Ben & Pop

As I end this night, I wanted to share some of my thoughts about these past few months watching the Clark family grieve for Ben while taking care of Pop as he battled his own beast.

We all know the loss of Ben, and how it’s affected each and every one of us.  That void hasn’t been filled, that void doesn’t go away, and today it grew stronger as we said goodbye to his father, Windfield, aka Pop.

These past 4 months I’ve watched Pop go through several phases, amazed during each one.  This man I didn’t know well, not until Ben’s sickness.  But how he grew on me and became an inspiration, along with Ben.  The tumor grew and grew and grew, from a small knot to engulfing the entire side of his neck and beyond.  In the last few weeks, it appeared to grow with a fierce rage.  Watching this man lay in bed or his chair, limited with life, never complained.  Instead he faced the outcome head on and was ready to go Home, wanting to go home sooner than today.  I can recall the days where he was hard to get into the wheelchair to come out and watch his ball games (and boy did he love his baseball and football!), barely able to get to this feet, to being strong enough to stand solid and take baby steps to the chair.  I can recall him fussing over making bacon sandwiches, to not being able to feed himself…to wanting to not eat again to speed this up.  I can recall watching him go completely unresponsive for a few minutes and watching how purple his feet got while he wasn’t breathing, and how fast they went back to normal when he “came to”.  I can recall barely being able to hear his whisper of a voice, then to hear it come back to normal, then to fade away again to words that weren’t understandable. I could go on!  This man went from weak to stronger to weaker.  Just a few weeks ago I watched him play Pitch with Sally, Joe and Brenda bellied up at the table.
Watching this man the past few days and how fast he declined and seeing him take his last breath today has brought this deep sadness yet a lifting joy.  Ben has his dad now.  Pop has his son.  A new beginning has been formed with them.
For me, this family, THIS FAMILY, is the most amazing and courageous one I have come to be a part of.  They have the biggest hearts, are the most loyal, and so loving family.  And, of course, most crazy!  I know in my own heart I can never, ever, repay them for allowing me to be a part of Ben and Pop’s battles, for bringing me into their family.  I will miss Pop asking me every time I saw him the two questions – 1) How are your girls? and 2) Did you find a job?  With everything he was struggling with, he always asked, he was THAT kind of man.
I will miss Pop as I miss Ben.  I’m thankful that he no longer suffers….these last days he surely did.
I ask all to continue to wrap this family with warmth and love, as they now grieve for two loved ones.  MomMom now has to find her new ‘normal’..how do you begin to do that without the man that has been there beside you, in good times and bad, for nearly 65 years, and without one of your children.
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Changes with Pop – Ben wrap your Angel wings around your dad!!

From the Caring Bridge Page: The changing of seasons brings a change with Pop. Yesterday he began passing out again- twice yesterday and once today. He abhors lying in his bed during the day and has gotten used to getting up to the table for everything and even went on a couple more drives and a wheelchair ride up to Rose’s last weekend during her “Alpaca Days” open house. The nurse and nurse orientee came out yesterday and measured his tumor. It had grown 2cm in 2 days with the measurement last week being 28cmX 30cm. Another smaller lump showed up 2 days ago at the base of the neck. It seems to pulsate. Is it an enlarged lymph node? Is it a new super aggressive mass? Is it both? Where else has it gone? His voice has come back and he doesn’t have the raspy whisper that he used to. His feet are mottled off and on and to me just look like they would hurt to stand on, but he doesn’t complain. Pop’s foot doctor has volunteered to do a home visit over Thanksgiving break for routine maintenance of nails and calluses. Thanksgiving plans are to cook at our own homes and then bring it all over to Mom and Pops for a nice meal with family. We have so much to be thankful for and pray you all have the same. God Bless.

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Tulips for Tumor UPDATE

Unfortunately, we are having to cancel this event for this year due to locality issues. We hope to bring this event to the community level next November, so stayed tuned….

Thanks to those who planned to participate.

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In Honor of Ben: Tulips for Tumors

In accordance with the National Brain Tumor Society’s annual program, they have adopted a program called Tulip for Tumors in honor of those who have suffered, or are currently suffering, from brain tumors.

On Saturday, November 6th, we will be planting tulips in honor of Ben, and ask for you to come out and join us.  We’re working on the logistics in building our raised tulip garden, which will be built in the shape of a ribbon, on the Clark’s property in Dameron.  This will become an annual event!

Please come out and plant a tulip in honor of our beloved Ben.  Bring your own, donate a bag, or plant one of ours…..

Discussion of turning it into a BBQ are being tossed around as well.

All details will be forthcoming….mark the date for November 6th!

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I Hate Cancer!

I find myself having spent 3 hours tonight, driving south from Ocean City, after an evening watching a friend from years back be so blessed by the many people that came out to support him.  It brought back so many memories of Ben…it’s as if all diagnosed with cancer gets this “Book of how-to”.  I heard PJ, who is amazingly beating his battle with Lung Cancer, say the same phrases Ben said, and having the same humbleness.  How is that so?!

Having been by Ben’s side for most of his battle with this beast, when I learned about PJ’s battle, I just crumpled. Like Ben, he’s this amazing all-around great guy.  Would do the world for you, would give you the shirt & shoes off his body for  you.  Why is it that all the wonderful people are being plaqued with this dreaded disease?

I thought when PJ was diagnosed, and feeling sad and concerned for him, that I was in a way betraying Ben.  He was my focus, he was my dear friend, and how could I have this concern for another?  I believe it took tonight, knowing that Ben would want me to care and show that support to PJ, as I did him, to not feel that betrayal.  I know this sounds silly.  I feel silly writing it.  The heart is an amazing thing….and it can grow at a moments notice.

Perhaps, too, I wasn’t ready to have the emotional pain with cancer again.  After losing Ben almost 2 months ago, and my own father almost a year ago, maybe I was afraid to let myself get concerned for another.  Those thoughts all went away tonight.  Not only seeing PJ and the outpouring of love for him through his friends, but for PJ himself.  After 25 years of not seeing him, with a room full of his friends, he still made sure he came to talk with me, to make sure I was doing ok.

I’m so blessed to have had Ben in my life.  But I’m now blessed to be able to do whatever I can for PJ, even if it’s just to send him messages, or go to event for him, or do research.

We need a cure for cancer, it’s imperative.  I urge everyone to join the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Advocacy Network to demand that Congress make funding and research for cancer a priority!

I’d also like everyone to pray for PJ, as you did for Ben.  Follow his story at http://www.pjaf.org.  His family & friends WILL make a difference, if not for all cancers, for Lung cancer for sure.

I know Ben would want us to continue his fight through others, and I will do just that for him.

I miss you Ben, and I love you.  PJ – you have all my support.  You’re an inspiration…I admire what you’re doing, and for the man you are.

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Relay for Life: Save the Date!

The Relay for Life has begun planning the event for 2011.  The date is June 11, 2011, from 5:30pm – 6:00am.

Please join our team, Wishful Thinking Farm, or simply donate to finding a cure for cancer, at http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?team_id=777967&pg=team&fr_id=33314.

Photos from last year:

We’ll begin forming our team and planning our site early next year!

We do this for you Ben…

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DVD Tribute

For those who were unable to attend, or didn’t pick up your dvd, here is a link to where the Tribute Slideshow for Ben can be downloaded: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=2TC18FY5.

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