It seems as time goes by…almost everyday, certainly every week…something comes into our lives that is unexpected and brings with it, some clarity to Jeremy’s death…sometimes it is something that brings more peace in our lives concerning Jeremy’s death…sometimes it is something which explains or helps us deal with some unknown about the circumstances that surrounded that Sunday morning…Jeremy, Heart of Gold figurine

I have in a number of my posts, talked about how special Jeremy was…he was special in every way…it is why we were completely committed to his care in these last days…Judie and I just talked about last night, how this was an anniversary, of sorts…it was one year ago, August 7, 2016, that Jeremy had his first of two strokes that month…and he spent a few days in the hospital…and we talked about how Jeremy never worked again, his last day of work was August 6, 2016…there were all kinds of things that were going to happen…all three of us, Judie, Jeremy and I, were up for the challenge…but things just got away from us, beyond our control to do anything to change what was to come…

But I will not go into all that…there is too much and much of it I have already written about…let me go instead to those last few days, days that we had no idea what would be their end, but we had to make decisions based on what we knew, not what was to come…that was hidden from us…but we believe Jeremy had a better view of things than his Mom and Dad…let me explain…Jeremy and clown at Kroger

It was March 15, 2017…a Wednesday…we were at home, Jeremy was very lethargic, we got him up in the morning, got him some breakfast and he went and laid down in his beanbag chair, covered with a blanket…we got him up after while, to “get him going”…the rest of the day was okay, but we had an idea by night time that he would be going to the hospital before this was over…that night, we had him take his meds and we put him in bed…in the past year we had been tucking him in and kissing him good night…but that night it was different…strikingly so…

Judie and I were in his room…I would go over and kiss him and turn out the Jeremy, Mom and Dad 40th birthdaylight…but this night I ended up on the other side of the bed, I really don’t know why…he always turned on his right side and that is how he slept…but that night, as we were going to turn off the light, Jeremy turned his head up…like he heard something…you understand what I mean…like he turned to hear and see who was talking…I thought first he was looking at me…but no, he was looking straight up…at the ceiling…he continued for a long enough time for me to ask him, “What are you looking at?”…he didn’t respond, just kept looking up…this was unusual for sure…I asked again, what he was looking at…he still didn’t respond…still looking up…and finally I raised my voice a bit…and asked again, “What are you looking at?”…finally he, still looking up…and then turning to lay his head down…he said, “My trucks.”…

Though there are trucks on the walls, there are none on the ceiling were he was looking…I thought at the time how strange this was…his eyes were on something and I don’t think it was on his trucks…thinking about this incident over the last few months, I wish I had asked him, “What do you see?”…it never entered my mind at the time…but after all the things of the next few days and then his death…I so wish I had asked that question…he knew more than we did…

When Judie and I went to bed that Wednesday night…I came into the bedroom to get ready for bed, sat on the bed and told Judie…”We are losing him.”…I felt it was only time, I didn’t know how soon, but could definitely feel we were losing him…

During the night, Judie and I got up at various times to see how he was doing…but about 5:30 a.m., Judie yelled for me to come to the Jeremy’s bathroom…I have told this before but he had fallen…we helped him back to bed…the rest of the night went okay…and the starting of Thursday was rocky…Jeremy was not himself…lethargic and sleeping all day…we knew we were going to take him in…and we did…Jeremy hospital Saturday058

Jeremy had very low blood when he came in to the hospital…he was admitted and had two blood transfusions…he was to have an upper GI to see where the bleeding was…it was suppose to be on Friday, but it couldn’t be done until Saturday…I went home to sleep, Judie stayed both Thursday and Friday nights…when I was coming to the hospital on Saturday morning, Judie called and said they were in the room, ready to take Jeremy down for the procedure…I told them to wait…I rushed up there and he was on the gurney and the nurse was there to take him down…I came and had prayer with him…then learned he was going down to wait until the procedure…we went with him…

I stayed with him until he went into surgery…while we waited and it is a waiting game for sure…we talked…after the anesthesiologist talked to us…the surgical nurse came in…then different than any of Jeremy’s surgeries and he had many…he asked me a question, at least I think it was a question…now mind you, it was difficult to understand Jeremy, since his stroke, even for Judie and I, so I think it was a question…but he asked something like, “Am I going to die?”…I didn’t know if I heard him right, so I asked him to repeat it…by this time the surgical nurse caught the word “die” as well, I asked him again, to clarify what else he said with that word…I still do not know for sure what he said…but it certainly contained the word “die”…so I said, “Did you say die?”…I said, “No, this is a simple procedure. You will be just fine.”…so if he said something else, like, “Do people die from this?” or after some time to think about it, did he say, “I know I’m going to die”…my response would have been the same, but …I just know it was totally out of character for Jeremy to say something like that…but I am sure now, that Jeremy knew something we didn’t…

After his procedure he was alert and upbeat…he came out of anesthesia quickly, that was unusual…and returned to his room…we went along and the rest of Saturday was pretty good…he wanted to go home…and asked about it a couple of times…and by the afternoon he was dressed and was walking up and down the halls with us, very upbeat…even his nurse made comment how he “turned on his heels” when he responded to the nurse…we all knew by this time that Jeremy would be going home tomorrow (Sunday), if everything went well…Judie stayed Saturday night…they walked me to the elevators and we waved goodbye to each other…it was the last I was to see Jeremy alive…

Early Sunday morning, about 3:30 Jeremy passed into Glory…but before that, Judie had noticed Jeremy checking on if she was still there…he moved about a little…and Judie got up and she tucked a warm blanket around him…he looked at her and said, “as clear as a bell”, “I want to go home.”…she told him, “You’ll go home tomorrow. Mama’s here with you. I love you.” and kissed him…and she went back to lay down…he settled down but shortly after, he passed into Glory…Judie told me, that she was sure after he died that he meant “Going Home”, as going home to heaven…I told her, it very well could be, he knew that reference and he knew Jesus…but never the less, Jeremy was Home…Jeremy Peace Dove on door. March 19, 2017

Not long after I wrote my last post on this blog…when I told the story that Jeremy spoke “clear as a bell”…when he had not spoken anything clear as a bell for a long time…friends of ours who had just recently lost their son, Judah, wrote a comment that gave Judie and I, great comfort…

So true and consistent with many of our experiences in Judah’s last days. Amazingly, two nights before he died (and Judah had been unable to say much for several days other than a yes, no, or hi) Judah woke me up as I was sleeping next to him calling my name clearly. I said “What, Judah?” and as you say clear as a bell he said “I want to go home.” Not wanting it to mean he was ready to leave us, I said, “You are home. You are just sleeping downstairs in the living room.” He said again, “No, Daddy, I want to go home.” He went back to sleep but I fully expected when he woke in the morning he would have some return of his ability to speak to us. But he didn’t and those were really the last audible words he said to any of us. I was blessed to be there and hear the calmness and peace in his voice.”

I answered with this comment: Leland…thanks for this…as you and your family went through those times with Judah…we were praying for you…so it is so wonderful to hear that story…and especially when Judie went through something very similar with our Jeremy…she was sleeping beside Jeremy in his hospital room…he was “checking” to see if she was still there throughout the night, with his eyes…Judie saw him looking…and that is when she got up tucked a warm blanket around him…he looked at her and said, clear as a bell, “I want to go home.” and she told him, “You’ll go home tomorrow. Mama’s is here with you. I love you.” and kissed him…he settled down but shortly after, he passed into Glory…when I saw Judie a few minutes later as I came out of the elevator…I said, “Babe, you were here! Isn’t wonderful you were here!”…I didn’t know yet how it all went…though shortly she told me…we too believe Jeremy knew he was going to “go home”, his heavenly home…someday we shall know for sure…I’ll just ask him then!!!…others, as you know, may give all this some other meaning…but they grasp for straws, not able to “see” what we see…I will write something about that phenomenon, that only those who know, trust and walk with Jesus can really understand…God bless you and your family…we think and pray for you often…”

So why all this?…why do I bring up the stories of that night we kissed Jeremy good night and he looked at something with great interest…and the story about what he said on the gurney as he went for his procedure…and why the story about him saying “clear as a bell”…”I want to go home”…and why Judah’s story…it’s what is in your heart right now, that’s why…these days we live, are only a brush with time…someday we will all spend “the rest of our lives” somewhere else…I want everyone to be able to say with Judah and Jeremy, “I want to go Home.”…

Jeremy 2011

Death, as I stated in an earlier post, is always a surprise…some may wonder what I meant, other’s may disagree…but it just seems that way to me…I have seen, in my 75 years, enough death to see it that way…and with Jeremy’s death, it was certainly a surprise…we were not expecting it…oh, we saw him going down hill, but with Jeremy there always seemed to be hope…he exuded it, he believed it…heavens, he convinced us…that with him, there would always be hope…and even in the last hours of his life, we had hope…that he would be home the next day, with lots of hard things to deal with, but there was that hope, he was coming home…Jeremy, Mom and Dad 40th birthday

It has seemed to me that even people who we expect to die soon…and maybe we may expect it at anytime…yet when death does come, it is at its own timing…death is always a surprise…

And the reaction to death is as varied as the person who passed away…and the people who are effected by the death…I just read a story of Sgt. James Hubert, who shipped off to the Pacific Theater, in WWII…he was 17 when he enlisted…he was killed during the Battle of Tarawa, on November 21, 1943…they could not recover his body, for various reasons…he was buried on the island of Betio…but was listed as unrecoverable…he was buried in a trench with about 40 other bodies…and it wasn’t until recently they were discovered…and through DNA identification, he was named…the military funeral was held in Duluth, Minnesota, July 15, 2017…

Sgt. James Hubert 2

The quote I took away from that funeral, was from a family member…of course Sgt. Hubert’s parents had passed away, so they died never knowing that their 17 year old Marine son’s body was found…the family said, “For our Mother, it was a huge sorrow of her life. She never got to say goodbye.”

So what was it like on that Sunday morning of March 19, 2017?…and what is it like now…four months later…that morning I have described in previous posts, but did not deal with this part of things…I would like to add to that now…

Judie had stayed at the hospital Saturday night, she had stayed the two nights before as well…Jeremy had died somewhere around 3:30 that Sunday morning…they found him unresponsive when they came to check his vitals…Judie had seen him move about earlier…and had got up and kissed him and told Jeremy, “Mama is here. I love you.”…and Jeremy said, “I want to go home.”…clear as a bell, Judie said…and that was something for Jeremy, because he was hard to understand…but sometime after that he must have passed away, because the nurse came in right after…   

Jared, our number two son, had picked me up and when we got to the hospital…Marisa, Jared’s wife and Marla, Megan were also already there…later came Will and Jessica and our Great Granddaughter Madi…we all went to Jeremy’s room…on his door the hospital staff had put a dove on the door…we went into the room…I bent down and touch Jeremy, kissed him…he was already cold, I said, “He’s already in Heaven.”…we had our time together, Judie and I…and all who were there…I will add a picture…of a Mother, Judie, who has given all her adult life to her kids…and Jeremy in particular…you can see the toll of this time on her…she loves as all mothers love…and this was a hard thing…though as she said, she had perfect peace, even at that time…in the picture next to Judie is our Granddaughter Marla and Will and Madi…

Jeremy's room, Judie,Mom the morning of his death

We decided in the room that morning, that we would be celebrating Jeremy’s life in all the preparations and the funeral to come…we did that…we had a wonderful time together as a family…we remembered Jeremy in everything we did that week…and frankly, since that time…Jeremy remains on our minds and hearts…we know and have that hope that he is in heaven and we will see him someday…with Jeremy there was always hope…it remains the same today…there is a verse in I Thessalonians 4:13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”…
this certainly give us the hope that has lead us through our lives…and has helped us through all of this…

So, I guess, hope is the theme of this post…Jeremy’s example of hope through his entire life, right to the end…and hope is what we have even after he is gone…

Before we moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, Jeremy worked at Cub Foods and also worked at Coon Rapids High School, helping supervise at games during the evening…he loved both…when he left Cub, he was at 3 weeks vacation, after 16 years…and at a good pay rate too…but when we came here and he got his job at Kroger, he started at the bottom…no vacation, almost at minimum pay…but he never complained, he was just happy to be working…always hope…I will add a picture of Jeremy and I…this was his “heyday”…before all his stokes and life draining effects of his radiation…in our Cardinal jackets…”struttin’ our stuff”…before we went to a game, me to watch, Jeremy to work…I thought that was only right…

Jeremy and Dad cardinal jackets 1990's049

For most of Jeremy’s life it was a great time…there were his many medical issues…but most of his life he enjoyed to the fullest…and had hope for tomorrow…for us now, we are trying to do the same…oh, we will never forget Jeremy…he is in our thoughts even today…many may not understand…why can’t you just “get on with your life”…well, you have to be in our shoes…we don’t really want it to all go away…we want to remember and celebrate Jeremy and his time with us for as long as we live…I don’t mean that in a morbid way…I mean that in an honoring, healthy way…he was special, and will always be in our lives until we see him again…

Corrie ten Boom wrote: “Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”…we look forward to our future, it may be long or short, that we don’t know, but we want to be prepared for it…

I use a devotional every day called Our Daily Bread…on February 28, 2917, in part is this…the devotion started with how some want to extend human life indefinitely…then this:

“They are a little late. Death has already been defeated! Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25–26). Jesus assures us that those who put their trust in Him will never, ever, under any circumstances whatever, die.

To be clear, our bodies will die—and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. But the thinking, reasoning, remembering, loving, adventuring part of us that we call “me, myself, and I” will never, ever die.

And here’s the best part: It’s a gift! All you have to do is receive the salvation Jesus offers. C. S. Lewis, musing on this notion, describes it as something like “a chuckle in the darkness”—the sense that something that simple is the answer.

Some say, “It’s too simple.” Well, I say, if God loved you even before you were born and wants you to live with Him forever, why would He make it hard?”

We have this hope…I titled this post…“With Jeremy…there was always hope…in the end it was the same”…we feel the same kind of hope that Jeremy always had, in good times and bad…we will see him again someday…But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”…that is how we hope…full of the “thinking, reasoning, remembering, loving, adventuring part” of who Jeremy was and is…Jeremy 2011

This blog is from July 2011…I read it again, what a wonderful memory…some of you may have been to a parade on July 4th…but there are fewer of them than in the past…enjoy this one…hope you had a wonderful 4th and thanked God for our freedom…

Independence Day Parade…A Small Town Parade…I Love That…

In my previous post I put a letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail…you can go back and read that post if you wish…but let me give you just a part of what I put in that post…it will give you the direction I will go with this bit of Independence Day celebration I have for you…“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shew, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means.”…I have left John Adams differences in writing of that time…but it is the heart of the letter that I want to talk about today…to start, I want to ask you a question…when was the last time you went to an Independence Day/July 4th parade???…for some of you…you never miss…for others it is more a “day off” that is celebrated…and that’s okay too…but a parade…a parade…Oh, come on, a parade…there is nothing like a parade…and an Independence Day parade, that is special…

John Adams put it this way at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, before the War for Independence…he put it this way in his letter to Abigail…“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shew, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”…this was before the Revolutionary War…before as he put it, “the blood, toil and treasure it will cost us”…but though there was much to go through, he knew that this was a great thing…and what it would mean to the future of this country…and he knew that we would always want to celebrate it…and so we have, and so we will…we will do it this weekend…my flags are out…and looking for a parade…there must be one an “old guy” can go to and enjoy…

I remember growing up in the 1950’s…my Dad was just back from his time in the Navy during WWII…he belonged to the American Legion…and they were always in our local parade…every small town seems to have a parade…I have been to many over the years…and when I was young we went to see my Dad march in the parade…they would lead the parade with the flag and march out front…I have a picture of my Dad and the color guard one July 4th parade in the ’50’s…now where is it???…Oh, here ya go…he is the one with the white shirt on…I think he was the commander of the post that year…thus the white shirt and his place in the parade…so I remember those parades in Golden Valley, Minnesota…and they happened in every little town and city across the land…and it happens in many towns today too…

Before we moved to Arkansas we went to a little town in western Minnesota for their Independence Day Celebration…more about that later…but it is still happening there today…one of our sons and his family lived in Prinsburg, Minnesota for a little while…and we went out there (about a three hour trip west, from the Minneapolis area)…Prinsburg is a farming community…with farms right up to the city limits…a beautiful area…population 497, so it does meet the criteria to be a small town…(see Google Earth picture)…if you are unfamiliar with farming communities, you should spend some time in one to get the feel…it is special…Judie, Jeremy and I went there for the celebration about three different years, even after our son and his family moved…Prinsburg seems to have gotten John Adams view of the Independence Day Celebration right…and this year, 2011, they are going about it in the same way…we went out on Saturday though it started on Friday with activities and then Saturday we came about 10:00 so it could be…”commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.”…Prinsburg starts the day with a worship service with all the flags and patriotic feeling you would want at a service like that…then it is followed by a roast pork dinner (with all the trimmings) at their school, hundreds are served over the two hours…so organized…(it is a private school, Central Minnesota Christian)…and this is a fundraiser for them…farmers supply the pork, the school provides the facilities and the whole town gets involved with the cooking and serving…what a wonderful event…we loved it…

And online there is this about the Prinsburg 2011 Independence Day Celebration…Come to a small town for a big event! There are events all day including a 10 a.m. worship service, trap shoots, festival games for the kids, and a dinner served from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Another highlight is a 1850’s baseball game. The day ends with a kiddie parade and a main parade at 6 p.m...it is a small town…and it is a big event…because after the dinner there is the kids tractor pull, volleyball, treats, games, horse rides, baseball game, a dunk tank…and a myriad of other activities for adults and kids of all ages…and for me, plenty of shade to sit and people watch…we had a great time…the snack window was open…everyone so friendly…and everyone, well just about everyone, asks your name and how you came to be there…and so welcoming…they all knew our son and his wife and their family…and we were now, “just family” to them…we talked to those who where in their 80’s and beyond…and every other age…and learn the history of Prinsburg and the school and the area…to me, a breath of fresh air…

Okay, okay…the parade…I know, you ask where are the pictures…I looked and looked…can’t put my hands on them…but let me paint a word picture for you (well, I’ll throw in a couple of pictures)…just imagine the whole town plus all those who have “come back” for this celebration…and from miles around…we are all lined up on the main street…well heavens, look on the Google Map and see the main street…see it???…that’s right the parade starts on Roseland Avenue going South and East on Kandiyohi Avenue and County Road 1…why I knew you could see it…you are doing just fine…here comes the color guard…everyone stands that can stand…hand over the heart…sort of a reverent hush as the flag goes by…you can only hear the footsteps of the color guard…but then…a band…some floats…Oh ya, a tractor or two or three or more…and kids riding bikes all decked out…candy being thrown off the fire truck and floats…local organizations from near by towns come out in numbers…and different small businesses with cars, their sign taped on the door…and old cars from the 50’s and beyond…queens and princesses…4 H and all the other youth organizations…and the school is well represented…lots of talk and yelling and music and fun…

And then it is over…for another year…but it will last in the memory for a long time…an Independence Day Celebration in small town America…what can beat it…well, you know…nothing can…we talk and shake hands with all those we met that day…and promising and hoping that we will be back next year…to celebrate this great country and it’s Independence…but we know that some year, like my Dad’s generation…we won’t get back for the parade…for the celebration…but like John Adams, we can hope that there will always be those who will celebrate the independence of this wonderful country and continue to work to keep our freedom and liberty…

Posted by: Jim E | June 26, 2017

Jeremy…Random Thoughts…Random Memories…

I was cleaning off my desk this morning…and yes, I keep small, and some not so small, piles of paper, notes (to me), articles, etc., on my desk…I go through them from time to time…and this was one of those times…Jeremy, Mom and Dad 2026

I came across a copy of a letter I wrote to the bailiff at the Pulaski County Courthouse…it was concerning my being called up for jury duty in February 2017…Judie has been on jury duty a couple of times since we have moved to Arkansas…me, this was the first time in Arkansas…my letter was dated January 25, 2017…I got the notice in December of 2016…and knew I couldn’t serve because of Jeremy’s condition…but I waited until January 2017 to write and ask to be excused…

So this morning when I re-read the letter…it kind of took me aback…it has been a little over three months since Jeremy died and what a short time it really has been…and going back, as we have, remembering things, looking at pictures…and talking about Jeremy and his last months…this still struck me when I read it, of how fragile he was…I will not put it all here…but I asked to be excused, that Jeremy needed 24/7 care…talked about his series of strokes in August 2016…his handicaps both physical and mental…his, what we called seizures, or passing out…“He cannot be left alone and needs to be helped with his medication, watched when he takes a shower, because he falls. He needs help with bathroom duties, he has trouble eating because of choking. He needs help getting dressed, taking his meds, and a whole range of activities.”

When I think of how well he was doing on his 46th birthday, just last year…it kind of shocks me…and somehow I wonder, what did we miss…could we have done more, or more differently…here he was, just three months until his series of strokes…and just nine months until his death…now he was having some problems but nothing like what was coming…Jeremy opening gifts012

Other than being more interested in his gifts than the card…(notice the card is upside down)…but other than  that he was just Jeremy…full of life, loving life, and loving all those around him…he really was something…

Since his death, there are very few weeks that go by without someone or something notifying us about how much Jeremy is/was being missed…and how he effected their lives…it has been helpful to us…when thinking about the days between his 46th birthday and his death…we always had hope that things would get better…I guess because most of the time in his life…things got better…we kept trying and the doctors kept trying to figure it out…and we were thankful when good days came…the idea of celebrating small victories, when things went well for one or two days…we would tell each other…today was a good day…and we began to thank the Lord for the smallest things…Psalm 126:3 “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”…Jeremy’s wall hanging says it all…Jeremy's JOY wall hanging

As a Dad, part of my role has always been…are the kids tucked in bed…are the doors locked…the house in it’s “safe mode”…you know, no candles burning…the heat/cool is at the right temp…and on and on…so, it was with us…when Judie, Jeremy and I were here…as Dad, I knew things were okay when we were all here, in bed or ready for bed…ready to shut things down for the night…that first night, after his death…was difficult…I knew where he was…but something was very, very different…it still feels a bit that way…I still say “Good Night, Jerm.” as I pass by his room every night…after all the “Dad Things” are done, of course…

Just after his 46th birthday in May 2016, I think it was in June…we decided to take a road trip to Waco, Texas…to see “Fixer Upper” show’s, Magnolia Market and the Silos…well, things got a little changed…Jared, Marisa and his family set up a side trip to a Texas Ranch… called RimStone Ranch, owned by a friend of his…we stayed for a weekend, and also went to Waco and the Silos…Jeremy loved it, as he did any road trip he went on…it was one of the high lights of his last year…Waco and Ranch 2016 10

Waco and Ranch 5Waco and Ranch 3

You may not see him in the crowd but he is there…he loved that trip…

It seemed as the year went on he became more pensive…at the Ranch he sat and looked over the land…at home he would take some of his beloved trucks out on the porch and just sit and look at them…or would sit and look out into the courtyard…and no, I don’t know what he thought about…and he never told us…but he enjoyed doing it from time to time…slowing down as I see it now…but he so enjoyed even his last months…always upbeat, always positive, always looking forward, to the next thing…Jeremy on porch with trucks 2016

One thing he loved and the one thing he asked for in his last stay in the hospital was to go to Whole Hog…it’s a barbecue joint…he loved it…for some reason he could eat there without choking, maybe that’s the reason…but he loved it…after he died, just a few days after…it was after the funeral…I wanted so much for that week to be a celebration of Jeremy’s life…what he would have wanted…so as Jared, Mom and I took Jay and Jess around to see Jeremy’s “trap-line”…places he loved to go…one place we went into was Whole Hog…we talked and explained Jeremy’s love for the place…and Jess said, something about making sure to take Joe, his son to Whole Hog…that hit me…something that Jeremy would love…

So later I said, I think we should all, everyone who is still here on Saturday after the funeral…I think all of us should go to Whole Hog in celebration of Jeremy…and we did…it topped off a great week of celebration of Jeremy…Jeremy's funeral Whole Hog031

Let me top this off with another great Jeremy memory…when we lived in Andover, MN…he loved the fire pit, he and I built in the backyard…it’s not the best picture but it is one that shows him there…with one of the hundreds of fires he built…summer or winter or in between…and notice his “fire stick” behind him next to the hose…a fire needs poking, you know…he loved it…Oh, Jerm, we miss you so…Jeremy backyard firepit Andover044

 

Posted by: Jim E | June 3, 2017

Jeremy…We Want To Remember…

Memorial Day, after celebrating at Jared and Marisa’s house, with family…as Judie and I were heading home…she said, “Do you feel like driving down to see Jeremy.”…now we both know Jeremy is not at the cemetery…but somehow it makes both of us feel a little closer to him…he is buried in the mausoleum there, and so we once in a while will go down, about 20 minutes or so, to see where he is buried…and on that day that we celebrate those who have given their lives for this country…we celebrate that, but also celebrate Jeremy’s life…

Jeremy's cemetery 2017

It is a beautiful spot…we picked it because of the mausoleum first, and then the surroundings…and the cemetery is relatively small…it just feels good…these are all “feelings” I know…but hopefully everyone will allow us those feelings…Jeremy was special and we still, and I guess will always, miss him…

When Judie and I sit on our porch and talk…our talk comes around to Jeremy, from time to time…like with others we have known, we can’t really believe he is gone, and gone forever…we know he is in heaven, a better place than he had here…and we will see him again…but it is still hard when our day was full of him every moment of every day…and night…

As time goes by, I know memories fade…and most disappear…so I want to “get down” some of the memories before they are gone…

As Jeremy survived from his original surgery and many other medical problems he had over the years…we built a protective wall around Jeremy…for safety, for the particular handicaps he had…but a wide enough, that he really didn’t realize it was there…and as he grew and dealt with his issues, he showed unbelievable resilience in dealing with life…

Oh, he had a great life, school, work, home…he had fun and was fulfilled in so many ways…the wall was wide enough and big enough for him to expand and fill his space…he was loved by so many people…took on tasks that I didn’t know he could handle, but he surprised even Judie and I…he took responsibility beyond his limitations and did it effectively…I remember when he graduated from high school…we were so proud of him…in fact, by this time, we felt honored to be his parents…he graduated at 20, which never was a problem for Jeremy graduation 1990019him…like most things he just persevered through his handicaps and medical problems…when his name was read, up he went on the stage…to a standing ovation of his class and the whole crowd…all the people on the stage, the principal, superintendent, board members…all shook hands with him…some gave hugs…and at his open house many, many people came…when he was still in school, we asked him from time to time whether people made fun of him, etc…his comment always was, “They all like me.”…what’s not to like…he was just that way, friends of everyone he ever met…notice his hand in this picture “tickling Jessica’s (our first Granddaughter) hand…his eyes, toward Jessica not the camera…to him, he was never the most important person in the room…he was a keeper…we loved and still love him…

And in the coming years after graduation, there were many decisions, surgeries, but he just kept on going stronger and stronger…he developed into a wonderful employee at Cub Foods in Andover, MN…for 16 years…and when we moved to Arkansas in 2007, he started all over again…this time at Kroger…it was a great move for him…and though there were some changes in him…he was a great employee…the store manager said, “Jeremy, how can you bag so fast.”…He was the best at what he did and was proud of working at Kroger…Jeremy and clown at Kroger

But in 2014, he had his first stroke…there were times when he would be confused, forget how to bag and in some cases needed help…punching in on the clock became difficult for him…asked for a break before it was time…so everyday I wrote him a “ticket” before he went to work…his time to start, and quit…when his breaks would be and so on…during this time he would lose things, his keys, his billfold, his pocket knife…sometime we would be able to find it…sometimes not…we had to retrain him on things he was totally responsible for before…

When we were still in Minnesota…we bought a boat…Jeremy and I went to the Boat Show in Minneapolis…it is a big deal in Minnesota…and while we were there…I joked with Jeremy…”This is your college education.”…and we enjoyed our fishing trips and catching fish…we became “fishing buddies” for about 20 years, until we came down to Arkansas…we didn’t have a boat, but we still fished from shore…and then 2014 came and his first stroke…some time that year, he asked if we could go fishing…I decided we needed to see how he was doing, since he had some effects from his stroke…Jeremy fishing 2012 Lake Maumelle

I set up his fishing pole and reel…and a weight to practice casting…and out we went to the back of the house…and in the alley, we practiced…long story short, he just couldn’t “get it”…he had lost the eye-hand coordination to cast…we worked on it…over and over…I told him, “You will get it, keep it up.”…I could see it was bothering him…so I told him I would go in…and when he was done to come in…and we would try it again when he wanted…soon, he came in…he never said a thing…he put his fishing stuff away…and never in the last years of his life ever spoke of going fishing again…he told stories about our fishing trips and fun we had…but never spoke of going fishing again…it is a sad story, but one that showed who Jeremy was…he accepted what came his way…things he could change, he did…things he could not…he put away without murmuring or complaining…and just enjoy what God had given him… 

2014 was the beginning of a difficult road for Jeremy, in many ways…his stroke effected him at work, his speech, his endurance…but during this time he never gave up…he wanted to work, he wanted to visit, he wanted to be as normal as possible…he needed to take a number of medications for all the issues he had…and after his stroke, he needed us to remind him to take his meds…he would be in the Jeremy fire and Christmas movie 2013living room with us and about 9:30 he just got up and went to bed…if we didn’t go too, he would forget his meds, so we went with him…reminding his about taking them…and then he got used to us “tucking him in”…now he was a 46 year old man…but mind you he was small, about 4′ 9″…about 95 pounds…and at this time he needed us to assure him of our being here for him…so Judie and I tucking him in and kissing him good night was part of our day…it gave us, as well as Jeremy, some degree of comfort in these last days…

So if it hasn’t become plain, Jeremy was a joy to have around…he was with us for all his almost 47 years…we went through rough waters but most times, were the “times of our lives”…we saw God reaching down and protecting Jeremy within the wall we built around him…he became so much more than anyone thought he would…his effect upon people around him, family, friends and acquaintances…he was a very special person…we have always known it, I guess…but he surprised us many times in how far above expectations he went…and with his death, many of those who knew him a little or a lot…said what he meant to them…

One thing else in this long remembrance…way back, it was when Jeremy was attending Cedar Elementary School…he was not expected to live at that time…and one of his teachers had each in the class make a wall hanging…I have it right here on the wall by my desk…Jeremy had to pick a word to put on it…he choose the word “JOY”…he cut it out and glued it on to the fabric…when he brought it home, from the very first…I loved it…and took it to school and hung it in my office…along with other things, it hung in my different offices I haunted, about 35 years…until I retired in 2000…then it went home to my office in Andover, MN…and now is hanging in my office in Little Rock, AR…Jeremy's JOY wall hanging

It still speaks to me…and still gives me the JOY that Jeremy had toward life in general…and the way he faced it…with Joy…one more picture…the way I will always remember Jeremy…a sense of humor…and deep within that smile…you can see what Judie and I have always seen…Jeremy had joy in living everyday…Jeremy 2011

Last weekend we celebrated Jeremy’s 47th birthday…this year, for the first time, without him…but we still had our time honoring his life…

It’s definitely hard after living with us for almost 47 years…to not think of him everyday…and be reminded of him everyday…little things pop up to remind us…like when we fix a meal…it’s just the two of us…Judie and I mention this often…because Jeremy could not easily eat…he would choke on many things, so we had to fix things that he could eat…and when his favorites were Pizza, tacos, barbecue ribs at Whole Hog, fried chicken at Popeye’s chicken…hmm, well, that’s about it…as you can see it made it somewhat difficult to fix something he could eat…Oh, it wasn’t that bad but it felt like it…a least, a very limited menu at our house…

On Saturday, May 6, which was his birthday…we visited the cemetery where he is buried…it was a beautiful day…full sun, blue skies…Judie and I talked and walked around where he is buried…a few tears…but it was good…it somehow brings Judie and I, great comfort…to be where he is laid…as we celebrate his life…Jeremy's mausolium on wall

On Sunday, May 7, the day after his birthday, we had his favorite birthday meal…the one he always had…and we invited Jared, Marisa…well the whole clan, who live here in Little Rock…now, I know you would like to know about the menu…you may think, steak, lobster, shrimp, or some other like entree…but you would be wrong…it fit Jeremy, it was a simple menu: Mom’s meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and El Grande Salad…you may say, “Meatloaf is special?”…well, you haven’t tried Mom’s (Judie’s) meatloaf, it’s great…and of course, Jeremy loved it…plain old green beans, mashed potatoes (real potatoes, mashed)…and El Grande Salad…(bowl of lettuce with grated Monterey Jack cheese, black olives sliced, red onion sliced thin, pepperoni, Green Goddess dressing with a dollop of vinegar…toss the salad and serve)…we had fresh rolls to go with it…a feast, worthy of Jeremy’s 47th birthday…Jeremy's birthday meal

And after the meal, some downtime to talk a bit about Jeremy…old stories…new ones too…the whole day was a perfect day…sunny, blue skies, in the 70’s…what my Mom would have called, “A Bluebird Day”…it was that…

This last week, Judie had a visitor come to see her…her and her husband go to our church…and they lost a college-age daughter in an accident about 10 years ago…she has wanted to talk to Judie for some time…but wanted to wait a while…I went to my office and they talked…and had a wonderful time talking about both losses…different, yet the same…she brought a figurine called, “A Heart of Gold”…I’ll attach picture…she got it right…Jeremy did have a heart of gold…Judie and I will treasure this…Jeremy, Heart of Gold figurine

And just yesterday, we were grocery shopping, and a man stopped to talk…I had never met him…but Judie knew him, (ahh, Judie knows everyone…me…not so much)…he is the father of one of our granddaughters friends…he knew Jeremy had died…and wanted to tell us how sorry he was…and he had read my blog about Jeremy…he never met Jeremy, but felt he now knew him…and yes, more tears…as we talked…

Food stories…Jeremy had them…from fixing pizza every Saturday night at Jared and Marisa’s…to eating at Whole Hog…and how about this one…he had jaw surgery at Mayo Clinic, well, St. Mary’s hospital…next to Mayo…I have told the story before, but they found a tumor in his jaw…this was 2011…so Dr. Keller did the surgery…and found the tumor was cancerous, out it came along with a tooth that was in the way…so after surgery and recovery…we asked if there were any restrictions about eating…the doctor said no, as long as it was on the other side…it was same-day surgery…so on the way back to the motel…we asked Jeremy were he wanted to eat…”Culvers”, he said…”A Jeremy at Culver'sButterburger, fries, a Coke, and a sundae.”…I looked at Judie…shook my head in fake disbelief …and said, “But you have to eat on the other side.”…he loved it…and never took a pain pill…never any pain…he loved to eat…at least eat what he liked…what a kid…

There are thousands of stories about Jeremy…we hear them every week…and try to write them down so we don’t forget…when Judie went to the Kroger where Jeremy worked for about 10 years, here in Little Rock…one of the cashiers, who Jeremy dearly loved…she came up to Judie and told her how much she misses him…still has his picture up in her house…she was the one who made us aware of his first stroke in 2014…

Jess, our number 3 son, who lives in the Minneapolis area…he went to his 30th high school reunion…I will add his text to us and a story he heard from one of the coaches Jeremy worked with for so many years as a manager of the basketball team…St. Francis High School

Jeremy, Jeff Fink story018

Sometimes I look for a higher purpose when some events happen…I think of Jesus, in John 11:4…when learning of Lazarus illness and ultimate death…Jesus said, that it was for a higher purpose…in that case it was to glorify God…and somehow, I think Jeremy’s death has done something more than just another statistic in the paper…we keep learning how he touched so many people’s lives in ways that I cannot completely understand, nor get my arms around…I know he changed our lives for these 47 years, and will continue to effect us for the rest of our lives…Jeremy and Dad the Ranch

Of this I’m sure…(as I was talking to, I don’t really know to whom…to Jeremy, I suppose), when the other day, as I passed by his room, I said…”One of the greatest privileges of our lives is to have taken care of you all these years.”…it’s been an honor being his parents…he was a special “kid”…his zest for living, hard working, courageous, loving, generous, full of faith…this was Jeremy, and more…this is hard…as I remember him…

A family we know lost a son to cancer a while ago…the father sent out this poem…it really speaks our feelings right now, as it did to him at that time…we put all our boys in God’s Hands when they were born…we still trust Him with that work…

What God ordains is ALWAYS good, this truth remains unshaken!
Though sorrow, death, or need be mine, I shall not be forsaken.
I fear no harm, for with his arm, He shall embrace and shield me.
So to my God I yield me…  

“What God Ordains Is Always Good”

by Samuel Rodigast, 1649-1708

Posted by: Jim E | May 8, 2017

I Took My Mom To Lunch…

I Took My Mom To Lunch…

Mother’s Day is this weekend…I will post this as I did last year…and try to do every year, in honor of my Mom…I wrote this years ago…April 2006, it was over a year after Mom died, but I had to “get it down” so I wouldn’t forget it…enjoy and if possible call your Mom…it will make her day…as my Mom did mine, on the day I describe below:

                                           

“Something reminded me this morning about taking my Mom to lunch…who knows how memories are jarred loose in our minds…but this morning this memory randomly arrived…

It has been only a little over a year since Mom passed away…but most of the memories of those days are still fresh…I know they won’t always be, so I decided this one I would write down before it becomes irretrievable…that happens to all of us as time goes by and other experiences take img070over…this lunch happened a few years ago…after Mom’s stroke and after Dad died, but before Mom slipped away from all of us…she was handicapped by some of the remnants of her stroke but still lucid enough to remember things of the past…she still knew everyone, though sometimes she called me “George” (her husband, my Dad)…and though she knew that wasn’t quite right, we both just let it go…it really didn’t matter to me and it was okay with her to let it go…just seemed like too much work for her to change it after it came out…if you don’t know what I mean, you will soon enough…

That day Mom had a doctor’s appointment…and so I picked her up…and off we went…first to her appointment, then to lunch…I really hadn’t planned to go to lunch but Mom was so “with it” that day…we talked and laughed as we drove along…she was so enjoying the ride, she commented how she would just like to keep driving…so I drove passed things that she would remember, pointed out things that were changing…she was so interested…she was always interested in what her boys thought and were interested in…that had not changed…I often wondered if that was real…was she as interested as she seemed???…I never could see anything to make me feel otherwise…and that day it was more than usual…it was a high point in these last years of her life…

I asked her if she wanted something to eat, “My treat”, I said…she laughed and said let’s go somewhere easy…I knew what she meant, she had lots of trouble getting in and out of the car…”Where do you want to go?”, I asked her…she didn’t know…so I made some suggestions…and she picked the one with the golden arches, she wanted some French fries…andPond with willows and cattails 3 of course, a drive-thru…I knew one not far away and we drove slowly to get there, talking along the way…we got our meal and parked behind the McDonald’s…so let me paint the picture…behind us was one of the busiest roads in the north suburbs of Minneapolis…but in front of us was a large swamp (called a wetlands today) and we were parked on some of the fill that had been put there to build the McDonald’s and paved…there were still piles of fill beyond where we parked…it was a warm sunny day…cattails waved far into the distance…birds flew here and there…the small willow trees along the bank moved to the motion of the wind…and here I was with my Mom…just talking, eating…sharing French fries…me watching to see if she needed help…it was perfect…Elmquist family WW II 1944

We talked of things she remembered, of things she wanted to talk about…I told her how much she meant to me…she waved it off as she often did…and talked of times past…her folks, my grandparents…she loved them…and now in her 80′s, she still honored them…they, like the rest of us were not perfect, but to her and to me…that didn’t matter, both of us agreed how wonderful they were…she remembered the days of her youth, before all this…and all that was before her…we laughed and some tears were shed…but overall it was a wonderful time…right there overlooking that beautiful swamp…

It’s a picture I will always remember (now bear with me)…from 50 or 100 feet above…do you see it???…looking down you see a McDonald’s, next to a busy highway…and behind a large swamp…and there behind the McDonald’s…right there in the parking lot…an old white Buick and inside…can you see them???…a son and his Mom, he in his 60′s, her in her 80′s…eating, talking, crying and laughing…but enjoying for one of the very last times, each other…

She was and is in my memory…loved and honored…”

I was reminded about this trip in 2011 to see Dr. Keller at Mayo Clinic…it is quite the story…one that shows Jeremy at his best, while being faced with uncertainty…what a “kid”…enjoy these 4 posts…about the trip…his surprise surgery and recovery…Jim E

Your Roving Reporter

Okay, I did look at the calendar…and I did see that I haven’t posted anything since August 20th…quite a span for me to be “quiet”…but there is a reason…we were on a vacation…well, Judie and I are retired, so we are on a permanent vacation…this was Jeremy’s week of vacation…but it extended out for almost two weeks…well, let’s go back a few days and tell some of this story…heavens, this could be a two or three part story…but I won’t do that to you…(ed. well, I guess I did, sorry)…

Our plan was to go to Branson, Missouri to see a show on Wednesday, August 24th…and then from there go to Rochester, Minnesota for Jeremy to see his doctor for a checkup…really he was seeing the doctor to go over a CT he had in Little Rock in April…we expected it to be just an in and out deal…after we…

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Your Roving Reporter

Now where were we???…Oh ya, we were leaving Mayo Clinic and driving to Minneapolis to go to the Minnesota State Fair…the plan was to be there right after a “short” consultation with Dr. Keller about Jeremy’s CT scan from Little Rock…we thought he wanted to see Jeremy and talk about how he is doing…and things like that…I should add here that Dr. Keller, Jeremy and our family have a fairly close connection since he did Jeremy’s jaw surgeries back in the 90’s…I won’t go into all that…but lets just say we made a connection and we have kept in touch…here is a picture of  Dr. Keller and Jeremy back in the mid-90’s…no doubt Jeremy was “Rebuilt In Rochester” (notice his shirt)…he could now open his mouth…his teeth were straightened…and he now had a chin…all that thanks to Dr. Keller…and that was the first time he had seen Jeremy’s problems in…

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Your Roving Reporter

Waiting…it’s never been an easy thing for me…well, probably not for anyone…but we were now in the waiting room…we went to the cafeteria and had some breakfast and coffee…and that helped past some time but we still had a ways to go…every time I think of waiting, I remember to claim the verse in Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”…and we experience it that day…still not easy to wait…but our strength was renewed…and we had to continue with that strength…and in my mind, it was Jeremy who was going through all this…we were just the bystanders…interested bystanders…but bystanders none the less…we had to remain strong…that verse helps to make that happen…

Jeremy went to surgery at 8:15 and we got…

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