Main Forums > In Memoriam

James Pollnow (1956 - 2008)

(1/2) > >>

In memory of James Pollnow (1956 - 2008)

Although this is in memory to Jim, I must first preface his story by telling you how lucky and happy I have been, and how saddened by the way the wheel of life has turned. My luck was in loving and being loved by two men - Randy Rapp and Jim Pollnow. Each man, for nearly a decade each as my partner, brought joy into my life, pushed me to my potential, and gave me reason to live and enjoy life.

However, twice I have lost my heart and my love to AIDS. Reliving the loss of Randy, the situation, almost exactly fourteen years later, was eerily filled with coincidences when I lost Jim. Both men's illnesses started with a month-long fever; both died within 18 months of moving into a new home; both were born in July, and both passed away in May.

James Arthur Pollnow
July 29, 1956 - May 1, 2008
While owning and running our pet store ("It's Reigning Pets"), my first long-term partner, Randy, and I met another gay couple (Jim and Chris) in town who had been together for almost the same amount of time as we had (only a year or two longer). For several years, the four of us hung out, going out drinking and dancing, or playing video games. Unfortunately, as Randy (diagnosed with AIDS in 1993) was growing sicker and developing full-blown AIDS, and my time was consumed with caring for him, we didn't see much of them, as Jim and Chris were having problems in their relationship. However, the two guys kept a good eye out for me after I lost Randy and went through my own years of being sick, hospitalized and grieving over Randy.

After Jim and Chris broke up, Jim and I continued as close friends; though several of his boyfriends over the years weren't so happy to see us so close. Eventually, it came down to just Jim and I as best friends. After so many years of being friends, with both of us single, and with similar likes and dislikes, it was only natural that we began to do things together. Hiking, amusement parks, trips to anywhere and everywhere, and projects. For over four years, we even worked at the same car dealership, Jim selling vehicles, and me being the resident computer geek.

It was probably during those years that most of our friends probably began to think of us as a couple; however for many years I was afraid to give Jim the commitment I knew he wanted. I was trying to spare him the grief, like I had losing Randy, when eventually he would lose me to AIDS too. But I have the friends I do for a reason, and they all came through with the same advice. Whether we were a "couple" or not, wouldn't mean that Jim would mourn me any less if I should pass away. Instead I was losing valuable years with a loving man by not grasping for the years that we could have. So, on a trip together to NC/SC to visit my family for Christmas, I asked Jim to be my partner on Dec. 18, 2004. From that day on, I religiously stuck to my med regimen to prevent Jim from suffering that dreaded loss for as many years as possible.

Oh, those were some wonderful years spent with Jim before and after I made my commitment to him. I can never praise him enough for the change he wrought in my life. Jim was my best friend for 20 yrs. He stood by me through losing Randy, having pneumonia twice, losing seven of my cocker spaniels, and all the bad times I had with the meds. For all those years that I was sick and grieving over my loss of Randy, it was Jim that came over and got me out of the house, where my germo-phobia was causing me to live like a hermit. It was Jim who made me realize that my life hadn't ended and was worth living. It was Jim who showed me that love - the love of a lifetime - could strike twice. It was for Jim that I stayed compliant to my meds, resulting in my improved/improving health through all our years together.

However, we (I, Jim and my doctor) were fools. Trusting Jim's negative status to a prior test and because we spent those years worried about my health, we neglected to have Jim ever retest again. For over four years, Jim accompanied me to my ID doctor appointments, yet my doctor (a truly kind and competent doctor) never once mentioned that Jim retest either. Our foolishness caught up to us in 2008, and though we all bore the brunt, Jim suffered the most, and paid the ultimate price.

Though healthy as a horse (Jim never even had cavities!), during February, Jim became ill with an unexplained on-again off-again fever. Over several weeks, we made trips to StatCare and Jim's doctor. When the fever eventually refused to drop, his GP doctor sent him to the hospital for tests. For six stress-filled, fever-racked days and nights, we waited for the doctors to bring back a diagnosis. Scans showed several (3) large tumors, which subsequent tests revealed to be non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; and though we still had to wait on a western blot to confirm, Jim's low t-cell count and extremely high viral load proved an AIDS diagnosis on top of the cancer.

Those last three months of Jim's life were something no one should have to endure. Being nearly starved to death (by accident) in the hospital before coming home for a weekend; being left alone, in a dark corner of the ER for 8 hrs; being moved from room to room till he was literally driven mad ("hospital psychosis"); being told over and over to wait "just a few more days" for a turnaround, which never came. Spending 50 out of 52 days in the hospital, Jim received numerous transfusions, suffered serious edema that bloated his legs and caused problems with his heart and lungs (putting him into ICU for several days), was seriously ill on the vast amount of antibiotics he was given, and lived through the side effects of two rounds of chemotherapy. No one should have to endure such atrocities.

A few of my friends and family thought Jim "gave up" too soon at the end; but I dared them to experience what he did, to look at the reality of the situation, and not lose all hope. I am sure that Jim and I made the right decision in bringing him home when we did. For days, while waiting for results of the chemotherapy, Jim had begged me to take him back to the home he had lived in for over 40 years - the home he had inherited upon the early untimely death of both of his parents (his father passed away from a heart attack at 43, and his mother died from cancer at 56).

Once again, just a few weeks shy of it being exactly 14 years later, I took my dying partner back to our home, and called upon Hospice Care for help. Eerie coincidences with both men's illnesses surrounded Jim's hospitalization and decline, only intensifying the sadness and inevitability of the situation that descended on Jim and I, along with our friends and family.

Finally back home, pneumonia settled into Jim's lungs and the fever returned. (Later his doctor would inform me that the chemo hadn't worked and the tumors had still been growing, thus the fever during his final days. On learning that, I am certain, beyond all measure, that coming home when he did saved Jim another month of hell in the hospital before passing away anyway.) Caring for Jim was the hardest thing I have ever done. Randy's decline has stretched out over 18 months, and before his final days at home, we had reached some peace with what was happening. Jim, however, quickly became seriously ill and had been very close to death since early March. No where had we ever had time to truly grasp the reality of our impending tragedy. In a final bout of the uncanny coincidences, Jim slipped away after a mere nine days of hospice, in May (5/1/08), at 5:55 am - just as Randy had.

Thankfully my friends, family, and some wonderful members here at, answered my plea for help, and contributed enough that I was able to pay for Jim's cremation and retrieve his ashes. (I can never say "Thank You" too often or too much to those of you who helped me during such a difficult situation. Thank you, once again.) It only seemed right for me to wait and hold a memorial service for Jim on the 14 year anniversary of Randy's death (5/25/94). Surrounded by some of my closest friends and family, standing by Randy's grave, I gave a eulogy before scattering Jim's ashes across the ground where my first partner had been buried. Afterwards we all placed red and white carnations on the grave where both of my men were now laid to rest, and released red and silver balloons, saying our final goodbyes. I tried my best to take care of Jim through so very much before he passed away; but there was nothing more I could do for him in this life, so I departed leaving Jim to Randy's care now.

Jim himself was a cheerful, outgoing, energetic, opinionated, hardworking, head strong man ready to challenge the world. But he was also a man who had been hurt in life by losing both of his parents by the time he was 18, and basically had no immediate family surviving by the time he was 25. I take some pride in being able to bring a sense of family back to his life with my love, the love of my dogs, and the love of my OhioFamily. For almost a decade, Jim brought fun, excitement, and adventure back into my life. He gave me love, comfort, compassion and passion. I can never praise him enough for the change he wrought in me by bringing me back to life after losing Randy and spending so many years so very ill. I can think of no greater compliment to say of Jim then to tell you that he, for 20 years, was my very best friend - and no one could have asked for a better best friend.

Right after losing Randy, I came across a summary of a quote by St. Augustine concerning the death of a beloved friend. After Jim's death, almost exactly 14 years later, I finally found the original quotation (below). Though St Augustine wasn't talking about the death of a partner, his words most eloquently convey the depth the loss I feel in my life. The words are even more poignant to me now that I've lost my two partners. In my struggle to continue my own life without them, I too hold onto the belief that they live on because I live on and hold them in my heart. Sadly and unfortunately though, I must only be a "quarter of a soul" by now.

For I marvelled that other mortal men should be alive,
since he whom I had loved, as if he should never die, was dead;
and I marvelled the more that I, since I was but his other self,
should be alive when he was dead.

Well hath one said of his friend, "Thou half of my soul"
for I felt that my soul and his soul were "one soul in two bodies"
and therefore was my life a horror to me,
because I loathed that only half of me should be alive:
and hence perchance I feared to die, lest he should wholly die,
whom I had loved much.

"The Confessions of St Augustine", Book Four Chapter 6

Please make sure to also read the memorial thread
that I dedicated to my first long-term partner, Randy Rapp.

It's been three short years since I lost you; but it's been three long years that you've been gone.

I still wake up most mornings remembering that I'm no longer in Ohio; but in South Carolina because you passed away. I've used my memories of you, and of Randy, to fulfill my vow to do volunteer work. I've  spoken to many groups and many individuals telling them about the two men I love and how they have both died from AIDS because they went untested and untreated too long.

From hearing our story, I know of many that have been tested. Four of those people turned out positive, have gone on to be treated, and are going to be able to live out their lives after hearing about how you and Randy lost your lives to this horrible disease. I like to think that countless more have used those condoms I've passed out at all those health fairs and have avoided becoming infected with HIV in the first place. Every event I attend, every time I speak, every condom I pass out, I do in honor of you, trying to keep your memory alive in my mind and the mind of others.

I still love you and always will, Jim; and I miss you something terrible :'(


--- Quote from: leatherman on May 01, 2011, 03:11:28 pm ---

I still love you and always will, Jim; and I miss you something terrible :'(

--- End quote ---

Mikie, you need to forgive yourself for what happened to Jim & Randy, it's not your fault, so stop beating yourself up over this  :'( I too understand what happened to you, and what you went thur TWICE, as I did the same thing  :-*  I'm sure that JIM & Randy wouldn't want you to be sad, but instead, they would want you to to continue to find love & happiness for yourself, and I know that you will, like everyone else in this
world, you too deserve THIS  ;) mikie, I wish you all the happiness, health and well being you want for the rest of life, and only you can make THIS happen  :-*


your friend ALWAYS  :-*  if know how to reach me if you wanna talk  ;)

DENNIS in ABQ  :'(  :'( :'(

RIP William H Hall (1954 to 1992)

RIP Vernon R Wilson (1962 to 1995)

RIP Donald A Prince ( 1964 to 1997)

I will always love you guys FOREVER, all of you light up my life, and made me laugh, and cry  :'(

and if your all looking down on me, I'm doing just fine
and will see ya'll  when my time is up on this earth

Miss you guys like CRAZY MAD, and I'm sorry, your life w/ me was cut so short  :'(


Dear Mikie,

On the anniversary of the loss of your beloved, I simply want to offer my understanding of how such dates are important to acknowledge. And. what a testament to your relationship that Jim is remembered, missed and that your story has served, and will likely continue to serve, as inspiration for HIV testing. May it also be an inspiration for greater solutions to equality and quality of healthcare for HIV positive people worldwide and continued efforts to reduce stigma worldwide.



[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version