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Henry ‘Hank’ Meyer, 1924-2009, Thank You Dad!

June 27, 2009 9 comments

 

 

 

The past week has been a blur for me.  A week ago my Dad was transported from Creighton Medical Center in Omaha to A.J. Merrick in Fremont for hospice care.  He died Sunday night.

 

Monday we went to Ludvigsen Mortuary in Fremont to plan my Dad’s funeral.  Please go to www.ludvigsenmortuary.com to see Dad’s obituary.  It is quite a tribute.

 

Tuesday we visited with a minister from First Baptist Church, where my parents had been members for over 60 years.  Wednesday was visitation at the funeral home and actually was a very nice event.  Over 200 people signed the guest book.

 

I had never heard of this, but my brothers thought family members should be present the entire time of the visitation.  Two of us were present from 2:00-4:00, two others from 4:00-6:00 and everyone was present from 6:00-8:00 p.m. 

 

Many people talked about working with my Dad and how he was such a hard worker.  Others talked about his service with the church, or how he had been a board member of Fremont First Central Credit Union for over 50 years.  I don’t know that it eased our pain, but it was nice to know that he touched so many lives and would be missed.

 

Thursday was the funeral, and it was a tough day.  Family gathered in the church parlor about 30 minutes prior to the ceremony.  My daughter and I went to view Dad one last time before they closed the casket, and on the way back to the parlor, I totally lost it.  I went in another room and prayed for strength to get through the day.

 

The funeral involved two pastors-one who was retired but was close to my Dad, and the other who as an associate pastor of the church.  The retired minister did the more personal part of the funeral, while the current pastor did the religious ceremony.

 

Part of the funeral was using words beginning with H-A-N-K to describe my Dad.  Very nice.  Then the minister totally shocked everyone when he told us he wanted us to do a cheer for Dad.  He would call out a letter, and the congregation responded with the letter.  Gimme an H, Gimme an A, Gimme an N, Gimme a K.  What’s that spell-and everyone yelled Hank.  He finished with Go Big Red, and I knew my Dad loved it. I can tell you until yesterday I have not been to a funeral that involved cheerleading.

 

The other minister promised to keep his message short.  “Every time I was scheduled to do the sermon Hank would come up to me and ask if I was going to preach today?  I said yes, and he always said keep it short. So I will today too Hank.”

 

My Dad was a World War II combat veteran and was given military honors at the cemetery.  I’ve been to maybe a dozen such funerals, but each volley of shots still has me flinch, and the playing of ‘Taps’ always brings a lump to my throat, though this time it was also tears to my eyes.

 

There was a nice luncheon at the church and in the afternoon some relatives and friends went to my Mom’s house.  The day was a great celebration of my Dad, plenty of tears, but lots of laughs too.  He would have wanted the laughter.

 

Part of the funeral included comments by two of my brothers and me.  This was not easy, but somehow I got through it.  Below are my comments:

 

Thank you for coming to celebrate my Dad’s life.  My family greatly appreciates you being here.

 

I also want to thank the congregation of this church for how you have treated my Mom and Dad, not only during the six weeks of my Dad’s ordeal, but during the six decades they have been members of First Baptist Church.  Time after time you have proven this church is much more than brick and mortar.

 

While I come today to praise my Dad, I don’t think he would be very pleased with me unless I teased him just a little. If you knew my Dad well enough to attend his funeral, you also knew that on rare occasions he had an opinion he would share. OK, OK-my Dad had an opinion on any topic you might care to argue about, and he was not lacking in confidence that his opinion was the right one.  I think a lot of times he actually agreed with the person he was arguing with, but took the other side just to argue. His arguing was never mean spirited though.  He truly loved people.

 

For most of my 58 years Dad was a larger than life character to me. Yes, he was a big man, physically imposing.  He never seemed to just walk into a room, he took over the room.  He had a presence about him and when he was nearby you knew you were with a good man who cared about others.  When he had the audacity to grow old, and we thought frail, it upset me.  However, I watched this 84 year old man fight an unfair fight for 40 days and he showed strength and courage most people couldn’t imagine.

 

Many times in my life I have been asked if I was Hank Meyer’s son. He seemed to know everyone. I couldn’t deny it.  I look enough like him that people would know I was lying if I said no.  When I said yes I was Hank’s son, I always heard “I really like your Dad.  He is quite a character.” He WAS quite a character.

 

I have thought a lot this week about my Dad’s legacy. Certainly it is his sons and grandchildren, and I hope we will all strive harder to make it one he can be proud of. However, his legacy is much more than his family. He touched thousands of people in his lifetime and we are all better because Hank Meyer passed our way.

 

I was very distraught that Dad died on Father’s Day.  However, a friend of mine who is a freelance writer in Maryland sent me an email convincing me how wrong my thinking was.  It read:
It is so appropriate that Hank died on Father’s Day, because men like him are the best examples of what it is to be a good dad.  They aren’t flashy and the world seldom knows their names, but they are heroes.  They make no pretense about being perfect. They just go to work everyday, put bread on the table, and sacrifice for their families.  Hank was an honest man, a workman worthy of his hire, a friend to many, a good husband, father, and grandfather.  Thanks be to God.

 

Hank Meyer-Thanks be to God.

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Butler County Motorplex, and My Dad

June 23, 2009 11 comments

 

Matt thought I needed as escape from all that had been happening with my Dad, so he decided two nights of racing would really help me.  We decided to go to Butler County Motorplex on Friday for a slmr late model shows and their regular Friday show of modifieds, sport mods, hobby stocks, and sport compacts. 

 

For me, the jury is still out on this track.  I liked the track, though its location in the middle of a corn field-I am exaggerating little-makes it a little difficult to get too.  Car counts were OK, though there was no need for B features in any class.  The hobby stocks put on a great feature, the best race of the night.  The modified feature was disappointing.  There are some good IMCA mod drivers racing at Butler County, even though there are IMCA sanctioned races at Albion and Beatrice on the same night.  If last Friday wasn’t a full moon, it should have been.  There were almost as many caution flags during the mod feature as laps completed.  Kyle Berck ended up winning the shortened-due to cautions-feature.  Berck started on the pole of the slmr feature, and won that race too.  In fact, Berck has won all of the slmr features this year.  I was going to call the tour the Kyle Berck Petty Cash Fund, but maybe I shouldn’t.  Ah, what the heck, I will anyway. 

 

Saturday night we were going to go to the NCRA late model show at Junction Motor Speedway.  The show was cancelled because of rain, but my Dad’s condition had deteriorated and I wouldn’t have been able to go even if the show had been run.  My understanding is there is no make-up date scheduled, which is a shame.  Eastern Nebraska used to be a late model hot bed, but tour shows are now few and far between.

 

Below is the post on another of my blog’s about the passing of my Dad. 

 

 

After a courageous 40 day fight my Dad passed last night about 9:15 p.m.  Yes, he died on Father’s Day.  At first I was more than a little distraught over this, but several friends pointed out my faulty logic. Below is from an email sent to me by Salley Shannon, a freelance writer from Maryland, and a great friend:

 

“It is so appropriate that he died on Father’s Day, because the men like him are the best examples of what it is to be a good dad.   They aren’t flashy and the world seldom knows their names, but they are heroes.  They make no pretense about being perfect.  They just go to work every day, put bread on the table and sacrifice for their families.”

 

I have written so much about my Dad, but in just a few short sentences Salley summarizes him perfectly.

 

Yesterday we laughed, we cried, and remembered.  We prayed. My Dad had been such a vital man, always active; to see him as we had everyday since May 13th was heart rending.  This was not how he would have wanted to live. 

 

Dad actually was healing well from his brain surgery.  Unfortunately the ICU is a great place to catch infections, and he caught more than his share.  He had several virulent pneumonia like infections, and also suffered from a bladder infection.  Over the past few weeks he suffered two strokes, and apparently one did damage to an area that manages his kidneys.  As strong a man as he was, there was just too much for him to fight.

 

After a very restless night last night, I came to work early.  We met at the funeral home at 10:00 a.m. to plan the next few days, and also went to the local greenhouse to order flowers.  Several brothers are helping my Mom, and everyone is keeping busy. 

 

We had planned to get a new furnace/air conditioner this year, but with all that has been happening we did not have time to get this taken care of.  Until the past week that wasn’t a big deal as temperatures in Nebraska were mild, and the a/c unit was working OK.  It is hot this week and naturally at the worst possible time the a/c unit decided to go south on us.  I keep telling myself we will be leading a normal life sometime soon, but I am not so sure.  Amazing.

 

Next up for me is writing a eulogy for my Dad.  My older brother and I are going to speak at the funeral, and though I have in mind what I want to say, I need to get it written out.  Or as the minister called it, “Plan B” would be to have him read what I wrote if I am unable to read it myself.

 

I will share that with you when I have a final copy.  Thanks again to all of you who have Twittered or emailed.  You have been a source of strength and comfort for my family.

My Blog Is One Year Old

June 20, 2009 5 comments

 

With all that has been going on with my Dad, I missed the one year anniversary for my blog.  It was June 15, 2008 when I welcomed readers to the blog.  It has been an eventful year, that is for certain.  The blog isn’t where I want it to be yet. I want many more posts on members of the racing family.  That will come.  I need to learn more about the technology of blogging so I can provide readers with sound and video, as well as my opinions.  I will keep working to improve my blog.  I appreciate all of you who have visited this year, and hope you keep coming back for years.

 

I really need an escape from my day to day life, and hope I will get it this weekend.  Ford is allowing me to use an Escape for a week, and I will review it on my blog next week.  Now if I can just use the Escape to escape, I will be happy.  Weather permitting Matt and I will be at Butler County Motorplex to take in the SLMR series as well as the regular Butler County show.  Tomorrow we will be at Junction Motor Speedway to watch the NCRA touring late models, as well as the JMS show.  I have been looking forward to this weekend for some time, so Mother Nature, please do not **** on my parade.

 

This has not been an easy week for my family.  We have received some bad news regarding my Dad.  It has been especially difficult for my Mom who had to make some tough, tough decisions.  Below is the latest post about my Dad.

 

No More Treatment

 

In the past 37 days I made the 1 ½ hour round trip to the Creighton Medical Center 37 times.  I won’t be going there today, and I won’t miss it. I don’t want to go there ever again.  My Dad is coming “home” to Fremont today, coming to Merrick Manor adjacent to the Fremont Area Medical Center.  He is coming home for hospice care-i.e. no treatment other than to keep him comfortable.  He won’t be receiving antibiotics, he won’t be receiving insulin, he won’t be receiving respiratory therapy, and no one will suction his lungs. 

 

No, we did not give up on my Dad.  On Wednesday he had a CT scan. Yesterday we learned that sometime in the past two weeks he had a stroke.  We also learned that his kidneys are failing, they are shutting down.  He fought like no one else and continues to fight, despite the lousy hand he was dealt. 

 

Cancer is one of the most frightening words I know, and Dad fought skin cancer for months and months.  When he thought he had it licked, a large tumor was discovered in his head.  His options were simple, have it removed or die a painful death.  The surgery would be risky, but any chance was better than the certainty of death without the operation.  So my 84 year old Father underwent 23 hours of surgery in a 36 hour span.  He spent the next 34 days in the ICU at Creighton Medical Center trying to heal from the trauma of brain surgery, trying to purge his body of anesthesia, and fighting lung and bladder infections that are common to ICU patients.  Only a fool wouldn’t have folded, dealt that kind of hand-well, a fool, or someone with a desperate will to live. My Dad did not fold.

 

My Dad fought and fought and fought.  For weeks my family tried to will all of our energy to him in his battle.  He kept playing the hand he was dealt, but the stroke card trumped all.  It doesn’t seem fair, it doesn’t seem right for someone to struggle so valiantly and be defeated.  It sucks.  But saying this, I feel guilty.  My Dad has lived a long life, a good life.  There are soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan who lost their life and left behind a wife and a baby who will never know a father.  I knew my Dad and I am better for it.

 

Last night, late, I told my Dad thank you for all he taught me.  His eyes were open, and he was looking at me when I said it.  . I told him that without him and my wife Jane I don’t know where I would be today. Despite his stroke I will always believe he heard me and knew it was me who said it.  I mentioned on a blog post earlier this week that I had heard Neil Young’s “Old Man” on the way to the hospital.  I am not a Neil Young fan, have never really paid much attention to this song, and likely switched to another station when it came on in the past.  I listened all the way through this time.  The lyrics were a perfect fit for me now, hand and glove.  “Old man take a look at yourself, I’m a lot like you.” I hope so; I could have done much worse.

 

Despite his ordeal, my Dad’s vital signs remain strong.  I don’t know how long he will be with us-my Mom says “until God has room for him in heaven,’ Some times I question such comments; this time I know it is true.

 

I so appreciate all of you who have prayed for my Dad, who have extended good wishes, and who have allowed me to use my blog as therapy for my grief.  Right now I am a little angry at doctors and nurses and hospitals.  I am tired, sad, and emotionally used up.  But I have no doubt your kindness has helped me through this struggle.  Thank you.

 

 

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Mark Martin Is A Gas In NASCAR Sprint Cup Victory; Say “Pit Pass” Fast Three Times

June 15, 2009 14 comments

I got back from the hospital in Omaha just in time to see Mark Martin win his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this year. Chalk up another one for the over 50 set. Martin seems to be having the time of his life and his victory places him 8th in Sprint Cup points standings.

 

Last night Matt and I made a visit to America’s Home Track, Eagle Raceway, to take in a weekly show. To say I needed a night away from all the emotions I am dealing with during my Dad’s recovery is an understatement. Matt hadn’t planned on going racing last night, but his wife Steph said we both needed a night at the track, so we heeded her sound advice. From the Kentucky Headhunters’ “Walk Softly,” on Matt’s CD player, to the hobby stocks and mods, heck, even the sprints, I needed an evening to let my blue collar roots shine through.

 

We saw our good friend “rstar” who was wearing a slightly dirty shirt like a badge of honor, insinuating he had been hard at work in the pits. However, I had noticed him standing behind the pit fence in turn one during hot laps as sprints threw tons of mud in that direction, so I am not sure if that was the cause of the soiled shirt, or if his usual race consulting actually did turn hands on.

 

Today is Carroll Hill’s birthday. Carroll aka Speed, aka Speedy that is. I can’t confirm this, but I was told a sample from Eagle’s 1/3rd mile of dirt was sent to an Omaha lab with the express purpose of determining which was older, Speedy, or the dirt.

 

Another old timer committed a faux pas last night that very few caught. Unfortunately for him I happened to one who did hear his mistake. So, say “pit pass” fast three times, and see what might actually come out of your mouth. Well, say it three times unless you are a legendary Midwest race announcer, than just say it once at normal speed. I hesitate to actually write the exact words he used-not because they are that terrible, but because if the owners of a track 13 miles up the road from Eagle hear what Stan Cisar said, they are likely to institute that as policy and I don’t want to have to pay to visit that part of their venue the couple times I will be going there yet this year.

 

Depending on how my Dad is doing, Matt and I hope to take in two nights of racing next week, going to Butler County Speedway near Rising City for the first time to take in their Friday night weekly show plus the spec late models as an added attraction, then venturing to Junction Motor Speedway on Saturday night to watch the NCRA super late models in action. I am test driving a Ford Escape this week, and will be doing a review of this SUV too-long story and has to do with Twitter and my blog.

 

Below is a blog post I did about my Dad’s recovery. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

I Am Glad This Week Is Over

 

This week has been a strange, emotionally exhausting, and disturbing, physically daunting, frustrating seven days. The only good thing I can say about it is that it is over. Eight trips to Omaha, family meetings with doctors, late nights, early mornings, and trying to keep a job blur one day into another. I knew it was Wednesday when I saw garbage barrels in front of neighbor’s houses. I knew it was Sunday today because the morning paper was bigger than any other day. Tomorrow will be just another day of work, eat supper, and drive to Omaha for the night shift. But this week has started out better than last week.

 

After several hopeful days the end of the week before last, my Dad slipped into a non-responsive mode last Saturday and Sunday. By Monday his status was alarming, and we received a phone call at 5:30 p.m. to rush to Omaha for a family meeting with ICU doctors. My wife and I were getting ready to go in for the last shift anyway, but we made the 45 minute trip in 37 and rushed into the hospital for the meeting.

 

I am not saying that I am as important as a doctor, any doctor, but I do not call for a meeting and then not attend it. When we got to the ICU waiting room we called to let the head of the ICU know all family members were here and we could meet. We were told that there were several emergencies in the ICU and we should come back at 7:30 p.m. when normal ICU visiting hours resume. No problem, emergencies need to be handled first. However, when we came back to the ICU at the appointed time we found that the ICU head had already left “since we had been unable to arrive before 7:30.” Say what? It would seem that failure to communicate in a hospital is never a good thing, but in an ICU it seems like failure to communicate should border on a sin. Strike one for the ICU head, and no, in this case I do not care about how incredibly talented you may be.

 

As a result of botched communications, my family was left to meet with an intern to discuss the seriousness of my father’s condition. The intern was well meaning, and I felt bad she was placed in this situation, but given the gravity of the situation, and that my father had nearly four weeks in intensive care, I don’t think we should have been talking with an intern. Strike two for the ICU head with the amazing skills.

 

We’ll leave the late morning meeting the next day with the ICU head and four other doctors as a foul ball, no third strike, but for every member of my family, this has been an awfully shaky at bat for a doctor who is one of a team that will either help my father survive, or not be able to help him survive. Hopefully his impeccable experience will outshine the negatives he has left us with so far.

 

The team of three doctors who did my Dad’s surgery-look, I don’t think Dad is supposed to be capitalized, and I didn’t capitalize father, but I want to capitalize it, and I am my own editor, and my editor says it is OK to capitalize Dad and Mom-seem somewhat divided as to the long-term chances of his recovery. Two of the surgeons seem more hopeful than the other, which adds to the confusion we feel.

 

After wondering about him when this process first began, I have to say that I am very impressed with Dad’s plastic surgeon, Dr. Bhaller. He has been in day after day to see Dad, many days two or more times. He is amazed by my Dad’s strength, and his will to fight when others may have simply given up. His comment “with Henry’s will to survive, nothing would surprise me,” is about as positive a statement as we could hope for at this time.

 

Through Wednesday my Dad struggled with infections and breathing difficulties. He still has infections, though antibiotics seem to be holding their own against lung and bladder infections-the two typical ICU infections. Starting Thursday, my Dad seemed to be breathing a little easier, though easy is certainly relative in his case.

 

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were not outstanding days, simply days when my Dad seemed peaceful, and that makes them good days. Jane and I took the early shift this morning so my Mom could go to church-about the one thing she still does other than go to the hospital. Dad looked good, he had a nurse and respiratory therapist who were attentive, and he seemed more alert than he had all week. At 1:00 p.m. they maneuvered his bed into almost a chair, sitting him up for the first time in days. He opened his eyes, and though he wasn’t tracking movements, he seemed to be responding with his own body movements-leg, shoulder, even his hands.

 

So, what does this week have in store for us? I don’t even want to think about it. Part of me wants desperately to be hopeful, while part of me does not even want to say the word hope because our hopes have been dashed time and again the past 33 days. On the way home from Omaha this afternoon though, I thought of former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano who died of cancer. Why I do not know, other than it was message I was supposed to heed.

 

Even while Valvano was ravished by the disease, even while he was battling the effects of his treatment, he always presented a positive message to the public. His theme was “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” My 84 year old hasn’t given up. He is fighting for his life with reserves of strength that boggle my mind. All I can do is be there to support him and my Mom in anyway I can, and I have already told him I would be there for as long as he needed.

 

I would like to be writing about topics other than my Dad, and maybe some of you wish I was too. For me right now, the national debt, health care, terrorists, Iran, North Korea, and the economy, just don’t seem as important as the struggle of one very stubborn human being. Thanks for stopping by.

Stewart Has His Own Prelude and Dream: Eagle Regulars Near Top Of IMCA Standings

June 9, 2009 3 comments

 

Congratulations to Tony Stewart on winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup series race at Pocono yesterday.  For a true racer like Stewart to win on gas mileage is amazing.  Stewart is the first owner/driver since Ricky Rudd to win a Sprint Cup series race.

 

The win at Pocono may have been Stewart’s “Dream,” but he had his prelude to the dream the night before at his own track, Eldora Speedway in Ohio.  Racing against the best late model drivers in the nation, Stewart finished a solid sixth. Jimmy Owens won the race, followed by Scott Bloomquist.  Jimmy Mars and Brian Birkhofer continue to show how potent their own chassis is, as they finished 4th and 5th in the feature.

 

At Eagle Raceway, America’s Home Speedway, Dylan Smith took the Modified checkers.  He was followed by Jay Noteboom, Bob Zoubek, Clint Homan, Chris Alcorn, and Johnny Saathoff.  Jeff Emerson is leading the IMCA National Points Standings, but Smith, Saathoff, and Jordan Groubouski-all Eagle regulars-are 5th-6th-8th in national standings, and 1-2-3 in regional standings.  Like I said before, if you like modified racing you have to make a trip to Eagle Raceway this summer.

 

Below is my post on Ron Speaks Out, the latest about my dad.

 

Weary, Wary, Wondering When My Dad Will Get Better

 

When I was a freshman in college I used to go to school all day Thursday, study all evening (OK, the equivalent of studying, which might only have been looking at the books I was supposed to be reading), then work from midnight to 7:30 a.m.  I would drive home, shower, have breakfast, and go to class all day.  I would work from 4:00 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, then go out with my friends and drink a few beers.  I should have been tired, but I was too young and stupid to change my ways.

 

For the past 26 days my life has centered on my dad’s surgery and recovery and work.  It seems like I am working as hard as I ever have, but I must be doing it in super slow motion as every day I seem to have more on my desk at the end of the day, than when the day started.  I am not sure what is going to give, but all I can do is keep struggling and hope

There will be a day when I get caught up. I am physically wiped out after a day at work, and stressed that I am not getting things caught up.

 

The drive from Fremont to the Creighton Medical Center takes 45 minutes.  Strange, but the drive from the Creighton Medical Center to my house also takes 45 minutes.  I try to stay several hours.  Yesterday we were there for four hours.  When my dad had his surgery we were there for 15 hours, two days in a row.  I really don’t want to go.  I hate seeing my dad lying on the bed defenseless.  It tears my heart out to see hardly a glimmer of recognition in his eyes some days.  I want to yell and scream on days when I believe I see fear in his eyes.

 

There are days when I can’t show enough how grateful I am to my dad’s surgeons for him being alive today.  Other days I want to curse them for his roller coaster recovery.  Some days I think we must have the very best ICU nurses on the planet attending to my dad.  On Thursday and Friday I was sure we did. I have not thought that the past two days.  Maybe it has to do with the day my dad is having. No matter what type of day he is having, I leave the hospital dead tired physically.  If he is having a bad day, I leave emotionally exhausted too.

 

I am not angry that I can no longer accomplish what the 18 year old Ron could do physically.  I wonder how the 18 year old Ron would feel after 26 straight days of trips to the hospital in Omaha.  I am thinking he would be tired too.  I don’t think seeing my dad at the hospital raises any issues of my own mortality.  Seeing him on his bed in the ICU certainly raises issues of his mortality, and seeing this bigger than life man so frail does knock me for a loop.  Like I said, I really don’t want to go to the hospital.  I am tired physically.  I am behind at work.  I keep thinking my emotional gas tank must be running on fumes.  But, everyday I get in my car and go to Omaha to see my dad.

 

Actually, it does not take a major effort of willpower to climb into the car and point it to Omaha.  Sure, I have thought of not going.  I even told my mom that I could not go one day because I was so far behind at work.  I didn’t go that day.  I went that night.  I couldn’t not go.  I have tried and tried to think of a time when I really needed them that my dad and mom were not there for me.  It never happened.  They were always there for me.  I have to be there for them, and I will be.

 

It may take me all summer to get caught up at work, but I will get caught up.  I am behind paying bills-no wonder we have so much money in our checking account, and I will try to get caught up, but feel like I will get it caught up when I can. Who knows when I will finally wake up not feeling tired?  I do know that I will be at the hospital tonight.  I do know I will be at the hospital tomorrow, and the next day too.  I am weary, wary, wondering when my dad will get better, and his doctors simply can not give me an answer.  So, I will put one foot in front of the other tonight, walk through the doors at Creighton Medical Center, take the elevator to the 3rd floor, walk the long hallway to ICU, take a few more steps to my dad’s room and say “Hi dad.  How are you doing tonight?”  It can’t be any other way.

 

My dad had great days last Thursday and Friday.  Saturday and Sunday the roller coaster ride plunged.  He was fighting a fever, not very alert, and slept almost the entire time I was there.  More of the one tiny step forward, two big steps back.

The Prelude Wasn’t, and the “R” Word Is Really Irritating Me

June 6, 2009 2 comments

 

I was really disappointed the Prelude to the Dream was rained out Wednesday.  I was looking for a great evening of watching dirt late model racing on TV, and like it always does, letting the racing wipe away all my stresses for just a few hours.  Darn “r” word.

 

And darn that word some more.  It sounds like chances are pretty good that the Midwest is going to see its share of wet stuff over the weekend.  Why can’t Mother Nature arrange for rain on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays when hardly anyone races?  That seems like a great plan to me.  Farmers would still get the rain they need, and racing fans could get their fix to.

 

I hear that NASCAR has finally figured out what many dirt tracks knew a long time ago-double file restarts are exciting and make for good competition.  It will be interesting to see how the “new” procedure works out in “big-time” racing. I may actually watch a little of the Pocono race just for the restarts, and watching Pocono is something I try to avoid as much as having a colonoscopy.  I do it only when necessary.

 

Other than catching a few Sprint Cup Series laps on TV, I’ll be spending time at the hospital, and will have to let watching some college baseball be my stress reliever this weekend. As always, I greatly appreciate each of my followers.  That you give up some of your time to read what I write is humbling for me.  I also want to thank you for your prayers and kind thoughts during my Dad’s ordeal.  Below is my latest post on his condition.

 

I Hate Roller Coasters

 

Growing up I had a near phobic dislike of roller coasters, which is an ego saving way of stating they terrified me.  I did not like the smaller versions of coasters that came with carnivals visiting Fremont, and it was all I could bear to even look at the old ¼ mile long wooden roller coaster at the old Playland Park just across the Missouri River from Omaha. If someone offered me $1,000,000 to ride one of today’s thrill rides, I would say no.  What good would the money do if I had a heart attack on the ride?

 

Since May 13th my family has been on a ride wilder than any amusement park could offer.  My Dad’s brain surgery on May 13th AND May 14th seems like ancient history.  The past 23 days are a blur of driving to Omaha sitting in a hospital, driving home, going to bed, going to work, driving to Omaha, sitting in a hospital, driving home, and going to bed.  It has been years since I have felt as tired physically as I do this moment, but the physical tired is overwhelmed by the emotional exhaustion.

 

I wish it had been a great three weeks since my Dad’s surgery, but it has not been.  For an 84 year old man to undergo 35 hours of brain and supportive surgeries is almost incomprehensible to me.  That he survived is do in no small part to my Mom willing him to survive, plus the prayers of hundreds of people around the world.  Surviving the surgery was just one inning in a very humbling game.  Recovery is another story, and it is like trying to get a hit off the fastest pitcher around.

 

Not one step in my Dad’s recovery has followed a time table.  It seems like for every step forward, he has taken at least two steps back.  Simply waking up from the surgery was a week longer process than doctors had first hoped for.  Any response from my Dad took even longer.  Tiny movements are a cause for joy, and left side movements are almost non-existent.  An off the chart fever followed by dangerously low blood pressure consumed one day, and day after day of no improvement made each journey to the hospital mind numbing.

 

This week saw anger, tears and great fears, and yesterday cheers.  Fears of a stroke were allayed by a negative CT scan.  Anger over not seeing members of the surgical team have been replaced by appreciation for a continued high focus on my dad.  Tears from a lack of responsiveness and wondering what we should have the hospital staff do if we were not on hand, were replaced by smiles yesterday. No loud cheers were made-Dad is still in the intensive care unit-but inside I couldn’t have been yelling louder than if I was at a Nebraska football game.

 

Yesterday my Dad sat up.  His hospital bed is an amazing machine that can be arranged into almost a chair, and he sat up almost all day.  Not only did he sit up, but he kept his eyes open and was alert, tracking movements in his room, even outside his room.  He would nod his head in response to questions, and several times when asked to give thumbs up or down as to how he was feeling, he gave thumbs up and even squeezed fingers. These acts may seem quite minor, but when it is a loved one performing them after doing nothing for days, well, the actions seem heaven sent.

 

I am almost afraid to go to the hospital today, or even call my Mom to see how Dad is doing.  Other up days have been followed by roller coaster down, down, down days.  Our hopes have been trashed several times.  Today I am just praying for a decent day for my Dad, sort of a follow up to yesterday.  Tomorrow I hope for more of the same.  If Dad can put together four or five good days, we can talk about leaving the ICU, and maybe even going to a neuro rehab center in Omaha. 

 

I never have like roller coasters, but I have always liked trains, especially the steam engines of the 30’s and 40’s when my Dad was growing up.  Maybe the roller coaster ride is over, and the Hank Meyer Wellness Express is building up steam.  My son Matt asked me what I wanted for Father’s Day.  All I could think of was for my Dad to get better.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of your kind thoughts and prayers.

Prelude To The Dream and My Dad’s Dreams Too

June 2, 2009 5 comments

 

No racing for me this past weekend.  I guess I am a little run down from 20 out of 21 days going to the hospital in Omaha and trying to work too.  I haven’t done the best job keeping up with my blog, but my priority has been my dad and my mom. 

 

I must have dozed for a split second on my way to the hospital on Thursday.  Coming to the intersection of Highways 36 & 133 I asked my wife when they put up a traffic light on 36 at Bennington.  Well, Bennington was four miles back and there is no stop light there.  Scared the heck out of me, and Jane made Matt drive me to the hospital on Friday and Saturday.  So no races for me.

 

Apparently Jeff Gordon took a day off too, losing the NASCAR Sprint Cup series point lead to Tony Stewart after the Dover race.  No, I did not watch this race.  I simply cannot bear to watch races at Dover (0r Pocono).  I am amazed at how well Stewart has done this year.  I am also amazed with his attitude.

 

Speaking of Tony Stewart, be sure to order Prelude To The Dream on HBO PPV tomorrow.  The race is at Stewart’s famed Eldora high banks, and I have called it the best NASCAR race of the year the past two seasons.  Yeah, I know it isn’t a NASCAR race, but it is better than anything NASCAR offers in their top two series.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Below is a post I made on Ron Speaks Out about my Dad’s current condition:

 

Where Are You Dad?

 

The neurosurgeon says no brain damage occurred during your surgery.  That some people take longer to “wake up” from the surgery than others and that you are 85 years old and went through a horrific experience.  Every ounce of my heart, every fiber of my soul wants to believe him.  But it has been three weeks since you were with us Dad, and I am wondering where you are. 

 

Sure you seem to be awake and alert for a few moments each day, maybe to check and see if your loved ones are still with you.  We are and always will be. But where are you the rest of the time?  I won’t believe you have given up.  You have been a fighter all your life, you love to do battle, and this is by far the toughest foe you ever faced.  Still, how much is one human being supposed to endure?  So where are you Dad?

 

Maybe God has created a special island for people like you to go and heal.  Sunny and warm everyday.  Skies that are blue, bluer, bluest, and they go on and on forever.  Your only task is to get better.  Maybe lie in a hammock and drink a beer or two.  Well, you used to drink beer. Test out your new teeth with a nice steak dinner.  Read a Louis Lamour book.  Rest and get better.  That sounds close to heaven, so if that is where you are, don’t stray too far.  We need you back with us.

 

Or maybe God is just letting you dream right now to take away the aches and pain.  To remember the good times in your life as you go through a very bad time.  I can see young Hank Meyer walking to school for the very first time along a country road near Creston, NE.  Hank is only four, won’t be five until October, but he is ready for school.  Or Meta, Hank’s mom, is ready for him to be ready for school.  Hank is marching in step with his older brothers Ralph and Phil, and since there is no kindergarten in the school, Hank will be in first grade.  The stock market crash and Great Depression have almost arrived, but this is a good day for Hank. I know there were other good times with your five brothers and sister, so let them wash over you.

 

Maybe you have dreamt of that cocky 16 year old graduating from high school in the spring of 1941.  Every time I look at your graduation photo I tease Matt because he looked almost exactly like you when he graduated from school.  “See what you have to look forward to,” I tease.  He could do a lot worse.  But that was definitely a smart ass smirk in the picture.

 

You never said much about your experience in World War II, other than you were on Guam.  Supposedly the island was secure when you went ashore as a Navy radioman, but you mentioned there were still snipers on the island too.  A dream of your youth, but it might not be one you want to dream of now.

 

No doubt you have dreamt of your courtship with mom.  60 years later and you’re still going strong.  What a couple.  Mom is there at the hospital everyday, and she is getting tired.  Tell her you love her one of those times when you wake up to see who is there.  That would help her a lot.

 

I am sure you had to dream of four young sons.  What an arsenal.  I have other words to describe it, but let’s just go with arsenal.  How many years did you coach baseball?  How many young lives did you touch?  How many boys from the poor side of town got to feel what it was like to be champion because of the time you invested in them?  I know I got my picture in the Fremont Tribune for being on one championship team.  I suspect Jeff and Jerry also were on first place finishers.  Every summer was ball games, ball games, ball games, we didn’t know anything else, and didn’t care.  I see lots of good dreams here, even a few with mom yelling “Hank,” to try to calm you.

 

Have you dreamt of our vacations to Colorado?  We could never go until baseball season ended then it was pack the car and head west.  We would always leave late at night because our cars did not have air conditioning.  Did we ever not go to Rocky Mountain National Park?  Did we ever not drive up Trail Ridge Road?  I would love to do that one more time. Yeah, hit you with a snow ball in late July.

 

With 9 grandchildren you have a lot of next generation dreams.  Every one of them can tell stories of special times with Grandpa.  Actually every one of them has stories about stories you told or read to them, stories that never went quite like anyone else’s stories.  And every one of them thinks they have the best Grandpa around.

 

I guess these dreams have been about when you are younger.  Well, would you rather dream of times when you were young and called “Big Hank,” or think about the arthritis brought by 30 years of ten hour days standing on concrete floors in a cold, damp packing plant in Fremont.  I thought so. 

 

So maybe God is letting you dream right now of better times.  Letting you heal-your surgery wounds look better each day, and all your vital signs are great, heck, better than mine.  I hope your dreams are even better than what I wrote.  That inside you are smiling and having a great time. We’ll be there when you wake up.  We love you Dad.