The Right Choice

Submitted by Kimberly Wencl July 2011 As Kimberly sat in the chair between her husband and her father she was completely numb. She could hear the words as the funeral director spoke. She could see his lips moving but nothing seemed to register in her mind. The whole situation was like a horrible dream that she couldn’t wake up from. Even something as simple as breathing was difficult. In the past twenty-four hours, life as they knew it had ceased to exist. Without prompting, her thoughts rushed back to the day their oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was preparing to leave home and attend college at the University of Minnesota. In spite of her mixed emotions about her firstborn leaving the nest, Kimberly and her husband Roger were very proud of their daughter. She had enjoyed helping Liz gather up everything needed to move out on her own, even though she knew how much she would miss her. Her daughter was so excited to be spreading her wings and venturing out into a new life of true independence. Finally the day arrived and she was off to face the world. Liz did well in school and before they knew it a year had already passed. Prior to beginning her sophomore year she and a few friends decided to move into a duplex that was only a few blocks from campus. Then tragedy struck. Kimberly and Roger received the call that all parents fear. Much to their horror they were informed that a fire had broken out at the duplex. Liz and two of her roommates had died from smoke inhalation. Devastated,...

The Letter

Kimberly stopped by the store on her way to work. She had been looking forward to this day for the past three weeks. She grabbed several copies of USA TODAY and hurried out the door. She couldn’t wait to get settled in at her desk and read the article. She had sent emails to notify all her friends and family, so she knew they would be reading it as well. All the excitement and buildup began when she received a phone call three weeks prior. USA TODAY had decided to run an article on off-campus fires involving students. During their extensive research they had acquired Kimberly’s name. It had been almost three years since her daughter Elizabeth, had died in a tragic fire. Liz was a student at a nearby college who lived in an apartment with several other roommates. The paper wanted very much to interview Kimberly for the article. After so much despair and grief she was relieved for something good to possibly come from her loss. She believed if she could help even one student avoid the mistakes made by her daughter and 61 other college kids who had lost their lives, then their deaths would not be in vain. It wouldn’t bring Liz back, but in Kimberly’s eyes it was a chance to honor her daughter’s memory. Flipping the pages she found the article and began reading. It only took a few moments for an overwhelming sense of sadness to fill her heart. She had mistakenly thought she could handle reading about her daughter’s death again. Even after three years it still seemed so senseless....

A Gift for Grandpa

Submitted by Kim Wencl March 2012 Sunday morning had finally arrived! Excitement compelled Kim to rise from the comforting confines of her bed. Today her enthusiasm could not be curbed as her well-planned preparations came to fruition. The family would be celebrating their patriarch’s 80th birthday in a relatively short while. Tom Baldwin, normally one to shy away from ostentatious attention, had agreed in good-nature to go along with their plans. Kim made every effort to celebrate her father’s life in grand fashion. She had been successful in persuading the local news station to recognize him on their 10 pm broadcast. Likewise, the newspaper ran the announcement of his birthday complete with a photo. Their church in turn, honored Tom by dedicating the flowers at the altar to this milestone event. The day was setting up to be quite a memorable one, just as Kim had intended. Later, the family gathered at the restaurant to celebrate. Earlier that week Kim had attempted to reserve a private room but to no avail. Slightly disappointed she vowed not to let that dampen the party. Much to her dismay they were led into a private room after all. Elated that their celebration wouldn’t be disturbing others they were free to laugh and carry on. Two of Kim’s favorite cousins, Dawn and Beth, were also in attendance because of close ties to her dad. Beth spent the evening preserving special moments on camera which seemed only fitting since she worked for a photographer. The meal was topped off with an extravagant chocolate dessert. Then, the assembled family as if on cue, raised their...

Brooke’s Clock

My daughter’s name is Brooke. She passed away in April, 2013 at age 15. Her older sister’s 19th birthday was in August. We were at the store downloading a picture for her birthday cake. It was a very hard day for me, but I was doing my best to focus on the birthday girl and make it through without bursting into tears. While the photo was downloading I looked at a display next to the photo computer and there was a single clock for sale. The clock was made by Brooke’s Clock Company. Not only did it have my precious daughters name on it, I also collect wall clocks. I think Brooke was saying hello & Happy Birthday. Submitted by Lisa Thomas Click on any of the images to see the larger...

Blessed by a Bunny

Nancy smiled as her daughter Carol walked into the kitchen. It was early in 2008 and they were making plans for a mother-daughter mini vacation at Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They had taken the trip many times and didn’t really need to prepare, but both enjoyed the planning as much as the trip itself. Carol hugged her mother before taking a seat. Nancy thought to herself what a blessing it was to see her daughter’s happy disposition, considering all the difficulties she had faced growing up. Extremely active as a child, things changed drastically after Carol entered her teenage years. She developed back problems which systematically limited her mobility. It was determined by her doctors that back surgery was necessary, three in total. One surgery, a spinal fusion, proved to cause more harm than good. For an entire year she dealt with the pain unaware of the continued damage her body was being subjected to. Finally, to their relief, a new doctor discovered the many mistakes made in her spinal fusion surgery. He was quick to correct them in a final surgery. Nancy felt in her heart that permanent damage had occurred because of the length of time the mistakes went undetected. Carol, now 23, was a licensed EMT. Intelligent and self-motivated she was in the process of furthering her career by becoming a Paramedic. Nancy was very proud of her daughter’s accomplishments, but what made Carol so special was the person she was inside. Compassionate and caring she had a natural affinity for animals and hopping to the top of her list were the bunny rabbits. They were by...

The Journey Begins

Submitted by Suzanne Giesemann January 2012 Suzanne was proud of her accomplished career in the navy, but after witnessing firsthand the destruction during the terrorist attack on 9/11, the importance of life really hit home. Experiencing a shift in her priorities she learned, as so many others did, not to take life for granted. It was then that she made the choice to retire along with her husband, Ty, who had also enjoyed a distinguished career in the navy. Military service was in fact a family affair. Suzanne’s step-daughter, Susan, had chosen a career in the Marines where she met and married her husband, Warren. Service and commitment infused the very fiber of their beings yet they never lost sight of the importance of loved ones. Family meant everything. Suzanne and Ty were thrilled to be sailing the oceans of the world on their own time. Their home away from home was a 46-foot sailboat dubbed, Liberty. How appropriate considering the freedom they now felt to indulge the passion they both shared. It was during a relaxed trip, destination Venice, when a tragedy occurred that would prove to be the catalyst for a life-changing transformation. Suzanne and Ty were devastated when their son-in-law Warren informed them of the inconceivable events that led to Susan’s untimely death. Following is an excerpt from her book “Messages of Hope.” On a sunny June day my step-daughter Susan was taken from us by a bolt of lightning that came out of the blue. My husband Ty and I had been sailing in the Mediterranean when we received the devastating news. Returning to our...