Speed of Life

This  morning I am struck by the speed of life.

Since the middle of April, I lost my Dad, gained a grandson,  gained another daughter (my son got married),  watched my daughter-in-law graduate from college and  get a job, my son graduate from college and  get a job, my daughter get promoted, my son-in=law graduate from grad school and get promoted, and my wife go back to college as part of her sabbatical.

Since the middle of April, I was declared cancer free (first appointment after 5 year mark is the official marker) and mentored my 100th cancer patient.

Since the middle of April, our dog turned 15 years old and became incontinent, lost his hearing and lost his desire for cheese, but gained a love of peanut butter.  He is now on anti-anxiety meds and so am I.

Since the middle of April I got a new job – watching my grandson on Monday’s (my wife is my tag team partner on this – I am early shift and she is late shift).  Because I am retired, I seem to find a way to see my grandson at least a couple of other times each week.  If not, I get too lonesome for him.  This is the best job I have had and probably ever will have.  Plus, we understand each other – this is an inside the family joke – even though he is not talking, I know what he is saying.

Grateful to be retired to be able to be all-in on this new stage of life and the increased speed.



A Boomer In Transition

Father’s Day Thoughts

To the father’s, Happy Father’s Day!

I have mixed feelings about this Father’s Day.  On the one hand, this is my first Father’s Day as a Grandfather – and I love it!  Proverbs 17:6 says  “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.”  I don’t know about the “aged” comment, but I like the reference of the crown!

On the other hand, this is my first Father’s Day without my Dad and I miss him.  It is really a gift beyond measure to have a Dad who loves you unconditionally, and is proud of you beyond what you deserve.  I kind of knew that when he was alive, but I understand it better now.  Yet, we have a Father in heaven who loves us unconditionally and gives us grace beyond what we deserve.  The Bible has 520 verses on father’s and some of these are instructions for earthly father’s, but a large number are about our Father in heaven and his relationship to us.  As an aside, there are only 68 verses on mothers, sorry ladies!

This weekend our grandson will be dedicated in church and I expect tears of joy to see him and his parents supported by family and the church family, not yet even 2 months old, and set forth on a path that will endure in the days, months, and years ahead.  What a great way to spend Father’s Day weekend!


A Boomer In Transition

When the Boomer Becomes a Grandpa

I became a grandparent 8 days ago and I have struggled with articulating my feelings about this new part of the journey.  I write a daily journal and for the past week I have sat in my early morning time with the journal open and the pen at the ready and yet could not write even one word about having a grandson.  This is how life-changing the experience has been so far!

My friends who have gone before me on the grandparent journey told me that there is nothing like being a grandparent and that I would love it!  The problem with the “nothing like it” comment is that it is really hard to explain.

I was on campus yesterday and talked to a more experienced grandparent and she immediately asked me (after asking to see pictures) “how does it feel to be a grandparent?”  My answer was a ear to ear smile, followed by “It’s hard to explain, I knew that I would love this grandson, but the love is so instantaneous, so complete and so deep, that it is kind of overwhelming.”  Her answer was an ear to ear to smile, followed by “Yes, that is it, you knew you would love them, but not this crazy instant love!”

If you are not a grandparent, this post probably seems very odd, if you are a grandparent you are probably smiling and know what I mean.  As I have pondered this question, my attempt at an explanation is this:  The difference between your own kids and the grandchild is that the parents have 9 months with child  before he or she is born.  They experience a completely different kind of journey leading up to the birth as the child get’s bigger, the many doctor appointments, hearing the heartbeat for the first time, feeling the kicks for the first time, hours and hours of talking to this new child and when the child is born, they already know him or her.  For the grandparents;  it’s more like “boom, here I am!”

I am grateful that the delivery went well, that the parents are doing well, and that my new grandson is perfect in every way!

Grandpa Dean


Cancer Free For 5 Years!

It was 5 years ago tonight that I was doing the “prep” for surgery to have my cancerous bladder removed.  Four months of chemo prior to this did nothing medically to deal with the cancer.  It did, for some reason, give me an incredible sense of smell (which I have since lost) and for some other completely unexplained reason changed my personality to be more chatty (no one ever accused me of being chatty prior to cancer – I still have some remnants of this chattiness left).  Just for clarification, chattiness is not the same as “chemo brain” and I might explain the difference another time.

On April 8, 2013, I arrived at the hospital at 4:59 am for pre-op at 5:15 am.  Some in my family thought this was early, but they were not the ones who milked cows at like 4:30 am growing up in God’s country.  I got out of surgery at 8:00 pm and had my  bladder and various other parts taken out and a new bladder constructed out of 2 feet of my small intestine.  So this takes a while.  But officially I declare April 8, 2013 as my cancer-free day!

The recovery was not problem-free.  I was in the hospital for 9 days, which is trouble enough, but apparently blood clots were likely forming in the OR and a few days after my hospital release, I was back in the hospital.  I had casually, almost apologetically, mentioned to my surgeon that I felt a little short of breath and after an immediate scan was ordered, found that my lungs were full of blood clots.  This was the most serious of all possible complications and with the highest mortality rate of 38%, which I kept to myself, but hey I like to know the percentages when possible.

Enough of the medical recap (trust me, there is a lot more I could say, but in the interest of non-chatty brevity, I will save you).

What I celebrate this weekend after being 5 years cancer-free, is not so much the cancer-free part, but the blessing that cancer turned out to be in my life.  Here is the cool thing about blessings, you don’t always know the “why” until later.  Literally two hours after I was diagnosed with cancer, my then future son-in-law called me to set up a time to “talk”, which meant to ask my “blessing” to marry my daughter.  I could not imagine having a better son-in-law!  The day after my diagnosis, my devotional guide verse was James 1:2  “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you go through trials of many kinds.”  Wow, was that ever timely!  And it was true.  I fixed some relationships.  I devoted more time to finding God’s plan for my life, and then following it.  As of yesterday, I have helped 97 people in one-on-one mentoring through their individual cancer journeys.  This was something that I never would have expected to be good at or to find joy in doing had it not been for my own diagnosis and experience.

So, this weekend, I am grateful to be cancer-free, but thankful that it acted as a catalyst for finding a different life of meaning.  Thanks to all of you who walked with me on this journey!


A Boomer In Transition