This year has been a good year! We have experienced many moments of joy in 2017! This year also marks an important anniversary.
There is one part of my past that occasionally comes up in conversation, but usually I try to tuck in the back of my memories because it was painful. Cancer – the word that nobody ever wants to hear. I was shocked to hear it when I was 29 years old and 30 weeks pregnant with my first child, our son, Bo.
It did not seem fair to mix what should have been nothing but a joyful moment, the birth of our son, with staging of my Hodgkin’s lymphoma- having my spleen removed along with my 35 week infant. The year 1996 was one of the most stressful years of my husband’s and my life. We moved to a new town when Bo was 3 weeks old, my husband began his career in family practice, we had a baby with colic, we settled a new home, and I began 7 months of chemotherapy. The treatments would wipe me out for days. Church volunteers took over watching our son on these post-chemo days.
We somehow got through it all. And 3 years later, God blessed us with the most amazing gift, our lovely daughter Emma. She is a true miracle to us because there were no promises I would be able to have any more children after everything my body had endured.
So it is worth noting that 2017 marks my 20th ANNIVERSARY OF BEING CANCER-FREE! I have the most amazing family I could ask for and I have more blessings than I ever thought were possible! I am so very thankful!
This weekend, Al & I went to see our son run for UNI in a cross country meet in Madison, WI. I have to admit, when I found out that we would be going back to Madison, I was excited! For we lived there when our marriage was new and our lives were young.
The cross country meet took place on Saturday, September 16th at 10:30 a.m. The meet was over around noon. I looked at Al and said, “Let’s check out State Street!”
State Street is a walking street in Madison that leads up to the state capital. We had not been there since we moved in 1993.
We married in August of 1989 after we graduated from Luther College in Decorah, IA. It was 2 weeks before Al’s medical school started. We moved to a sketchy part of town, because it was all we could afford. Al began medical school and I worked days, nights, and weekends to assist in making our ends meet.
It was a very hard time in our lives, we had immense amounts of stress surrounding us.
We found refuge during this time by walking State Street hand-in-hand, looking at the unique shops, listening to the street musicians, and getting an ice cream cone. On an occasional Saturday morning, we would check out the farmer’s market. We would get a bag of cheese curds (so fresh they squeezed!) and a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Last Saturday, when we arrived at State Street, I was so excited. “The farmer’s market is still going on!” It felt like a wonderful dream! I could not imagine when, with our busy schedules and the 5-hour drive, we would ever make it up to the farmer’s market around the capital.
We celebrated by getting a bag of cheese curds, munching (or should I say squeaking) our way around the square. Our visit was but a couple of hours, but the happiness remains with me!
A year ago yesterday, I leaned down and kissed my dad for the last time. He held my hand tight as I said it never feels like the right time to say good-bye. Our hands remained held and outstretched as I walked toward the door, and finally they separated. As my family and I drove back to our home in Algona from his hospital room in Omaha, I knew it was the last time I was going see him.
A year ago this morning, I talked to my dad for the last time. He answered his phone when I called to see how he was feeling that day. He shared with me that his uncontrollable shaking the day before was caused by an infection. He also said that it was very serious. Quickly, our call ended because a doctor came into his room.
A year ago this afternoon, my youngest sister called me. She told me that she and our mom had gone to Omaha. My sister had a busy day planned, but my mom had a strong feeling she would need my sister with her that day. They had reached the hospital and dad was going into surgery, everything was going fine and dad had made it out okay. Not so long later, I received a message that things were not going okay. Dad was having complications and my siblings were heading to Omaha from our home town of Audubon.
A year ago around 7:00 p.m., I received a call from my middle sister. We were going to loose my dad that night. I hung up the phone and wept.
A year ago tonight, my mom, my siblings, and my nieces and nephews gathered around my dad while he lay asleep breathing deeply. They talked to him and told him how much they loved him and sang church hymns around him. I took a pill to relax me that night and laid in bed trying to maybe get a little sleep. I felt terrible not being there. The 4 hour trip was not going to be possible and I didn’t know if I would make it in time. I laid and visualized the scene. I was there in spirit.
A year ago after midnight, my dad became restless. My mom stroked his hand and told him she loved him and that it was okay for him to leave. She would be with him as soon as she could.
A year ago somewhere around 3:30 a.m. – I don’t remember the exact time anymore – I received a call from my middle sister saying that Dad had just passed away peacefully.
A year ago tomorrow, my dad was with God in paradise.
This past year has gone quickly in some ways and in some ways it seems like a long time ago. I have spent the last few days reflecting on our loss. I can still hear Dad talking to me. I can still visualize how happy he was at my mom and dad’s 50th anniversary a few months earlier. I can still picture him laughing… My comfort comes in knowing that I will see him again. I look forward to that day, just not yet. I find joy in knowing that he has many other family members and friends with him and he is so very happy right now. I rejoice that he has made a point of giving me signs that he is around. Thank you for that, Dad! I miss you and I love you!
These past couple of weeks, I decided to challenge myself.
My daughter is currently in softball. I have created many collages for clients, but I have never created a collage of a team. So during recent games, I took time to capture images of all of the girls on the team.
Each collage I create is an individual work of art, I’m never quite sure what the final product is going to look like until I start playing on the computer and manipulating the images. I was pleased with how this came together. I think the softball girls were happy with this poster, too!
I was playing around in the studio this week with my Nikon camera. This is my first attempt, admitted rough, at light painting. I took a class a couple of weeks ago in Pennsylvania on this topic. The lighting in this image is done with an led flashlight, a led panel, and modifiers. Then pieces of individually lit areas are put together in photoshop. I picked a rather difficult first object to paint with light. There isn’t a lot of character to the shape of this camera and metal is hard to use this technique on, especially for a beginner. I wanted see what I could do with this camera for sentimental reasons. It belonged to my Grandma. In fact, it still has some long, lost film inside. I don’t know how to access it and I don’t want to break the camera body. This technique is new to me and I am making a few goofs, but I am giving it a try. Anxious to see how my next subject turns out!
This last year was a trying year for our son, and in turn, a trying year for his parents.
Our son was born to run!
Our son’s senior year of high school was difficult for this runner. The fall brought a bleeding ulcer during the cross country season. While he recovered toward the end of the season, he never got back to 100% before the season ended. During track season the following spring, he suffered an ankle injury which, despite physical therapy, did not seem to heal completely.
He went to UNI on a running scholarship in the fall of 2015. He would run, and then his ankle injury would flare up again. After 3 MRI’s in his freshman year of college, physicians in Iowa City discovered the cause of his problems – a torn tendon, an extra tendon, and bone spurs. He had ankle surgery in May of 2016.
Here we are today. He is running again! He is running his heart out! He is working to make up lost time. His distance medley team just got 3rd place in his conference. We are so looking forward to continue watching him pursue his academic and athletic dreams!
In our home, there has been 4 seasons for many years – track, softball, cross country, and basketball.
Tonight was the end of a great girl’s basketball season at Algona High School. Our girls had an amazing year and have much to be proud of! They worked extremely hard and played as a team with a 18 and 5 overall record. Congratulations on a great season!
Now we are on to track season…..
This month, I received an honor with Professional Photographers of America that, once upon a time, I never dreamed of accomplishing. I received my Master of Photography degree. This degree is awarded for superior photographic skills—demonstrated through photographic competition, advanced education and service to the industry. I honestly pursued this goal just to see if I could do it, it became my Everest. I also received a Bronze photographer of the year award for meriting with all 4 of my competition entries and one of these being admitted into the Loan Collection. Now that I have accomplished this goal, it is time for me to purse some new personal and professional goals. I have a couple of ideas, but I will keep you posted.
I apologize for not keeping up on my blog.
This has been a year of many changes in my life, one of these being the loss of my father. And frankly, I haven’t really been myself since his passing. I am working very hard to try to get back to feeling like myself again. Of course, maybe we never really feel the same again, but rather try to move on the best we can with our new normal.
I remember the day I took this image. This was a portrait of both my mom and dad together. It was in January of 2011, six years ago now. Dad very much wanted me to take a picture of him and my mom. Both of my parents were healthy and it was a great time to capture them. Little did I know at that time, that this picture would also serve as my Dad’s obituary picture a mere 5 1/2 years later.
None of us knows how much time we have left. Dad wasn’t ready to go when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 73 in September 2015. He had a lot of plans for traveling adventures and enjoy his and Mom’s golden years. Cancer treatment did not fit into his future. He was scared, yet he took on this challenge. He was so happy when an MRI indicated that the cancer was gone following his surgery and chemo treatments. Pancreatic cancer is sneaky, though, and it grew in spite of treatments. He passed peacefully with my mom and siblings by his side this past July.
I am still grieving.
I haven’t disappeared with my photography business, but merely needed to take a step back these last several months.
Thank you, friends, for giving me the opportunity to heal these last months.
I have spent the last couple of weeks reading the book “Choose Joy” by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. Sara was from our town of Algona, IA. Sara suffered from a rare autoimmune disease which caused her severe physical pain. Eventually, she was completely home-bound and passed away at the age of 38. I have been reading this book slowly, one chapter at a time and really digesting what Sara had to share. I have also been taking the time to write down 3 things which have brought me joy at the end of each day, or a gratitude journal. The last few days, I have not felt very well – most likely coming down with some sort of virus. I have found it harder throughout the day and at the end of the day to find something to be joyful about when my body is causing me physical pain. I am struck right now, even more than before, how incredible Sara was to choose joy when her body was causing her severe, searing, take-your-breath-away pain. The overall body aches I am currently experiencing are nothing compared to Sara’s pain. As I read last night, the part that really struck me was how Sara said that the operative word in “choose joy” was not joy, it was choose. My hope by the end of reading this book, is to come to further peace about the future, to put my complete trust in God’s infinite wisdom, to realize that my ability to try to control my own life is an illusion – God controls all. As I literally ache today, I praise God for Sara’s insight and wisdom.