Oh it’s been such a long time. I do apologize. It has been a very rough year for my family and myself. I had promised my friends that I would have a recipe on this blog. I promise I will have that tomorrow! Today, I feel the need to pay tribute to the kindest man there has ever been in Southwest Iowa, my father.
For those of you who had the privilege of knowing him, you understand why this past year was so tough. My dad had a way of touching the hearts of everyone he met. There was just something about my gentle giant, as I liked to refer to him. He tolerated a lot, and rarely got angry. When he did get angry, people listened. When you read bits about farmer’s who stay up with newborns, trying to keep them alive, crying when they don’t make it but carrying on, that was my dad.
He was born in 1932, and probably used up more lives than a cat. When he was 5yrs. old, they discovered he had Von Willebrand disease during a tonsillectomy. Von Willebrand is a blood factor disorder where a person can bleed to death, but it is not hemophelia. I will explain this disease further in a future blog. This devil of a disease plagued my father throughout his life, and would contribute to his end, but I can not tell you how many times he dealt with this and SURVIVED!
When he was 9yrs old, he was diagnosed with Polio. He was extremely lucky that the doctor diagnosed him early and drove him to the hospital in Council Bluffs himself. He spent many months at Jenny Edmunson Hospital being treated, and once again, HE SURVIVED.
After graduating from high school, he joined the army during the Korean War. While he was stationed at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, he met my mother on a weekend pass to Salt Lake City. Together they had 5 children, and once again, HE SURVIVED! Ha ha ha! That is my funny for the day.
My awesome dad saw us through our ups and downs. He would never criticize, but made sure we learned our lessons in life. He had a way of doing it without saying words. For having 5 kids that were all completely different, I think my mom and him did a fantastic job. Family was important to him. He hated nothing more than seeing other families being torn apart by greed or inane feuds. Both of my parents never hesitated to “adopt” my friends as their own, and were always there for them like they were for me.
In the 80’s he started having bleeding problems again. Even though I was young, I will never forget the feeling of almost losing my dad. It did get my mind used to seeing my father in a hospital bed though. This is something I would get to see quite often for the rest of his life. You know you have a great man for a father though when all of our friends and neighbors showed up to harvest his crops for him. There is nothing as awesome as seeing and event like that happen. Once again, HE SURVIVED.
The 80’s farm crisis brought an end to my dad being a full time farmer. To save our land he sold out and rented our land out. It was the first time I remember my dad having a job that he had to leave the farm for. It was so hard for him to give up farming, but he swallowed his pride, and HE SURVIVED.
We lost my mom in 2004. My dad lost his love, and he was so devastated. It took him years to get back on track and really live again, but HE SURVIVED.
One week after my mother passed away, my father found out he had prostrate cancer. fortunately it was caught early and HE SURVIVED.
In 2010 he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. It was a very hard fought battle, but he won, and HE SURVIVED.
When he started having bleeding problems again a little over a year ago, I knew we were coming to an end. This man who fought so hard to live for 79 years was starting to fight his last battle. Because of the intense radiation of his stomach, the blood vessels in his stomach were bursting. We ended up taking him to the Mayo Clinic and they gave us hope, but his nutrition was a huge problem, and hard to fix because of his stomach. We made several trips to Rochester and really thought we were on the right track. Right before we were to make our next trip up there, he started to really get sick. His doctor sent him to Omaha for a new PET scan to make sure there were no new cancers. That morning when my sister and I took him to that appointment, we went behind his back and called his Hematologist to let him know how sick he was getting. He never left the hospital.
The reason I felt the need to write this, is because my father was not only a kind, gentle, wonderful man. He was a fighter. His life was proof of that. He was a survivor in so many ways. When you think your life is so horrible, and you can’t go on, I want you to think of the Gentle Giant of Southwest Iowa who kicked life’s butt so many times. Find the inner fighter within yourself. It’s in there. I guarantee!
Byron Lebeck riding in his first parade after beating stomach cancer!