Hey, everybody! Hello from all of us!
That being said, make no mistake, we were extremely blessed this year. The first quarter of the year was pretty quiet except for winter and lots of snow . . . buttloads of snow. Webster doesn’t define “buttload,” but from someone who thinks snow is a four-letter word, a buttload means snowfall 2x/week usually ending up piled up to my keister. I’m 6’1”. It always provokes feelings of anxiety when I realize I’m too Dutch (practical) to go buy a snow blower. In the first place, my garage won’t hold another thing, and second, what kind of a load on society can’t shovel his own driveway to stay in shape. Now that it’s in season, I can go pay premium price for a snow blower. Go figure.
April and May led to colon resection surgery for me. For those of you up on your anatomy, you know what a wreck that is. I was clueless, and all I knew was that your colon is involved in getting your groceries from here to there. Your colon is 2.5cm, and my colon had a 4.5cm mass. I think I even impressed my gastroenterologist. And you think your shower drain is slow! If you do the math on a 2.5cm colon with a 4.5cm mass, you understand why my family accused my eye color of changing. April: mass removed, four days in hospital, benign, noncancerous. Thank you, Jesus. May: scar tissue strictured my colon shut down to .5cm, another seven days in the hospital. Webster defines “shut” as to prevent entrance to or exit from. They were able to put a stent in my colon with a colonoscope, thus preventing a second surgery. I lost 30 pounds in a month and a week. All that was left of me was lips and tennis shoes.
As I began the process coming back from all of this, my brother and I were in the process of buying rental houses, all here local and all of which needed rehab work. Who knew it was better to shut off the breaker BEFORE rewiring a new outlet rather than vaporizing a tool with a bright flash of light like you just got your picture taken?
July was some R&R with our tractor club’s annual tractor ride around central Iowa. There were about 200 tractors. Two-day ride. Very nice weather.
Farmers are religious about our John Deeres and coffee time. I was in the food line when my phone rang that my pickup caught fire in front of my house. If you know anything about me, you know I do what I can to take care of my vehicles and take a very proactive approach to any hint of problems. 10:00 a.m. on Friday out of the blue, the pig decided to combust under the hood, and before the smoke cleared, it looked like it had been murdered right there. If you’ve ever had a truck and found out how handy they are or just like riding higher than dragging your backside on the pavement low in a car, then you understand that truck was a part of my family. A faulty cruise control switch, former recall before I owned it, was probably the culprit. 4x4 extended cab, 200,000 miles, ’97 model, liability only, seemed like the thing to do at the time. Had just purchased new Nerf bars less than a year ago, God bless ‘em. Hindsight’s 20-20, right? This was the vehicle Haley was driving, so we mourned over it together. Rest in peace, Hank Jr.
We had the camper out three times this year in July, due to sheer determination, and then again over Labor Day. We were still working on houses burning the candle on both ends and in the middle. You get the kind of year we’re having. We’re still not done.
Heath is now a senior at Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa, majoring in accounting, doing extremely well, and is very involved with a cute little gal named Jenny we think an awful lot of. She is a nursing student, doing well, and lives two blocks away. Kind of sounds like Jacki and I back in the day (2 miles). We were all pretty stoked for him to be able to drive again on June 9. He’s now been seizure free for a year, and he got a great report from Iowa City in November. No change in size of brain tumor and supposed to get tested again next year. Way to go, Idaho! Love you so much, buddy!
Haley is a freshman at Ashford where Heath goes, but she is living on campus while Heath is living at home and commuting. She comes home and graces us with her presence and her laundry on the weekends though. She actually had a science class with Heath first semester, and they are quite competitive. Haley got to go to Cancun for spring break with a very close-knit group of high school buddies, and she dreams of when and how she can go to Africa again. She graduated high school last December, we spoiled her with a big party in May, and she’s been working her butt off to save money for taking care of Jacki and me when we get older, I guess, because she doesn’t spend her money on much except her Roth IRA. She is a stellar student, and I love you, babe.
Kelsey is our tenacious swimmer. She’s in her sophomore year of high school and gets herself to those 0:dark:30 a.m. practices with her school permit. She ran the Bix (local 7-mile race) this summer. A friend of hers invited her to spend a week on a houseboat on Lake Powell in Arizona. I couldn’t have been more jealous, the skunk. She seems to have more determination and competitive spirit than all the rest of us put together. She detasseled corn this summer and is looking forward to a chorus/orchestra trip to New York over spring break. She’s also beginning fundraisers for her trip to France this summer with her French class. She’s like the Energizer bunny. I love you and am so proud of you!
Keaton’s going through a stage where he knows he’s the youngest, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it. He’s our 6th grader built like a football player, but they don’t offer that in 6th grade. He’s the most naturally gifted of us all musically and switched from cello to the double bass. He’s becoming an accomplished pianist. He’s very gifted in advanced math classes and will be completing 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math all in 6th grade. You know how some people just ooze talent? That would be him. He takes after his mother – stinker. I love you, buddy. You make a father proud!
We’re teaching our kids that you have to win at something. Winning gets you respect. Respect gets you influence. Influence gets you leadership, and with leadership you change the world. Heaven knows it needs it.
Jacki is the glue that’s held this circus together this year as always. She’s involved with women’s ministries at church and leads a Bible study, but our “small group” from church is our family. There is no higher calling, and no one could do it better or with more grace. I married up big-time, and with all the stress our family has been through this year, you are first-class. It brings a major lump to my throat to think how blessed I am to be married to you for 27 years this January.
On November 30 we did hand-to-hand combat with my colon for the second time this year, and that added another seven days of hospitalization to my resume. We knew the stent would have to come out and that I’d have to have another resection surgery. Those bowel preps are a blast (pun intended). If you’ve ever seen the movie “Dumb and Dumber,” turbo lax, you know what I mean. Webster defines turbo as “driven by a turbine powered by exhaust gas.” If that hurts your head, just think of it as “before quick.” I didn’t dare turn my back on myself. I just didn’t trust it, if you know what I mean . . . yeah, serious repercussions, man. Hello! Recovery is going well so far. I’m supposed to be out of the office for four to six weeks. Today marks a week and a half, and I had a family to my house for an appointment yesterday. Nobody accused me of being smart . . . yeah, probably won’t do that again for a while. Narcotic painkillers give me bad dreams . . . bad, man . . . funerals for living people, “Red Solo Cup” (Toby Keith country song), etc.
Well, if you haven’t fallen asleep yet, I need to close this. Bathroom calling. Raising a family with your values is the highest calling but just not always the most urgent!
Listen, if you have your health, be thankful. If all your children are around your table over the holidays, be thankful. If you have a pickup to put on the end of your key, be thankful. Make 2012 your year. Go win at something. From all of us to all of you, have a blessed Christmas and a happy new year. Proverbs 3:5-6