Archive for May 2008

The Spencer Tornado

Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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May used to be my favorite month of the year but after having a fourth straight golf outing called off because of weather..either too cold, too wet, too windy or a combination of all three, I’ve about given up on it.
As I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself, I got to thinking about a weather related event I got to see first hand during the month of May ten years ago. Suddenly memories came rushing back about the little town 45 miles west of Sioux Falls that was pretty much erased from existence by a giant tornado.
320 people lived in the farming community of Spencer, South Dakota in 1998. Like most little towns, Main street businesses weren’t as plentiful or profitable as they once were. Still, folks took pride in their houses and yards. The abundant trees provided shade from the hot summer sun and plenty of leaves to rake in the fall. The grain elevator was doing okay and so was the Lutheran church.
But then at around 8:30 in the evening of May 30th, an F-4 tornado packing winds up to 260 miles an hour swept down from the evil dark clouds and began churning a path of destruction with little Spencer, South Dakota right in its sights.
Within six minutes the beast had roared through town leaving in its wake, six people dead and a third of the residents with varying degrees of injuries. Most of Spencer’s 190 buildings had been obliterated.
The next day, I went along with a crew from Keloland to help document the mind boggling devastation.
This is what we saw:Perhaps everyone’s most memorable image from Spencer; the twisted water towerAs I walked along the street I picked up a picture of a little girl..her school photo no doubt. I wonder if she was the grandchild of one of the victims.A lifetime of work and memories, gone in six minutes.The elevator took a big hitI walked by a house with just a couple walls standing. There was a beeping sound coming from the rubble. It was the smoke detector still blurting out it’s warning. A clock on another wall was still hanging and still running.There were a few places still standing but most were too far gone to be salvaged and were torn downResidents walk the streets in stunned silence wondering what lies aheadIt’s estimated that the Spencer tornado caused 18 million dollars damage.Thanks to an incredible outpouring of support from Keloland viewers, a telethon for the victims raised over a million dollars to help ease the sting. In the past ten years, several people have been able to rebuild in Spencer..even plant new trees, yards and gardens. But anyone who survived that awful storm can’t help but get a bit nervous whenever storm clouds form in the west.AUTHORS NOTE: The Spencer Tornado 10th anniversary special that was postponed because of storm coverage Thursday, has been rescheduled for Inside Keloland Sunday night at 10:30 Central time.

Atkins Diet Update

Posted: Monday, May 26, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Well, it’s been a month on the Atkins low carb diet for me now and I haven’t thrown myself in front of a moving pickup truck yet or snuck off to the B&G Milky Way for a large blackraspberry malt. I’m getting used to apologizing in public for my stomach which is constantly growling like a lion in heat.
Four weeks without bread, pasta, sugar, potatoes, corn, beer and ice cream and what do I have to show for it?
One notch on my belt.
If you recall, I prefer the fit of my clothing as a measure of weight loss over scales which can be too depressing if the numbers aren’t to your liking.
Anyway, I figured a guy my size would have lost a lot more by now especially when Linda..who wants to shed a few pounds too,  is on the same diet and is now getting into clothes that were too tight four weeks ago.
Oh well, I’m not too discouraged but the thought of bacon and eggs again this morning was so unappealing that I passed on breakfast and will wait until we have burgers on the grill…without the bun of course, later this afternoon.
I am getting some encouragement from friends. On Wednesday, a few of my golfing pals said they could tell I looked slimmer. Then, realizing I wasn’t buying into their patronizing, they broke into laughter.
On Friday, a friend said she could see a difference in my face. You mean I’m more handsome? I asked. No, it’s just that your cheeks seem to be more sunken in.
Great, I’m losing weight in my cheeks.
In order to break out of the monotony of meat, eggs and cheese, I’ve been scanning the web for recipes and places where I might be able to buy this low carb flour I’ve heard about. It’s probably made out of sawdust but at this point I’d be willing to eat pulverized mesquite bark if it could be turned into buttered toast or something I could make a sandwich out of.
I keep going, though..motivated by thoughts of what life will be like someday when I no longer have to insist we sit at a “table” in the restaurant because a booth might be too tight; being able to walk across the street without my knees aching; going to the closet and picking out something to wear that isn’t 3X and black; flying without having to request an extender to get the seat belt fastened; having a dance with Linda and being able to see my private parts without having to look in the mirror.
I hate to leave you with that last mental image but Linda says dinner is ready.
“Honey, do you want green beans or cauliflower with your left over ham?”

WARNING: Proud Grandpa Alert

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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We had just seen our granddaughter, Allison, at her graduation open house a few hours earlier but as all 529 Washingon High School seniors slowly marched onto the Arena floor to the familiar melody of Pomp and Circumstance, a whole row of proud family members, including Linda and me, were on our feet straining to get a glimpse of her amid a sea of Orange and Black.
Argus Leader photo“Is that her?” someone said.
“No, she’s wearing her mortar board hat farther back on her head,” said mom, Patty, standing on her tiptoes with camera at the ready not wanting to miss a moment of this momentous occasion.
“There she is!” Allison’s proud daddy, Allen, said. And, sure enough that cute little gap-toothed girl, who stole grandpa’s heart 18 years ago, appeared.
Only she had suddenly been transformed into a beautiful young woman with a perfect smile walking gracefully and confidently from kid-dom to adulthood before our very eyes.
Allison Hout surrounded by her awards and memoriesIn her four years at WHS, Allison has accumulated a room full of awards for her involvement in debate, academics, concert band and marching band but they don’t pass out trophies for the thing about her that makes me most proud; her tender heart and concern for others.
When Allison blew out her knee during a marching band competition in 2006, she literally crawled off the field so as to not mess up her bandmates. After a doctor re-set her kneecap, she insisted on returning for the band’s evening performance..playing her clarinet from the sidelines.
When a friend from debate was having some trouble at home, Allison, with the okay from mom and dad, took her in.Mom Patty, Allison, Dad Allen and kid brother, Michael who is saving his smile for the class of 2011.
When that same friend wasn’t going to have an open house for graduation, Allison suggested that she share hers..which she did.  Unselfish gestures like that aren’t taught in school, they’re a gift from God.
Is it any wonder why we’re so proud and love her so? Congratulations honey!

Y’all Come Back, Now, Ya Hear?

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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For the last 23 years, Linda and I have made it a point to celebrate our anniversary in late June by taking a road trip somewhere. They’ve all been fun but some more memorable than others.
For example, in 1987, we managed to talk our bosses into letting us have three whole weeks off at once so we could jump in the car and head south.
Soon we were meandering through Dixie..taking the time to stop and see what life was really like in this part of the country. 

After years of watching news reports of all the racial hatred and violence in places like Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, I admit to having some apprehensions about going there. I had visions of being pulled over by one of those stereotypical gum-chewing southern cops, like Rod Steiger in "In the heat of the night" who don’t take kindly to strangers of any color.
"Ta hell you think your doin’ boy..don’t they have speed limits upair in South Dakota?"
"Yes, sir but I wasn’t speeding."
"Y’all callin’ me a liar boy? We’ll now, we don’t cotton to you northern folks comin’ down here with your Yankee smart ass attitudes. A couple nights in the slammer just might  fix up that sassy mouth ah yours real good."
But it turns out that the people we encountered in the south are actually more like Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry than Bull Connor of Birmingham.
People were friendly and outgoing everywhere we went and I really got used to waitresses referring to me as honeychil’ or sugar.  "Y’all have a wonderful day now, sweetie pie."
Linda didn’t mind it either when men called her ma’am and darlin’.
My brother and his wife recently bought a home by a big lake in South Carolina and want us to come down for a visit. I wonder how they’d feel about the entire month of November.
Another memorable road trip was the first time we headed up to Mackinac (Pronounced Mack-in-aw) Island in Northern Michigan. We had just gotten our Camaro convertible. The weather was perfect for leaving the top down for the enjoyable drive through Wisconsin…then, after a three hour ferryboat ride across Lake Michigan we headed up the eastern shore to Mackinac City. From there we climbed aboard a people ferry over to the Island where no motorized vehicles are allowed. It’s all buggies and wagons that are powered by real horses. Because of those animals, there is a distinct, but not entirely unpleasant aroma about the place..especially when mixed with the smells of chocolate fudge and other  treats from the many shops and restaurants along main street. Then there is the intoxicating odor of the lilacs. Lilac bushes and trees are everywhere and so are millions of gorgeous flowers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason they’re so abundant and healthy had something to do with all of that horse poop collected from the streets and stables.
The island’s Grand Hotel truly is grand!  This huge wooden structure has somehow survived over a century without having a fire.  It’s a magnificent place that still features all the amenities that have attracted aristocrats, celebrities, presidents and royalty since the late 19th century.
Linda and I spent a memorable afternoon sipping gimlets in the cupola bar on the very top of the Grand Hotel that offered an amazing panoramic view of the island and the Straights of Mackinac.
We loved it so much we’ve been back twice.
This summer, though, I think if we travel at all, it will be closer to home..partly in rebellion to the insane gasoline prices..partly because our California and Arizona kids will be coming here for their vacation and partly because there are a lot of places within a couple hundred miles of our front door that we’ve  been meaning to visit but never gotten around to.
So, if you spot a heavy-set grey-haired guy and his wife driving slowly through your town in a 14 year old red Camaro convertible with the top down..wave us on over and maybe show us around. Afterward, perhaps we can sit in the shade, have a couple vodka gimlets together and watch the sunset. Do’ne that soun’  like fun sweet pea?

The Mower set on Low

Posted: Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It’s been a pretty busy week for this old retired guy.Wednesday Linda and I went to the retirement party for three Patrick Henry teachers, including our longtime friend and music mate, John Mogen.John has been teaching your kids to sing and to play an instrument for 32 years from Parkston to Lennox to Sioux Falls.
He’s an energetic gentle giant who loves life and loves people.  He’s running for the state legislature hoping everyone who knows him will vote for him. If that happens, he’ll win in a landslide.
Thursday, my golf buddies continued to have fun at my expense over my endorsement of Barack Obama for president. As we were about to tee off, Bob pulled out Obama for Pres. Stickers for all of us to wear. But the joke was on them because each of my conservative pals wound up hitting everything to the left.
This weekend is extra special as my delightful granddaughter, Allison Hout graduates from Washington High on Sunday. She’ll be heading off to Lincoln in the Fall to attend the University of Nebraska. She’s trying out for the band and I’m expecting her to score some Husker tickets.
Our other granddaughter, Zoey, is here too so I’m in heaven.
I’ll probably bore you with some pictures on Monday.
Meantime, I had a busy week with the camera; the bunnies in the flower pot and folks trying to keep up with the fast growing grass.
Look closely at the second one..or don’t look closely if you have a low ewwww  tolerance factor.
This is normal  lawn mowing.This is lawn mowing on crack."

Me and My Big Mouth

Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Sometimes it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself.
I didn’t and it appears to have cost me the respect of my golfing buddies. (As if I had any in the first place.)
Our Tuesday golf outing at Brandon had to be cut short after just nine holes “again” because of cold and rain and that awful wind that penetrates even the most well insulated of us.
So Bob says, “Let’s go to the steakhouse, I’ll buy you one.”
All five of us thought an early 19th hole was a fine idea. Gene, who decided to do yardwork instead of golf joined us and by the time it got around to Denny’s turn to buy, we’d pretty much forgotten about the weather and started commenting on the condition of the world as only those who’ve imbibed perhaps a bit too much have a tendency to do.
I think Gary said something about how it cost him 100 bucks to get his pick-up filled with gas that morning. So we began to analyze and theorize the reasons behind the insane..seemingly unending increases in the cost of fuel..and the ripple effect it has on the cost of just about everything. “It’s not the Arabs, you know,” Gene said.  “We get most of the oil in this country from Canada and Mexico.”
“Well, maybe we ought to be sending invasion forces in the direction of our neighbors to the north and to the south, then,” one of us said jokingly.
I happened to mention to the boys about my visit with our financial planner last week.
He had the tough task of telling me that our meager little retirement portfolio has not been immune to the perils of Wall Street and  that we’re probably lucky to have only lost 5% so far this year. “5 Percent of our money is gone..just like that?” I said.
“’Fraid so, even the bond market has taken a big hit. But it should come back..the market always comes back.”
“Hey, Bill, it’s your turn to buy a round,” someone at the table said.
Then, Denny, Bob and Gene, who all have made vast sums of money through hard work and wise investments,  chimed-in about having to tough-out these difficult economic times.
“It would sure be a lot easier if this country wasn’t throwing away billions of dollars a month on that stupid war,” I said.
Instead of my pals nodding in agreement, they all got kind of quiet.
I paid no attention and proceeded to blurt out the words that left my conservative chums slack-jawed in disbelief and me wishing I’d think before I speak.
“I’m leaning towards voting for Obama,” I said.
At once I could feel  five pairs of eyes burning right through me.
“You’re kidding, right?” Bob said.
“Nah, I’m not. He’s the only one talking about getting out of Iraq and bringing about some positive and necessary changes. Hillary might be saying it too..but I don’t believe a thing she or her husband have ever said.
I like and admire McCain but he’s getting up there and I guess I’d rather see someone with a fresh perspective running things for awhile.
With a look of extreme disappointment, Denny hung his head and muttered something about always figuring that I was one of them…a Republican.
Then Bob and Gene opened up with both barrels. “Don’t you think Obama believes in the same crappola as his minister?  Oh, and his wife…now she’s a piece of work. You really want HER to be the first lady? He may not admit it but he’s a Muslim, you know.”
Gary and Bill wanted to jump in too but decided it wouldn’t be fair to pile-on when I was already so clearly outnumbered.
 When the laughter and ridicule died down, Bob ordered another round.
“We still love ya Dougie even though you’ve slipped over to the dark side.”
So I’ll find out on Thursday if they still let me play golf with them.
Meantime, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if I get a call from a stunned Todd David Epp wanting to do lunch and talk about OUR guy, Barack.
P.S. Linda scared the snot out of me yesterday when I heard her let out a scream from the front deck. She was about to dig into the dirt to plant some flowers when she saw something moving under the soil.
Mrs. Cottontail had hop, hop, hopped down the bunny trail and deposited five little ones in the flower pot.
 I guess the petunas will have to wait awhile.

Atkins Again

Posted: Monday, May 12, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Psssst..hey buddy, I’ll give you fifty bucks for that beautiful brown caramel roll. Do you know where I can score some potatoes? How about a few lines of powdered sugar?
Yup, you guessed it. I’m on the Atkins Diet again and after just one week I’d crawl across the street in my underwear for anything made of wheat..a muffin..a waffle..a biscuit..spaghetti or toast, oh wonderful toast!
What I didn’t tell you about my doctor’s exam a few days ago is that my blood tests showed I’m border line diabetic and he said the best way to avoid crossing the border to becoming a full fledged diabetic is to cut my glucose level. Since our bodies don’t distinguish between carbohydrates and sugar, I need to reduce my carb intake. He suggested the best way to do that was to follow the Atkins, South Beach or a similar low carb diet plan. Yes, you have to give up the starchy and sugary foods you love but there are so many other things you CAN have that are forbidden in most diets.
I tried Atkins once before..eight years ago.. when it was all the rage. People were losing tons of weight without having to give up meat, eggs, butter and cheese..even wine and vodka. Well, I liked the sound of that so even though some dieticians said Atkins was unhealthy, I tuned them out in favor of bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning..ham for lunch and steak for supper  if I wanted.
I lost weight too. I just don’t know how much since, like a lot of fat people, I’ve found scales tend to be diet breakers. If you step up and see you haven’t lost as many pounds as you’d hoped or even put on a couple, the disappointment can be staggering and will drive many, like me, into just giving up out of frustration.   
Instead, I would gauge my progress by the fit of my clothes. I had..and still have..nearly new clothing hanging in the closet that I’ve outgrown. When I can start wearing them again I know the diet is working. Trouble is, many of the jackets have plaid checks and wide lapels. The shirts have collars six inches long and the pants have bell bottoms and big cuffs. They’ve been there awhile.
As I sit here, my stomach is growling at me..angry that it’s way past feeding time. But I’m just not up for another egg right now or that leftover hamburger in the fridge.
Maybe this is why you can lose weight on Atkins; you get so sick of high fat low carb stuff that you just stop eating altogether.
I know it gets easier after a while and there are lots of low-carb recipes yet to be explored.. but this morning I feel like Adam and Eve.
They had the run of the garden; frolicking around, naked as jay birds, with all the food and fun they could possibly want. The only thing off limits was fruit from the tree of knowledge.
I’m sure they were both curious about why God was so fussy about that one tree but they honored his wishes.
Then one day, Eve got to talking with this snake who was going on and on about what they were missing and before you know it, Eve had helped herself to fruit from the forbidden tree and got Adam to take a bite too.
Well, suddenly they became painfully aware that neither of them had a stitch on. He noticed she had quite a bit of junk in the trunk and she no longer thought his love handles were cute.
God was really ticked-off and, after a good scolding, sent them both packing out of the garden and into the wilderness where they were forced to take up farming.
Now, the Bible doesn’t say exactly what kind of fruit grew from the tree of knowledge.
Maybe it wasn’t an apple after all. Maybe they were both on Atkins and the forbidden fruit was actually puff pastries, or fresh sweet corn ripe for the picking, or baked potatoes or pasta cooked al dente.
Hunger plays strange tricks on the mind.

I’m Sorry Mom..and Thanks Again

Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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"Geeze, it sure would be nice if we could hear how we sounded," my cousin said after a 1961 practice session at our house. With our electric guitars cranked high, we’d spend hours trying to figure out the right chords and correct Everly Brothers harmony for the latest rock and roll hit songs.
"I hear Larsen’s Music in Lake Preston has a tape recorder for a hundred bucks," Grouse said.  "Oh, man that would be great, let’s see if we can get it," I replied."It’s not going to be "we," said Grouse, I’m still making payments on my Fender guitar that I bought from Larsen..a guitar that "you" wound up playing more than me.""Alright, I’ll ask mom if she’ll co-sign for the thing," I said. It turned out to be a typical whining beg fest, but mom finally gave in on my promise that I would make the payments.. not having a clue as to where I’d get the money. It turned out to be one of many promises I would fail to deliver on in my youth.
I just came across the receipt for that tape recorder while going through some old boxes the other day.
I’d like to say that tape recorder was a big help in establishing a major foothold in our rise to rock and roll stardom  but, in fact, we used it mainly for clowning around. We’d invite friends over and record reel after reel of silly voices, fart sounds and uncontrolled laughter but very little of us rehearsing. On one tape you can actually hear me yelling something unkind to my mom in the other room..the same mother who scrimped and saved so I could have that stupid machine in the first place. I’s not uncommon for 15 year old boys to say and do regrettable things to their moms but I wish there was a way to let her know just how sorry I am for being such an unappreciative teenage jerk. I must have felt a little bad for not always treating her with the respect she deserved. In that same box  I found this note I’d written to her (probably in Sunday School) around  the same time.That rather generic note reminded me of a wonderful poem by Billy Collins that says it much better.
The LanyardBilly CollinsThe other day I was ricocheting slowlyoff the blue walls of this room,moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,when I found myself in the L section of the dictionarywhere my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelistcould send one into the past more suddenly—a past where I sat at a workbench at a campby a deep Adirondack lakelearning how to braid long thin plastic stripsinto a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyardor wear one, if that’s what you did with them,but that did not keep me from crossingstrand over strand again and againuntil I had made a boxyred and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,and I gave her a lanyard.She nursed me in many a sick room,lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.Here are thousands of meals, she said,and here is clothing and a good education.And here is your lanyard, I replied,which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,strong legs, bones and teeth,and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.And here, I wish to say to her now,is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,but the rueful admission that when she tookthe two-tone lanyard from my hand,I was as sure as a boy could bethat this useless, worthless thing I woveout of boredom would be enough to make us even.Happy Mother’s Day!
If you’d like to see and hear Billy Collins reading The Lanyard, click here.*A footnote: Be sure and check out Hemmingsen’s Friday blog on what would have been his mom’s 99th. birthday. It’s a tremendous tribute to her and a rare glimpse into Steve’s family. 

The Sport of Kings..and Queens

Posted: Monday, May 5, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It wasn’t meant to be a Kentucky Derby party. Our friends, Denny and Joanie came over  Saturday to help us hang a ceiling fan in my computer room. 
By "help" I mean Denny actually does the work.
It turns out, though,  we didn’t have the proper bracket so it’s a job that will have to wait for another day.
It was finally nice enough to be outside.. as long as you sat on the sunny side of the deck and, as we were enjoying a cocktail or two, the conversation got around to the Derby..or stuff associated with the "Run for the Roses."
As long as we were talking about the Derby anyway, we decided around 4 O’clock that we might as well go in and watch it.
The race itself lasts only a couple minutes but the preliminaries, designed to stimulate viewer excitement, have been going on for three hours.
Here’s sort of how the conversation went as we watched and waited for post time.
"Have you ever had a mint julep?"  "Nah, I don’t care much for Kentucky whiskey in the first place and mixing it with squished mint leaves, sugar, water and crushed ice just sounds nasty."
"I dunno, I hear they’re pretty good."
"The women must drink a lot of them in order to get up the nerve to wear some of those big goofy hats they have on.""I love hats," Linda and Joanie both said at once. "Why don’t you wear them once in a while then?" we replied, knowing as soon as the words came out that it was an idiotic thing to say.
"Wonderful, they chirped, we’ll have ours bought and ready for when you take us to Churchill Downs in person next year to show them off."
Trying quickly to change the subject, I asked what horse they liked to win. Hard not to like "Big Brown,"
I said.
"Where do they come up with such dumb names."
"Big Brown is owned by UPS which has all those big brown parcel delivery trucks."
"I see there’s a horse called "Big Truck" in the race, is he owned by UPS too?"
"No, that’s a long shot owned by some insurance guy from New York."
"Well, I’d like for Eight Belles to win," said Joanie. "It’s about time a lady horse beat all those men horses for a change."
“Speaking of that, I hear Hillary has a bet on her to win," said Linda.
"Well, that’s the kiss of death," I said..trying to be funny not prophetic.
I should have known that you don’t joke around about female race horses.
Hemmingsen learned that lesson years ago when perhaps the best known and most successful filly of all time, Ruffian, broke down during a race and had to be euthanized.
Steve, after reading the story on the air, made one of his famous candid comments in which he was critical of all the fuss. “It’s only a horse,” he said sarcastically..not realizing at the time he was opening a flood gate of fury from our viewers.
The phone calls to Kelo protesting Steve’s remarks might still be coming in.
Ruffian was more than just another race horse. She had become beloved and a symbol of how females can and should be just as powerful and valued as their male counterparts.  
Now, all these years later and here I am..kidding around about Eight Belles and Mrs. Clinton only to have our living room turn silent when  they announced that after finishing second to Big Brown in the race, Eight Belles had gone down on the back stretch breaking both ankles.
Before the exhausted animal could even catch her breath, a vet had started to administer the lethal injection that would end her agony. There’s no surviving that kind of injury.
Now, it’s on to the Preakness where Big Brown will try win the second jewel of the elusive triple crown.
But it just won’t be the same without that big hearted filly nipping at his heels..challenging for the lead.I’m not making any predictions on a winner.

J Says Goodbye

Posted: Friday, May 2, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Dear Readers. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a former Keloland co-worker I identified only as "J." After suffering a stroke 15 years ago she was left unable to speak or move below the neck. "J" had made a conscious decision to end her life. I can tell you now that her actual name is Jan of the most capable, caring, good natured..and it turns out "bravest" people I’ve ever known.Jan completed her journey of life on earth this past week. She passed away peacefully at Harmony House in Waterloo, Iowa..her home since the stroke.Jan’s dad died when she was very young. In recent years she lost her mother..who also had a stroke at a young age..and her brother, Ron. Her sister Susie was the only immediate family left and honored Jan’s wishes to stop all nourishment and allow her to die. Jan’s faith was strong and in spite of her confinements, she was a joy to be around for those treasured friends who came to see her. She never lost the ability to laugh.I wanted to share a final note that Jan had written..not to make you sad..but to appreciate her faith, strength and relilef that her long painful ordeal is finally over.Jan Denise Peterson  1960 – 2008Dear Family and Friends, Thank you for coming today. I want this to be a celebration of my life, not a mourning of my death. I requested a closed casket. I want you to remember how I looked when I was alive. I planned my own service today. Thank you to those of you taking part. To my friends and staff at On With Life in Ankeny, thank you so much for all you did for me. My computer and wheelchair enabled me to be so independent! I will never forget you. To my friends and staff at Harmony House in Waterloo, thank you for taking such good care of me. Thank you for holding my hand when I would cry because I missed everyone so much. Thank you for being there. For all my family and friends, thank you so much for being there for me and my family all those years. Thank you for all the things you have given me over the years, for all your visits, cards, e-mails, for everything. I have loved them all. I am being buried today with all of my absolute favorite things. Drowsy, the doll my daddy gave me when I was born, the stuffed bear my niece Kristin gave me when I first had my stroke, the pillow Susie gave me, made from my brother’s jeans, a beautiful suncatcher from Susie, a soft cat my brother gave me and a beautiful pink blanket from my dear Aunt Elaine. On my wrists are the beautiful friendship bracelets my best friend Monica has made for me over the years. I am wearing my favorite On With Life sweatshirt, along with my Amanda the Panda warm fuzzies. I am up in heaven now, with Daddy, Mom and Ron and all my other family and friends. I can talk and walk again and I am free of all pain. I am having the time of my life! I can’t wait to give you all a big hug when I see you again! I love you all! Jan