Olivia’s Graduation


Hi Friends,

Been quite awhile-and this probably won’t mark a resumption of posts–but I did want to commemorate Olivia’s graduation from Dos Pueblos High this past week.  Certainly significant all on its own, but specifically in our case.  Shortly after Trish’s ALS diagnosis, she came across a statistic that average life expectancy was 30 months.  Counting ahead on the calendar, 30 months landed right on June 2020, so that became a target, or at least a hopeful goal of sorts.  She really wanted to make it to Olivia’s graduation.  She loved the boys’ Senior years with all their traditions and celebrations, and as much as she accepted how much of life she was going to miss, she really wanted to be there for this.

Her medical team appreciated her articulating such a milestone.  While there was counsel about not setting unrealistic goals (ie, “we’re gonna beat this”), the doctor said it could be very helpful in guiding some of the decisions we might make about interventions, etc.  This seemed reasonable and attainable.  After all, it was the average and we like to think of ourselves as “above average”.   

At an appointment a year ago, Trish reminded the doctor of this goal.  I got a sick feeling:  she’s not going to make it.  The decline was too fast.  Even if it were possible to survive a whole year, it was unimaginable how much the disease could rob her in that much time.  Despite our doc being a composed professional, I noticed the slightest sighing hesitation, concerning glances when we could make eye contact, and an empathetic squeeze on my forearm as she walked us out of the office.  She was seeing the same thing I was seeing.

Given what it meant to Trish to tell her story here, I want to properly document the milestone she hoped to see in the way she would do it (so buckle in for a long post with plenty of Greg’s pictures.)  While we’d rather have Trish with us, the COVID pandemic wiping so much off the calendar softens the blow of her missing so much.  As our family has learned that some of the most beautiful celebrations come amidst unwanted circumstances, this certainly holds true for the way Olivia closed out her high school years.

The week was kicked off by a celebration in an undisclosed off-campus location for an amazing group of lacrosse teammates.


I suspect there are a number of lacrosse teams in Southern California who are pretty relieved that COVID spared them a beating from these ladies.  ;-). We are so grateful that Livy discovered the sport she loves and gets to keep playing in college, but more than that, we’re grateful for a team of incredibly caring, fun, smart and supportive girls; led by coaches who embody all of that.

Coach Jess presents Livy with her stadium banner

Then came graduation day.  First we took some pictures at the beach:

The LAX girls with their leg pose…
I even got into one of the pictures!!!
No, actually I did.

Then, it was off to the high school.  Thanks to the amazing work and dedication of the faculty, Dos Pueblos was able to pull off an incredible drive-in graduation.  Every graduate got one carload of family, and cars were spaced in the parking lot with the event broadcast on FM radio with projection on the outside walls of the Performing Arts Center.

But first, we got to drive around the campus lined by cheering teachers:

As it was a special occasion, we took the Tesla!  #notourTesla

Lots of smiling, waving and cheering from the teachers that taught not only Olivia, but Max and Wilson, over the last nine years.  We spotted Coaches Sam and Jess (along with Rob and Jocey), who appeared to be playing it cool.


But that didn’t last–

This woman can educate our kids all she wants!

Then we got our spot in the parking lot and Livy took her seat on the roof as we waited for the sun to set.


Once it got dark around 9 and everyone could see the projections, the ceremony got underway.  Amidst the speeches were some surprise celebrity messages:

DP “Alum” Katy Perry (didn’t graduate but we get lots of mileage for her one semester)
Jack Johnson (whose wife was a DP teacher) brought aloha and a song

The graduates got to go up and walk the stage, provided the maintained social distance and then promptly returned to their cars.


A beautiful and unforgettable night.

So proud of this girl!

When we were house shopping back in 2007, Olivia was starting Kindergarten.  While we were fortunate to have a great local elementary school (Yay, La Patera Tigers!), what drove our final decision was the chance for our kids to go to Goleta Valley Jr. High and Dos Pueblos High School.  We could not be more pleased with the outcome, and frankly it’s hard to imagine that our last kid just finished.  I am so glad that our final memory of the school will leave such a special imprint on us.  We’ll never forget Olivia’s graduation and how it embodied the creativity, dedication and excellence of the people who have poured so much into our kids.

But things didn’t end there.  There was still the matter of the cancelled prom.  Aside from missing out on a night of fun, there had to be some reason to wear the dresses all of the girls got months in advance.  So, Olivia and her creative friends organized their own backyard prom.  There was an excellent dinner (served by the Wilcox siblings) and dancing under the stars, after-prom games and contests until 3am, some kind of rest period in tents in another backyard and then Sunday morning brunch!  As I can barely remember one detail from my senior prom, I don’t think these kids will have any problem.

Way more pictures than I can post here, but they made lots of stops.

A group shot at the SB Courthouse


Apparently every photo session must include the lax girls doing their leg thing
These Kindergarten classmates have grown!  (and glad they stayed friends.  Macey’s dad takes good pictures)
No way I was gonna miss out on the Daddy dance!

The last week has reminded me that there’s never a perfect moment for celebration.  All we have is imperfection.  Yet within it, we do the best we can.  Somehow, laughter can exist in the midst of sadness.  Even in the midst of grief, we can find things to rejoice over.  Sometimes I have to work hard to find it, and other times celebration requires an almost defiant resolve.  Trish did that.  We did that again and again throughout Rudy’s life.  There’s more beauty among the heartbreak than we might think.  Part of me wishes it didn’t have to be so, but without it the heartbreak might completely crush us.

It wasn’t the perfect graduation we envisioned, but it was good.  It was rich.  We weren’t the only family at DP to experience heartbreak this year.  Ours was one of a number of tragedies that actually put the COVID upheaval into some kind of perspective.  But it was life-giving to be a part of a community that was faced with imperfection and, instead of dwelling on how many things weren’t right, figured out a way to acknowledge goodness in the midst of it.  I’m really grateful for that.

But most of all, I’m really proud of her.  Trish is too.

Love you, Livy!


Patricia Dawn Geyling (2/27/1966-11/1/2019)

Trish Obit Pic1

Our Trish left us on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, of complications due to ALS. She was 53. The great void she leaves is only because of the full life she lived. When she greeted us with her sparkling blue eyes, we instantly felt welcome.

Her laughter put us at ease, drew us in, and made us quickly move past being mere acquaintances to beloved friends. Her thoughtfulness made each one of us feel special. When she sang, we were captivated by her angelic voice and ushered into God’s presence.

Born Patricia Dawn Wilson on Feb. 27, 1966, in Arlington Heights, IL, Trish Geyling enjoyed the doting attention of her parents Richard Harry and Phyllis JoAn (Fink) Wilson, and her two older brothers Rick and Steve.

Armed with a loving, faith-filled, midwestern upbringing in Palatine, IL, and Indianapolis, IN, Trish is an alumna of Lawrence North High School (’84), Cottey College (AA ’86), Up With People (Cast C ’86-’87), and CSU Sacramento (BA English and TESOL Cert ’90).

After arriving in Sacramento to complete her education, she continued her California migration to San Diego (two years) and Los Angeles (15 years) before arriving in Goleta in 2007.

To know Trish was to be touched by a great love that overflowed from her relationship with Jesus.

From inner-city children and families in San Diego and Los Angeles while serving as a missionary with World Impact, to people spanning cultures and continents she met in her travels, to men and women seeking help at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, to church fellowships, school communities, special needs families, neighbors and more than a few fast-food employees, so many were blessed by her unique warmth and care.

In her music, jewelry-making and writing, she embodied the creativity of God.

In the way she served — in vocational ministry, volunteer roles, and simply by being sensitive to the needs of others — she demonstrated the depth of His concern.  Her commitment and discipline mirrored God’s consistent faithfulness to us.

Her tenderness was a touch of His love, and the way she brought celebration into everyday life, a reminder of His pleasure.

Even in the face of the profound challenges as the parent of a medically fragile child and subsequently her own terminal illness, Trish’s soul radiated joy in a way that caused ours to crave the fountain from which she drank.

Trish is survived by her husband of 26 years Rolf B. Geyling (president of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission); her children 2nd Lt. Wilson T. Geyling, Maximilian R. Geyling and Olivia J. Geyling; mother JoAn Wilson; brothers Rick and Steve Wilson and their families; mother-in-law Helga Geyling; as well as Rolf’s three siblings and their families.

She is preceded in death by her nephew Seamus, niece Faoileann, dad Dick Wilson, father-in-law Franz Geyling and son Rudy.

A viewing will be hosted 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at her home church Coast Community Church of the Nazarene, 4973 Via Los Santos, Santa Barbara.

The funeral service will be at noon Friday, Nov. 15, at Living Faith Church, 4597 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara; carpooling recommended. Burial and family receiving immediately to follow the service at Goleta Cemetery, 44 S. San Antonio Road, Santa Barbara. All are welcome; bright colors encouraged (especially lavender and canary yellow).

Memorial donations in Trish’s honor can be made to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, 535 E. Yanonali St., Santa Barbara, 93103.

Memorial Service Information

Thank you for continuing to uphold our family during this season.  For planning purposes, here are the funeral details:

A viewing will be hosted on Thursday, November 14th from 4-7pm at Trish’s home church, Coast Community Church of the Nazarene (4973 Via Los Santos, Santa Barbara, CA 93111).  The funeral service will be held Friday, November 15th, noon, at Living Faith Church (4597 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA 93110–carpooling recommended). Burial and family receiving immediately to follow the service at Goleta Cemetery (44 S San Antonio Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93110).  All are welcome; bright colors encouraged.


Even the most beautiful music has an end,
but her song was cut off far too abruptly.
Such a shame as I so loved the dance…

Patricia Dawn Geyling

Hospice and Highlights

Thanks so much for the kind messages and comments in response to our last post.  It’s overwhelming in a good way and even though we can’t reply to almost any of them, it is a huge comfort to know the incredible group of people near and far who are walking with us in this.

More than once this past two weeks, it’s been explained to me that “hospice is about more than just the end of life”.  Seems like a re-branding campaign that cratered before even reaching the end of the runway.  This isn’t all happening because Trish is under the weather.  The disease is visibly very present and progressing; seemingly robbing of her something everyday.  Cynicism aside, we are so grateful for skilled and compassionate guides walking us through scary and unfamiliar territory–much like those who came around us with a critically ill child.

The emphasis has been on keeping Trish comfortable and we’re so grateful that we’re able to do that here at home…but that doesn’t mean we were completely confined there.  Last weekend Olivia had a lacrosse tournament and I guess it would take something more than being on hospice to keep Trish away.

Worth the effort to mobilize for a beautiful afternoon at the Polo Club.
Glad that Uncle Steve, Aunt Michelle and Cousin Emma could come watch Livy and the Chargers!

Olivia’s week went from Beast to Beauty as this last Friday was the Homecoming Football game.  As most probably already know from social media posts, it turned out to be a storybook night…

Arriving with the court at halftime….
I knew she’d win, but did a pretty good job feigning surprise at the announcement.
Dos Pueblos High’s 2019 Homecoming Queen
I guess this makes us all royalty.

Hard to sum up such a week of extremes, but we’re just embracing whatever life throws at us.  It seems weird to have celebration alongside such struggle but that’s also what’s making it bearable.


Hospice Care

Hi friends.  Rolf here. I’m breaking my silence on the blog to report that we initiated home hospice care for Trish this week.  As she chronicled here, life was getting progressively more difficult as her body shut down. For several weeks now, she has been largely confined to bed and it was getting increasingly more difficult to breathe while sitting up even briefly.  Early this week it became challenging to breathe even while reclining. While the CPAP was initially intended for respite, she now needs it constantly.

As much as we knew this was coming, it’s certainly an adjustment.  Trish has long held that she wants to stay home and we want that for her as well.  Hospice allows us to do that. It’s been scary. Hard to imagine how cruel it has to be for someone so super-competent to be completely dependent on others and so unable to communicate with them.  

In the larger sense, hospice is simply a change in the entity that’s managing Trish’s care–which has always been dictated by her physical condition.  ALS really isn’t one of those diseases that you can fight. You just have to deal with it. And this is where it’s brought us. As foreboding as the term is, hospice is just the introduction of new team members who specialize in this stage.  While this week involves newness, the hospice team values continuity. The cadre of caring friends that is caring for Trish will continue to be present but there will be more guidance for a process none of us are readily familiar with. The immediate encouragement is a focus on keeping Trish comfortable and we are learning to make good use of the bag of pharmaceutical candy they’ve introduced to that end.

Can’t really promise when the next update will come but as we appreciate all those following the journey, I wanted to make sure you were aware of this new development.  So grateful for your love and prayer for Trish and our family.

Been a long time since we heard from Rolf

Rolf here. It’s been awhile since I took a turn with a blog post.  Some have noticed less of a presence from me here and on social media.  I guess I’m finding it more comfortable to process the current journey a bit more privately.  I do appreciate Trish’s process and am especially grateful for the prayer, concern and love that reaches us from around the globe as people walk along with us via the blog.  Lots of stuff in my head and heart and someday I might get back to a place where I’m writing about it–but rest assured I have good outlets to process things in the meantime.

If you’re willing to buckle in for a long read, I did want to share my keynote from the Community Prayer Breakfast here in Santa Barbara in late September.  Amidst the fog of the past months, I’ve been grateful for moments of clear thought and figured I’d share one of them.  Many of the words were spoken through my tears, which the audience rightly read as grief over Rudy–only a handful of people knew about the ALS diagnosis which we had only received a few days before.  Thanks for loving us.


I had something pretty different in mind last winter when I was invited to do this.  I picked one of my favorite passages of scripture and had some really good ideas about what I wanted to say.  As time allowed, I had employed a few of the study tools from back in seminary to mine a few profound theological gems and was keeping my eye out for some good quotes, vivid examples and anecdotes to brilliantly illustrate my points.  It was going to be awesome:  witty, thought-provoking, funny and inspirational but unfortunately pretty disingenuous.

I thought about getting out of this—and Reed was even kind enough to inquire a few weeks ago as to whether I was still up for this.  My answer then was a tentative “let me give it a shot” and, if I’m being completely honest, it’s probably even more tentative than that right now.

  • But for the past nine years, our family has lived in a place where babies die, where kids are afflicted with unspeakable suffering, where parents need to make gut-wrenching decisions, where siblings have to watch powerlessly, where doctors and nurses—who have a choice about where they could practice medicine—fight with such dedication and passion to try and help high-risk patients even with death being so frequently an outcome.
  • On a daily basis, I work in a place where people have dealt with lifetimes of trauma and heartbreak such that the pain is almost too difficult to put into words—let alone process.
  • In watching people in this community and beyond, I have learned that life in our world can be brutally creative in coming up with means to crush us. I have watched others suffer things so unthinkable that it would make me rejoice that I only got the kid with the terminal heart defect.

In all of these situations, I have watched people somehow move forward and I don’t completely know why they did it or how they did it, but at least I know it’s possible.  At the Rescue Mission, I watch our team work with people whose lives have been shattered—often so badly that they can’t even picture that wholeness is possible and what that might even look like.  All they’re asked to do is take one step; do today—maybe just do the next hour.  And somehow they heroically summon the ability to do so.  We spent many months in the ICU—enough to watch our share of nurses having rotten shifts where tragic things happened to the kids they were fighting so hard for.  I saw them fighting back tears as they gathered their things to go home.  And I often wanted to ask them, “Why are you coming back here tomorrow?  I’m stuck here—I’m not leaving my kid.  But you have a choice.”

So, I know that moving forward is possible and I need to figure out how to do that.  I wish I could stand here this morning with more clarity on what that path looks like, but the wound is still too fresh.  I’m still in the stage of grief where my head spins, basic tasks are a challenge, cogent thinking is so occasional that I’m grateful when it happens and I certainly don’t have resolution.  I think I believe everything I’m supposed to about God:  That He is good; that He cares; that He turns mourning into dancing and that joy comes in the morning.  I’m pretty sure I believe all of that, but I can’t really say that I know it yet.  I can’t talk about how God redeems tragedy because that hasn’t happened yet.

So I thought about just going ahead with the outline I started at the beginning of the summer, but when I tried to finalize that, I found myself in a wrestling match.  My heart just wasn’t in it.

What’s on my heart?  Doesn’t exactly take a mind-reader to figure that out.  My little boy, Rudy.  Don’t be nervous about saying his name because I think about him all the time.  His smile, the sound of his voice, the squeal, the laughter and his trademark snort.  I miss the feel of the back of his neck with the short stubby little hairs at the base his crewcut that would poke me in the face when I nuzzled up against him.  I loved the way he laughed himself breathless only to plead for more tickling.  I want to talk about my son.  He was a light.  I miss him greatly and there’s a danger that once I start this event will have to include a second meal.

I’m not complete and I’m not sure I’m particularly well so I can’t make very many conclusive statements, but even at this point, I can hopefully make some observations amidst the grief I’m feeling over a life cut far too short:

  • My journey with Rudy taught me that my purpose in life may be very different than what I pictured it might be.

It was probably back in my college years that I started pondering what my purpose was in life.  Understandably, it had a lot to do with career.  If I could figure out what I was supposed to “do” then I could take steps to get there academically and, as I entered into the workplace, proceed on a track to get me there.  Around that time, my faith took me in perhaps a bit of a different direction as far as ministry and service, but the mindset wasn’t all that different.  I was still operating in a framework of achievement—maybe I wasn’t going to build a business empire or innovate something cool, but it was still about accomplishing something “in the kingdom of God”.

That thinking probably led me across decades, until we started on an unexpected journey about nine years ago.  It started with 8 months in the ICU and then contained realizations that our son wasn’t likely to live a full life and being his parents wouldn’t include many of the milestones and achievements that often become what we confuse as purposeful parenting.  I realized that God would judge me as a father not in how well I prepared and launched a human into the world, but in how completely I loved this little boy.  And from there I realize that this is the same standard for my other kids–exceptional, bright and high-achieving as they might be.

While I don’t think I’m supposed to not be thoughtful about what I do from nine to five, if it’s not primary to God then I probably shouldn’t make it more of a focus than he does.  My being faithful to my purpose has much more to do with whether I love and am faithful within whatever roles I’m placed in.  When we quote “well done, good and faithful servant” at funerals I think our achievement orientation gives us a sense that God would be saying “Good job, I couldn’t have done it without you” and I just don’t think that’s true.  I long to hear these words, but I don’t think it’s going to have much to do with whether I was a good Rescue Mission president, but everything to do with the husband, father, son, brother and friend I was.


  • My journey with Rudy taught me that focusing more on yourself doesn’t solve more of your problems.

In the book I’m never going to write, there may well be a chapter on what I call the “goldfish principle”. We’ve had a number of goldfish in our house over the years and one of the things we’ve learned is that, provided you clean the water, goldfish will grow to the size of the tank they’re in.  Leave them in a small tank, they stay small.  Give them a bigger tank and they’ll grow much bigger.

I’ve found that problems can be the same way.  While you can’t just deny them, sometimes you can limit them by how many resources you can give to them.  Rudy’s life required round-the-clock logistics—daily management of at least a dozen medications given 3 different times a day.  He never ate by mouth and we had to schedule and give 5-6 feedings a day.  There were appointments to schedule, pharmacy orders to fill, insurance approvals to work out—a huge mess of things added to the overriding heartbreak of his condition.

And part of the way we managed it was by realizing that other people have problems too.  They may not be our particular heartbreak but they are heartbreaks nonetheless.  And we don’t simply need to recognize them, but we also can help them. We can get tricked into thinking that we have a limited reservoir of love and concern we need to conserve it lest we run out—so a crisis like the one we’ve lived in becomes the only thing we can focus on.  And unfortunately we’ve discovered that it doesn’t really aid in solving things.  Love doesn’t need to be preserved and protected.  We likely have way more capacity to love than we ever imagined, and the way to tap that is, not to disregard our own problems, but to make sure we’re looking past them to the things other people are struggling with.


  • My journey with Rudy made me appreciate our calling to be gentle people.

In Philippians 4, Paul gives what might be a very unique final instruction:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.     (NRSV)


There are a lot of things Paul could have chosen to assert here, yet here he sums it up with gentleness.  Based on my perception of Paul as a straight-shooter and unafraid of confrontation, I might have expected him to say something a lot more assertive; calling people to strength and courage.  He is completing a letter that was written into conflict.  He is in crisis—sitting in a jail cell with severe consequences hanging over his head.  He’s been emphatic in clarifying some points of doctrine and spoken clearly of opposition and enemies and while he is preparing the audience for a kind of battle.

Given the environment, we might expect such a letter to send the Philippians off locked, loaded and ready to take no prisoners.  But one of the last thing he says is—let everyone see how gentle you can be.  Paul didn’t write this letter intending that it make for eloquent reading—he’s clearly instructing people to take a course of action—but within that, he’s saying “If people don’t see gentleness, then you’re doing it wrong.”

I think it would be a mistake to minimize gentleness to mean we should just be timid or sheepish.  I don’t think it’s consistent with the rest of the letter for Paul to tell us in the end, “just be meek.”  In a sense, one could limit the definition of gentleness to simply something to the effect of tenderness, or mildness which are not bad things.  These are certainly part of it, but I think it serves us to build a more detailed description of gentleness.  I believe the definition has a connotation of yielding in the sense that one does not need to insist on justice, rights, winning or having our way in every instance.

Gentle people have an air of reason about them such that they are able to let a lot of things go without much hassle.  They reserve their energy and especially their anger for things that merit it.  Yet there are so many things we have a tendency to get worked up about.  We are so attuned to notions of right and wrong that we react so quickly and feel justified in doing so when we are slighted.  Whether we’re not getting the respect we deserve, or feel we’re not being treated fairly, or certain of how right and moral we are on a certain point…we can quickly feel that gives us license to tear into someone.  I’m amazed at how the internet has created a place where even the slightest everyday annoyance or discourtesy gives us a venue to unleash our umbrage—but is that the mark of a person striving to be gentle?

The issues Paul is writing about are not trivial everyday matters, but of far more importance.  These are very important issues and very critical arguments, but even in these there is no point where Paul gives license to tear into the opposition.  Being in despair can cause you to lose civility and I have certainly felt the impulse to tear into people, but there’s no footnote saying “those of you who’ve lost a kid get a pass on this one.”

My ability to be gentle isn’t something that needs to be fabricated or some facade I need to somehow will myself to maintain.  It’s actually rooted something very tangible.  Immediately after he gives the command to be gentle, Paul assures us that the Lord is near.  If we were bobbing in the water after a shipwreck and you told me not to be afraid of drowning, it would sure help if your next words were “I’ve got a raft”.  If we found ourselves in complete darkness and you told me to not be afraid of the dark, I would be very comforted if the next thing you said was “I’ve got a light.”

So there’s the same kind of comfort when Paul says “you can be gentle.  God is near.”  My impulse to not be gentle; to lash out and fight for myself comes from a fear of scarcity.  I may say, if I don’t stick up for myself, who will?  I may be overlooked.  I may not be taken care of.  I may get trampled.  Paul is telling me that I don’t need to panic or fight.  God is right here watching over me. And will fight on our behalf.  If we believe that the peace of God can guard us, then we don’t need to go through life with our hand on the trigger.

While everyday slights often are a pretty good indicator of how well I’m living out profound truths, the exhortation to be gentle needs to extend to places where the stakes are so much higher.  Because if you haven’t noticed, our world is unfortunately not a gentle place.  I know that firsthand, but I’m sure there are people in this room who can come alongside me with their own stories of anguish and sorrow.  We don’t need to pull the lens back all that far before we start to see incredible atrocities and unimaginable depths of human suffering.

In the midst this world, we need to take notice that, despite being a theologian and a reformer, Paul didn’t say “Make sure people clearly see your doctrinal position” or “Let everyone know where you stand on the issues”.  What he did say is “Let your gentleness be known to everyone”.

As I’ve stumbled and limped through the past few weeks, I’ve quickly found that I’m not all that different than the men and women on the patio at the Rescue Mission.  The packages may look different and the circumstances may be varied but the yearning for gentleness when the world has crushed you is very much the same.  We can be as convicted and right as we need to be, but I’m not sure there’s any way to truly fulfill our calling and take on the burden for people in need if gentleness is not clearly evident.  My prayer that such gentleness would be what marks me and the church we belong to.



Clinton Rudolf Geyling (10/1/2008-7/25/2017)

Beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, student, robot and pig, our Rudy’s joyful and miraculous journey with us has come to an end. 

Even knowing that he would face enormous challenges before he was born didn’t prepare us for the magnitude of the battle that lay ahead. While acute medical issues were ever-present in his life, Rudy will be remembered more by his ability to overcome limitations and embrace life with joy and abandon. Against a backdrop of uncertainty, heartbreak and occasional terror, Rudy’s life gave us glimpses of God’s goodness and beauty we never conceived this world could hold. 

Rudy leaves behind a family that loved him deeply: parents, Rolf and Trish, the siblings he adored, Wilson, Max and Olivia, grandmothers JoAn Wilson (Lawrence, KS) and Helga Geyling (Auburn, AL) and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family across the U.S. and Europe. 

One could live 100 years and not experience the depth of love Rudy received in eight and a half years. We are grateful for people near and far who poured such incredible love into Rudy including: the family of Coast Community Church of the Nazarene, Mountain View School and dedicated professionals in the Goleta and SB County school districts, gifted doctors and compassionate medical providers in Santa Barbara and at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, the caring community of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, our courageous cadre of special needs families and countless neighbors, friends, blog readers and even perfect strangers–all of whom discovered that even the simplest care extended to him was reciprocated with an uncannily disproportionate outpouring of his unique brand of Rudy-love. 

Viewing and visitation will be Sunday August 6th from 3-7pm at Coast Community Church of the Nazarene (4973 Via Los Santos, Santa Barbara, CA 93111). Funeral service will be on Monday August 7th, 11am at Living Faith Church (4597 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA 93110–carpooling recommended). Burial and family receiving immediately to follow the service at Goleta Cemetery (44 S San Antonio Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93110). All are welcome wearing bright colors, especially Rudy blue (aqua blue).

Memorial donations in Rudy’s honor can be made to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission (535 E. Yanonali, Santa Barbara, CA, 93103), a very special place to Rudy and our family. 

Something I want to remember

Dear friends,

So much to feel and so much to sort through in our heads and hearts. Much as I want to start this off with assurances that we’re all right, that’d be lying. We are crushed and aching. Most accurate to say that we have some “OK moments”. We are grateful to be together as a family and with extended family.

We’ve so appreciated all the posts and messages–more than we could ever respond to. Such care for our family and a testament of the love that marked Rudy’s life.

As I’ve got a moment where I feel clear-headed enough to write, I want to remind myself of the beauty of Rudy’s last moments. The long-awaited family adventure driving across the southwest to Kansas. In his trademark relentlessness, for weeks there was the daily barrage of “I go Grandma’s house now?” several times an hour.

Travel day started with church, where Rudy felt so safe and loved. He chose to go sit with some teen boys. Having gotten the usual “Go away, Dad!” I sat by myself while the musically talented members of the family (everyone else) led worship. Was so touched to get glimpses across several rows of attentive pats on his back, kids familiar enough with his O2 setup to be adjusting tubes and keeping it from getting tangled, whispers and gestures to keep him mostly quiet.

Then the van adventure was on. Time together seeing new places, laughing and dozing in the van. Deploying in and out of rest stops and hotels–with the rotating care for Rudy that’s just been part of life for our family.

We didn’t know Monday was going to be our last day with Rudy, but so glad it turned out the way it did. At our quick stop to see a corner in Winslow, AZ, Rudy was giddy to pick out a shiny blue truck. As the clerk picked up on his enthusiasm for Cars and Lightning McQueen she gave us directions to the Wigwam Hotel up the interstate in Holbrook–the inspiration for the movie’s Cozy Cone Motel.

Even as it was happening, I knew I’d never forget it. Our little boy squealing as he scurried around the muddy gravel parking lot of the kitschy little place with its eclectic assortment of cars. Many of them didn’t appear to run and most barely looked anything like the movie characters but that didn’t stop his identifying them as such. “Look! Hudson! Doc! Sarge! Fillmore! Ramon! Mater!”

He would run himself breathless, ask to be carried and just as quickly demand to walk again. A maid even let him go inside one of the rooms to check it out. Heard his newest expression “I’m so excited!!!” many times. The big sibs entered into the experience like they always do, taking turns holding his hand, the oxygen concentrator and carrying him when he needed it. Gave Trish and I the chance to have one of those “Did you ever think we’d see our little boy doing this?” moments.

I’m so glad we were aware of this and so glad that this was what marked Rudy’s last days with us: being immersed in the love of the family smitten with him and being rendered breathless by his ability to extract more joy from a moment than any of us ever could.

We’ve seen things more beautiful than we ever knew existed. The weight of losing this is unbearable. So grateful for people who’ve walked with us and trusting that this will be what God uses to lead us from here.

More when we can.