Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sunday's sermon

This was the homily that Pastor Shelley gave on Sunday. I mentioned this a couple days ago. Not only was Christian glued to her actions, and the words she was saying, but I too was taken in by her words. It reconfirmed for me the way I feel about the people surrounding me. I don't believe that one can get something for nothing. I don't. I also believe that there are people out there who abuse the system, and that frustrates me.

However, having listened and watched P.Shelley give this sermon, I am convinced that those very people are the ones who need my prayers the most. As well as the people who condemn them.

So picture if you will while you read the sermon, P.Shelley did not stand behind the pulpit, she didn't talk 'at' us, she stood in the center, she used her body and she acted out some of the parts. It captured our attention, and it served the very purpose--at least for Christian and I--that it was intended to.


Ernest Gordon was a Scottish soldier who fought in World War 2. In 1942, Gordon was captured and marched to a prison camp by the river Kwai. If, as General Sherman said, war is hell, life in a war camp is worse. The prisoners were forced to work for hours in scorching temperatures, chopping their way through the tangled Southeast Asian jungle. Anyone who couldn’t keep up was brutally punished. Inside the walls of the camp, the men were tortured and humiliated. Treated like animals, the men themselves became like beasts trying to survive. They stole and lied. They reverted to the basest of instincts: An eye for an eye; every man for himself. Their miserable existence was defined by hatred and the thirst for revenge.

One day, the prisoners were working on constructing the massive railroad bridge over the river. A guard standing watch did a quick count of the men, and of the tools. One shovel was missing. The guard called the men into line. He demanded that the thief step forward. No one confessed. “Then I will kill all of you,” the guard threatened. He raised his gun and pointed it at the first man in line. Gordon was standing second. He watched the guard start to squeeze the trigger. “I was staring in the face of sure and certain death,” he wrote. But suddenly another prisoner stepped forward, his head bowed low. “I took the shovel,” he said quietly. In two quick steps, the guard was there, beating the man with his hands and his gun. The prisoners stood and watched, their stomachs churning in horror and relief. When the thief was dead, the guard dismissed the rest of the captives back to their work. The man’s body was left where it fell.

That evening, when the work crew made the inventory of the tools, they discovered that a mistake had been made. No shovel was missing. No one was guilty.

The prisoners realized that the soldier had sacrificed himself to save his comrades. An innocent man had exchanged his life for theirs. It was the greatest gift he could give.

From that day forward, Gordon wrote, “Death was still with us. But we were slowly freed from its destructive grip.” Life in the camp began to change for the soldiers. Instead of ‘every man for himself,’ they began to look out for each other. They started to talk less about getting even, and more about getting home. They shared their rations so the weakest could grow stronger. When one man lagged behind, the others made up the difference. They began to pray together. Where bitterness and hatred once festered, mercy and community among the men began to grow. Ernest Gordon was still a prisoner when the camp was liberated almost two years later. The moment for revenge finally arrived. But the prisoners insisted the cruel guards be treated not with vengeance, but with kindness. “Why?” their rescuers asked. “Don’t they deserve to suffer as you have?” Because, Gordon wrote, when someone has given his life for yours, it changes you.

As we begin this Holy Week, we are the prisoners. We are held captive by our sins. We revert to the basest of instincts. We treat one another with judgment, hypocrisy and contempt. Our humanity condemns us to a sure and certain death. We are guilty. But then, an innocent person steps forward. Without a word, he bows low to accept the punishment meant for us. As we stand and watch, he gives up his life – his life, for ours. By his wounds we are healed; by his brokenness we are made whole. It is the greatest gift he can give.

Monday, March 29, 2010

From the beginning.

I've gotten many questions about what brought us to where we are, so I thought I would tab the past year's posts--but only the ones that involve dad's health. This should bring you up to speed as to what has gone on, and what brought us to today.

First we start with April 14th 2009

April 16th 2009

April 21st 2009

April 26th 2009 has a snapshot of what dad looked like post surgery.

Dad underwent radiation, I mention his recovery, and talk about our conversations together in several posts in the next few months. I don't feel as though they are relevant to the purpose of this post, so I haven't added them. He appeared to be doing well during that time, his appointments were all postive, and he was able to attend many of them himself. But then...

December 9th 2009

December 11th 2009

December 13th

December 16th 2009

December 17th 2009

December 18th I decided that the post before was a bit depressing. This one doesn't offer more information, but I had a more positive outlook...

January 6 2010

January 19th 2010

February 3rd 2010

February 8th

February 16th This day will go down as one of the most painful days of my life.

February 23rd 2010

And the rest are all from the 'end' going forward. Dad's health declined significantly between the post on the 23rd, and the one I posted on this date. It seems that many of you have read the posts as of late, but for those of you coming in new to the blog, I will post them here for easy access.

March 19th 2010

March 21st 2010

March 24th2010

March 25th 2010

Updated March 25th 2010

March 28th 2010

March 28th 2010 again

That brings us to today. Hospice came again today, and she is completely stumped. She is proud of the comfort and love that dad is clearly being given by the 3 of us, and she half jokes that perhaps he is too comfortable...so much so that he isn't moving on. Although, I think we all know that what he has waiting for him is far better than anything we have here. Someone just needs to tell dad.

So here we are, and here we wait. Still.

And still praying.

Sunday, March 28, 2010




Resisting our attempts to move his arms, legs and head.

Pulling away.


Eyebrows furrowing.

Expressions of sadness.


Each time we touch dad these are the responses we get.

But we have to reposition him.

He is getting bedsores.

The first sore broke open tonight. It's raw and exposed.

It brought tears to my eyes.

There is nothing we can do.


We've increased his medications. It seems his body has adjusted to the doses we have been giving him, so we've increased the amounts, and added boosters of the pain meds in between his regular times.

We've repositioned him to another side, he hated the whole process. From removing the pillows that support his body, to shifting him forward, and repostioning pillows. It makes me wonder what he is thinking when we touch him and move him. Does he hate us for doing this to him? When he knows that we know it hurts him, but we also know it is worse to leave him for too long in one position. Those who are near death can experience pain in just simple touch. His hospice nurse told us that she didn't think that was true for dad because he seemed to be enjoying the massages we were giving him. We'd use lotion and rub down his arms and legs (and back before he became bed ridden)...but that was last week. No one thought he would make it this long, maybe he is sensitive to touch now. But the alternative to not touching him isn't much better. It's painful to be in this position, and I pray Heavenly Father to please grant us relief.

All of us.




Please Father, above all, grant my dad the freedom from pain that he so desperately needs. Deliver him from this body so that he may know true peace, and comfort and Your amazing grace. Bring him to Your kingdom so that he may walk beside You.

I feel guilt for praying for this, wanting him to be back the way he was. Sitting in his chair, looking over his lawn, watching his deer, drinking his beer, loving his grandkids, telling stories. And laughing. Lots of laughing. I miss him already. The grandkids are worried they'll forget his voice. It's been almost a year since we last heard it. That makes my heart hurt. I miss him.


Together Alone

It's amazing that dad is still hanging on. His nurse has told us more than once that when the hospice staff gathers for their morning meetings to brief each other on the status of their patients, they are increasingly surprised that dad is still with us. Each morning they come in fully expecting to hear the news, and each morning it doesn't come.

It's also amazing to me that for 11 days I have been in a house with no fewer than 6-7 people in it, and I still feel alone sometimes. B obviously hasn't been able to be with me every moment, life (and work) still goes on. The boys of course had school and activities to be in, so they aren't here all the time--and let's be real, even when they are here, they are living it up with their cousins. Spring break has started, they're here more, perhaps it will help?

I'm feeling alone even with my sisters here. We aren't close. We haven't been since my kids were wee ones. Typically, I'm ok with that. We have different interests, different priorities, lifestyles, outlooks, political views, opposing religious ideas...I mean really we have very little in common, so we tend to butt heads. Usually--not an issue. But given the fact that they are also here as much as I am...it has caused me to feel very lonely. Have I mentioned that they are close to each other? Because they are. Yep, heightened loneliness.

Of course, we have Ian (Jacobi's significant other) who is an absolute doll. He has also been supportive, and caring for all of us. He is quick with a gentle word, generous in his errands, kind enough to give supportive touch...he's been awesome. He was here last weekend, returned to the cities for work over the week, but is back now thru Wed. Mark (my former brother in law) has been a huge presence the last week as well. He works as an electrician, and was just laid off on Monday. So after being with us last weekend, he returned for work 1 day and was back with us the next. God's work? I think so! He has been an amazing support for my older sister, and is keeping the kids occupied as well. Both men have been instrumental for my sisters I am certain. I thank God for that.

Gratefully we have been able to put our differences aside and work together as a team during this time. However, dad doesn't need meds or attention 24 hours a day, so we experience ALOT of down time...and that's where the loneliness sets in. They tend to find themselves in places where I am not. I end up by myself pretty frequently in a 24 hour period. I'm thinking of making up TEAM JODIE shirts...anyone want one?

My family and I took a much needed break yesterday. We left in the late morning just to go home where I was able to do some cleaning, give attention to our cats, vacuum our kitchen and run the dishwasher, the boys straightened their rooms, and we just spent some time at home. Later the boys went to the Robelia's to hang out while B and I had some alone time. Away from dad, away from the boys, and just out in the world. Afterward, I went to a movie with some girlfriends. Quite the debbie downer movie, not at all the chick flick Juli thought it would be...but I am grateful that she asked me to go, it was exactly the kind of normal thing I needed. Following the movie was pizza and cocktails at the Robelia's. Why am I telling you all this? I don't know. Mostly because that used to be a common occurrence for our family, but lately, I have been so mentally and physically absorbed here, everything we did yesterday was so far out of my mind's eye, that it wasn't until I was doing those things that I realized I had been missing them. It felt so good to be in the presence of people who love me for me. People who don't judge me for my words, or actions, people who get me. No expectations, no snide comments, just take me for who I am. It's been so long that I've been in that company, and it was exactly what I needed before coming back to dad's house today. Back into the Lion's den.

We went to church this morning too. Palm Sunday service. It was beautiful. Christian talked later about Pastor Shelly's homily-- he really got something out of it! I want to post about it later, because it really shed light for me, and helped sort out some of my life's perspective...but in a biblical sense. It confirmed for me many of the things I think about on a daily basis, and helped me to recommit to the way I live my life. And whats more--Christian loved it too! Awesome! The music was stunning as well. All in all it was a fantastic 24 hours. And now my sweet (and sometimes cranky) B has tomorrow off, so we can have the whole day together as a family--at dad's.

Praise God for the sun. Praise God for people who love me for being me. Praise God for my family. Praise God for my sisters, and may He also bring them closer to Him, that they may find forgiveness, humility and trust, for all who come into their lives. I pray that for them. I pray that for me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ummm Waaaaa??

Since the episode we had with dad on Saturday (I posted about that yesterday? or 2 days ago?) we have slowly been decreasing the meds we've been giving. At first it was every hour, then we backed down to every 3, then every 4, and today we've done it every 5.

15 minutes ago...dad raised his head off his pillow...deep breaths, head off pillow...ummm Waaa?!

Not sure what to think about that.

Just a smidge

It has been a solid week since I have slept in my own bed. I have showered at home, and changed clothes, just to turn around and come back each day. I finally brought a couple loads of laundry here to be done while I wait. Today, we bathed our dog. He has been such a good boy the last week. He hasn't had much attention, but when he is with us, he is so well behaved. Thank goodness. So, there really isn't anything to report since the last time. We're still waiting. I did think however, that I would share some pictures of the last week. I've decided not to show any of the photos of dad--with the exception of the first one.... Maybe I'll change my mind another time, but for now, I'll leave them off.

First...the last walk dad took through the woods. Uncle Craig (the hot air ballon guy) was there with us, as well as his dog Lewie...who turned out to be a wonderful distraction for dad has he threw sticks into the creek for the dog to chase. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I am grateful to have had this experience with him before he became bed bound.

This is the last time dad stood out in his yard. His yard was his baby, he spent hours and hours working in his yard...it was how he spent his days. It made him happy. I'm going to miss him...

This is how much food is left...wow, what will we do with it all? I should have taken photos of his cupboards. The amount of canned food he had stored away was astonishing! We think he was preparing for a famine.

Just the tip of the iceberg with the medications and hospital supplies all over... This is his dresser top, but there are cupboards, and bathroom counters, and tables full of supplies!

I'm working on putting a collage together...but remember when I said I was going to work on a eulogy, and obituary and preparing a funeral? Yea, I haven't gotten to that yet. I'm such a zombie, I can't focus. I forgot about conferences for Christian today, I forgot about carpooling...just hanging by a thread here.

I'd like to give my humble thanks to you all though. Your thoughtful words, your kind gestures and your amazing prayers are so appreciated, thank you to each of you for your love and support. I'll try to keep you all posted, but certainly a change must be near, and while I have all the time in the world these days to sit and look at my laptop, I am certain that this time is limited.

Thank you thank you...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Still Hanging on...

Well, I've been here for 6 days. 4 since the 'big' day. Saturday. Intense. In a matter of hours he went from walking, (confused and weak, but walking) to nearly comatose, sporatic breathing, weak heart, and no responding. ALL DAY. His brothers and their families came, dad's friends came. The mood was somber, we were saying goodbye. Later that evening he was agitated, it took 6 of us to hold him down. He was scared, angry, frustrated and confused. We were sad, tired, physically drained from restraining him, scared and unsure of what to do.

The hospice nurse came. She got on the phone with the doctor. We restrained. Dad fought. He struggled. He sighed with fear. He looked at us with sadness. We tried to sooth him. We told him that we loved him, that we wanted him safe, we reminded him that he couldn't walk because he would fall. We remained soft spoken and calm. All the while we were all crying inside. I was screaming on the inside to please let the pain end. Literally after hours of the 6 of us restraining, reminding, soothing, and praying he calmed down...well, he didn't calm down, the medications took over. We finally (with the help of the doctor on the phone) were able to find a level of medication that would keep him calm. He hasn't woken since.

Nurses have come, last rights and final blessing have been read, and we've talked to social workers. His brothers have visited, our cousins have offered support, and we've eaten plenty of meals. Sleep is coming to us in longer doses now that we aren't worried about him getting out of bed. He still has round the clock meds, so someone is always on duty.

He goes almost 45 seconds w/o breaths. His heart beats strong. Temps of 102+ come and go. We wait. We're numb. We're on stand by. We pray.

We wait. He hangs on. Stubborn Richardt for sure! They tell us that he's doing this his way. No textbook could predict him. We think he knows that. That's my dad. He'll do this his way on his time. At least he thinks so.

I know better. I know that HE has a plan, and this is all on His time. I pray to have faith, and understanding. I pray for His will to be done. And I pray for my sisters on this journey.

B has been my rock. He's on my side. He is my best friend during this, and trust me, I need one right now.

We wait.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hanging on

I'm in my 4th night in a row at dad's house. My family stayed here last night, but since B has to work and the boys have school, it's just me and my sisters tonight. And Ian. It's good.

To the shock and awe of everyone involved, including hospice, dad is still hanging on. I have lots to write about regarding yesterday. It was scary, exhuasting, frightening, and life changing. Just having made it through yesterday is a blessing in itself.

But I can't write about that tonight.

Tonight I have to write his obituary.

And my eulogy.

And plan his funeral.

I have to find hymns and songs.

I have to find strength to do all this.

I know He is with me. I know He is with all of us.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Saying Goodbye

I think my dad is saying his goodbyes. Of course, not with words, but with hugs. With attempts to make eye contact, waiting for his eyes to take focus, and smiling.

Dad is fading away. I'm in my second overnight with him. He has to be in the presence of company and in plain site 24 hrs a day now. He fell today and had to be taken to the ER for stitches above his eye.

His new fascination is to run water. Turn it on then turn it off, turn it on then turn it off. Wiping down the bathroom sink. He hasn't been turning on the cold water. He burned his hand. Nothing that needed attention, but he was hurt.

Sometimes when he is sleeping, I'm afraid to check on him. I have to look so closely to see if the blankets are moving up and down. It's unsettling.

He turns on the light in his spare room and just stands in one place. For what seems like forever.

He's confused.

Tomorrow we are taking him to the Lake for the last time. My grandparents have had property on a beautiful lake near our town since my dad was a child. After my grampa passed away, and a few years before my gramma passed away, my dad's twin bought the property and created a beautiful home landscaped space and getaway for our whole family to enjoy every year on Father's Day. And really any other time during the summer. The Lake holds a special place in all of our hearts, so it will be touching to take him out there.

I wish the boys weren't away for the weekend.

The end is near.


Gone From Sight

is the book Hospice gave us.

3 months before death--

1-2 weeks before death--

week/days before death....those are the behaviors he is exhibiting. And then some.




24/7 care, round the clock, don't let him out of your sight.

He can't touch anything that can break...because he'll break it.

My first over night, another one tonight, I'm so sad.

The boys said what may have been their goodbyes.

We walked in the woods.

He stumbled alot.

His clothes are too big.

I'm sad. So sad.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I wish it wouldn't be gorgeous, sunny, and hot one day, and gloomy, rainy and cold the next. I have to turn the heat off, but then I forget to turn it back on. It gets cold in the house the next day.

I wish it wouldn't be gloomy w/o the rain. Trust me I adore a good gloomy rainy day, as long as it's raining.

I wish people picked up after themselves. When the snow melts, all the garbage and debris that people were too lazy to throw away all winter, suddenly emerges. It's gross. Pick up after yourself--all year--cold is no excuse to ignore garbage cans.

I wish the puppy wouldn't dig holes. Digging in the snow was fun...but 30 minutes after a bath, with no snow left to dig in...annoying.

I wish we didn't still have Christmas lights on the house. Not because we don't want to take them down...just not sure what to do with them when we get them off the trees, deck and roof. I already (finally) put all the indoor decorations away, (for ages the totes served as road blocks for Y-man to stay out of the dining room...I got tired of that and stashed them into the attic) but these are outdoor decorations. Can you tell I've never had this dilemma before?

I wish we would get the post snow/after thaw/Spring fever is in high gear/ snowfall already. When you live in MN you know that when everything looks like spring, it just means that Mother Nature is gettin' ready to throw a big snowball. Come on Mama N, get it over with!

I wish people would know that spring is not capitalized. It's true...I looked it up.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Not Me Monday

I think the blog hoppy Jennifer created with this Not Me Monday stuff is ingenius! I like to contribute, because it usually feels good to admit my mistakes, you know- with out actually admitting them! Today's post is taking a little more gusto than I typically have to muster. Can't wait to see the hubby when he gets home!

I usually do a couple, but because this week's Not Me Monday is a doosy, I don't think I can come clean with much more than this!

For Christmas my family did a White Elephant exchange. Some serious, some gag gifts were chosen, unwrapped, traded, and traded again. Not mine. I opened it and it stayed with me. Adult sized Superman underwear (boys). HA! It was funny! You know, the ones with superman flying with his fist outstretched, with the words Superman written all along the elastic top. See it? Good. (because I'm not posting a photo!)

I did not completely forget about said underwear until this past week when I was getting dressed. I saw them and thought it would be ok to wear them...after all..who would know right? Yea...enough foreshadowing? Lets get on with Not Me Monday!

I did not wear Superman underwear last week while working at the boys' school. I was not sitting on a stool in Science class correcting papers and entering them into the system while listening to a series of giggling coming from the **upper students behind me, I did not wonder what they were giggling about at all. At the end of class, when I stood and pulled my pants up (you know, like you do everytime you stand up) I did not feel the Superman elastic (with the words written ALL over it) peaking over the top of my jeans.

I did NOT just humiliate my 6th grade son by wearing Superman underwear. I refuse to believe that was what they were giggling about.

**upper is the term used at the boys' school for 6-8 graders. We have primary grades k-1, middles 2-3, intermediates 4-5, and uppers 6-8 in our one little bitty school, in a not so bitty city!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wow, I'm glad THAT's over!!

You'd think that after having had so much time off from blogging that I would have lots to say. You'd be right, I do. So much that I don't know where to start. So I won't.


Yea, doesn't really make sense does it?

Social functions, working full time, PPT, appointments, church, dad, emotions, marriage, communication....it's been an exhausting week. A week that ended in someone's barn at a surprise 50th b-day party. The barn has been converted to a bar. It was super cool. I forgot my camera. Take my word on it.

I've been designated by my father to be the person to plan his funeral. Ummmm

In one evening 2 12 year olds, an 11 year old and a 10 year old managed to occupy themselves with little to no messes. Proud of them.

Christian played catch with the football by himself yesterday. Yep, picture that. It was cute!

My favorite line of the week came from an 11 year old to his 12 year old brother...it went something like this:

(background info first) The 'uppers' at Lincoln have a massive book report project that they have been working on since January. They need to read 7 books, write a report and do a project. They all have to be different genres, historical fiction, biography, realistic fiction, adventure etc. Awesome project. They also have to complete a certain number of blue ribbons on Study Island to participate in the Rocktown tour. Rocktown tour is a pep fest for the upcoming MCAs (Frozen tundra standardized testing). Our principal believes that if they have a pep fest, they'll try harder to know what is on the 'test' and in turn do better in school. There is trash can drumming, intrument playing, singing..it's good stuff...ANYWAY!
So needless to say the uppers (6th-8th graders) are stressing out a little this week as these assignments are nearing their due dates--and let's not forget the hormones running rampant in these kids!
So little brother says to big brother in his best irritated voice..

"Do they tell you when you become an upper that you can't have a sense of humor?"

To which big brother replies, rather defensively

"NO, WHY?!!?"

"Because you're crabby all the time!!"

Benjamin is no exception. Stressed about the assignments? Yes. Work on it? No, I'll play nintendo thanks.

That is enough for me today. It is gorgeous outside! Off to enjoy it!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Letter from Home

The book we are reading for BC this month is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society...it's a book told in letter form. So in keeping with the theme of this month's book, I bring you today's post;

From Home to Jodie

Dearest Jodie,

March has begun, I know this because Christian has The Office calendar hanging on his wall in his bedroom. With that calendar, I have learned that with March, comes spring. I have a request for you, that I hope you will oblige.

I've entertained your friends,

You've celebrated anniversaries, while I kept you warm,

When you were wet, I kept you dry,

You watched your boys play hours and hours of football thru the impeccably clean windows that I provided you.

And you've eaten oodles and oodles of food in what you call your "favorite" kitchen...offered by me.

Don't get me wrong, I've been happy to do all this.

You have delightful boys who are mostly well behaved, and they have not drawn on my walls as I've heard happened in your first house....

Your cats are terrific, they like to sit in my windows, and lounge on my deck, I'm happy to offer this to them.

I wish you would have consulted me before you got the dog...

I'm not thrilled with where he chose to do his business in the beginning and we really have to discuss what will be done with the yard next winter...but he seems to have come around, and I'll do my best to keep him safe.

But really, now that March is here will you please PLEASE open the windows, and finish cleaning the spare room, maybe while you're at it, you'll figure out what to do with your grampa's desk so that all of his desk drawers can be emptied out and removed from the laundry room, I like to have a little more room in there...and please oh please will you convince your husband (who I really like by the way, he keeps the laundry chute clear, he's a keeper) that the downstairs family room could really use some color?

Thanks for your consideration.

Til you die,
Your Home

From Jodie to Home

Dear Home,

Your requests were heard, and I want you to know they have not fallen on deaf ears. I was just talking to the husband that you and I both love, that this weekend would be dedicated to cleaning said rooms, and that we should pick a color in which to paint the downstairs walls. It's almost like you heard me. Hey wait....