Rebecca Zook has endured health crisis after health crisis and suffered the tragic loss of her first husband in a motorcycle accident in 2011 – yet she manages to be an inspiration to others.
A gifted artist whose work is represented in art galleries in Granbury and Dallas, the introverted Zook found that she is an extrovert when it comes to writing about her own personal struggles. People tell her that her blog posts inspire them.
Friends who have lost their spouses since Zook lost her husband, Tom Taber, in April 2011 have felt reassurance in Zook’s postings about how there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Zook, who has four dogs, three parrots and “a bunch of cats,” remarried a year ago. She met fellow animal lover Ed Barnes through a popular dating site. They met in person for the first time when he drove from Fort Worth to her Granbury home to take her lunch. He was immediately enamored – with her dogs.
“He played with the dogs for like 10 minutes and completely ignored me,” Zook said. “At some point he realized this and he thought he’d made a big mistake, but when he looked up, I had a big smile on my face. He got major points for that one.”
Barnes, a former veterinary technician, is currently studying environmental biology at Tarleton State University. At lunch that day, he and Zook “talked for hours and hours and hours.”
“They had to kick us out of the restaurant,” Zook said. “We were never apart after that. It was an instant connection.”
The couple and their menagerie live in a lakefront home. With three parrots, there’s never a quiet moment.
“I sneeze, and I have to listen to sneezing for about 10 minutes,” Zook said. One parrot can imitate the zipping sound of Barnes’ book bag, and another meows like a cat.
Zook said that the challenges of breast cancer have paled in comparison to her other health issues that include food allergies, a heart condition and a rare immune deficiency. In 2009, she almost died.
“I pretty much got through it by writing,” she said. “I blogged everything.”
It’s her way of not letting her problems weigh her down.
“I’ve learned” she said, “that I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was.”
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