Thursday, May 9, 2013


I was still on no food a Dr was going to come to see me. I had gotten the chance to get some sleep in my quiet private room.  I opened my eyes and looked around and this room was very similar to me.  The one next door to mine was the room my Dad passed away in.  They were identical set up but mine was a different color.  

(Thinking back to the last day of my Dads life)
Chuck and I had gone home to see our kids for a bit and then were going to head back to the hospital.  I was sleeping on the way home and Chuck fell asleep while driving I opened my eyes because I felt like we were all over the place.  I looked and we were on the other side of the road heading for the ditch I looked at Chuck and he was asleep.  I grabbed the wheel and hit him.   That was scary so we decided to sleep at home and go up in the morning again.  Two nights of no sleep caught up to us.  We got a call at 4:00 in the morning that Dad wasn’t doing good.  We rushed to London and got there in about 20 mins.  His breathing was terrible.  I went up by my Dads head and kept saying breath Dad in and out.  Calm down just breath its ok.  I started singing Amazing grace quietly in his ear and he calmed down some.  I asked Grace for the bible and began reading to him.  They had decided to take of the IV and wait…wait for the end.  That was so hard.  

He became more stable as the morning went on and was moved to the 2nd floor.  Chuck had gone home to get our kids.   I had wanted to see them with him one more time and give the kids a chance to say good-bye.   

He was moved up to the 7th floor and I was still praying for some miracle that my Dad would pull through somehow.  Once we were up in his new room.  I asked the nurse if in case like my Dad do they ever pull through?  Her answer was no its just a matter of how long do they want to hold on.  My heart sank as I looked at my Dad I couldn’t begin to imagine my life without him.  I had thought I would be able to take care of him.  Even though I knew that he wouldn’t have wanted that.   My Dad had been “stable” for a few hours and Mike my brother came in the room and said Chuck is here with the kids.  My Dad immediately started to struggle to breath and was fighting.  As the kids were coming in someone pushed them back in and I was standing at the foot of my Dads been as he was turning grey and all I could think was they were too late. I think he worried for our kids and what they would think seeing him like this and he panicked.

Eventually he did calm down and our kids came into the room to see him.  They held his hands and hugged him and said they love him and said their good-byes.  It was a hard thing for them to do but they said they did like it that they could see him.  Tyler cuddled with him for a bit and then we left.  I walked out of the room after saying, “I’ll see you later” with a hug and a kiss.  We stood in the hall and I felt an urge to leave. I didn’t want to watch him fight for life I didn’t want the memory of him dying or taking his final breath.  At that moment I wanted to run, I wanted to get away I wanted to hit something and wanted an escape from reality.  

We went home and I sat at the computer and wrote this.  A Eulogy for my Dads funeral.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding
In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
 These are words Dad lived by. 

Dad was born September 21, 1935 in Holland. He immigrated to Canada in 1952.  He fell head over heels in love with my mom and they were married in this church on April 11, 1958.  They had 7 boys, twins who dad is with in heaven. Then later in life surprise a girl.  Even though he passed out in the delivery room when I was born it didn’t take long for me to have him wrapped around my little finger.

Dad was an amazing father he was loving, devoted and worried enough about anything for all of us.  In his word “belly ache.”  Time for him flew by I’m sure all his kids were married and he could finally enjoy retirement.  He drove for the cancer society and volunteered at the Bibles for mission thrift store in Sarnia and the local food grain bank. He helped out his kids any way he could. Our family continued to grow with many grandchildren including Dylan who Dad in holding in his arms right now I’m sure and other grandchildren who died before they even had a chance to be born.  How neat is that.  Also talking and talking and probably taking to his sister and brother in–laws some friends. But most of all He is with our Savior.

Dad had some funny habits any time he wore a hat it was crooked on his head whether it was a barn hat or church hat or ball cap it was crooked.  I would try to make it straight and he would say that doesn’t feel right and he would adjust it so it was perfect to him.  Also in the farm house when he would read the bible he would open the drawer by his chair close the drawer with his elbow and it would never shut all the way . Then he would check his head for his glasses and have to go to the desk to get them. This happened three times a day.  He also loved oranges he would have one almost every night even in his last conversation with mom early Monday morning he let her know he had an orange.  Our family is fairly competitive when it comes to sports.  Dad never seemed to be real competitive.  Like when our family would play in the john knox tournaments he was playing back catcher and would spend more time facing and talking with the people in the stands.  It wasn’t until I saw him on the shuffle board court in florida and playing canasta in the trailer.  Look out he wants to win.  Also golfing at chesley lake and playing pool with his friends.  I now see where we all get it from.

All us kids helped out on the farm.  We all have great memories with Dad in the barn we learned about new life, death, Some days we learned another language we were to never repeat. We learned how to work hard Especially John who would do 3 things at the same time. I remember dad saying he is going to forget something one of these days.  One time my niece michelle was over and mom sent us to the barn on a Saturday morning to help clean out the pens and bed the cows down.  Dad sent us into the haymow to gather up lose straw and we threw it down the shoot into the calf pen. We had a nice pile and jumped down instead of going through the barn door.  I could see my dad through the other calf pen door shacking straw over the manure in the gutter (b/c even the gutters had to look clean).  A light bulb went off and I said to michelle lets jump out of the door and yell, “stick em up” She agreed that could be funny. So out we went.  Dad jumped in the air and turned, as the pitch fork was raised in his hand like a spear and he sent in flying in our direction.  We both jumped against the wall as that pitch fork fell at our feet and skidded past.  We looked at dad as he grabbed his chest bent over a little then walked towards us. I said, sorry he picked up the fork with a smile on his face and got back to work. All the while having four kittens in his coverall pockets.
Dad loved his church community, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  It was always his prayer that each one us would have that personal relationship with our lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He would say to me you are close to your nieces and nephews take care of them. I think this is what he would want me to say to you today nieces and nephews.  Trust in the lord with all your heart because life isn’t always easy and we do not always have the answers to the questions we have.  Its ok to ask why would God take Grandpa he was doing so well his prayer has always be “thy will be done”. Grandpa would want you all to know he’s just fine and please take care Grandma visit her lots.  Lean not on your own understanding. Open your bible read it daily, pray. Find yourselves Christian spouses raise your children in the fear of the Lord. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.  You may not always know where you’re going in life or what you’re going to even be doing tomorrow, besides going to church. Know without a doubt God has a plan for your life.  Listen to God soft voice allow him to lead you. Your Grandpa always loved seeing all of you it would make his day.

We all took turns holding dads hands in the hospital or praying for him where ever we were. All the while God was holding all of us in the palm of his mighty hand. 

For our parents 50th wedding anniversary I had my dad write down a bit of his life story so I’m going to share part of that with you.

As we reflect back we can clearly see Gods Hand in all of our lifes.  How we were brought together as husband and wife 50 years ago.  For children, grandchildren and a great grandchild he gave us as a gift from him.  How we can see that Gods love and care continues from one generation to the next.  That same love that we experienced in the past carried on in a blessed married life and in our family.  We thank God for the love and support for each other as a family in all the good times but also in the difficult periods.  When we really needed each other especially the time when Dylan was take to be with Jesus.  Our God our help in ages past is also our hope for years to come ~ Dad.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Next Morning

January 26, 2013

I loved the comfort of my own bed Chuck was making the kids breakfast.  He started making breakfast a while ago every morning bacon and eggs and biscuits.  He'll change it up to sausage or other meats on occasion.  The kids love it.  I didn't smell the bacon I didn't think much of that.  We had kennel dogs coming and going so Mike and Chuck were handling that.  I had not even thought of the kennel.  Didn't remember we even had one at this point.  The Strathory Dr we had seen in Strathory called to see how we were doing and told Chuck to keep on checking on me every 1/2 hour.  So there he runs up the stairs and down again and it seemed like he came right back.  A 6'10 200 and something pound guy running after you have a brain injury sounds like a herd of elephants.  I would fall asleep again fast once he was gone.  My scan from the night prior had been sent to London to be looked at. After checking on me a couple of times Chuck received a call from a Neurologist in London.  He told him that I had fractured my skull. There was bleeding in the brain that they were concerned about. They asked him if he was ok to get me to London ASAP as safe as possible.  They could also send out an ambulance.  Chuck said he would take me in.  He came running back up the stairs. Told me we were heading to London that they want to look at me.  Really??? Do we have to go, last place I wanted to go.  I was finally not vomiting.  His look on his face told me I had no options.  I did not feel well at all Chuck helped me get out of bed and down the stairs I couldn't walk on my own.  I went downstairs and said hi to the kids trying to put on my tough Mom's face.  I guess I failed because I looked into the windows from the van I could see Chuck hugging them and they were all crying.  I think Sandy was coming to help with the kennel and take the kids to their house for a while for real this time.  The ride to London went better than I thought.  We arrived in London Chuck took me in a wheel chair into the hospital for registration. 

The last time I was there was with my mom registering my Dad.  I was wheeled into emerge where a Neurologist was waiting to see me.  He was the same Dr my Dad had seen when he arrived.  I had a flash back of him in my Dads face yelling at him to try to say his name.  My Dad struggled and tried and mouthed "Bill” It was the hardest thing to watch.  He began vomiting and he couldn't move so we helped him and cleaned him up.  I knew I had to share my time with the rest of my family since only two people were allowed with him in that area at a time. It was really hard to leave I had made a promise to my Dad that I would not leave him. 

I was asked a series of questions and he shone a light in my eyes a few times which felt like little blades scratching and needles piercing in behind my eyes straight to the middle of my brain.  They told us as soon as there was room up on the 7th floor they would move me up there to a better bed.  For the time being we would wait in emerg.  They did send me in for another CT scan.  I remember this one but not the one from the night before. I slept most of the day they did a good job at drugging me.  I felt bad for Chuck just sitting there, not his thing at all.  Around supper time they moved me up to the 7th floor.  The room had a nurses station in the middle and around 2 sides there were patients in beds.  There were three nurses in there at all times.  At some point Chuck went home but I don’t remember when that was.  When they moved me into the bed I couldn’t believe the comfort compared to the bed from emerge.  Almost felt like home.  Except for the fact the curtain was open and the light from the nurses’ station was a direct path to my eyes.  I asked for my curtain to be closed.  They said sorry we have to watch you all night.  It has to stay open.  The hooked me up to monitors and put compression stockings on with these things that would pump up and release.  To stop blood clots.  Every hour they would ask me questions and everyone else in the room questions so there was constant talking in the room.  I told them that my head hurt really bad they said they had me on pain killers I was also sick to my stomach.  So they gave me gravol by IV.  I was able to get up to go to the bathroom with help.  The sound any sound was terrible. The ended up wrapping my eyes with a pillow case and put ear plugs in my ears that helped for a while.  After my hour sleep was up they were back asking me my name, where I was? How old I was? What date it was? What color is the sky? Etc.  Then they would touch my arms legs feet and ask if I felt that.  I felt like the smart kid in the class.  As everyone else in the room didn’t know much I felt bad for them.  Later I found out I was in the room because they were waiting for the slightest change and ready to open up my skull to relieve pressure.  See when you bruise any other part of your body there’s room for swelling in your brain there isn’t.  So they need to be very careful. 
I had no desire to eat and it wasn’t ok for me to anyway.  I was on a liquid diet feed by my IV pole topped off with pain killers and gravol.  The next morning they said it was ok for me to be to go into a private room.  They moved me and told me to keep my plugs in they covered me with blankets.  Once they stopped moving me I took them out and was still covered.  They talked about how the Neurologist thought I shouldn’t know anything and to keep a close eye for changes, the swelling was bad.  I thought wow…crap…I was in that room bc I belonged there.  Not so I would feel like the smart kid in the class, kinda scary. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Big Change

January 25, 2013.

Was the one year anniversary of my Dad's passing.  Chuck, Myself and our kids had spent the night prior at a motel in Port Huron, MI just to get away.  We stayed somewhere with an indoor pool.  We went out to see a movie and just spent some fun time away together.  We came home on the 25th of January.  Chuck and I decided to go on a date and we went out to see a scary movie, it was a lot of fun. We got home around 10:30 and began some more work on our "indoor" ice rink in the cover all.  Chuck went into the house and I wanted to keep going for awhile longer.  I was wearing Mikes snowboarding boots that don't have any flex.  I stepped to the side and in one swift life changing moment I fell back landing on the back of my head on the ice.  I think I sat up instantly and knew it wasn't good and that I needed to get to the house.  I left the water running and it was all I could do to make it to the door.  It was a struggle I opened the door and told Chuck I hit my head on the ice. I think I laid on the floor and he got me into the van or truck can't remember what we used.  I told him I needed some dry clothes.  While I was waiting I was struggling to stay awake so I honked the horn and chuck ran back.  I remember telling myself to stay awake and I remember getting to the stop sign in Watford. After that moment I don't remember anything other than what Chuck told me. He said I was awake and talking the whole time but I do not remember.  It wasn't till hours later that I finally remembered something  I remember him telling me we were going home soon, 6 hours after arriving.  I did not want to leave at all, I did not want to move, I have never felt that sick.  I remember thinking why are my Mom and Dad not here? oh was late and they would be sleeping. Thinking that I would not be up for cooking and that Chucks Mom would make us some food I was sure of that. I do not remember leaving the hospital but I do remember arriving at the stop sign in Watford again and needing to vomit yet again.

In the hospital I was asking 3 questions over and over again.
1. Where are we?
2. Who's watching our kids (thinking of just mike and chariese as babies)
3. Where's the Dr?  (impatient me)
Surprising enough Chuck said he wasn't to worried as the Dr's didn't seem too worried.  I would have been losing my mind if Chuck kept asking me the same questions for hours.  How annoying!
Apparently when Chuck was getting sick of me asking he would change the answer to Sandy is watching the kids.  Sandy is Chucks aunt who stood up for us in our wedding.  Was like a 2nd Mom to Chuck and our aunt, best friend and like a Grandma to our kids.  My answer was who is Sandy to watch our kids?!!! not a clue who he was talking about.  This too, would freak me right out if Chuck didn't know who she was.  He stayed calm.

When we did get home bed never felt so good ever! All I wanted to do was lay down and sleep... Little did we know what call was waiting for us the next morning. 

Why do this

Why would I, Julie Vriesema want to ever write a blog...good question, not sure.

I was visiting with my Mom this morning and enjoyed our visit.  She talked to me about when they
first emigrated to Canada.  How the house they 1st lived in was not lived in for many years and had lots of snakes all over the place.  They never had snakes in Holland and this really scared my Grandma. When they would pump water parts of dead snakes would come out and that was the water they would have to drink.  I thought how I used to love to hear stories from my Dad and his childhood and life.

So in this day and age why not write about our life so that may-be someday my great grandchildren may be able to read a little about me. Or my kids may remember a little more of us and our lives together.

My husbands uncle just passed away a week ago today.  He had written a blog about his journey with CMML.  We enjoyed reading it and were eager to read what had happened that day.  It is a great keepsake for their family.

My life has also dramatically changed this years as I fractured my skull and now have post concussion syndrome.  I find it hard to find info on concussions and the little I did read about really interested me.  Personal stories of people living with it I liked the most. I haven't found many

reasons to...
1. for my kids
2. for my friends and family
3. for people with concussions
4. why not...