There is no question, this Christmas will be different…all kinds of people talked, warned, that it would be so…and it has been, thus far…Jeremy was a Christmas Junkie…he started with Christmas music, then Christmas movies…he had over 100 of them…he started watching them earlier all the time…he used to start them at the beginning of November…but the last few years, it has been the first part of October…I told him, you will be done with them before Thanksgiving even gets here…but it didn’t seem to sway him…and so by the beginning of November, he had watched them all…and snow or no snow, he love this time of year…

Jeremy 2011 in the snow023

You would think that would have cured him of doing it the next year…well, you would be wrong…or you may think it would have curb his enthusiasm for Christmas…wrong again…it never dampened his love for this time of year…he just filled in with all his plans for the season…”making his list and checking it twice”, certainly helped pass time…and since he was a “giver” not a taker…he spent time giving away what he had in abundance…himself…outside Kroger, the grocery store where he worked, the Salvation Army workers loved to see Jeremy every year…he planned his “Hungry Boy” cookie giveaways…who gets what, so to speak…his gift list was always long and this last year, because he was not working, he had to curtail his giving a bit…it broke his heart, that he could not “over-do” as he did every other year…but we tried to help with some of that, and to replace some the the cost, with other meaningful things on his heart…

Let me add something here that I sent to friends to describe him during this time of year…this was “his season” of the year…he loved everything about Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Years…he didn’t focus on “getting” but on giving…for someone who didn’t “make much” he sure gave it away…when passing by the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle by the door of his store, in and out with helping people with their groceries…he would just reach in his pocket and pull out his “coin purse” and dump it in the kettle…(he always had a bunch of change, he never counted out his coins to pay for anything…too hard or too long for him to do…he always paid for things with bills, therefore he always had lots of change)…it was always bulging with coins…it didn’t matter to him, he was a giver…and “in” they would go…every year the “ringers” always looked for Jeremy to come by…he always was a giver…great memories…

Christmas 2017 the first without Jeremy

So here we are…(this is a picture from my Lazy Boy looking toward our Christmas Tree this year, and toward where Jeremy would have been sitting in his Big Joe, beanbag chair, in front of the fireplace, in normal years)…celebrating the Christmas season, and celebrating Jeremy too…sooo, we started this by watching some of his favorite Christmas movies…now, we will not watch all 100 plus movies, but some of his most favorite…we started last week with one he loved, “A Dog Named Christmas”…a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie…to clarify, we loved this movie too…so seeing it again, even with tears, about a boy, handicapped but with such an upbeat view of life…and how he effected the lives of others…it wasn’t hard to make the comparison with Jeremy’s life…Judie and I talked about it after we saw the movie, the different way we saw the movie this year…and ones we saw since, we felt the same way…I guess, we have changed in a noticeable fashion, even in our own eyes…

  Christmas movies A Dog Named Christmas

Last night we watched two movies…some of you may know them…”The Christmas Box” and it’s sequel “Timepiece”, both excellent films…both about Christmas, both about life itself…Jeremy loved these two movies…and as usual, so do we…as we watched we again saw things we had not seen before, or at least understood before…

Christmas movies Christmas Box, Timepiece

Both movies have very good actors…professional in every way…both written by Richard Paul Evans, and takes you through the lives of these people…”The Christmas Box” takes Richard Thomas’ character through the story and challenges him to find the answer to the question, “What was the first gift of Christmas?”, the question put to him by Maureen O’Hara’s character…at the end he found the answer (and I’m really not spoiling the ending here)…he guessed, that the first gift was “a child”…and she said, yes…and quoted John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”…

In “Timepiece”, the message of the film was forgiveness…in this case forgiving the very person who took the life of someone you loved…the father in this case had to not only forgive that person but to forgive himself for failing in his responsibility as a father…it struck me then, something I have dealt with since Jeremy died…I know it is not healthy, nor wise to feel this way…but when I first went into his hospital room that early Sunday morning, and looked at Jeremy…felt him, kissed him…and told him, “Oh Jeremy, it was not suppose to end this way.”

Jeremy Peace Dove on door. March 19, 2017

…but was completely helpless to do anything to change the outcome…what could we have done differently…what else could we have done…after all the 47 years of taking him safely through all his surgeries, and other serious issues of his life…as his Dad, I was suppose to do it again…and I failed in this most final situation…Oh, I have dealt with this many times over these months, going into his hospital room and seeing him there, and helpless to change what was…but last night, I found an answer…I have to forgive myself…

So if Jeremy’s movies bring this much enjoyment…and closure in our lives…then I guess we will “watch on”…and continue to celebrate Jeremy’s life…and his clarity in how to live life to the fullest…

 

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I am re-posting this from December 20, 2015…for me it is fitting…because Jeremy loved the Christmas season, there is history involved in this post, and because this poem of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is written out of his sadness, as you will read…so Judie and I still mourn for Jeremy, and I guess there is still some sadness…but as the poem ends with a note of victory and praise, so we share in the gladness…

Because it refers to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow…a wonderful American poet and author…this post is also interesting to me, because of the history involved, and because Longfellow is overlooking my desk right now…I look to my left a bit, and there he is…well, his picture…I did a report in I think 8th grade, the year we studied Longfellow’s “Evangeline”, his epic poem written in 1847, about a young girl…we had a woman living next door at that time…she was an artist…I asked her if she would do a pencil sketch of Longfellow…so I could put it in my report…she graciously did so…(I imagine against her artistic convictions…I gave her a picture to copy…it was from the card game “Authors”, hey, I was in 8th grade…you can imagine her feelings…but as I say, she was gracious)…I will try and add the picture, she was a good artist…and Longfellow has been with me in a frame made by my Grandfather, George Reggin…that has been over 60 years, we have traveled together…

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

But read on…the post is better than my explanation…and don’t forget to click on the link to Our Daily Bread, it is good…enjoy…

Christmas Bells, Longfellow and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”…

December is a wonderful time of year…though, as I remember when I was young, many things happened in December that were hard…I can Christmas Eve snowremember the thought of how can we have Christmas when all this sadness is going on…I guess I thought that other months of the year didn’t bring on as much loss as December did…I was wrong of course, but it was a true feeling I had when I was young…
 
This morning (12/19/15) when I picked up Our Daily Bread, a daily devotion I use everyday, there was an interesting and helpful story Christmas 2015that relates to that feeling…called “The Seventh Stanza”…it is about the America poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and what is now a Christmas Carol called “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”…he titledChristmas Day, I Heard the Bells his poem at the time “Christmas Bells”…it later was set to music…the short article was historically interesting as well as the message of the poem…read the link to this “Our Daily Bread”…then the entire poem, including the stanzas about the Civil War, which was still being fought as he wrote…it will give new meaning to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”…and the great expectation and hope that still remains for all of us during difficult times…
 
 
 
“Christmas Bells”
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)
“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

A couple of weeks ago, Judie and I went to the cemetery where Jeremy is buried…we don’t get to do that very often…but look forward to it when we make the trip…it is about a half hour away from our house…it is a beautiful place, one that Jeremy would approve…it all seems so long ago, but it only since March of this year…a little over a half year…those memories are still very fresh…Jeremy's cemetery 2017

We drove into the cemetery, somehow we always keep our eyes on the building in which he is buried…I really dislike the term mausoleum, and it’s twin brother, crypt…both bring unpleasant thoughts to me…but I guess that is the only descriptive words that tell where he is…I guess, in my mind, I think of him buried, not in the ground but “up” in that crypt forty feet above the ground in the mausoleum…three from the left, three from the top…and there is his name and some remembrances of him…Jeremy's mausolium on wall

I never think of him being “there”…as a Christian, I know he is in heaven, cavorting around as Jeremy would do…but also being in the presence of God Himself, the many who have gone before him, and Jesus, who gave His life for this salvation he is now enjoying…Jeremy knows so many already there…and Jesus promised that he prepared a place for him…I assume he is already settled in…Heavens, and I use that term here purposely, we don’t know much about what heaven will be like…but those things I do know for sure, I have already mentioned…

And so we pulled up in front of the mausoleum…we noticed a car already parked there…and noticed a person sitting on one of the benches near the wall where Jeremy is buried…it looked like a woman, but we weren’t sure…I asked Judie if we should wait and not disturb the person…but we walked on the far side of the sidewalk…now it was clear it was a woman…she was crying…we stood on the sidewalk looking at Jeremy’s engraving on his crypt…but I couldn’t help feeling a bit awkward because we were standing behind her, and she kept looking around at us…maybe feeling she was blocking our way or maybe we were disturbing her…but she stayed…so I motioned to Judie…let’s go to her…I wanted her to feel comfortable there and for us to feel so too…

(below is a picture of that wall, before Jeremy’s inscription was completed…Marla, Judie and Marisa are sitting on the bench Melissa sat on that day we met her)…Jeremy's mausolium 2

I walked up behind her and to her side…I put my hand on her shoulder and asked her, “Has it been a long time?”…she said, “No.”…she pointed out the crypt…it was her daughter…she died just a month before Jeremy…she in February, Jeremy in March of 2017…we stood and heard her story…how her daughter had three children and they now lived with her…she said, “They love me like they loved their mother.”…I told her what a strong woman she was…her name was Melissa, a very young grandmother…she had her daughter when she was 16…she and her husband also had other children…her son was in the army…

Melissa told how her daughter was married,  had a daughter and then had twin girls…one of them autistic…her daughter’s husband was an over-the-road trucker…who was murdered during a robbery when he was on the East Coast…I wondered then and now, how life is hard, but life is good…even in this story…her daughter suffered from Sickle Cell Anemia…and finally she said it just destroyed her liver and took her life…she told of the conversations she had with her daughter in the last days…through tears she still mourned for her…we understood…

As we talked we shared her tears…she asked about Jeremy…where he worked…she knew who he was…like many who shopped at Kroger on Chenal…she remember him…especially after Judie showed her a picture…”Oh, I know him.”, she said…and later she said, “Anyone who had him as a bagger, would never forget him.”…she had questions and shared more about her family and her daughter…through tears, laughter, smiles and stories…we all mourned together…it was a blessed time…Jeremy and clown at Kroger

We were about to leave when I did what I have done a number of times before…I asked if I could pray for her and her family…it’s something, but every time I have asked if I could pray for someone…they have allowed it…and so the three of us…arms around one another…crying…I prayed…for all of us…

When we were finished, we walked to our cars…I went ahead, left Judie to walk Melissa to her car…Judie has the gift of sharing the kinds of things we all see as positive and helpful…and letting them share in return…I don’t know if we will ever see Melissa again…but maybe we will…we now have a “Touchstone” with each other…we will never go to see Jeremy’s grave without seeing Melissa’s daughter…and I told her, whenever we come, we will look at her daughter’s grave and will pray for her and her family…she said she would do the same…

What a great Jeremy visit, we got to remember him…met someone who knew Jeremy…and established a spiritual connection to someone…someone else with a story…

Jeremy would have loved her story…he would have loved to have been there…helping us with this story…he had a heart of gold…he seemed to draw out the best in people…even after his passing his legacy continues…as Dr. Keller once told us, “Isn’t it wonderful the Lord used your own son to bless your lives.”…

 

It almost seems impossible, not that seven months have gone by…but impossible that Jeremy is really gone…he still seems to be “around”, if you know what I mean…because he was always around…our minds play tricks on us from time to time…when we go out in the car, in our minds we think of Jeremy and if he wants to go or if he is ready…it only lasts a split second, but it is real…we do think that way…it is sort of understandable I guess…Jeremy, Mom and Dad 40th birthday

The truth is, I don’t want it to go away…I suppose it will but we are not wishing for that…it really doesn’t interfere with our lives, but a pleasant feeling comes with our thoughts of Jeremy…he was a wonderful son, a wonderful person…fun to have around, with a great sense of humor…he saw life a lot like me, I suppose…and I see the world that way too…we laughed more than we cried…if it looks by the pictures I post here, like we have and had a happy home…you would be right, and Jeremy made so much of it so…and so still from him, there’s laughter in our walls…

This morning, when Judie reminded me this was the seventh month anniversary of Jeremy’s passing…and a little later, something came up…I was kidding Judie about something…we were laughing about it…and I said, “Jeremy would agree with me about that…he would be laughing too.”…Judie had to agree…he had a sense of humor…it got him through many times of his life…even when he was going in for surgery, his ability to find something humorous to say, in the midst of what could have been a more stressful situation…he made is easier to go through the experience…

Like his surgery at Mayo in about 2011…we were waiting in this huge staging area…lots of patients, because there are many operating rooms in the hospital…it was wall to wall patients…all prepped for surgery…we talked together, we prayed together, talked about the tumor that had to come out of his jaw, and talked some more…finally, Jeremy broke the ice…he said: “Let’s get this show on the road. Let’s get this thing out.”…we laughed…and we did…well, Dr. Keller got “this thing out”, it turned out to be cancerous…and few hours later, Jeremy was at Culver’s having a “Butter Burger, fries and Coke”…an amazing kid…hey, he ate on the other side…

What have we learned though all of this…I imagine you know we have relived this whole experience with Jeremy, over the last seven months, many times…there have been ups and downs, we have thought maybe we could have changed the outcome by something we missed…or could we have done more, maybe better…but in the end, we realize that none of that kind of thinking is very healthy, because none of that will bring him back…and in fact the way things had been going, Jeremy would not have liked what was coming…

Jeremy, Mom and Dad025

Since his first stroke in 2014, as we looked back over those years, he was having more and more trouble with all kinds of physical things…we were immersed in all of it, and could not see anything but helping Jeremy…but there were signs telling us that he was more and more fragile, and things could not continue for long this way…even people who we contacted, like Social Security, told us that this would become too much for us…but we just carried on…Jeremy knew more than we did concerning how it was…and in the end, he called the shots better than we did…he knew he was dying, but didn’t want to hurt us…we tried to encourage him, he just was at peace with his situation…so he was really helping us to the place were we could deal with his death…it was indeed something to behold…

So Jeremy’s seventh month anniversary of sorts, October 19, 2017, is upon us and will pass to other 19th of another month, as the year goes along…and his favorite time of the year, Thanksgiving, Christmas…we will not just celebrate him on those days…because we are honoring him with our lives, everyday…as he would want and expect us to do…and with a dollop of humor added to the mix…

Jeremy and clown at KrogerSo Jeremy, here’s to you…the one who really defined our lives…and was a great example of how life should be lived…one with courage, dedication, honesty, trustworthy, with goodness, and wholesome living…living a life pleasing to his God…with a large splash of humor…Jeremy is loved and honored here…

 

Oh, no doubt the world we live in today is full of problems, protest and  anger, making us sometimes fearful and anxious…not knowing what to do, we seem so helpless…so small…so powerless…but wanting to do the right thing…there are talking heads, politicians, pundits…all telling us their view on the times and what we should believe…

Last night, at Jared (#2 son) and Marisa’s house, over supper or dinner (it all depends on where you live)…homemade lasagna, etc…we got talking about this very topic…and though it can suck all the energy out of you, to talk about it…with me, I return to what I know to be true…what I have seen work over my 75 years…and though most who read this will say, “That’s pie in the sky thinking” (being as old as I am, that “saying” may not be in your daily, or frankly yearly, or maybe lifetime use, but you get the drift, I think)…well let me say, it may be “pie in the sky”…but it is real…it holds peace and contentment…comfort and encouragement, for the time we live in…

Once in a while this happens to me, more often than I talk about it…I call it a traffic Traffic Jamjam of ideas…coming together at one time…you know, the car ahead of you stops abruptly and you and all the other cars have to jam up and come to a stop…hopefully with no accident…if you are perceptive enough, that happens with ideas, or thoughts, or topics that seem to come together…and if we are “with it”, we will try and put it together into a cogent thought process to deal with what caused the traffic stop in the first place…yesterday, it was hurricane Harvey, added with all the political, social, personal, and spiritual conflicts that we see around us…how we “fit” into all that…and how then, should we live…

As happens with me often…I remember something that I wrote down years ago…that seems to “fit” this situation we are in…may I at this time urge you to write down things that seems profound at the time…they may not be a few years from now, but on the other hand, it may be the Lord Himself Who is telling you to write it down…so…just do it…as I did it back in July 1990…a missionary from Amsterdam was speaking at our church…his message had three points…

First, “Bless the city where you live”…his idea was, no matter where you live, live in such a way as to bless that city…adding to it in positive ways for all who live there…because it comes back to bless you too…that reminded me of  Jeremiah 29:4-11 (part of that traffic jam)…it starts out this way: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat of their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your Jeremiah twenty nine, elevenwelfare.”…Then in verses 9, 10 and 11, He gives a promise to Israel…“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”…and the Lord said, “Do not let your prophets and diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream…I did not send them, declares the Lord.”…instead, “pray to the Lord on its behalf”…pray for your city…

So where is the “traffic jam” you ask…well, above a reminder of Jeremiah 29…and Our Daily Breadalso, in my September, Our Daily Bread devotional…there was one item I read…ahead of schedule, I guess…I mean it was not to be read yesterday…but somehow I was led to read it (part of the “traffic jam”) to ready myself for this discussion…the topic…”When Discouraged About Evil”…it said in part this: “Thank you, Lord, that the forces of evil, which have taken center stage in this world, are only a small part of the real drama. Forgive me for judging the entire performance by one short scene. Thank You for the past, which show me the work You have done; for the present, which give me a chance to participate in the work You are still doing; and for the future, which will reveal the work You have accomplished. When I become discouraged about the evil that is so visible, remind me of the heavenly forces working behind the scenes to bring about Your plan for the ages.”

Second, the missionary said, “Don’t be more impressed with Satan than you are with God”…I Peter 5:8…”Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”…There are victories to be won in the Christian life, but not if we concentrate on Satan’s frightening roar….be strong…I Peter five eight

And part of the traffic jam, comes from a 1993 newsletter…John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”…”Remember this verse when things look hopeless…We’re going to be alright. It’s the gates of hell that are in for rough times.”John fourteen one

And Third, “Where God guides, God provides”…in whatever the circumstances of life…as we follow Him and do His bidding…we will see His Hand in our lives…leading, sometime into troubled situations…yet He will see us through…I have seen it over and over in my 75 years…and even those who do not believe in a God like I describe…and if they have “some years” over which to see their life, they too can but wonder how “all this just happened”…God Gudes, God Provides

So let me put this together…in our discussion of our times, a traffic jam of ideas have flowed into a way to view and a way to live…I remember a day, many years ago now…Judie and I were just married…it was 1963 and we were moving to Mankato, Minnesota, where I was going to finish my undergraduate degree…I remember the Lord speaking to me about the years ahead…and the immediate time ahead of us…I was alone…and I got down on my knees by our bed…and prayed that God would lead us, would make me the kind of husband He wanted me to be…and the leader He wanted me to be…and I promised Him then, that no matter what came our way, I would always believe…I asked Him to give me the strength to stand up to all attacks…and I promised that I would always believe, even if people could prove that God didn’t exist…I would still believe…and would believe His Word to be true…and those things would guide my and Judie’s life together…

And you know…all these years later, 54 years…that is still true for us…there have been many challenges over those years, but God has been faithful…and still today…He is faithful…hey, He even uses “The Traffic Jam of ideas” to get my attention off me, and on to Him…He will get us through all the anger, fear, the upsetting ideas and evil that stalks our lives today…May God Bless You Today…

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

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