Que Sera Sera

Thursday night (the night before we flew home from Houston), my dad started singing to my mom “que sera sera, what will be will be” (an old Doris Day song that I had to look up because I had never heard it before). It was just a couple hours after Dr. Wolff came in to talk to my parents and say goodbye to them. I wasn’t in the room for most of the conversation, but I understand that Dr. Wolff told my dad he had fought hard and encouraged him to be at peace and to know that his family would be ok. When my mom and I left the hospital that night, he told my mom he loved her most, and she told him she loved him more. That was an old habit of theirs – arguing about which was greater, “love you most” or “love you more”.

By Friday morning when we returned, he was much more groggy than usual, and his speech wasn’t what it was the night before. He was still communicating, but it was much more difficult and he certainly wasn’t singing or bantering. We left the hospital Friday afternoon, and although I know my dad was grateful to be flying home, the flight home was very uncomfortable and difficult for him. Despite that, he was able to communicate with Allie and Jordan on Friday when he arrived home, and when I got to the house Saturday morning he asked for Sidney. We brought her in and he got to see her smile at him and they blew each other kisses.

Things deteriorated pretty quickly from there, and he passed away early this afternoon.

I’m sorry to be the one to deliver the blow. I wish I didn’t have to. Really, I wish the blow had never come.

I knew my dad would want me to write one final post though. I know he would want me to let everyone know the news, and to once again express his gratitude for the love and support he received in response to his blog posts. He would also want me to thank Hospice of Dayton for the great care they provided in our home over the last  couple days.

As part of this final post, I include my eulogy to my dad. My dad specifically told me that he only wanted one eulogy at his funeral. He felt that people attending a funeral don’t want to sit through more than one eulogy, and that multiple eulogies are repetitive anyway. I knew my brother would feel strongly about speaking at my dad’s funeral (which will be Tuesday at 2pm at Temple Israel, followed by burial at Beth Abraham Synagogue, with Shiva Tuesday night and Wednesday night at 7pm at my parent’s home) so I decided I would share my thoughts here.

Any of you who knew my dad know that he was a great man. He loved his family, and he was so worried about leaving us. He was worried about Sidney remembering him and his future grandchildren knowing him. To say that was heartbreaking to hear him say is an understatement. I promised my dad that Sidney would remember him and that his future grandchildren would know his legacy. To make sure he knows I’ll uphold this promise, this eulogy is a list of the things we will tell them. Here are a few of the things I want my dad’s grandchildren to know:

1) Papa was a life long entrepreneur. He started finding ways to earn money when he was just a kid. He mowed lawns like most kids did, but he was also a janitor in a church, worked at a Wendy’s, and worked at a clothing store.  He didn’t work because he had to – he was fortunate enough to have parents who were able to provide him with everything he wanted or needed. He worked because he wanted to. He worked because he believed in working hard as a part of having a fulfilling life.

2) Papa was the smartest man I’ve ever known. His intellect wasn’t evident from his grades in school or in college though. Because of that, people thought he was just street smart. That wasn’t true though, he just didn’t care about proving himself in a school setting. But because of his lackluster grades, when he graduated from college, he had trouble finding a job, and that led him to start a computer store. That business morphed into a computer cable company that Papa and his two business partners, Jeff and Geoff, ran successfully almost my whole life. When they sold the company in 2014, they had over 1,000 employees and the company was earning over $150million in revenues a year. His company was his pride and joy, second to only his family.

3) Papa believed in charity and in giving to those less fortunate than us. He was involved in countless charitable organizations, not the least of which was Dayton’s Feast of Giving (which he directed for the last 10ish years) and Dayton’s Children’s Hospital (he was the Chairman of the Board for several years). But more than that, he believed in helping people. He helped people one on one, often without them knowing. He cared about his friends and his employees. When he heard of an employee who was struggling with an illness, he did things like help pay their bills, make sure their jobs were held for them, and/or make sure they were still paid. He also helped connect people with jobs – either at his company or somewhere else. I remember being in high school and him sitting me down to explain to me about how he did this – he wanted me to know and understand how important this was to him.

4) Papa believed in working toward goals. He believed in setting a “stretch” goal, working to achieve it, and adjusting the goal as necessary to accomplish it.  Failing and giving up wasn’t a part of his vocabulary or his experience; rather, he believed in adjusting the goal and working toward something more realistic. He always focused on possibilities rather than obstacles. He saw problems as opportunities, and he took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. He said that he had lucky breaks his whole life, but I don’t believe that was true. I believe his outlook and his sheer will led to all of the good things he experienced in life.

5) Papa put all of himself into EVERYTHING he did, not just his work and his family. He was constantly finding new hobbies and delving head first into them. He went through a playing guitar phase (years after he stopped playing in his band), a spinning phase, a bourbon phase, a biking phase, a wine phase, the list goes on and on. He believed in living life to the fullest, and he emulated that by his actions. He had an active social calendar and filled his days and nights with activities. He would want you to live your lives to the fullest as well.

6) Papa loved golf. He loved watching it and he loved playing it. No pressure, but he would love for you to try golf out.

7) Papa wanted the best for his family. He wanted to take you on family vacations. He wanted to buy you your first car when you turn 16. He wanted to take you to Vegas when you turned 21. He instructed your Nana to do this instead of him (and I’ll do my best to make sure she does), but I want you to know that when these things happen that it was because of him. Papa loved you all so much, even those of you he didn’t get to meet.

I love you dad. I’ll miss you every day.

#ShaneStrong #CancerSucks #CureCC

There’s No Place Like Home

Another note from Lindi,

Just a quick update to let everyone know that my dad is on his way back home from MD Anderson in Houston. Although flying in an air ambulance probably is not the top of anyone’s bucket list, it is certainly a unique experience and one that we are grateful to be able to take advantage of. We are also grateful that the wonderful team at MD Anderson has managed to get my dad’s pain under control. They really did their best to put him in a good position to come home. My dad will continue to take the Sorafenib (it’s an oral pill), and we continue to hope and pray that his liver numbers improve.

The word “grateful” appears a lot in this short post. Someone told me recently that it is hard to feel upset when you are focusing on what you are grateful for, and I’ve found it to be true. We are grateful that Allie and Jordan are headed home today and that we’ll be able to spend time together as a family. We are grateful that we have been and will continue to be able to provide my dad with the best care available. We are grateful for the love and support of our friends, community family. We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers.

Love, Lindi. #CancerSucks #ShaneStrong #CureCC

Closing from Mike:

I echo Lindi’s thoughts of gratitude that she shared. The outpouring of support from friends, family and loved ones has been nothing short of overwhelming. I try and respond to emails, text messages,and voicemails. I do my best, but don’t generally reach all of you.

In the meantime, miracles occur, and the possibility of miracles give me the will to go on. Please continue to pray for a miracle for me.

Be Well,

Love, Mike.

#CancerSucks, #ShaneStrong, #CureCC

An Update from Lindi

Hi Friends, family and loved ones. My daughter, Lindi, wrote the majority of this post as a guest columnist. Over the last 6 weeks, I have not had the energy or strength to write. I appreciate Lindi stepping in to share what is going on. So this post, until I provide the closing has been written by her.

As some of you have already heard, we brought my dad to Houston on Sunday night. His condition after 6 days at Kettering Medical Center never really improved to our expectations. After another week of outpatient care, we wanted him to be seen by Dr. Wolff. We took him straight to the ER at MD Anderson despite my dad’s warnings that you don’t go to an emergency room on a Sunday night. He was right – the care at the ER on a Sunday is sub-par and very very slow. He was finally admitted to the hospital in the middle of the night, and he’s been in the hospital there since. 

Despite the rough start at the ER, Dr. Wolff and the rest of the doctors, nurses, and staff at MD Anderson have been providing wonderful care for my dad. He’s had extensive tests, many of which have created quite a bit of discomfort and pain. After numerous tests, indicatations are that the issue is that the tumor in his liver has gotten bigger and that he is experiencing what Dr. Wolff referred to as “liver insufficiency”. After consultation with his team, he has prescribed my dad a drug called Sorafenib to attempt to target that tumor. Unfortunately, it is unclear what, if anything, can be done if the Sorafenib doesn’t work. As my dad put it, it’s a “do or die” situation. My dad has been known for his dark sense of humor and making jokes out of the grimmest of circumstances, but this one may take the cake. 

Despite Dr. Wolff’s assessment, we continue to follow my dad’s mantra he wrote early on in his diagnosis. Some of it includes: “Can’t waste any energy on negative thoughts, negative behavior, or any form of negativity,” “have an absolute commitment to finding the beauty in each day,” and “stay in the moment.” His mantra also talks about how his “inexhaustible perseverance and will” have gotten him through every hurdle life has thrown at him before. Although this is not the news we want to be sharing at this time, it’s the news we have received. My dad hasn’t given up the fight. He has always taught us that it’s important to set high goals and reach for the stars, but that we also have to understand what is possible. He taught me that being realistic isn’t the same as giving up. 

My dad’s goal has always been to beat the cancer.  As that goal seems to get further from being realistic, we set new goals, with the hope that achieving those smaller goals may lead us back to his original goal. We are all doing our best to stay positive, keep my dad feeling good, and enjoy our time together. 

Please keep praying for my dad. Please pray that the Sorafenib works. Pray that he feels good. And please don’t feel that you can’t continue to reach out to my parents. We feel so fortunate for the outpouring of love and support we’ve received since my dad’s diagnosis. I do hope you’ll forgive any texts or calls that do not receive a response. Please know that the lack of a response is not a reflection of our lack of appreciation or our desire to connect with you.

As Lindi passes the ‘scribe’ back to me for edits and additions, I want to share how proud of and blessed I am for my family. Such a wonderful crew trying to help me overcome extremely difficult circumstances. Despite our understanding of the situation, it’s not as if I accept this probable outcome. In the same way that you have all embraced our situation over the last 16 months, I appreciate you continuing to keep my family in your prayers.

I hope to be back in touch, but to the extent that doesn’t happen, Lindi will take over any communications as we continue to maneuver these infested waters.

Your support has meant a lot to us. Yes, we are all scared of the challenge ahead, and it sucks. I’ve said all along that we don’t have a choice of how we die, but we have a choice of how we live. It’s hard. I want to be strong and I want to know that I will get through this, but there have been a lot of times lately when meeting that standard of strength has become increasingly difficult. This is simply a barbaric disease.

Thanks again to all for your love and support!



#cancer sucks #ShaneStrong #curecc