Catching Our Breath

Dad at dawn checking lap times ūüôā

It’s Friday night and Rudy & I are sitting in our quiet house, smiling at each other and enjoying¬† each other’s quiet company.¬† It’s so surreal to think it was a week ago tonight that I sat at my Dad’s side after a VERY LONG travel day to get there…although he was out due to the morphine drip and his breathing seemed labored, I was just so¬†relieved that he was comfortable and I was there…the anxious tears I shed all day as I was in transit disappeared, my heart relaxed and I just tried to take it all in.¬† My mom, brothers, their wives and the Wilson cousins were all there too and we spent Dad’s last night celebrating my folks’ 54th wedding anniversary (which had been the day before) with cake and milk, singing, looking through his scrapbooks¬†and chuckling over some old letters Dad wrote over a half century ago.¬† My brothers and I spent the night with Dad and I drifted in and out of sleep listening to his breathing…heavy but strong and steady.¬† We decided the next morning that Dad must have been marathoning¬†to Jesus which made sense because he always was a distance runner.¬† And then it happened…that Holy Moment when life on earth crosses the threshold into life eternal…we were there, my¬† brothers and mom and sister-in-law, talking about our breakfast plans when his breathing became shallow and then just stopped…so peaceful.¬†¬† A peaceful finish for a man who wasn’t always at peace…a man who didn’t find out he was adopted until his mother told him in a fit of anger as an adult; a man who had trouble expressing his feelings, communicating and relating which contributed to a strained marriage for many years; and a man who lived¬†for decades¬†with the disappointment of¬†an unmet dream¬†and yet I noticed a change in Dad the last 10-15 years.¬† In a season of life when many get even more set in their ways, Dad demonstrated humility and growth and the ability to change as he learned to communicate and share his feelings freely…he¬†began to relax and¬†enjoy life.¬† A woman from the church told me at¬†his funeral¬†service that when she visited Dad in the hospital early last week, they were joking around and bantering as they always did and at one point she said “How do you feel Dick?” to which he answered “Happy”.¬†¬†What a gift!¬† I’m proud of my Dad…and not because of all his athletic¬†accomplishments but because he was a man of quiet character, kindness, respectfulness, discipline, humor, faith and loyalty.¬† He worked hard, loved his family¬†and honored his commitments…he¬†ran a good race with all its hills and valleys and , in the end, God awarded him with grace in his journey with cancer, peace in his final months of life and happiness in the¬†hours before¬†death.¬† Oh, that I might have a finish like that too!¬† Thank you, Dad, for the love you shared with me, Rolf and the children; for laughing at my jokes and for affirming my life choices.¬† I’m going to miss your big smile and strong hugs, the pinochle challenges and the stops at Dunkin’ Donuts but the greatest gift you gave me was your example!¬† How grateful I am to God for you!¬†¬†


 Richard H. Wilson, Sr.   December 29, 1931 РJuly 17, 2010 

After the whirlwind of planning and executing Dad’s funeral service, I flew back to California early Wednesday morning in time to take Rudy to his appointment with his ENT¬†surgeon at UCLA.¬† It was of great comfort to spend the day with Rolf and Rudy even if it was within the walls of the UCLA Medical Center…and we were encouraged by our consult with Dr. Shapiro.¬† Based on the little she could examine in her office, she thought Rudy’s airways are looking healthy…she was encouraged by his growth and color.¬† She’ll conduct a bronchoscopy on August 3rd which will allow her a closer look at his airways¬†to make¬†sure there isn’t any scar tissue and that the cartilage supporting his trachea is not compromised.¬† ‘Still not sure if Rudy will wean off the trach before or after his next heart surgery…waiting for details to unfold.¬†

The big kids are still in Alabama and Rolf joined them yesterday for a little Geyling family reunion…they all return on Monday and life will move forward…slowly getting back to a familiar routine.¬† I admit that losing Dad does shake my confidence a bit as he and Rudy started their battles for survival at the same time and his fight was a source of great encouragment and inspiration¬†to me as I’ve walked¬†alongside Rudy.¬† So now we take a minute to catch our breath, regroup and focus our energy on the steps ahead…right foot, left foot, one step at a time!

"Paging Dr. Harrison" - Rolf is becoming a bit too familiar with UCLA Medical Center!
Waiting for Dr. Shapiro like a big boy!
I missed my boy

Missing him already

We didn't need KU to tell us he was a Hall-of-Famer, but it made us all the more proud!

Rudy’s Grandpa Dick crossed his final finish line this morning.¬† Trish made it to Kansas and was able to be at his side with her mother and brothers.¬† I know that she will want to write more when things settle down so¬†a longer post will be forthcoming.¬† We love you, Grandpa Dick!

Grandpa Dick’s Battle

My Dad’s 21-month battle with brain cancer took a sudden turn for the worse this week and I’m making arrangements to fly home.¬† We found out last week that his treatment¬†is no longer effective and the cancer is spreading fast so my folks met with home hospice¬†in preparation¬†for when they reached the need for hospice care.¬† An unexpected fall on Sunday evening led to hemorrhaging of the tumor and paralysis of his left side.¬† Although the ER doctors doubted he would survive the night,¬† Dad stabilized by Monday morning¬†and was alert…joking with my nieces and nephews when they came to see him.¬† It has taken us a few days to work out the details on our end but I’m freed up to go home on Friday and stay through next Tuesday.¬† Fortunately, the big kids are scheduled to fly to Alabama to visit some of Rolf’s family on Friday and thanks to Rolf and a handful of nurse friends, Rudy’s care will be covered here at home!¬† Rudy had his monthly cardiology appointment yesterday and his heart status has not changed…he remains stable which was confirmation for my heart that I can leave.¬†

Of course my prayers are for Dad’s comfort and peace…I’d love to make it in time to hug him and sing for him in person but he began experiencing pain today, as expected in this process, and is now sedated on pain medication.¬† Although they talked on Monday about sending Dad home with hospice care, the plan now is to keep him at the hospital in Lawrence.¬† I’m comforted by the fact that my brothers are with my Mom and Dad…by the sweet phone conversations¬†I’ve had with my Dad this week…and so deeply grateful for the family trip we were able to make to Kansas over spring break!!¬† God has been very gracious¬†to us and His peace fills my heart.¬† Please pray for that peace to blanket my Dad; ¬†for my Mom, brothers & sister-in-law as they walk these hours/days with my Dad and for my precious family as we’re spread all over this next week.¬† In times like these I just want to gather all my chicks and circle the wagons and instead I’m sending my big kids to the other coast and leaving my little halfheart behind for 5 days…

I’ve been reminded all week of Philippians 4:4-7…verses we shared at Rudy’s dedication and of deep comfort for me the last 21 months.¬† Here’s a paraphrase:

“Delight yourself in the Lord, yes, and find your joy in Him.

Be known for your gentleness and never forget the nearness of our God.

And don’t worry – whatever is going to come.

Just tell God every detail and the peace of God that no one understands will come to you.

No, don’t worry.¬† Just tell Him every detail and His peace will come to you.”

Dad and brother Steve on Father's Day 6-19-10
A big smile for Grandpa Dick...sent via IPhone in a snap! Technology can be amazing!

Happy 21 Months!

July 1st…not only the start of yet another month but also Rudy’s 21st mensiversary!¬† It was a somewhat uneventful day¬† (although we did get to spend a good portion of it at the Rescue Mission which is a fun place for us to be).¬†

It just so happened that Rolf finished Rudy’s custom crib the night before so we got it all set up in time to unveil it on this milestone day…replacing the port-a-crib bassinet Rudy¬†should have been¬†out of 16 pounds ago!!!!!¬†

A little known fact about Rolf is his ability to make beautiful furniture…

i.e. My cedar-lined chest: circa 1992


i.e. The Kids' Rocking Moose: circa 1997


…it doesn’t happen very often as it is pretty time consuming but it sure is a blessing when it does happen.¬†

We just couldn’t find a suitable “day bed” for Rudy that met all of his needs and also ours as we needed it to fit a very specific space in our living room and be a specific height to save our backs (our little chunk is getting pretty heavy!) so Rolf was inspired to get back into the shop and unleash his creative energy…

Rolf's custom crib for Rudy!


Rolf surprised me with an added shelf for Rudy's equipment AND a little saline holder up top...see it?


If we prop him up, Rudy can hold on and sit up a bit...he has so much more room to sleep and play!


July 1, 2010 - 21 months old

He’s pretty excited about it…Happy 21 months little man!!!