We’ve lost another good one.
That’s what I came to realize Monday morning as I woke following the Celebration of Life for Jim Foust. Another one-of-a-kind community member who not only left an impact on many in the community, but around the world as well.
Jim also happened to be the owner/founder of Sunshine Rafting Adventures, as well as Delta Charter Bus.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I told myself just a month or two back I needed to make peace and keep this space light and fun. I mean after all who wants to keep reading sad news, the obituary section hosts plenty of that.
I’d equally be telling a story, if I didn’t share the passing of Jim hit me hard when I first learned of it. It didn’t take his service for me to be hit by the loss, that just made it real. Even as I type this, I still can’t believe it’s true, yet so often in life that’s the way death is, isn’t it? The unimaginable, even when you know it’s a possibility.
Prior to two years ago, Jim was a mythical creature behind a curtain, for yours truly. He a busy guy on the go, me a community journalist juggling a lot and doing my best to cover it all. Our circles seemed to exist parallel to one another, yet paths never crossed.
His son Shiloh would be my contact for the business and since Oakdale schools are also my beat, I always felt right at home meeting with or chatting up the younger Foust as I’d known him since his Oakdale High School days.
Fast forward to close to two years ago and indeed my path would finally cross with the well-known legend, who possessed a smile and giggle I truly won’t forget. Jim and I happened to share a few things in common; a battle with cancer and a shared love for the same guy would be what ultimately brought our paths to cross.
The “guy” I speak of would be my partner in this life for the past five years, who just happened to be Jim’s very first employee at Sunshine as a rafting guide. As chance would have it the two crossed lines each sharing the “latest” by way of his illness, as well as mine. Instantly Jim wanted to get together … and we did.
Important to share here, I also told myself a few months back I was done talking about cancer. Yet here we are. As much as I wish this ugly disease could leave my vocabulary as well as this column space, it continues to take some top-notch people. So sadly, just as Monday seems to always sneak up on us, so too does cancer.
Our time with Jim during our independent battles was not just fun, amazing and memorable, it was equally promising.
In fall of last year, we both consulted with one another as to how things were going. Each feeling optimistic as we had seemingly good outcomes from our individual fights, yet we each had “just a few more tests.”
“They never stop poking at us,” he said that day – and he was right.
We both would continue a battle, yet optimism for us both continued to ring true. One night prior to going into our respective “war rooms,” my guy and I enjoyed a lovely dinner with Jim and his wife Desiree.
The stories the two shared that night had all four of us laughing through tear-filled eyes. Each sharing out school stories as well as individual antics as the two were truly kindred spirits. During that meal many future plans were also made. Jim bragged on his wife’s getaway scheduling skills and all but recruited her for the job we would need her for once the two of us were well.
First, we needed to do our part and beat this nasty thing, from there the world would be our oyster and new memories made. Yet somehow life had a different plan and so Sunday night we celebrated the life of a true legendary soul. Jim’s celebration was exactly as one might expect: filled with tears, laughter, as well as inspiration.
Those who spoke shared stories of his antics, as well as his business savvy and can-do personality. He truly didn’t know a stranger and if that were ever challenged it was set to rest Sunday evening.
I still can’t believe that it’s true, but it is. Arriving home I said to my guy, “This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.”
And therein lies the irony of life.
As Forrest Gump so eloquently once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”
While we may have been treated to some Rocky Road the past few years, I’m surely grateful to have had just a slight sample of a Tennessee Whiskey flavored cordial that will forever be part of my box of nuts and chews in a way I’ll simply never forget.
Cheers to you my friend, your stories, your adventures, your zest for life will not be forgotten. Thank you for not just taking us all along, but inspiring us to live fully each and every day.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.