Saturday, May 30, 2009

His Three Time Zones

Mike also has three time zones that he’s moving through from time to time.

The present, right now, what’s going on.

He’s weaning himself away from his law practice….despite valiant efforts by Jeremy the Angel to lock the door on May 1, Mike hung onto several cases that he just HAD to finish. There are two (were two, now one) for which he said he has a moral obligation to see to completion. Those lucky clients are getting the last and best of his legal skills.

And there are a few odds and ends, but just a few, in the locking of the office building. We have not disconnected the phone as yet and one administrative assistant is still on site. Our bookkeeper is also recalibrating withholding taxes and paying bills. It’s not that it NEVER ends but just not quite yet. Mike says that June 16 is the last day, the absolute last day, and I can help with the final once over. Then, we hand the key and the deed to our friend Van, who directs the Kokomo Rescue Mission. They will get our building and the parking lot, making the entire block which was once Bolinger now part of this mission.

We are filling our days with day-to-day. In addition to crafting a few more pieces of furniture in his shop, Mike uncovered another project, this one in the garage, one that has been festering for years. A friend ‘loaned’ him the shell of a Lotus because Mike offered to restore it.

I write here about things I do not understand. I have helped move the shell, lift the shell, upend the shell, and hold parts of shell together so bolts join parts. Today, it looks a bit more like an automobile, in a shell-kind-of-way. There’s a steering wheel and it’s attached to a column. No engine, no tires, no wiring as of yet. Yet.

And in Mike’s present, we are sharing sweet moments. At times, we are almost two halves of a whole, sensitive to thoughts and actions. We give voice to important things. We pray together. We laugh together. We share tears. And then more laughing. Always, we need to come back to that.

Coming time, the dying time.

Mike says that about every 10 minutes, he slips into this zone and it makes him ‘so sad.’ What will it be like? Who will be there? Will there be pain? It’s both natural and pointless to linger here so my job is to reassure him that I will be with him and, more importantly, God will be with him, and we are not there yet.

And then, the great future time.

Pastor Mark gave us a book by Randy Alcorn called Heaven. It contains intriguing topics like “What is life like in Heaven right now?” “What are the saints doing in Heaven right now?”

Alcorn has challenged some of my long-held beliefs, based on scripture, yes, but also my more metaphoric, symbolic reading of scripture. Using the same texts, he builds a case not to refute but to suggest that a more tangible reality exists in the next plane.

We talk about heaven. Who will he want to see? Who will be there to greet him? We know that Jesus will open His arms to this child. Also, we envision his dad, my dad, our son and…we both came to this...our favorite Wheaton professor, Dr. Joe McClatchey. As we talk, we can see their faces, each with its individual smiling personality, waving in the newest resident.

My brother-in-law mentioned today that as long as he has known Mike…they are childhood friends…everything has always been about competition and Mike always had to be first. They played baseball, they roofed houses, they collected the city trash, it was always a contest. “And look,” he said, “again, Mike’s going to be first.”

Mike looked across at me one day and said, “I’m going to miss you so much.”
Tears on both sides.
And then, God gave me this.
“You know, you won’t. And in God’s time, it’ll be a snap of the fingers and I’ll be with you again.”

My special privilege is to walk this path toward heaven with my husband. I will come closer than many people and, most probably, return to my normal attention. Will it leave me changed? I believe it will.

As we face Mike’s death, we find that we are distilling life to its essence. Most things that are normal concerns land in the trivial pile. Life is about the people that we love. Hold them close.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

5/28/09 PM

Greetings from the kitchen table in Kokomo.

And thanks for all the prayers. God is good. And His will today was that our concern was minor.

We drove to Indianapolis and saw surgeon...actually one of his residents as he was in emergency surgery. However, even though he works with students and residents, it's clear to everybody that he is the boss.

Resident questioned Mike about the redness....better today than yesterday.
Resident prodded, plied, poked...and found that there was one radiating spot.
Resident spoke to surgeon and they think that this is not surgical infection, that it is too far removed, date wise, from surgery to be showing up now.

They think that it's cellulitis and that it will clear up with antibiotic. We are to call back in three days, no matter what and we are to come right back down if it does NOT get better. Even at that, they think it may be some fluid pooling around the incision. (glad you asked?)

Before we left Indianapolis, they took some more blood. Mike confessed that each time they do this, it takes him a few days to recover. He's not talking about the blood loss...each test is a reminder of what will come, of what lies ahead. I have to pull him back to the NOW.

So, we are home and we are awash in your prayers and God's goodness.

Good night all. LB

5/28/09 AM

Good morning, my friends. As this is a most efficient way to reach you....

We are planning a drive to Indianapolis this AM. Mike's incision, all healed, began to grow red, swollen, hot, hard, and painful. Home doctoring has not corrected it, nor has time.....nor has the beginning of oral antibiotics.

Yesterday, we went to oncology center which is now our doctors' office. Upon examination, they want us to revisit the surgeon. We are good patients and will do so.

It may be necessary for Mike to stay at hospital over night....don't know, am relying on bits and pieces of 'this may happen.' THAT will be upsetting....we really have had enough of hospitals, see earliest post. But we will do what must be done.

If, in fact, this is an infection...and all of you moms at least have made that diagnosis...he will feel much better when it is addressed. But as so many of you have asked for specific prayer when we need it, here you go.

Thanks my friends. I'll keep you posted. LB

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Living in Three Time Zones

These days, I’m living in three time zones. I find myself moving back and forth in dizzying motions, trying to keep a firm footing.

The Present.
I am living with my husband, the love of my life, my absolute soul mate who loves me so much I can hardly stand it. He tells me at least hourly how much I mean to him. He recounts the good times we’ve had and are having right now.

We are feeling our way through retirement, an unfamiliar land. This morning, I drove to the local place to get some coffee and a newspaper. It was about 7:45. Everybody else in the shop was dressed for work, make-up on, hair arranged, ties tied. It was as though I was watching them on television, a show called Working People.

Right now, Mike’s sitting across from me, thumping out some blues melody on his guitar. We just had a great breakfast (he cooks) and some random laundry is tumbling in the dryer.

In the present, we are going about our day with a bit more relish. Life is normal and would be almost mundane. But there’s that whisper that THIS might be the LAST time we DO whatever together.

I want to live in the present. My husband is here, he’s smiling at me, he’s reading to me from books, he’s laughing at my jokes. He even likes my current writing topics. We are not giving audience to regrets. We will not even talk about them. We savor the now.

The not-too-distant future. God made us planners. We can’t turn that off so I’m planning a funeral. Few get the chance to think and plan and it probably doesn’t matter in the end. But I see I have an opportunity to do this in a way that would please my husband and the family and the community of faith.

I spent some thoughtful time collecting photographs that represent Mike’s life. Few were digital so a friend scanned them and saved them to a CD. I delivered the CD to another friend, a man with great talent, who is preparing a slide show that will be played some day. And I will get copies for those who want one.

I’ve prepared a framed memento for family members that they will receive at Mike’s exit from this life.

I’ve visited our local newspaper and got the OBIT form, just for a starting point. I’m writing my husband’s obituary. Whether or not we use my composition, it gives me a strange peace to work on this.

I began visiting this time zone shortly after our diagnosis. In recent weeks, I’ve told Mike about my activities. At first, he was unsettled about my writing his obit. But his interest began to grow and now he stands over my shoulder, adding, correcting and editing. He may want to see the slide show.

He’s fueled this time zone by picking out his burial suit. He went to the community cemetery and remembered that there are places by his dad so he’s picked his spot.

We hold brief, almost comical discussions. We still have his stuffed animal from babyhood. It’s named Dogger although time has rendered it into a more generic shape. “Shall we tuck that in at the end?” Come and see.

The more-distant-future. The life I will lead alone….yes I know, I won’t be alone. But he will not be with me. How will I ever get used to that? Friends have swooped in, some with questions. “Will you move away? Will you go back to teaching? What will you do with your house? What will you do with the cottage? What will you do with blah blah blah blah blah?”

I don’t know. Right now, I don’t care. Right now, I want to go back to the present, thank you.

But again, as planners, we can’t just leave the future in a vague black hole when we’ve been given some time. So again, my dear husband has been busy, doing what he can to cushion the future for me. He has corralled trusted friends with specific skills to help me. I have people I can call upon for spiritual, financial, emotional, physical, and legal help.

Mike will occasionally say something about what he’d like to happen and then will quickly add, “But I don’t really care. I won’t be here.”

True in some ways. But he will always be here, in my heart and mind and memory until those faculties fail.

So let me get back to the present. What a beautiful spring day!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hands and Feet of Jesus

We live in a quiet, older neighborhood with unique homes and carefully maintained lawns. One neighbor uses--I’m sure I saw this--a nail clipper to trim around his sidewalk. Many employ chemical specialists to kill what should be killed and nourish what needs to be nourished. And everybody waters religiously.

Our next door neighbor, a man of infinite optimism, owns every tool known to man AND he is eager to loan them and/or come over to play. Need a pole tree trimmer? Got it. Got three. How about a 27-foot manual pole saw? Sure. He’s got a shorter one AND a taller one. Need an alligator lopper? Doesn’t everyone? Here he comes, all smiles. He LOVES to lop.

For years, I have paid one of his teenagers to mow down the acre of grass that is ours. More than a few times, I’ve spied the dad, riding on one of his toys, sucking up grass clippings with another toy, zipping up and down our sidewalks with a digital, state-of-the-art edging tool.

When it comes to the yard, we are the mutts of the neighborhood. Somewhere in our liberal arts background, neither of us ever got the hang of lawn maintenance. We would make occasional half-hearted efforts, relying on what we learned from TV or a salesman at a lawn shop.

One such effort is called the MONSTER TAKES OVER episode. Frustrated by weeds in rather sad landscaping, I went with my mother’s suggestion. (We always blame moms, don’t we?) She was relocating to Florida from Michigan and said, “I have this wonderful ground cover. You just put a few sprigs in and it will fill in everywhere. It’s so easy (MAGIC WORD); you don’t have to do anything (MORE MAGIC); it doesn’t need to be watered. (BRILLIANT) "

Its friendly name is Snow-on-the-Mountain. I took a few sprigs home, plopped them in the ground and marveled, first that I did not kill them. Then in the spring, they came up again and spread a bit. Same thing next spring and on and on until the entire circle under our blue spruce was filled with the variegated ground cover. I foolishly figured that it had no where else to go and so was done. WRONG. It took on a life of its own, twining up the spruce until it choked it. Then it headed for the rest of the shrubbery. Then, it jumped over the edging and began to eat the grass.

I got frantic because even with my contacts out, I could see I had a mess on my hands. I employed a local green house to rip rip rip it out and plant some nice things to take its place. Alas, even through heavy mulch, little sprigs kept popping through. “You may need to go at it again with Roundup.” Understatement. The monster did not want to die. What a sturdy little plant.

I used to say that after a nuclear attack, we’ll still have rats and cockroaches. I add Snow-on-the-Mountain. And those rodents better watch out!

I’m betting some people think we like our lawn all shabby and spotty. So it was a brave guy who asked if we needed any help. This was in the context of gracious brothers and sisters offering all sorts of help to Mike and me.

We are told to serve each other. I was looking for the specific quote about being the hands and feet of Christ. Perhaps one of my brilliant friends can help. What I DID find was Galatians 6: 1 -3 where we are reminded that we need to help each other.

When the news of Mike’s illness spread, we received so many offers of help. Trying to be sensitive, many would ask what we needed. To be honest, it was (and is) hard to process. Some people just stepped up and provided what they knew we needed. A relevation.

So it was that friend Sheila reminded me that our church has many small groups who want to help. “Anything you need. Lawn mowed, Gutters cleaned, anything.”

On the heels of that offer, I came home to see the hub, on shaky legs, trying to climb up a ladder to clean out gutters. “Hm,’ thought I. “There are people who would do this for us.” So I called Sheila and she got the ball rolling.

Sunday after church, a small group of men descended on our house. They discovered that the gutters looked pretty clean….Mike had recovered and had done the deed himself. But they noticed some bald spots in the yard next to the new curbs we got from the city. Might I like them to plant some grass? Well, sure that would be nice.

Left to us, I’m betting those spots would remain bald. We came home to cultivated, seeded areas of lawn. A call to me mentioned, ever so gently, that it was going to be dry so I might want to water the grass. I said I would, for sure.

“We wondered if you’d like us to mulch.” Wow. Yes. That would be great. “We meet on Wednesday mornings at 6:30. Would we bother you if we came then?”
Well, no not at all.

So early Wednesday morning two pick ups pulled up, a little army of young men descended and within an hour, our yard was standing tall. Then I heard it, the sound of running water. One of them decided the new grass needed a little drink.

Our neighbors have got to laugh. “Look what it took for the Bolingers to get their yard looking so good.”

No matter. The hands and feet of Jesus were covered in mulch this week. Thank you , friends, for taking such good care of us.

Just like normal

There he is, standing in the hardware aisle at Lowes, pulling out the little drawer, examining contents, measuring, fiddling, pushing the draw back in and moving down to the next drawer.

He’s in his lake finery: a baggy pair of red floral shorts, the over-sized teal blue T and boat shoes, thankfully no socks. As is my habit when we go to the building superstore, I had been wandering in more interesting places and then had to find my husband. This means walking perpendicular to the long aisles, turning my head back and forth to find him and to keep from bumping into others.

The quest today is an odd piece of metal/bolt/rod/U-ring to fix what’s broken on our ancient boat lift. From all accounts, the contraption was built sometime after the Ark hit dry land but before the Titanic NEVER saw dry land again. Yesterday, as darling nephew Micah was trying to help, the cable broke. He waved his bloody palm around and said (let me translate here), “Man oh man oh man. This funny cable broke.”

So to replace the cable, the lift had to be lifted. Upon examination of pulleys and such, it was determined that “this thing has NEVER been right.” Oh boy! A trip to Lowes!

First, however, we must remove some thickly-covered bolts, coated with lake, lake stuff, lake crud, ancient marine life, and more lake. The task began with much spraying of WD40 and scrubbing with a wire brush. AND, the emergence of the Popular Mechanics Ratchet and Socket Set. More about this later.

Much ratcheting, scrubbing, more spraying, and a few choice descriptions of how difficult the task at hand. Eventually they resorted to banging on metal. As THIS is a homing device to other men, a crowd gathered, each guy with suggestions, stories of legendary battles with bolts and always, offers to help with the metal banging.

Some bolts surrendered. Some will meet their fate, I believe, with a beast called Sawzall. That will be tomorrow.

Our family contains a great many men whose talents lie in the fixing of machines and such through unorthodox means. Recently one nephew rigged his car to run on the left over cooking oil from local restaurants. His drive way smells like Mickie Dees but the car runs on free fuel. His successes are legendary and he gives hope to anyone who ever wanted to try something strange to fix something broken beyond repair.

So the trip to Lowes this time. They do not have want we need. They do not have anything that fits the measurement. But, I believe we will try to squeeze, or cut, or bend (or bang) a metal piece into place.

My job for all of this is to sit, offer words of encouragement, nod and eye the progress with admiration and MOST OF ALL, stay at least 3 feet away from the Popular Mechanics Ratchet and Socket Set.

It is housed in a gray plastic case, about 12” x 5”. Inside, in the middle, lies the ratchet. Lining its bed are 14 sockets in graduating sizes, all shiny and stainless steel. Well, there are 13 because once, long, long ago, someone left the case open and I walked past it, tripped, upended it on the pier and one socket fell between the spaces on the pier and so joined several pairs of Oakley’s, some fine dog toys, a few visors, car keys and coins on the bottom of our part of Winona Lake.

From my perspective, of course I feel bad that my stumble cost one socket. In fairness to me, it was almost 6 feet below my line of vision. What with all the slots on a pier, it was only ONE…it could have been more. Also, there are so many sockets, what’s one more or less? BUT I have entered the family legend lexicon. “Watch out for Aunt Lynne…she knocked a socket into the lake.” Anytime that Popular Mechanics Ratchet and Socket Set is opened…and it seems like it is an essential part of life, like breathing, because we open it often….someone, usually a man, will notice that we are missing one socket. All family eyes turn to me.

Here’s the thing. Today is a normal day at the lake. What a treasure THAT is.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Friday Greetings from the cottage on Memorial Weekend. Today we enjoyed 85 degree sun with a light breeze across the lake. The loud sounds are the hums of lawn mowers and boat engines. Birds are swooping from tree to tree; squirrels scamper across the road and up the tree. Neighbors stroll by. Lemonade. Ice Cream. And then the sunset. Whew! What a day.

Over the years our kids have brought friends up for this weekend. How many times did we spend it hunkered down in the house, rain and wind and the temperature in the miserable 50s? One year, Allyson and three girlfriends donned their swimsuits and had us photograph them jumping from the pier. It looked like your basic summer fun shot. In reality, as soon as they hit the water, their collective shrieks sent ripples across the lake. They jumped right out, ran to the cottage and dove into a hot shower.

We had our doctor's appointment Friday. As it was the third time, we had settled into a routine. Blood work on Monday and then the Doctor tells us things look good. So this week, we expected the same, maybe better. In the last week, Mike has decreased his pain medication and his appetite picked up. I made several midnight toast runs to the kitchen and during the day, between meals, he downed milkshakes and cookies and other goodies. (And, by the way, THANKS for unexpected goodies. They just keep showing up.)

So, we arrived for that appointment, full of optimism and a bet as to how much weight he had gained back. A new nurse came out and said, “Mr. Bolinger, we need some blood work.”

“But I already had some on Monday.”

“Well, we need to check it again.”

CRASH. We did not discuss this but we’ve melded into a single-thinking entity. “Why are they checking again? Did the doctor not like something? Did she see something (something bad) and wants to confirm it? This can’t be good. Oh no oh no oh no. Not yet.”

We walked back to the blood room. The nurse did her little cross check with name/birthday. Mike asked her again, “Why are they rechecking?”

“I don’t know.”

Had she known, had the report right in front of her said, in big letters, THIS IS WHY WE’RE DOING THIS, she would have still answered the same. By the way, as she was across the room, I craned my neck to see if there WAS anything written in words I could understand.


So, now unsettled, we walked into the appointment room. There the nurse did HER things..the vitals, the interview…and Mike asked HER, “Why did you need more blood?” She looked puzzled. Then she called someone and then said, “Whoops. Our regular nurse is on vacation and our fill-in did not check her records.”

So….all that turmoil for nothing.

The Doctor breezed in and did HER thing. She answered each and every questions. She checked out something sticking out of Mike’s abdomen….turns out there’s a suture that is working its way out. No, we should NOT be pulling at it. (I nod at the hub)

The Doctor, once again, says that right now, Mike’s blood work looks good. There are no “tumor markers” and we should go have a great weekend.

So we will. Hope all of you enjoy the weekend also.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I have a long-married friend who receives a heart from her husband every Valentine’s Day. She’s got, I’m guessing, 40 variations on this theme.

In this house, we’ve never been much for formal gift days. In our early married years, we were too broke for presents; plus holidays meant breaks from graduate school so THAT was gift enough. Then, the kids arrived and gift attention went into birthdays and Christmas. Even the big V-day in February meant the quick, I-have-to-get-you-something, flowers/chocolates/etc.

I know that sounds unromantic. From my reading, lack of gifting would be a deal breaker in some marriages. What can I say? We are clicking off the days to #35 and we’re really ok with each other in this category.

Even that couples’ holiday, The Anniversary, has usually passed without a lot of fanfare. For our first 5 or 6 celebrations, that day fell right in the middle of final exams and end-of-school frenzy. I would nudge the hub and say, “Hey, we made it another year.” His usual response, “And we’ve confounded the family.”

As for the other prescribed gift expectation days, well, he’s never been too good at dates. He notices that Christmas is coming, what with decorations and music. Sometimes he buys the Christmas present in October which is when the stores begin to decorate. My birthday is December 9 and he usually gets confused that it’s two days earlier…not because of Pearl Harbor Day but because 12/7 is the birthday of his high school sweetie. Why do I know THIS???

As for Valentine’s Day. His staff will remind him. It’s usually flowers that arrive at school with a typed card.

Now, even I might get my feelings hurt if my husband forgot all the holidays that we mark in America by changing the color of the foil wrap on Hershey’s kisses. (Arbor Day, anyone?) But, you see, I am gifted so many more times.

Note to husbands and boyfriends: a woman may expect gifts when merchants say it’s time. But the gift she might treasure most is that sudden, no-reason-I-just-love-you gift that you place in the spot where she will find it.

Bragging here: this is my lot.

When we go shopping at our local better department stores, why is my husband on a first name basis with the Perfume Person, the Lingerie Lady, and Accessory Anne? “Hi Mike. Is this Lynne?” Because they see him coming and fall all over him, helping him pick out just the right thing for his wife. I can’t miss the envy in their eyes as they size up this woman. “What does SHE have that makes HER so special?”

I have him.

Saying that, when medical news grew dark on April 6, it crossed my mind that we might not get to celebrate our next anniversary, on June 8. I’m not one for such negativity but the news on that day was grim. Did I miss the chance for one of those anniversary bashes?

Well, no. (Another blessing. Thank you Father) Barring the unexpected, we will celebrate our 35-year journey in a few weeks. Did we ever expect what an adventure it would be? Well, no. We stepped into the unknown, but we stepped holding hands.

We’re still holding hands.

Friday, May 15, 2009

HE who wins the battle

Teachers know that we must reinforce a lesson, sometimes three and four times for it to stick. When the lesson has to fight through satanic attacks, it may take a few more tries.

As Mike has been healing from surgery, in addition to physical pain, he has battled Satan’s attacks on his thoughts. He has grappled with fear, not just of pain and death, but the most elemental for the Child of God: whether or not he’s really saved, born again, a Christian. And most important, doubts as to whether, as he dies, he will actually step into heaven.

I stand back, mostly powerless to chase these fears away. Mike described it as a wave, a slow moving wave that he can feel sneaking up on him. And then, it washes over him. And then, in its wake, despair. Bleak.

He asked me to send out a prayer request to the troops and they rallied. He also dug out his ‘cards,’ 4 x 6 cards that we had with us at the hospital. One, Romans 8:38 – 39 is most powerful. Mike started waving it around as though he was swatting at the devil. I say, whatever works.

Then, a few days later he said that the wave had stayed away that day. “Do you think it’s because I’m reading the Bible? Do you think it’s because of my cards? Do you think it’s all those prayers?”

Soul mate: Yes, yes, yes.

Now in the midst of this battle, friends have spoken wisdom to Mike. Three different pastors have basically told him the same thing, in different settings and with different styles. Pastor Three penetrated to his heart and, I believe, we are now at peace as to this matter.

Pastor Three (actually One, Two, and few other wise men) asked him to evaluate his battle plan. He mentioned the cards, Bible reading and prayer. Pastor pointed out that this is what Jesus did when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1 – 11) He reminded Mike (and THIS had also been said) that the battle for his soul is already won and that Satan has no power over it. “His only weapon is to attack our thoughts.”

We will cling to this truth. We thank you, our friends, for continuing to pray for us.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Elephant in the Room

Such a cliché. Let me create a new image: the fuchsia chenille easy-chair with chartreuse tassels. Even with the lights dimmed, it’s there. It begs the question, “Where did THIS come from?”

So we are living with the chair. Between doctors’ appointments and medication schedules, we turn our backs and pretend. We toss clothes and blankets over it to disguise it. But it’s there. Garish. Gaudy. Loud. Hard to ignore.

I was reading Dear Abby the other day. A wife was asking Abby to take her side. She and her husband have a long-standing argument about Mother’s Day. The writer complains that her husband does not believe he should give his wife gifts on Mother’s Day, that his duty is to HIS mother, not his wife.

We had that argument once. In fact, when you read about marital spats, there’s really nothing new in most marriages. When you are counting down the days/months, these all seem so trivial. The trivial drifts to far-away locations. Our time here together is focused like a laser on WHAT IS IMPORTANT to people who love each other, who are committed to each other.

And so we go living the daily, the ins and outs, the tasks, the errands with that chair in the corner. And as a long-married couple, we have our ways. In 35 years, we’ve made peace with many of each others’ quirks. We’ve each learned to tolerate little annoyances. But they are STILL annoying.

So what do you do with annoyances if you want to live a normal life? How do you ignore the chair and act like your normal self? I guess you can’t. Normal’s definition is altered.

When this man I love is annoying (for example, and as I type it, I feel guilty..he’s ill, Lynne. Get a grip…he will say something; I will turn to go, get far enough away that I cannot hear and then he will continue with information. This will require a return for a repeat) and I begin to react, he quickly apologizes and then I feel like a rat. Why is it annoying? Can’t I just suck it up and ignore it? I think I should. But I’m human and all. The quirks are part of the man I love. They are sometime I will miss someday.

It makes me crazy. So to WHAT IS IMPORTANT we need to add some fun. Maybe Star Trek. If he takes me to this he really DOES love me….not his cup of tea, ever.

And he DOES love me. Mr. Spock? Are you there?

Music in the House

Yesterday we had music in the house.

First in the voices of grandsons. Their daddy had started back to San Antonio on Sunday when Drew became ill so they turned around. Even with a fever, tylenol made him frisky enough to chase his little brother around the yard.

Second, in the birds and other sounds of spring on a late afternoon, as we sat on the porch enjoying gentle whiffs of air.

Third, sweet music from the workshop as Mike continued to finish a table he started several months ago. It's now stained and the first coat of finish is drying. I told him, "This is the best piece you've made. " He disagreed. "No, the NEXT piece will be the best piece." Sweet, indeed.

And finally, he cracked open a guitar case and fired up the blues.

There is healing in music. It warms the soul, certainly mine.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Secret visitors

We've had secret visitors in the house. They sneek in, unannounced and unobserved, do their thing or leave a goodie, and then they slip away. We've found blessings left by the Pillowcase Posse; Food Brownies have left food (sometimes brownies!) on the counter; and then there is the Ironing Genie, aka my mother-in-law who will now take exception with 'sneek in.'

I really have the world's best mother-in-law who says she learned her skills from her own mother-in-law. Perhaps it's the kind of legacy we should all be trying to preserve. At any rate, she will say, "I never come over unless I'm invited." That is true. SO, she would never 'sneek in.' She corrects me and reminds me that I invited her and the door was open so.......that is not a sneek. I stand corrected. Also, I do not wish to cork this genie.

Mary Ann came over, invited, on a day that Mike was still quite ill. I needed to run a few errands and didn't want to leave him alone. I asked her if she'd be willing to sit with him. "Of course, I'll be right over." What a doll.

While he was asleep, she happened to notice way down in my laundry room that I had some unironed shirts hanging up by the iron. She mentioned this to me as in, "I can't do much but I CAN iron. Would you like me to iron these shirts?"

She spoke cautiously as she was NOT trying to imply that I could not do this myself. "I once volunteered to clean out someone's refrigerator and she got mad."

Note to reader: this was NOT me.

She is also the one who cautioned me, when I was planning to hire a housecleaner, "They'll never do it to your standards."

Excuse me. hahahahahahahahahaha

Mary Ann spent most of her adult life as a professional stay-at-home mom. She reminded me that she spent 40 years ironing shirts (does she think she needs a job recommendation?) and that she spent 7 minutes a shirt.

Think about THAT. She worked her magic on traditional cotton men's dress shirts, made her own liquid starch, and I'm sure timed her work as though she clocked in and out. We don't own that kind of shirt. Perma-press all the way. In fact, in the last few years, I've ponied up bigger bucks for No Iron shirts, some of which really ARE no iron. But even the ones that need some work don't require the kind of effort Mary Ann was accustomed to expending.

I believe her first visit was during a doctor's appointment. We were gone no more than 90 minutes. We returned to the best-ironed shirts we've ever had in THIS house. Hmmmmm. Maybe there is something to that 7-minute thing.

The Genie visited again last week and I believe we can do without ironing now for several weeks.

Mary Ann and I share a love for the sick guy. She has given him much. This month, she gave him professionally ironed shirts.

Good Morning Mothers and Others

So, today is the day. THE day. I'm blessed with both my mother and my mother-in-law, who shall be referred to later as the 'Ironing Genie.'

The cold IS little grandbaby Drew has picked up my virus and last night was running a fever. This may delay Jeremy's return to San Antonio....although we have become accustomed to his help, we really DO need to let him go and besides, I don't want the Drewster to be sick. Since he's 4, soon 5!, we assume he'll be bouncing today.

Our society has concocted a lot of commercial nonsense to Mother's Day. And if we spend enough, I guess we lessen any guilt we may have that we weren't always the best kid and that we did not appreciate the Mom.

I have in front of my a very sweet card with a personal message from my daughter. I won't share its content but suffice it to say that no flowers/chocolate/bunny/bear/stuff can compare.

Mike got a really good night's sleep last night. Finally. I'll wait for his call about going to church. It's still early here and church is at 10. We'll see.

This upcoming week, Mike has that one trial that he just 'must' do; he feels this obligation to this client. This is on Wednesday; it may be all day (his doctor was not enthused) and it is in Wabash, about an hour away. I will be his 1st mate, in all ways possible. Other than that, we will adjust to life AJ (after jeremy), although the J will call in regularly.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Selfish request

Good Morning. It is a beautiful, sunny Saturday in Indiana. There is an awesome, billowing wind. Our normal plan would be to drive up to the lake and enjoy the day. However Mike had a bad night and me? Well.......

I am fighting a cold. It's just a cold. I've had colds before. THIS cold is the worst! When I had breakfast with friend Barb on Wednesday, I remember telling her that it was almost over, based on usual experience. WRONG.

Today I have a huge headache. My throat is raw and my dry cough has become 'productive.' I really DO believe we're turning the corner. However, with the weight of my new responsibilities, these aches and pains are huge. I have my supplies and now that I'm up, the sinuses are cooperating with gravity.

BUT I need to be rid of this so I can help my husband. So today, a selfish request for myself.

Thanks LynneB

Friday, May 8, 2009

Update Friday 5/8/2009

First, we got encouraging news from Mike's doctor on Thursday. His blood work, she said, makes him as healthy as anyone in the room....that included son-in-law, son, the doctor and myself.

A good conversation with the doctor; a decrease in pain medication; a tweak in strategy; and off to Fort Knox.

We drove down, about 200 miles, to witness the graduation of our nephew Matthew Amerson, who is now a member of Delta Company, Second Battalion, 81st Armor regiment.

Parents Steve and Kris (sister), their daughter, some friends and relatives, brother Ken and darling wife Janelle, and we made up the festive celebrants.

We stayed in the Distinguished Visitors' Quarters, just a block from the others. About 100 young men....they look so young...took the oath and began their new careers.

Afterwards, the camp commander and his wife hosted a party for Matthew. Then, we drove back and now we're about out of gas for the day.

I picked up a cold and it is hanging on longer than usual. As soon as I have given Mike his PM meds, I'm going to take MY big drag of Nyquil and call it a day.

Something I'll miss......

I had one of those moments the other day. As is Mike's habit, he nudged me awake to read something to me from what he was reading.

What can I say? That is one of those marital annoyances. His usual genre is War Literature, specifically Obscure Battles of World War II. As I know very little about this conflict, they MAY not be obscure to everybody but then, I'm the audience. And as the nudge comes from the I-Couldn't-Sleep spouse and is delivered to the But-I- AM-Asleep-And-Don't-Care-About-This-Battle spouse, my usual reaction is a groan, moan, eye-roll, some other juvenile response.

However, when I got the nudge the other night, as I started to slip into habitual behavior, it dawned on me that THIS is something I'll miss. I will not have my sleep disturbed by midnight oral reading.

Also, his choice of reading has changed. His stack of books are now the Great Lives series by Chuck Swindoll. He finished Jesus and is in the middle of David.

Swindoll quoted an article by Tony Snow, the commentator/broadcaster who died last year after battling colon cancer. After he finished, he said, "I wonder how I could read the whole article."

Well, I'm not too swift but I DO know a thing or two about on-line research so I fired up the computer, typed in "Tony Snow" and "Cancer's Unexpected Blessings" found the article and printed it out. It was the middle of the night and by now the hub had drifted off so I just lay it among his reading.

The next morning, he was sitting in the lounger reading it. He asked me to sit down, took my hand and read it to me. 3 pages singled-spaced. It took a long time.

And I knew and know, THIS I will miss.

Now, if I knew how to link, this would be the place. But I haven't had that lesson yet so let me encourage you to google what I googled and read this eloquent piece of writing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4, 2009

First Week of May

In Indiana, that could mean snow, warm sun, uncomfortable humidity, rain, tornadoes…all in the same week. This week, we are looking at mild and sunny days and not-too-cool nights. All good. Mike has become sensitive to the cold and I’d like to sit out on our porch and listen to him play his guitar for me.

The news is good. His incision is almost healed and he’s cut way down on his pain medicines. Also, the grogginess has lifted. AND the office is now closed. Well, almost. Son-in-law Jeremy showed steely determination to meet that goal of May 1, prying case files out of his father-in-law’s fingers. He took charge of the great shredding of old files…hired a firm that came with its own equipment, named SHREDASAURUS…much whirring in the alley and off to find other shreds to shred. We have a few loose ends to tie up but not many.

We spent another weekend at the lake. This was the annual “Fat and Skinny Tire Bike Races” which involve a whole day of cyclists circling past our houses. Along the course, folks set up picnic tables with goodies so besides ‘watching the race’ we all enjoy informal progressive meals all day long. Who ‘won?’ Who knows? Who cares?

We are looking forward to driving to Fort Knox on Thursday to see our nephew graduate from tank school. His parents and sister (from California) will join us. Also, my brother and his wife will drive over from Charlotte. We have accommodations on the base.

So what can you pray for this week? Plenty. We will meet with the oncologist on Thursday and she will discuss blood work and options. We need discernment and wisdom as we chart our ongoing course.

Also, attacks from Satan are ongoing. He can smell weakness and will pounce on it. Mike drifts into dark places with doubts, fear, despair: all arrows of the devil. I continue to name names, to try to assure him. But there is no weapon against these attacks except prayer. I am praying that God will show up with the big guns and surround my dear husband, and give him the assurance that he lacks.

A notice to all of my friends who have asked for updates. I’m so pleased to know that our needs are being forwarded and that churches, small groups, prayer circles, and individuals have brought our names before the Father. However, it is a mixed blessing as this list keeps growing.

I had several friends explain how a blog would be an efficient way to reach you. And several offered to teach me the way to make this work. So, with summer coming…that means I lose easy connection with Laura’s Angels, let me introduce my blog.\ See if you can get there.

Thank you, friends. God is a presence in our home.

Easter Evening 4/12/09

(This comes out of order chronologically...but within this small scale e-mail, God was able to show His strength and answers some questions. )

Those joined with us:

Prayer is powerful. We are at peace. Praise God.

We had a good, deep, tearful discussion about the future. We spoke some of what you told us and some of what God has shown us.

Mike will not die alone. Mike will not die in unmanageable pain. Mike will have his wife by his side, from now on, until he's ready to move on.

One of the reasons that our parting will be so hard is that we love each other so much. That's the double-edged sword. But, some people live their whole lives and never experience such a great love for another person. So we are blessed.

So many people are not given the chance to tie up loose ends, to say good bye to family and friends, to savor life's rare time frame and inform others of what ones seen as important when most of the stuff of life is pushed aside. God has given Mike this opportunity. So we are blessed.

We are being held up in the arms of so many; it pleases our Father when His children pray. We are all given pleasure to our Father. So we are blessed.

Our daughter, husband and children are a few hours away. They will be in town now, while Mike is in better shape to say and do what he wants to. Zack and Mike have had some really good talks. Mike is given the opportunity to say important things to his children before he leaves us. This will ease their pain; nothing needs to be left unsaid. So we are blessed.

You see, my dears, that our God is here with us and will continue to be our strength. We will be coming back to Kokomo tomorrow.


Saturday 4/25/09

And HERE are how your prayers were answered today.

After this rocky week, Mike woke up from another really good night sleep. We had talked about going to lake and I had my doubts but today it seemed like a plan.

Our little place on Winona Lake has always been healing to my husband. He can shed his lawyer personae, loosen up, wear weird clothes, hang out with other lakies, tell lame stories over and over, and have fun. With all the drowziness this week, I figured that at least he could sleep on the pier.

As it turns out, the healing qualities washed over us. Mike mowed the yard…for him, this is a pleasure. Mike and Jeremy (son in law, angel in training) took a long walk through the woods. Jeremy said it was about 1 ½ miles. Mike hung out with sister and friends at her house, sitting on the porch, telling lame stories and sipping fresh lemonade. Then, several other friends who had heard about Mike’s illness dropped by and did NOT talk about illness but the upcoming lake season with its various parties and get-togethers. Then, Mike and I sat, facing the lake, that wild, wonderful spring breeze whipping our hair and clothes.

The big tip off is that for the first time, Mike needed almost no pain medication. The decrease was stark. We are planning to go to church tomorrow and then take the boys on a picnic.

Fresh-squeezed lemonade is holy nectar. Breezes whipping through the trees refresh the soul. Simple pleasures are a sacred gift.

We thank you for continuing to pray for us. God is good.

Good night, our friends.


Friday 4/24/09

I have become aware that my messages are being forwarded. This is great. Please continue to feel free to share our trial with any in the family of faith. We can sense the power of your prayers. You need to know that God is here with us in tangible ways.

This is how this week’s prayers have been answered.

I asked specifically for you to pray for our meeting with oncologist this Friday (today) Because of our trip to ER last weekend, this appointment was moved up to Monday. When we left Dr. Moore’s office, we knew we were in good hands.

With the help of our son-in-law, who is in line for angel wings, Mike saw the wisdom of the acceleration of the closing of the office. It is falling into place as attorneys come forward to help us.

Dr. Moore alluded to medical interventions that can offer some relief and buy some time but said that we would discuss none of this until Mike’s pain was under control. So this week was Pain Control.

That translated into a regime of morphine in various forms and strengths. And what that meant was my bright, coherent husband was transformed into a confused, drowsy, weak man. To be honest, I assessed the situation and wondered…this is new territory…that this is how it will be from now on.

Much sleeping, Much pain anyway. A fever. Not much good news.

Wed….nurse practioner appointment and she, under Dr.’s instruction, ‘tweaked’ the medicine, meaning she increased the dosages so even more weakness and confusion. But fever was gone plus, finally, blessedly, Mike got three good nights’ sleep, sleeping through pain.

During the week, several friends visited. One group arrived and stayed a long time. When I entered the room, thinking Mike needed me to save him, he was sitting up and they were all laughing. All good.

Still, we determined to venture out on a ‘trip’ and that was to Books A Million to purchase a magazine. THAT did him in. I was pretty low. We had been given the idea (no promise, of course) that Mike would return to his level of strength before surgery and we would have many good days ahead of us. THIS did not look like good days.

Friday’s appointment with Dr. Moore: I could tell by her tone of voice that she had said this before but we had not ‘gotten’ it. She said that they shared our idea of going to lake, enjoying life, bike riding, maybe even driving. She said that right now, Mike is having all sorts of bad effects from the morphine…”most of us are not used to morphine”…and that the negative effects will wear off as he adjusts to it. So the drowsiness, the confusion, the fatigue is temporary, at least for now.

She said that Mike was obviously better than he had been on Monday. I will defer to her professional judgment.

She then said that ‘people with your kind of cancer’ have responded to a specific chemo therapy that can shrink or slow tumor growth. There are statistics….cancer care/prognosis is All about percentages…but most are optimistic about Mike because, as they ALL say, “You are so healthy.” (the obvious exception)

Mike, who has ridden a roller coaster of emotions, says he’s interested in some more time. So, we will meet with Dr. Moore in two weeks to discuss other options.

What to pray for next: that the morphine side effects with dissipate and we can start enjoying life with energy. Isn’t it a gift that we have a beautiful spring weekend ahead of us? We are headed to our lake cottage at least for Saturday.

Pray that the blood work he has on May 4 will show none of what she calls a ‘cancer marker.’ Right now, with that nasty gall bladder gone, Mike shows ‘no sign of cancer.’ But it’s there, in microscopic bits (too technical for you?) and it will grow. Growth will bring pain and a limiting of enjoyment of activities. Pray that God will give us some more time.

We have circled May 8 on our calendar. Our nephew will graduate from tank driving school…it probably has a more military Lexington, KY. We’d love to be there. Perhaps, as it is a 4 hour drive, that will be doable. And if it is, we’re not too far from some beauty in the Smoky Mountains. A drive along the Blue Ridge in spring would be a gift, also.

So we are left today with hope and time. These terms have different meaning for us these days.

As they say down south, Carpe Diem, ya’ll.


As for visitors, yes yes yes. Call first as we plan to be out and about, cute couple that we are. Bring your happy face. All is not so bleak.

April 20, 2009

Here’s how your prayers are being answered today.

We had a rocky weekend. Much pain, escalating pain, fever. Not the course we were prepared for.

(next paragraph warning: might want to skip it)

Mike’s surgical incision had separated in two places…particularly difficult places for a man with abdominal after stitches and staples were removed, he was left with two holes, one the dimension of one of those malted milk Easter eggs. My newest duty was/is to clean and pack said holes, twice a day.

On Saturday, with the escalating of symptoms and what I thought looked ‘funny’ in the hole, we went to ER. Many work-ups, CTs etc etc and no infection/no strangeness to be concerned with except they moved up our appointment with oncologist to Monday (today). I DID receive more instruction on the norms of wound appearance. Sunday was a repeat without the trip to the ER. Still much pain.

Then, Monday we rehooked with Dr. M, oncologist/hemo at Howard Community Hospital and realized that we have been placed in the best of hands. She spoke wisdom, a little tough love, some ideas and refutations of myths. There are some options for us but this week, we must get pain under control. So that’s our goal.

We are keeping careful records and will have appointments Wed AM and Friday AM with the optimistic hope of escaping to the lake next weekend.

Some of you, my friends, have been showering us with food. What a blessing. Allyson flew back to San Antonio and left her angel-man husband to do whatever we need. He is so good at this and the food is making this easier. The Y made an exception and are taking the boys who are having fun playing with new friends.

Some of you, my friends, have been showering us with pillowcases. I’m surveying our eclectic collection. I can see we’ve all had our decorating phases….and I who have never been comfortable with patterns and non-neutrals, am now enjoying the multiple colors/patterns on my bed. We even got a Garfield! On a serious note, a fresh pillow slip is a pleasure, a comfort, a treat in the middle of the night. You are meeting a real need of my husband.

God is revealing to us many things that have been in place to cushion this time. I know that those outside of the faith would not understand this but it becomes clearer to me. I know that illness is not God’s plan for His creation. His idea was Eden. What He will do for His children is to gently walk with us through hard times.

Don’t get the idea that I’m going all Mother Teresa on you. I’m not. This is hard. It will be hard. We need all of you, all of your prayers for us.

Our discussion tonight centered around the blessings of knowing that you are going to die and having time to do and say things that we all want to do and say, someday. So often, a loved one is taken suddenly, in an accident, and does not get this opportunity. Mike is making use of this time, touching hands and hearts in remarkable, unexpected ways.

Pray for us, for our trying to figure out this pain management thing. We ARE in good medical hands, good spiritual hands, good friendship hands.

Good night my friends.


Friends ask what they can do...


You both requested…I was in Swiss cheese brain mode…what folks can do to help us. I have come to understand how important this is; we all long to be the tangible hands and feet of Christ.

A real need we will have might be addressed by friends. Mike’s illness causes him to experience night sweats some nights. Then, we need to change the pillow cases. I’m betting that, like me, some people have a random, unmatched pillow slip or two in a closet. A stack of such would help us. So, I guess what I’m saying is that a ‘pillow case shower’ would be greatly appreciated. (you will see that the passive tense is big must be that stress cuts into one’s quality writing…couldn’t help the levity). As our doctor tells us to look at a year, these cases may not come back to the owner for awhile.

I will continue to be in contact. Today I begin my new career as a legal aide/phone answering chick. While I’m pretty good on the phone verbally, my ‘hold/send’ skills need some work.

Bye for now. Lynne

Saturday 4/11/09

Thursday and Friday were grim.

A bright spot was a surprise visit from Jan who drove over from Kansas. What a sister! She did not intend for it to be SUCH a surprise but I had not picked up her messages. So, there she was. Twice, Mike thought I should go for a walk so they could talk. I believe those were GOOD talks. Plus, Zack and I went for a real walk several miles to downtown. That, too, was good.

Now the grim. The doctors continued to address ‘ileuses’ with NPO and the hub grew hungry and grumpy. Plus the incision was red and nasty and the pain drugs cloud clear thinking. I think Mike saw himself as a powerless victim and somewhere, someone (I vote for Satan himself…the attacks have been startling) let Mike know that ‘they’ were lying to him, he was much worse, much closer to death, that he would die in this bed, alone.

Jan and I went to bed and I tossed a while, listening to her sleeping blissfully and then just decided that lying awake was stupid so I got dressed, and went back to hospital. I arrived at a dark moment of the night. A wise experienced nurse, a retired Air Force lady, calmly spoke truth to Mike and that seemed to help. Then, I curled up for some cuddle therapy and that did the rest of the good. She told us that his PRN extra pain med was ordered only if he asked for it, every 2 hours and she was sure he would ask for it (;_)) so she would just be giving it out without waking him. Consequently, he got a really good night’s sleep.

Today was better, although he was frustrated that he remained on clear liquids. The real doctor, the surgeon, came by about 4, examined the scar and spoke calmly and for a long time with us. He explained, again, that they had backed off food to address the ileuses (killed it again, I’m sure) and that he was pleased today, that Mike’s abdomen was much improved and we could move on to real food. Then, again, as Mike said he thought they were lying to him and that he was not leaving this hospital, the doctor said, again, that that’s not realistic. “Look,” he said. “I don’t know when you’re going to die. I don’t know when I am going to die, I could get run over this afternoon. What I do know is that you are NOT going to die this month. You are NOT going to die next month. You have good days ahead of you.”

Then, he noticed the guitar magazine and guess what? He is a blues guitarist, familiar with all those ‘dead disabled black guys” that Mike likes to study (Blind, one-armed Jackson…etc) Dr. lingered as they shared guitar stories. Then, peace.

First, you will note that God orchestrated that this surgeon plays guitar and is conversant in Mike’s milieu. Then, and this has been our current area of prayer besides healing, I believe we have shed the fear. Despair is dissolving. Yes, of course, we will be left with sadness, but I sense peace. Praise God for that gift.

Mike got moved to the private room in the Kinnert He changed into his home PJs and was resting when I left. I did tell his nurse that I’m 5 minutes away and gave her my cell.

One of the reasons this parting will be so hard for me is that in the last few years, Mike and I have fallen crazy in love; I’d like to say again, but honestly it’s so much better. We have been able to experience such a quality to our marriage that the separation will cut even move. Truly half of me will be missing. He will be moving on to where it is always Easter.


One of God’s blessing in the coming months is that Mike will continue to experience the love of so many people. He is surprised and touched that people care so much for him. And he has some time to sample this earthy love before he sheds his old clothes and puts on the new ones.

He is still using his IV pump and he must be past that before we go home. All other benchmarks have been reached. But I’m hoping he just stays hooked up tonight and gets some more sleep.

I know you will all be busy tomorrow so don’t fret about this but should you want to call, I don’t know the number…Steve Amerson figured it out. Or we will look forward to hearing from you in the coming weeks. Allyson Jeremy and the boys will be home next week. Friends are bringing in food and we will have some fun together.

All for now, dear ones. Lynne

April 8, 2009

Hi all.

Mom called tonight and reminded me that I had not been in contact today. Actually, I spent the day sitting with my husband, holding his hand.

Today, his kidneys slowed down and his temp and white blood count went up and the doctors were a-scurrying about, trying to address it. One strategy was NPO When I left tonight, the fever was going down, the kidneys were working and he is hungry and cannot have anything until tomorrow.

I’m a bit fuzzy on where we are with the updates so bear with me. We had a long chat with the doctor. Mike asked him pointed questions about how he will die, (tumor will grow, will fill up his torso, will sap nutrients from other vital organs) what it will be like, will he be in unmanageable pain (no, says doctor).

Just as further surgery will do Mike no good, so are the prospects of palliative care. The doctor, when cornered, said that a year is a reasonable time frame. However, it will be wise to connect with hospice when we get back to Kokomo. And, this hospital has a team of social workers etc who will help us with this.

Hospice is for the last 6 months of life. I believe if I could get the doctor drunk and corner him, he has a shorter time frame in mind. But if he tells Mike that he has months, Mike might just shut down. If Mike thinks in terms of a year, then in those months, we will be living and doing. We all know stories about people who hang on beyond the expected passage.

The doctor indicated that at this point, care would be a compromise between quality and quantity. Tonight is not the time for a vote but I’m betting my hub will go for quality. I support whatever decision he makes in this regard.

Some other questions and answers. I asked the doctor, after saying that if I asked this question of a poet or theologian, I would get their answer but I wanted a medical answer. “Why him?” Mike fits no profile of this disease. He waxed metaphysical anyway. “My best answer is that life is not fair.” And he related some other stories, like the young father with 2 children who had pancreatic cancer and passed away the other day.

“Is there any connection between Mike’s ulcerative colitis 25 years ago and this.” He said that in the literature (this is a smart dude) there was indication that gall bladder cancer can bring on colon cancer but there was no date to indicate that it works the other way.

“How long has this tumor been growing?” Much qualification about growing cancer in a lab and “3 or 4 years, probably.”

“Is this something that my children should be concerned about?” (Genes and all) No.


Our focus right now is to get Mike healed from this surgery and then home. We are surrounded by friends and family and we know you are praying for us and we know you would do anything for us. Right now, I can’t process needs. But I will and you will hear from me. You could drop Mike a note or call.

Right now, this evening, we are in the pit of despair, Mike more than me. Although I’m the one with all the Emily Dickinson poems floating through the head. Why, God? This should not happen to great men who are great fathers, grandfathers, friends, who have a great marriage and the potential for so much good in the world. If I were running the world (a common problem I have is when I try to function in an advisory capacity with the Father…He doesn’t need my help), THIS would strike the mass murderer, the wife beater, the crack pusher. Of course, yes I know God, they might not be as ready to run to your arms as is my Mike.

We are weeping. We are hugging. We are telling each other how sorry we are for each other. These are the steps we must take. In a few days, we will start looking toward our next time frame and making the most of it. I did tell the hub that something I would like him to do is to pen (record) something for our grandsons. They will really never get to know him, what a great man he is, and he can leave them a legacy of wisdom. We will get this done. I imagine that we will think up a few more targets for his memoir.

Now look, guys. I may be slow with further updates. I imagine we will not be thinking of checking out until the weekend, maybe Monday. There are some physical bench marks that Mike must reach. Besides the fever (chills, body aches), his rather ugly, large incision is causing him pain. They are addressing it.

So, yes, pray for us. We know you are joining with us in this. And there are other things WE KNOW. This is the best for both Mike and me (and all of you, and God’s kingdom). We are His children. He loves us more than we could ever love each other. He knows our pain. He shares our pain. He has given us this great love and He knows what it means to be separated from it.

We will rest in this. We will worship Him as He takes our hands and walks with us through this dark valley.

Ok, sermon over. Good night.


April 6, 2009

Dear ones.

This is not the message I hoped to send. After early hopeful news, the doctor discovered cancer ‘well away’ from gall bladder site. They trace under Mike’s pancreas and discovered the tumor had spread.


First, this means that a liver resection will do him no good. This means he will be released from hospital earlier than expected. I had planned on staying in Indianapolis until Monday; now I assume we will go home Wed/Thurs. I will keep you posted.

The surgeon said that they were at first relieved not to find cancer at the sites where the gall bladder was removed laproscopically. And then there were those 2 negative nodules. But then they went under the pancreas and found more cancer.

What does this mean? Factually, we are looking at a year, maybe more. Whatever care Mike chooses will be palliative, means to improve the quality of life. The surgeon said that it comes down to choices between quality and quantity and advise that today is not the day to make this choice.

You know that we know that we are in God’s hands. Mike said to me the other day that this may be God’s plan, even though it’s not what we would wish for. Before surgery, anticipating convalesce, he had me print out Isaiah 41:10 and Romans 8:38-39.

Right now, I’m going to catch a quick nap. Then, I’ll go over and sit with my husband, hold his hand and we will read these verses and understand that it is a different path that we will now follow.

Of course, I know you, my dears, will be praying for us. It is a new adventure we are on.

April 4, 2009


Mike’s surgery has been moved up to 4/6 at 7:30 AM (first thing in the morning) at University Hospital in Indianapolis. He will be in the hospital for probably a week. HE thinks less but the doctor says the week is accurate. 40 – 50 % of patients suffer complications from this surgery so they must be monitored until it is safe to send them home. Nobody has to, but if anyone wants to send him a card, that would be nice. He is pausing to linger over such things these days.

The details: Mike’s gall bladder had a 4 cm tumor inside. This is a rare cancer and even more rare in a young man. It is unclear as to whether or not it has spread. That’s why we are undergoing the surgery. WE would pray that they find nothing except regular tissue. That will be the miracle we are asking for.

We ask our sisters and brothers to pray, not only for Mike and me, but for Dr. Nicholas Zyromski (doesn’t matter if they can’t pronounce it, as God knows this guy) who will be the surgeon.

As much as is possible, we are prepared for whatever God has for us. We are confident that He will be glorified in this, that His plan for our lives is perfect and He works in our lives for our best.

However, besides just being physically tired (Mike has had 4 procedures in 4 weeks), Satan has pulled out all the stops as he does when we are weak. Mike doubts his salvation….:.How can I be so fearful and be a believer?” Isn’t THAT the cruelest lie of all?

With God holding us up plus the love and prayers of His children, we will walk this path to His outcome.

February and March 2009

There we were, closing in on our 35th wedding anniversary. He - the local attorney, successful and respected. She - veteran English teacher, loving her job and her students. They – cute couple about town, blessed with two grown children, two gorgeous grandsons, a good marriage, friends, and a great church home. Both had been raised in baby boom comfort. Both were enjoying good health and personal fulfillment.

Then, life threw us a curve. It began with a stressful week followed by an insomniac’s weekend. Then, the flu. Mike nudged me at 10 PM, clutched at his chest and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

So, off to the ER. It turns out that the pain was esophogitus, perhaps the result of his latest hobby. He had been practicing for an aerobatic flying competition. As he explained to the doctor, sometimes when you are upside down and you think you’re going to throw up, there is this muscle maneuver you work to keep stomach stuff in its place. Could that cause some GERD? Well, yes.

However, as he IS 57, DOES have managed blood pressure and a creeping cholesterol level, the docs did a work up, X-ray, CAT, blood work, all while pumping 4 bags of fluids into his body.

“Wow,” they said when the tests came back. “You have a large kidney stone.” Large = half dollar dimension. “And,” they added, “there’s something strange with your gall bladder.” There was also a spot on the liver, “unchanged from 2003.”

So, next week, we met with surgeon who said the first order of business was the esophagus. That Friday, Mike got scoped. Diagnosis: Inflammation. No permanent damage. Medicine and off we go.

The following week, we met a radiologist who conducted a liver biopsy of the spot. Diagnosis: benign hemogioma. Again, no big deal.

Next the urologist. Our local guy said that we needed to see the specialist in Indianapolis as this chunk was way too big for conventional methods. Mike’s doctor would drill in from the outside and use a little ‘jackhammer/sucker device.’

But first, the gall bladder. Third surgery in as many weeks, surgeon performed a laparoscopic procedure. A nurse came out and escorted me to a little room. (The little room off the surgery waiting room is the bad news place) Doctor closed the door, folded her hands between her knees, looked at me and said, “Well, it’s cancer.” Then she explained that when they examined the gall bladder, they decided to examine a frozen section right in the operating room.

Mike woke up, asked me, I told him. We then went home for the weekend. That surgeon, the oncologist of the next week and then, later, a specialist doctor, along with pathology reports made much of the fact that along with the gall bladder, they had taken 3 lymph nodes. Two were clean and one had ‘microscopic traces (5 cells) of cancerous tissue on the outside, not apparently invading the nodes.

Now, no one wants ‘cancer’ and ‘lymph node’ in the same sentence; however, each specialist gave us just a glimmer of hope that this was the one they caught early.

Our next step was the kidney stone and a 3 day stay in Methodist Hospital. This was Mike’s 4th procedure in as many weeks. Next we would tackle a liver resection, the purpose of which was to ‘cut out all cancer and take thin slices of the liver until we find a clean sample.’ If indications were correct, the surgeon would excise the bad cells and then we’d face some radiation just for safe measure and go on our way.

No one said it was a sure thing; but many gave indication that we had reason to hope for a positive outcome.

When Mike was ready for me to share our trial with friends, I told him the news would go viral. I am part of a prayer network at school, Laura’s Angels, named for a teacher who passed away several years ago. The Angels share prayer requests, meet tangible needs and offer other support to any who ask. I am part of a praying church, especially out Ladies’ Group. And, of course, there is my family and Mike’s family, plus their churches, filled with prayer warriors.

Many members of these groups forwarded our need to other groups and within several days, we heard from people all over the world. God’s family was rallying around us as we headed to Indianapolis for surgery on April 6.

At this point, I will post the news I sent from the hospital.