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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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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Your Roving Reporter

I guess for a sense of what all happened on Jeremy’s vacation…I should write about what came before…it is more for “my” not forgetting than anything else…but it shows what steps we needed to take to get to the results that happened…in this case, finding Jeremy’s  tumor…as he has said, to “get this thing out of me.”…so now the steps we took…

Most of you know by now that Jeremy had a malignant brain tumor when he was two and a half…he had surgery…radiation…chemotherapy…and all kinds of “things” to get him to this point…he is now 41…he has some handicaps but on the whole, with certain meds, he is quite healthy…we just need to keep on top of his health…like all of us do, but with him we need to be a little more vigilant…

In the past few years we have notice his right cheek being more “puffed up”…

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When I go back to January, 1973…and Jeremy’s original surgery to take out the tumor in the back of his head…it turned out to be a malignant brain tumor…and when he was brought back to his room…and they put him in his bed…he was 2 1/2 years old at the time…his head was bandaged all around…he had tubes here and there…he was still basically, “out of it”…I mean, he had just had brain surgery…but what I did then was something I did all the time…and his answer was the same as it always was…I said, “How ya doin’ Jeremy?”…and he said, as he always did, “Fine”…

That was Jeremy…that was his character, positive and upbeat…and over 40 years Jeremy walking Ranch 2016.jpglater to his last day…he was the same…I mean, he was a courageous person…(I wanted to say, “kid”…because I always referred to him as “my kid”, in the most honoring and loving way)…okay, he was a courageous kid…his character was without blemish…he was, as someone called King David, in the Old Testament, “a good repenter”…if he ever did something wrong, when confronted, he never did it again…(I mean, Jeremy bit his kindergarten teacher…his Mom made sure he never did that again)…

He was a special kid…just yesterday, Judie and I were talking about Jeremy…yup, we still do that…and plan to whenever we feel like it…it is part of our grieving, or moreWaco and Ranch 2016 correctly, part of our honoring and celebrating a wonderful son…but as we talked about him…I stopped for a moment and asked Judie, “Are we over-the-top, with our view of Jeremy?”…I mean, all the descriptors of Jeremy we think of, are so positive…he was such a good son, good person…everyone loved him…he was kind, generous, loyal, had deep faith and on and on…just a good person…

But Judie and I both agreed that he was all that…we stopped to think, Jeremy lived with us for all his almost 47 years…through all his growing up years, teen years, adult years…through sickness and surgeries…we were with him to everyone of his doctor visits, school years…his work years…ALL his years…we knew more about him than anyone could know…he was just a good kid…and he was ours…we still are honored to be his parents…(and a bit proud too)…

We are giving ourselves time…we still find ourselves just start crying when we are Jeremy and Jess pool 2000016reminded of something or see something, that is related to Jeremy…I think that is okay…everything we read about this kind of loss tells us to do so…just last weekend, Jess, Jennifer and Julia came down to Little Rock from Minneapolis for Megan and Lamar’s wedding…as they were in our home, we went in to look at Jeremy’s room…most things have changed, but a few things remain…like pictures on the wall and some of his truck collection…but on the wall was a picture of Jess and Jeremy in a pool…we all talked about the year it was taken…we had guesses but Judie took it off the wall…took off the back to see if there was a date, it was the year 2000…as she took it off, there was a note folded up behind the picture…I will add both the Jeremy and Jess pool 2000-2017picture and note here…as Jess opened the note…he said, “It’s from me.”…and he broke down…well, we all broke down (as I am, as I write this)…it was that kind of moment…finding something in that way, in that moment…it was wonderful…all this to tell you how tears just come at certain times…unplanned and sometime surprising…

Thinking about unplanned things…a couple of weeks before Jeremy died, we took a road trip to Minnesota for my brother’s funeral…we stayed at Jess and Jennifer’s while we were there…Jeremy was struggling with some of his issues then…we had to be with him all the time…choking, passing out, help with walking, etc…but he just couldn’t wait to go…he loved road trips…and we hadn’t been on one in some time…but we felt we needed to go…one of the last mornings there, we were going to leave a little early…meaning mid-morning…it took Jeremy some time to “get going” Jeremy and Duke 2in the morning…while we were near the door to leave…I was by the door and Judie was near Jeremy…I could see Jeremy was “going”…meaning passing out…Jess has a lab (will add a picture) named Duke…he and Jeremy “hit it off”…best buds…the dog was nearer to me…but as Jeremy was “going”…he would stare…Duke growled, something he has never done…but he knew something was wrong with Jeremy…Judie caught Jeremy and we sat him down…and Duke came right over and put his head in Jeremy’s lap…the picture is right after all this happened…what a great picture of both of them…great memories…

Jeremy had a wonderful way with not only dogs, but with kids…they seemed drawn to him…little kids would look at him…no doubt he was unusual to look at, but it never bothered Jeremy…he would turn it around…and go up to them and talk to them or joke with them…they were his best customers at Cub Foods in Minnesota Jeremy and Madi Christmas 2016and Kroger in Little Rock…and Madi, our great granddaughter loved him in the same way…(here they are at Jared and Marisa’s Christmas, 2016)…as those kids in the store, that he would ask if he would give the crying child a piece of candy to soothe them…Mothers would thank him for caring…

Jeremy will live on in so many ways…

Posted by: Jim E | April 19, 2017

Some “Jeremy Stories”…And Stuff…

A little more about Jeremy in this post…it is impossible to go through a day without something reminding us about him…yesterday we went to the dentist for our checkup and cleaning…I was first on the list, Judie followed…as I checked out at the desk, telling her that Judie would be paying for both of us after she was finished…I then asked her about Jeremy’s bill…he had gone in for his checkup last month, so I knew he had a bill there…I asked, “Jeremy has a bill.”…she said, “It’s been taken care of.”…they knew of Jeremy’s passing, in fact the doctor and his wife came to Jeremy’s visitation…but it struck me as a wonderful tribute to our son…Jeremy one of the last pictures013

I thanked her…turned and walked away…now, let me tell you, both Judie and I are on the edge of tears when it comes to Jeremy…and being reminded of something about him, triggers it…so as I walked away, I was already tearing up…but as I got out to the car…I just broke down and sobbed…I can’t exactly explain it…but it happens yet…after a month has gone by…we still mourn Jeremy…we miss him…think of him often…talk about him many times…we are okay, really, but we are taking our time in healing…and will never forget Jeremy and what he was in our lives…

Oh, we are upbeat…I go back to the day of his death…we made the decision early that morning…about 4:30 a.m., that we would celebrate his life…and that week of the funeral, it went just like I wanted it…did I plan it all, no, but it went the way I wanted to celebrate his life…we got emails, cards, and online messages from Jeremy’s past, and present…from elementary and high school teachers and coaches…from customers at Cub Foods in Andover, MN…from Kroger, here in Little Rock, AR…fellow workers at Cub and Kroger…doctors who knew him from Mayo Clinic to here in Little Rock…Judie got a call from his dermatologist, at 8:00 one morning…the Chevy dealership here in Little Rock, who knew Jeremy so well, when I went in for an oil change, etc…said, “No charge.”…it goes on and on…Jeremy was special…and so are all these people and more that I have not mentioned…they were God’s gift to Jeremy…

Little things mean a lot…a name of an old song, but also a true statement…so many have wanted Jeremy’s funeral bulletin, and the service, and the posts about his life…Judie has sent out many over the past weeks…

When I pass by Jeremy’s room, I wave…and maybe say something…the room has changed from what it was when he was here…but it will always be Jeremy’s Room…how can it be anything but…there is a new hardwood floor, something that Jeremy's room updated 2017was going to be done for him by his brother, Jess, even before his died…but we have changed a number of things…there is no bed, but a hide-a-bed…most of his truck collection is put away, until we decide what to do with all of them…we left some of his things on the wall, and some trucks on the special shelves up high…I will attach a picture to show some of it…also a rug on the floor…but whatever we have done…it is still Jeremy’s room…

My mind goes back often to the morning of March 19th…sometimes I beat myself up a bit…and say to Jeremy, in my mind…”Did I miss something”…”I wish I could have done more”…”We got you though all kinds of problems over the years, but failed you this time”…but I know that is not healthy to think that way…we know now that too many “things” were coming together…too many “things” for us to “get hold of”…and all these things came together that morning…as I told some since that day, all the doctors in Little Rock, and add all the doctors from Mayo Clinic, could not have brought Jeremy back that morning…we believe God took him that day to save him from a near future that none of us would like to have seen him go through…

But at the same time, we miss him…his humor…his zest for living…his deep faith…his character…his courage…on the Thursday morning before he died, and we found he had fallen, between the toilet and the wall…(a few months before Jared, his brother, had helped update his bathroom…a new toilet, grab bars, etc.)…when we went in that morning, Jeremy was hanging on to the grab bar with both hands…when I got to him he was shivering, we don’t know how long he was hanging on…I picked him up and held him…I had to peal his hands off the grab bar…for a split second, I thought how proud Jared would be that Jeremy used the grab bar he put up…and so proud his brothers would be of how Jeremy had not lost the courage and strength to hang on…I held Jeremy that morning and told him, “Dad’s got ya.”…put him back to bed…the rest is still fresh in my mind…

Jeremy knew he had certain handicaps…he nor we, as his parents, ever mentioned them or talked about them…we just dealt with them…of course he did too, everyday…what strength of character…he compensated for what he did not have…I have a picture of him opening up his gifts at his 46th birthday, almost one year ago…how great he looked…he was having some problems but not like later in the Jeremy opening gifts012year…the picture is wonderful to show how he, with humor, and wit…mostly non-verbal…dealt with this situation…he, like his Dad, I guess…thought cards were a waste of money…but also he gave up reading them long ago!…he had some reading difficulties but also he found it a waste of time…”Let’s get to the gifts!”…if you know what I mean…so check out the picture…notice the card…and the wry smile…that was the Jeremy we all knew…

So how could we forget him…our son, my hero, my example for life…my best friend…

Posted by: Jim E | April 12, 2017

Gentle and Sweet, Kind and Friendly: With a Twist…

Jeremy has been gone now for about three and a half weeks…it seems its not that long ago…and for Judie and I, there is something in us that doesn’t want time to go by…there is something in time that dulls the senses…life does go on and what I have always called the “post hotdish syndrome” sets in…for those of you “not” from Minnesota, a “hotdish” is casserole elsewhere…so now maybe you may understand what I mean…when the “freshness” of the loss goes away and all of us go on with our lives…for those who have had the loss, the loss goes on…and with us, we want to remember…for a while…don’t want the freshness of it to go away…not just yet…we miss him…Grieving...Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

So please let me meander a bit longer about Jeremy…

During, what I call, Jeremy’s “heyday” or when he was at his peak…it was back in Minnesota…he was working at CUB Foods in Andover, MN…he was driving his truck to work everyday…(a full-size Chevy pickup and then later, a Chevy S10, victory red)…up at 5:00 a.m., all on his own…worked and drove home to his dog…mowing the lawn, or other chores, he owned, the chores, I mean…maybe going fishing withJeremy and Dad, fish fry in the garage... his Dad…a lot of, who’s going to catch the first fish, the biggest fish…and of course a fish fry…and so much more in his busy life, that was then…it was great, and he enjoyed it all…

We moved to Arkansas in 2007…Jeremy was all for the move…he had to leave his job at CUB Foods, and that was hard…but if anything Jeremy was resilient…he was ready for the new surrounding…but although he was in favor of the move, still there was a difference going on in his life…he was still Jeremy, that is he was upbeat, happy, enjoying life…but as we look back, we wonder if there were some changes he was aware of and we were not…

Jeremy decided not to drive anymore, when we moved…we took him around and had him drive so he would feel comfortable…but he just didn’t have that desire to drive…and after driving for over 10 years in Minnesota, he chose not to in these new surroundings…just never felt comfortable…I never knew exactly why, nor did he tell us…he got a job at Kroger Foods…and loved his job…wanted to work, loved the benefits of working…he loved the people at work…and just like at CUB Foods, they loved him in return…

About a year ago, when he had his series of strokes, he couldn’t work because of the damage…it was hard on him…when the doctors said he couldn’t work, he was okay with that, but later he asked us, “When can I go back to work?”…a year before when he had his first stroke, he was left with his right hand numb and some other minor damage…it had effected his stamina, some thinking ability, his speaking…and I told him, “Many people go to work everyday, with handicaps.”…but Jeremy was not one who needed that encouragement…never once did he use any of his problems to miss work…when he had a accident at work and needed a change of clothes…I found it amazing, Judie went in with his clothes and helped him to get cleaned up…and I thought he would want to come home…Nope, “I have to go back to work.”…his hours were not over…and he would not miss work…Jeremy at Kroger

There were times when I dropped him off at work…he was having some struggles with “punching in” on the clock and other work things…and many times I wondered if he would just come back to the car and ask to go home…but that was me thinking, not Jeremy…he never even looked back at me…he just went into work…

As I wrote to a friend just this morning…yes, this was Jeremy “Gentle and Sweet, Kind and Friendly”:

…when Jeremy was very young and we had people over for coffee or something to eat after church or maybe a special event like a Christmas party, etc…I would notice Jeremy would “work the crowd”…as his mother was very capable in doing…he would be talking to someone, didn’t matter who…and all the sudden he would be in his lap…talking away, like someone he had known for years…they didn’t ask him to sit in their lap…just all the sudden he was there…or when as a 40 some years old, slipping his hand in one of his brothers hands, and it didn’t seem odd…how do you think his brother felt?…loved…
 
And this was true of him all of his life…he made friends easily…and when one of his brothers or his Mom or Dad had friends, they were his too…and treated them that way…at work, even after his death…customers came to the reviewal and funeral…sent cards and online greetings, about how Jeremy treated them and things he did for them…and some, they just loved him…that, of course, was a gift…
 
Jeremy used that gift to his advantage…he may have only been 4′ 9″…but he might as well have been 6′ 5″…and in his own eyes, he was…he didn’t use his handicap as a way to take advantage of people…he used it to serve people and make people take notice…he was different, the kind of difference Peter talked about…being “…a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” I Peter 2:9…
 
So you are so right, he had that gift, it was natural to be friendly to all…and all were welcomed into his life…it was wonderful to see, when he had so many handicaps…and people saw them, but who he was, spoke so loud, they forgot about them…and most surrendered to the love that the Lord put in his life…and he let it out…C. S. Lewis said it something like this, “To love at all, is to be vulnerable.”…Jeremy took that to heart, and acted it out…he was special…”
Jeremy was something…even in his last months…it used to be that when we walked in a store or to church, really anywhere…he was always ahead…but in these last months, he was very slow in walking, and he walked right behind me…I couldn’t see him without stopping a looking around…he would see me trying to see him, and would say, “I’m comin’, I’m comin'”…he just never gave up…
In years past Jeremy did his own checkbook, but hasn’t been able to for a few years…but every once in a while he would go into the my office and look at his Jeremy's figures in checkbook, his last weekcheckbook and do some “figuring”, never said why…but must of gave him the information he wanted…just the last week of his life, he did the same…looked at Judie and my checkbook instead…wrote down some stuff…he had lost his writing skills by this time…but I will keep that record of his “figuring”…so sweet…he just kept going…
When Jeremy was discovered with a malignant brain tumor when he was two and a half…and all the chemotherapy and radiation that came with that…there were many times we were told that he would not live…he fooled them all, of course…he didn’t die in the first few months or even years…the Lord gave him 46, almost 47 years…there were many surgeries and doctors visits along the way, but he was up to it…he gave his all…I was working at a high school in near Minneapolis at the time and I asked our art teacher if there was a student who would paint something for me…paint living things, animals, children…all surrounding a quotation I had…and so a student, in 1972 painted this watercolor, I will share with you now…
It is on the wall in my office right now…it means more to me now than even before…we are finite…each of us are beautiful, unique and here for a very short time…that was Jeremy…Jeremy's artwork done 1972 3
Jeremy was unique for sure…he was gentle and sweet, kind and friendly…and he did have a sense of humor, sometimes cynical, sometimes sarcastic, but funny…and it was with him until the end of his life…he could connect with children as well as adults…whereas Madi, our Great Granddaughter, who is one year old, will still not come to me…(who can blame her)…with Jeremy, it was kisses and hugs…(I guess, who can blame her)…Jeremy and Madi.PNG
Jeremy, you are loved and will not be forgotten…
 

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