Dear Readers,

Six months ago my wife Laurie passed from this life into glory, is now made perfect, and is ranked higher than an angel. Good for her. Not so easy for me.

Laurie had handled all of the internet stuff — blogs, emails, etc. Now it’s my job. I’m slowly finding the pieces and putting them together.

I am posting here the first “chapter” in The Story of Laurie. It has already appeared somewhere on Facebook. (One of my daughters handles that). It belongs here. Chapter Two will soon follow.

Harvey

The Story of Laurie

Laurie Marie (Melos) Bluedorn: April 2, 1952 – July 27, 2020

Chapter One: The End

The Lord called my wife, Laurie, home at 6:30 am on Monday, July 27, 2020. She went peacefully. You couldn’t have choreographed it any better.

I suppose I could write a book about her and about our many experiences together, but for now I will simply write a few random episodes in our life. It seems to me appropriate to begin at the very end. First I’ll tell you something about how she died. Later, I’ll tell you a little about how she lived.

Cancer

Laurie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer over three years ago. She was in and out of treatment for three years. At the time the corona virus panic set in, she was overdue for treatment. She was denied treatment for three months. We learned later that during those three months the cancer was spreading into her bladder, and was compromising her kidneys. Her developing pain eventually forced us to the emergency room where all was revealed. She had emergency surgeries in the hospital, but being isolated, she was forced to make all decisions on her own. She came back home on hospice care – we didn’t understand that meant there would be no further medical intervention. When further problems developed, the hospice nurse advised us to drop out of hospice and go to the emergency room at the hospital. We switched from OSF in Peoria to Genesis in the Quad Cities, and we sought the advice of a different cancer doctor. He was like an angel of mercy, and greatly helped us with handling her many needs. He did some tests, found a treatment which had some chance of working, which normally had minimal side effects, and if it worked, he had personally witnessed some swift and dramatic turn-arounds. We would know whether it was working within a week or so of beginning treatment. We applied to the insurance for approval of the treatment. We did not expect the treatment would be approved. When we finally learned that the treatment had indeed been approved, it was then too late

The End

The last few weeks, my three daughters rotated turns being with me in caring for Laurie’s needs. They all deserve nursing certificates. The last week was especially difficult because Laurie was losing her ability to communicate. I first noticed it in her writing. Then she had difficulty handling the phone and the computer. Then she had trouble just talking. Then it became an effort for her to hold things. She finally let us feed her and give her drink. She slept a lot. She ate her last about Saturday noon. She drank her last late Saturday afternoon. As I was holding her, she whispered her last words to me, “I love you.” I told her that if she has any influence on this world from the other side, please send me help, because I was going to need it. She never opened her eyes again until the very end. Saturday night, a couple came and sang hymns to her. The last thing a person loses is the hearing. We could tell she heard the hymns and wanted to sing along. Sunday she just slept. Sunday evening she began breathing more deeply. I always slept near her, and about 3:00 am Monday morning I could hear her voicing as she breathed. I thought she might be in pain, so I sat up with her for a while. At 4:30am my daughter awoke me to tell me Laurie had just thrown up. It was what we had fed her Saturday. We cleaned her up, then we called the hospice nurse on duty who happened to live only a few minutes away. She came over, took vital signs, then told us it was usually about three days or so from the last time they eat or drink until they die. She suggested a slight dose of morphine under the tongue would help Laurie breathe. The nurse left. We sat and watched a short while. We saw her eyes moving like she was trying to open them. We both left the room for only a couple of minutes, but when we returned, she was no longer breathing. We called the nurse back. Laurie’s troubles were now over.

Laurie leaves behind myself (Harvey, her husband) her five children (Nathaniel, Johannah, Hans, Ava, Helena), 8 grandchildren (1 adopted), and 4 foster grandchildren (potential adoptions).

Memorials

Laurie donated her remains to the University of Iowa Hospital.Laurie loved flowers, and she loved to feed the birds. In front of our house we have a circle of flowers surrounding a bird feeder. I call this the Laurel Wreath.

On the back of the house I had intended to eventually extend the deck and attach a long planter to the railing where Laurie could plant flowers and herbs like she had in her flower garden. When I build that deck with planter, I will call it Laurie’s Ledge.

A couple years ago, we reduced the size of Laurie’s flower garden behind the house from huge (50’ X 50’) to large (20’ X 40’). This year, we planted fruit trees where the larger flower garden had been. This fall, I will seed what remains of the flower garden over with grass, and next spring I will plant more fruit trees there. This will be Laurie’s Orchard.

Many months in advance, with no thought of her death, Laurie had bought four chestnut seedlings. The day after she died happened to be the day that she had arranged for us to finally pick them up, which I did, and the very next day I planted them across the back of our yard. They say they can grow as high as a hundred feet and live as long as eight hundred years. So I call them Laurie’s Legacy.

On the northwest corner of our property we planted five maple trees, after our five children. Laurie’s Litter.

So when I’m gone, and the property passes to another, I expect much of these memorials will remain for many more years, and her children and grandchildren can drive by and remember her.