Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I have so many words attached to so many feelings that I have been aching to put to print, but I haven't been able to start. The fear is that if I start to write about my dad and his prognosis, I will be swallowed up in the words, unable to come up for air. 

But I need to write. It's what I always have to do.

Many moons ago, my mom and dad and two brothers "did life" together. We fought and made up, played baseball, took lots of family vacations, raised a couple dogs, made tunnels in roof-high snowdrifts, went ski-dooing on the hills at the same golf course where we would buy Dreamsicles for a nickel all summer. Doing life together was not perfect, but it was easy.

Now we must "do death" together. We face the unimaginable task of saying goodbye to our dad. The time frame God alone knows, and He is not speaking. Hospice rolls "6 months or less" off their tongues, but they admit it can be more or less. So we don't know the "when."

I put my arms around my dad last week and cried and said to him, "I don't know how to do this, Dad." He understood without another word spoken between us.

This is so, so hard.

Have we had enough time with him?

There is NEVER enough time. God tells us in Psalm 139 that every day of our lives has been ordained for us before one of them ever came to be. It is a done deal.

I would beg God for more time, but Dad would not want that. He is in pain. He is ready. It would only be selfishness that would inspire that prayer.

So right now, I attempt to process all of this, and care for both of them when I have the privilege of being "on duty."

The caregiving that we are doing right now.....helping Mom and Dad out 24/7 as we get all the kinks out and see what exactly Dad will need for assistance for the future.......that part is not hard. We kids (and grandkids) do that with love and honor. 

No, the challenging part is the letting go that is to come.

I do not know how to do this. I take some comfort in the fact that my brothers don't know how to let go any better than I do. Nor do any of our spouses who dearly love Ed. Nor do any of the 7 grandchildren who have adored their PoppyEd since they were first placed in his arms. Least of all, our sweet mama. 

We are all clueless, and there is no Google search on the planet that can give us a blueprint. 

As my son said to me, "Mom, I can't conceive of my life without PoppyEd in it."

He is so right----for therein lies the pain----our worlds without him in them. He is our northern star, our fount of wisdom, the steady heartbeat of the Hieb clan. 

How will it be possible to "do life" without him?

We will not know that until later. For now, we do WIN (my brother Mike's acronym for "what's important now."). We do what is vital, an hour, a day at a time. As the importance of something changes, we change it. We tag-team and we share a commitment that while we will need respite, we are best people to care for our dad. At whatever level that is on any given day or week or month. We know his likes and dislikes, his idiosyncracies, what upsets him, his sense of humor and his deepest desires. His personality shaped our very lives; who he is helped define who we are today. His essence lives in our souls.

We can do this thing because once, many moons ago, we did life together. And now we will do death together. Our dad will not leave this earth without us doing all we can to make the journey bearable for him, for Mom, for the whole family.

This is the hardest thing I have ever done.


And I could not do it alone.

But as a family, will we do this. When the time comes, we will do this very hard thing.

With arms linked, 
          with God's grace upon us,
          with hearts full of gratitude for his 90 years,
          with rivers of tears streaming over precious memories,

we will walk our dad home.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My PET results were somewhat unchanged. The tumor is relatively the same size. The cancer activity has increased slightly.

My own cancer seems insignificant when faced with my Dad's. I am leaving tomorrow for Fargo.

Please continue to pray for our family.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


On the heels of a happy graduation weekend, we have had to digest the news that my dad has metastatic prostate cancer. Horrific pain for 2 days (and plenty of daily pain for over a year) landed him in the hospital where the diagnosis was made on Tuesday.

As you might expect, our family is shocked and grieving. It does not matter how old your parent is always too soon to hear this news.

They are trying to get his pain managed and then he and Mom (who has been staying at my brother's house) will return to their apartment with Hospice care.

There are so many of you who have been prayer warriors for me through this blog. Our family would covet your prayers right now; for strength to walk this journey well with Dad, for pain-free days for him, for all of the logistics of care in their home to fall into place, and for us all to feel God's undergirding and comfort.

Sam leaves tomorrow to step into the new chapter of his life. His job starts Monday, but his apartment is not available for 2 weeks so we will get a moving trailer then and move him in on the 1st. My mother's heart is pretty tender, knowing he is now 5 hours from me. It will feel like a real empty nest for the first time. It has been a bittersweet week with him packing up his room to leave home. We are so proud of him, and are so excited to watch his life unfold. I only wish we were not watching it from afar!!

I have a PET scan on Monday. They still produce anxiety in me. I pray always for total healing.

And so, transitions. They do not come without tears. Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Monday, May 12, 2014


     Sam's graduation weekend is over and it could not have been any more special. Commencement at a Christian college is so very different from any other college commencement I have attended. The entire tenor of the program was rooted in Christ, and just knowing that these graduates have been given the Christian worldview in all of their coursework, and equipped to go out and do great things for the kingdom of God gave depth to what is usually a very ordinary event. Richie and I were very proud parents, and given the reality that I was never supposed to have been alive to see this day, it meant the world to us. 

   The college hosted a huge luncheon for every graduate and guest after the ceremony which was really a grand gesture considering that number was well over 1000, if not over 1500. 

   Everything about the day was just perfect, though I must admit that driving away from the school for the last time was pretty nostalgic for me.....I had a few tears. I have deep feelings about this place that has given my son such a great education. 





VERY PROUD PARENTS (squinting on a very sunny day!)









Sunday, May 4, 2014


I thought the mommy wars were over.

My neighbor told me about a recent comment that her daughter's friend had made. My neighbor's daughter, with a MA from Notre Dame and working in finance in downtown Chicago, has just had her first baby. Her dream had always been to stay home with a child, and she has now made the choice to put her career on hold and raise her son. When informed of Sara's decision, one of her working friends expressed her shock and said to her, "But Sara, you're so smart!!"


Again, I thought the mommy wars ended in the 1980's when women got it out of their respective systems to criticize the "other camp" of mothering choices. I thought those battles and those biases were long in the past.

Apparently not.

As women, don't we all just make the best decisions we can for our children? And if that decision for some reason is forced upon us, don't we just try to do the best we can? There are moms who choose to be home and moms who work and both absolutely love their choices. I know working mothers who would love to be stay-at-home moms but their husbands are out of work and they have to take the reins. I know stay-at-home moms who would love to be working but cannot find a job. 

If women are putting their child's best interests first, then whatever choice she feels does that is the best choice, is it not?

I was passionate about staying home to be with my son. I could easily put my career on hold because I knew there were always jobs. I knew there was only one window of time for me to stay at home and guide my newborn into boyhood. I knew enough developmental psychology to know that he needed abundant amounts of security, familiarity, routine, physical touch, verbal interaction and cognitive stimulation. Dick and I felt that I could do that job better than a daycare provider could. (Add to that fact that I was so in love with this tiny person, I could hardly stand to leave him in one room and go into another for the first month :)

That was OUR choice for US. And while I remember feeling sorry for some of my working friends that they were missing out on the daily magic that I got to experience, I never disrespected the choice that they made to work. Neither did any of my working friends disrespect my choice.

I know a young new mom who wants desperately to be a stay-at-home mother, but she and her husband did what I think many are doing today. Making financial decisions based on two incomes. They bought a 2-income house and two 2-income cars. And they now have 2-income debts. And they need those 2 incomes to "make it." They are regretting living up to their means now.

When we got married, we put all of my income in savings and lived off of Dick's income and made all decisions based on one income so that I could have the choice to stay home when we had a child. By the time Sam was born, we knew we were able to meet all of our obligations because we had lived that way for years. That would be my advice to any young newly married couple. Because you really don't know how you are going to feel once that baby is in your arms. It was one of our best decisions in 30 years.

So my young friend asked me what I would do. She said, "I feel like we should sell this house and downsize to a small house with small payments that we can afford on J's income." I told her that if her heart's choice was to stay home with E, that would be a great idea. I told her I would do that in a heartbeat. I always say I would have eaten mac and cheese every night for the gift of staying home with my sweet boy.

I hate the mommy wars. It demeans those on both planes. We make choices only for ourselves, not for others. It should be no more a derisive issue between women than what type of home decor they each like. 

Though Sara will never read this, I say to her and to any other stay at home mom: If anyone makes you feel that you are putting your "smarts" in a closet in order to do this job, they are ignorant. Ignore them. You will use more of your brain every day than you had thought possible.

It takes smart women to work in finance and it takes smart women to mold a young life and assume the roles of 24/7 nurse, guidance counselor, nutritionist, dancing partner, librarian and reader, playmate, chauffeur, mediator, body guard, teacher, toy repair guru, and housekeeper (and plenty more).

Hang in there, Sara. You made the choice of your heart, and are fulfilling a dream of what you want your mommyhood to be. You have my respect. Welcome to the hardest and most wondrous job on the planet!!