Owen, immediately upon waking: “Olivia pulled my hair. My pajamas are too tight. I need coffee.”
One of my favorite blogs is known for occasionally submitting “WORDS” in place of actual commentary, as if real sentences can’t do justice to the ridiculousness of the situation. It’s likely an overreaction to do so here as I outline the past couple of weeks, but it’s tempting. If nothing else, it might explain my delay in writing.
Ava had her tonsils out nearly two weeks ago. A couple of days prior to her scheduled surgery, our ENT recommended a third set of tubes for Olivia, who had straight up failed a hearing test at school. The scheduling nurse suggested we bring them into the surgery center on the same day. At first I was reluctant, but in the end, it was hard to argue with the efficiency a joint recuperation created.
Both surgeries went well, and it wasn’t truly stressful until the girls were in recovery. (These were the fourth and fifth surgeries we’ve had as a family with this doctor, and so we knew we were in good hands.) But, it felt worrisome as Bryan and I bounced between post-op rooms, each of us catching only half of the instructions imperative for our patients.
Olivia, who initially–and quite literally–protested surgery, woke with no discomfort and a smile on her face, thanks to a renewed ability to hear. Ava, on the other hand, struggled through strong pain medicine, and resisted the very things that would ease her transition from hospital to home.
Ava continued to do the same (as she’s known to do) for days on end. She would occasionally yield, allowing us to give her pain medication and popsicles without protest. In my experience, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a child in tremendous pain decline obvious remedies. WORDS.
But, the week progressed, and both girls were the beneficiary of incredible generosity: visits, calls, cards, gifts, homemade soup, balloons and even ice cream treats. These helped pass the time, and we were so appreciative of our parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and neighbors.
Ava finally returned to school Monday, after 10 days of recovery. She’s nowhere near 100 percent, and I’m surprised she’s made it two full days. But, it seems she’s on the mend, and we are hopeful she will experience far fewer illnesses in the coming year.
This fall has felt like a challenge for more than a handful of reasons, but if nothing else, we know we are fortunate to have tremendous support. Thank you!!
My grandfather, Lyle Dankleff, served in the US Army in Korea. He passed away in September, and his military services were heart wrenching. I’m grateful for the young cadets who served as Honor Guards, as well the veterans responsible for the 21-gun salute. The entire experience made me incredibly proud of our collective past and future.
As we mark Veterans Day, I’ll share below the remarks I made at Grandpa’s funeral.
Thank you so much for joining us here today. I very much appreciate the opportunity to share a few thoughts about my grandfather, Lyle Eugene Dankleff.
Grandpa was born to John and Bernice on November 14, 1932. He attended Avoca High School, and graduated as valedictorian, earning a regents scholarship to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
He met my grandmother, Carol Ann Wallen, shortly there after. She believes she first saw him at Rich Norris’ home, but he said he’d noticed her much before, at a dance in the old Unadilla town hall.
Grandma wrote, “We were both so completely smitten with each other, without saying anything, we knew we would marry. There was never anyone else for either of us.”
They were married before Grandpa began his service in Korea as part of the U.S. Army.
Though they spent their first years of marriage apart, they wrote letters to each other—every day. She kept at hand a photo of an astonishingly handsome young man in a military uniform, while he tucked a tattered and creased photo of a stunningly beautiful young woman into the pocket of his military uniform the entire time he was overseas. Looking at these images now, these two portraits alone made it quite easy understand exactly how and why this began.
But my own understanding if their 50 year love affair started much later, as their third generation.
When you lose a grandparent, you don’t just mourn for that person. You mourn for your childhood and your family, and so if you’ll indulge me for a moment…
I grew up a mile and a half from Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. We were fortunate to have ample time there—all four of us, and to see how they worked together to take care of their land.
At home, Grandpa would drink coffee all day, thick with sugar and cream–whittling us spinning tops and teaching us rhymes and riddles from his wooden rocking chair. Heady pipe smoke would curl up from behind his paper, and his glasses would slide down in his nose as he peered over at us.
He taught us about birds and sundogs and weather aphorisms I still believe today. He was patient and kind to us, as even the strictest of parents are, I suppose, once they become grandparents. He showed his lily gardens, pointing out the different varieties, and let us play for hours in the barn while he worked on machinery nearby.
I noted in the obituary that Grandpa worked tirelessly for nearly 60 years, well past the point where it was necessary–or wise–for him to so. His first attempt at retirement failed, and when I asked why, he replied, “Retirement was supposed to have been a joint venture.”
Losing Grandma was heartbreaking, and I don’t believe he was ever the same. And, so, his work continued.
He was stubborn and unyielding, especially in the last years of his life. But that’s likely what saw him through difficult years prior – years that drove other farmers to find far more reasonable and predictive ways to make a living. Thanks to his perseverance, though, the legacy of that farm is a part of each of us.
If Grandma were here, and a million times I’d wished she was, to guide us through tragedies and celebrations of holidays and weddings and babies – if were here today, she would say, “Take good care of each other.”
She’d be so pleased with my Dad and Rose, and Greg, all of whom took exceptional care of my Grandpa, making decisions with his health and his heart in mind, allowing him to live the life he wanted to for as long as absolutely possible. Each step was painful, these last few years, but each difficult decision was made in good care for Grandpa.
And now, he is—at long, long last—truly at rest. I believe they are once again together, taking good care of each other.