on from the shore and enjoyed a picnic when they’d finished. It was nice to see him happy and smiling as he dangled his hands in the water from the side of the boat. We later found out that team Jacob had come first in the doubles.

It’s funny how people come and go in your life and you go for such a long time in between seeing them and just pick up where you left off when you see them again. Well that’s the case with Lenny, Jacob’s partner in the regatta. When I was in my early teens I used to attend the local roller skating rink on a Friday night. This is where I’d catch up with friends, including Lenny and we’d often join forces for the couples skate. The years past and lives moved on till the next moment of meeting when I looked after him as a nurse after his tragic accident that saw him becoming a double amputee – losing an arm and leg and helped him with a short part of his rehabilitation. We both chatted about who we had married, the family that my husband and I had started and the family him and his wife were planning. I was in awe of his sheer determination and strength throughout his hospital stay. How was he so positive with what life had dealt him? I was always aware of what Lenny was up to over the years as he appeared in newspaper articles and on the television doing some wonderful things with sporting events for people with a disability, like disabled sailing, surfing and using an amphibious wheelchair on the beach that can be wheeled in the sea. He was the perfect contact to help let Jacob have the swim he so desperately wanted as it had been over a year since he’d been able to have one (because of his Hickman’s line that prevented him from swimming).
Three days after the sailing event Jacob was given another treat. A chance to get wet in the surf using the amphibious wheelchair. This was where he was awarded with his medallions for winning the regatta in the doubles with Lenny. Everything was captured on video and aired on the wintv news. Jacob passed away the very next day, just before the segment aired on television.

In May of this year Lenny surprised us by telling us that Jacob’s name would be on a trophy that will be given out every year to the most inspirational person. His name will live on in the trophy – Sailability NSW – Illawarra Jacob Wieck Memorial, Most Inspirational. We were also given our own trophy to keep – In Memory of Jacob Wieck – Most Inspirational Perpectual Cup in his Honour.

These are what I’d call our moments of positives that has come from our unimaginable loss. I’d like to think I’m as strong and positive as Lenny and Jacob in the face of adversity. Turning these moments into blessings amongst all the sadness and sorrow. The times to make lemonade from the lemons that land on life’s path in the hope that you avoid getting knocked down. I hope there will be many more positive opportunities and memories to be made in our families future that will quench our thirst as we toast Jacob with sweet lemonade, forever being a part in everything we do.

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