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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Monday, June 22, 2009
A Father Passes
Early evening on Father's Day, Jim's father, John, passed away. He'd had a long and hard battle with cancer. He was diagnosed a couple of years ago with bladder cancer. They'd remove the tumors, and he'd be fine for awhile. Then the tumors would come back, and he would have to start over. This was complicated by his severe spinal arthritis. John had been in a very serious car accident when Jim was a baby. Those old injuries caused him considerable pain throughout his life.

The other day, Jim found some digital pictures we'd taken during our wedding. The differences between John from nine years ago and John from last summer are staggering. His illnesses had aged him so much that he could have been mistaken for a man in his 80s rather than his 60s.

John didn't have much in the way of material possessions, but he had something even more important. For the last 10 years, he's had Dee in his life. Dee is an amazing woman and made John happier than he has ever been in his life. They shared a home in Sedona, AZ for years before building their dream log cabin about 15 minutes from Bryce Canyon in southern Utah. When we visited last summer, he would tell us multiple times a day how much he loved Dee, their home, and where they lived. He could not have been any happier.

When we left last summer, we knew it was most likely the last time we would see John. We learned a few weeks ago that his health had taken a turn for the worst. John was not able to admit this, but Dee took the phone during one of Jim's regular calls to let us know. In those calls, John was still planning a big trip to South Dakota in his RV for this summer. In fact, when Jim spoke to him last week to let him know we were going to come see him, he asked Jim to stop and pick up some Winchester shells for him. He was still fighting the fight.

Unfortunately, John didn't make it until we got there. It's bittersweet as we would have loved to say goodbye, but he was in so much pain at the end that we're happy that has ended for him. Our trip is still on. We'll be camping at the campgrounds near John & Dee's home. Jim's brother is going to try to join us camping. The kids will be able to spend some time together and the brothers will help Dee handle John's final affairs.

We'll also be bringing some of John's prized possesions home with us. Things of value only to him and to us. The boxes of family photos that used up hours of our visit. As Jim pulled each photo out, John would regale us with stories from the past. There are a few items from Jim's grandmother, like the medicine bag John made for her, that John pointed out on his last visit saying he wanted Sera to have them. He has an extensive collection of guns, knives, John Deere collectibles, model car collections, etc... We'll leave those for Dee as he collected them with her. If they have any value, it's only fair that she recoup it. Dee also told us that he had spent a lot of time before his health worsened making two revolvers: one for each of his sons. We're not gun afficianadoes, but I'm sure Jim will put his father's final gift somewhere safe that will honor it.

It will be a bittersweet trip. It's never easy when you have to go and wrap up someone's life, but it will also be a celebration of that life. We will go to John's favorite place in the world. We will camp, one of his favorite activities, and we will have his grandchildren around us to remind us all to laugh and smile and enjoy our lives. He spent his final years living his dream. I think it's a great reminder to all of us to live our dreams every day.

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