Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

Ron Wetzell, with wife Cindy, raised boys. He says that when boys are seventeen, you just hope they remember to wear pants when they leave the house.

Grandson Joe is 17 today. I’m not worried about him remembering pants. I’m a little worried that he might take mine.

There was a time we just hoped Joe would get to two. Starting at fifteen months, he survived three surgeries and a year of chemotherapy, but the doctors said he would not make it without a liver transplant and a double lung transplant. Joe did not like the sound of that so just decided to put on his pants and get out of there.

He was only 15 months old when his hepatoblastoma, liver cancer, was discovered. When our old friends and Iowa City residents, George and Ida Belle Paterson, came to Children’s Hospital at U of Iowa to visit him, he could not really talk yet, but he made it clear that he was not going to receive visitors in a diaper. He insisted that his mother put pants on him.

Throughout his year of chemo, he and I would sometimes walk down the hospital halls together, me pushing an IV pole with a line attached to a catheter in his chest. He didn’t have a belt, so he insisted on mine before we took off on our adventures. He swaggered down the hallways, my belt wrapped several times around him, a total chick magnet, with me running behind, pushing his IV pole with one hand and holding up my pants with the other.

Old friend Rose Mary Shepherd said that image sustained her through her own chemo days. “Whenever I felt really bad, I’d think about little Joe, wearing his pants, striding down the hall, and you running behind, and I’d laugh. That got me through.”

Boys the age Joe is now and men the age I am now have a lot in common. We both have to be reminded to put on pants before we leave the house. But we are alive. Life is a gift, and a miracle, with or without pants.

John Robert McFarland

I tweet as yooper1721.

My book, NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life & Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them tells Joe’s whole story of healing. [AndrewsMcMeel. Audio by HarperAudio. Czech and Japanese translations. Ebook, too.]

My new novel is VETS, about four homeless Iraqistan veterans accused of murdering a VA doctor, is available from your local independent book store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BOKO, Books-A-Million, Black Opal Books, and almost any place else that sells books. $12.99 for paperback, and $3.99 for ebook. Free if you can get your library to buy one.

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