October 3, 2011

Thoughts and Pictures from Joni

This Saturday we were able to share a fried turkey dinner with the whole family.  Getting a deep fryer for a turkey (as my Dad already wrote about) is one of the many spontaneous and creative ideas that my Dad is famous for.  He is always coming up with fun things that we should do, places to visit, things to try... and he doesn't just talk about them, he makes it happen!  We gathered for an afternoon of relaxed family time at my sisters beautiful property and enjoyed a typical Saturday afternoon - and yet since the ALS diagnosis, not so typical anymore. 

Life is different now.  It has taken on new meaning, and family gatherings have a new significance.  I usually take pictures (a lot of pictures!) of our family times, but of the 500 or so I usually take, I normally delete many of them.  I can't do that anymore!  Looking through pictures of my dad with the family, even blurry ones or ones that didnt turn out quite right, I just can't get rid of them! I want to hold on to these memories forever. 

I know that looking back on the slides (does that date me???) and the pictures of our childhood, we remember the things we have a photo of.  I want our children, especially the young ones, to remember times with Opa.  What's hard is to capture a natural interaction between our children and Dad...the fact that he is dying, is always right there in the forefront of our minds.

We have been blessed with wonderful parents. We have a Mom and a Dad that love the Lord, love each other and love us.  We didnt need Disney vacations or fancy clothes or dinners at restaurants - we had a home full of love and fun; we had security and safety and grew up knowing who we were, why we were here on this earth and where we were going.  This is the most precious gift you could ever give your children.  Garage sale clothes, vacations in a borrowed pop up trailer, and lots of laughter and loving - what more could we ask for!

My Dad is so interesting to be around - taking a nature hike becomes a lesson in God's amazing design in creation, an impromptu visit becomes a chance to slice up some cheese and pull out the best wine - no saving anything for later - that day's visit is reason enough for celebration to him.

Here is a peek into our Saturday get together...

Ten grandchildren!

Still able to laugh... nice 'stache Dad!

We were able to get a picture of Mom and Dad with each of their grandchildren. A picture I think each of them will cherish years down the road.

Lena (12)

Titus (10)

Elijah (8)

Jack (7)

Ethan (5)

Benjamin (4)

Maya (3)

Aliya (3)

Ella (3)

and Roman! (1)

I love how Maya's holding on to Dad's hands here.   

Benjamin has always had a special relationship with his Opa.  All the grandkids love their Opa so much, but Benjamin turns to Opa as easily as he turns to his own Dad.  On Saturday he got hurt on the trampoline and made a beeline to Opa for comfort...the fact that Opa uses a walker, makes no difference to him; his hugs are still the same.

The love that our church and school community has showered on my Dad and also on all of the rest of the family, has been such a blessing.  It's an amazing feeling to know that your Dad, who you love and esteem so highly, is also valued by so many other people.  I love hearing the stories people tell of fun times with my Dad or ways in which he has touched their lives in a meaningful way.  Thank you for your love and support.  Thank you for sending meals and visits to my parents.  Thank you for talking to us kids at church and at school and saying that you are thinking and praying for us too!  We have amazing friends and a solid church family that is wrapping us up in prayers and love and it is making this journey so much easier for us all.  This is how the world can know that we love Christ - that we show love for one another - what a powerful witness!  (John 13:35)

Love you dad,


  1. As long as I can remember I have always envied your family's closeness. I wished my dad would treat me like yours treated you girls. But my dad was different than all other dads any of my friends had. Your dad is slowly slipping behind the barrier of ALS. I have lived all my life with a dad trapped behind the barrier of mental illness. In a wierd way I can relate with you.

  2. Continued....
    The reason I find myself relating with you in a reverse kind of way is in the past year my dad was on a "sick leave" and in that time our family had a "real" dad for the first time. As he returns to work we are losing him once again. Be grateful for the years and years that you have had a "real" dad. You are truly blessed....

  3. May God strengthen you and especially give you grace and patience to accept what He gives you, knowing His ways are alwaysr best.