Mark and I have gained so many wonderful friends because of our kids. Our oldest son Chad met Ron Ferguson in 11th grade at Muskegon Catholic Central High School and they became best friends. Chad and Ron’s friendship endured after high school even though they’ve lived more than 1,000 miles apart for the past 10 years. Ron and his wife Sara have three beautiful sons and they treat Chad’s sons like they are family. It is so nice to see these two young families come together with their own kids even though distance and busy lives try to keep them apart.
Because of Chad and Ron’s friendship we have been blessed beyond belief with the incredible love of Ron’s whole family who we lovingly call The Fergie Bunch. We have celebrated almost every Christmas Eve together for more than 15 years.
The Ferguson family gifted us with a beautiful anniversary quilt that included a lot of our old and new pictures of our family. Ron’s mom Jeannie asked a talented friend of hers Cindy Vogel to make this beautiful masterpiece. The front of the quilt is purple and the back is bright orange. I am in awe of people that can create a beautiful quilt like this.
Thank you for being part of our family and for giving us this beautiful heirloom quilt. We will treasure it for many generations.
We love you all.
About 20 years ago Mark and I met Terry and Ellen Brennan, Paul and Cindy Whiteman and Dick and Patti Winsemius in our old neighborhood and today we all have a special bond. Our bond is special because we have celebrated life together. We’ve celebrated birthdays, weddings, Christmases and New Year’s Eves together, we’ve wept at funerals together and we’ve raised our kids together.
Even though we all have very different personalities and don’t always agree, we love each other like brothers and sisters.
Amongst these colorful friends is Ellen with her creative and crazy personality. Ellen loves to throw themed parties and some of her crazier ones have been a Who’s Your Daddy Party, the Gimme Awards, a Murder Mystery Party, an Art Prize Party and a progressive dinner party in which her guests have had to dress or play a part. Our kids have joined along to celebrate these fun events, too.
Now Ellen, Cindy, Patti and I are planning for another celebration, a funeral celebration. Yes, these three friends agreed to help me plan for the biggest celebration of my life, my funeral.
Many family and friends keep asking me what they can do to help and so I was honest with the three of them and asked if they would help me plan my funeral. During our planning sessions we’ve all laughed and cried but most importantly we’ve been able to spend time together.
Many people may think I am crazy for planning such a sad event or even talking about dying but let’s be honest, I have ALS. I want my funeral to be a celebration of my life so I am taking charge of the way I want it to play out with the main objective being to have a joyful celebration full of beautiful music so my family and friends can feel the love in the church on that day, my way.
This year Thanksgiving weekend was full of wonderful activities.
On Friday we all went for a hike to our tree with Karen Gardner and the Paquins. Mark tried to push me in the Chairiot but the snow on the trail was too deep so we decided to walk instead. The trees were covered in snow and the journey was breathtaking.
Our son-in-law Chris had to carry Tucker because the snow was too deep for his little legs.
Our grandson Peyton loved throwing snowballs and giggled everytime someone threw one back.
Cole was soaked by the time we got back to the car but it didn’t matter. He was having way too much fun.
We also ran into Chip and Colleen VanderWier’s family while making our way through the trails.
The Paquin family tied ribbons on our tree. Kurtis wanted to tie his ribbon near the top to match Bryan and Corey’s, so his brother Jake gave him a boost.
And of course we took a family picture of the Paquins even though their oldest son Zach wasn’t able to make it.
We also took a picture of our family which included Karen who joined us for the afternoon.
I’ve always wanted to run a marathon, especially after watching Corey and Bryan each run one through the streets of Chicago. The furthest I have run at one time is eight miles but I never took the time to train for a 26.2 mile race.
During these past 10 months I have felt like I’ve been gearing up for the marathon of my life and I am hoping and praying to do it with endurance and grace. After my last appointment at Mary Free Bed I realize that I need to get geared up sooner rather than later.
I met with a speech therapist about communication tools and she is encouraging me to make myself familiar with computer tools that talk for me when I am no longer able to do so on my own.
I met with a doctor that gives me injections for my frozen shoulder and he said frozen shoulders and hips tend to give ALS patients trouble as the disease progresses. I am so glad this doctor is amazing at giving shots because it sounds like I will be back to visit him often.
As Mark and I drive home from Grand Rapids after these very emotional appointments we both are in a daze and don’t know what to say to each other, but with the grace of God were are determined to finish our marathon training together.
Thanksgiving is over and all of our traveling family has gone home and it hurts. It hurts because I love them all so deeply. It hurts because our visits aren’t frequent enough and time is precious.
I catch Mark looking at me with a warm smile and his adoring eyes. Chad tries to make jokes because he wants to see me smile or laugh. Kelly selflessly stays by my side and anticipates my needs or wants. Corey worries but listens intently to me as if he is recording my words in his mind. Bryan smiles and is ready to help in seconds. Ashley, Chris, Bevan and Devin lovingly and patiently watch our family as we navigate this uncharted territory. And Cole and Peyton seem to adjust effortlessly as they live in the now and enjoy the love that surrounds them.
We’re all so different but we all have one thing in common and that one thing is this incredible love that hurts sometimes.