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Prime Time: Difficult summer closes down

I've been gone from these pages for three months. My last column was published in June. It's good to be back, and I thank the folks who have commented that they miss my writing in Prime Time.

Some of you know the story of our summer of 2011. It was the summer my husband, Jim, died.

Jim got his first cancer diagnosis in 2001: Mantle Cell Lymphoma, "treatable but not curable," we were repeatedly told.

Chemotherapy and then radiation for skin cancer were prescribed first by a Mayo Clinic hematologist and then Sanford Health physicians. Treatment prolonged the dear man's life, and I am grateful.

It was the summer that I took two ambulance rides to the hospital and the ICU, one as the result of a concussion from toppling over in the kitchen, and the other from a seizure. On the second hospital stay, I got a pacemaker.

It was the summer Jim decided to terminate chemotherapy because his life had dwindled down to treatments, extreme fatigue and sitting in his chair. He went to County Board meetings until the end of May. He spoke up at every meeting and got quoted in the reporter's story, and I'm guessing many people did not know of his dire condition because he carried out his county responsibilities to the end.

And someplace in there, Jim stopped watching Twins games. The Twins, too, had a wretched summer. I, tottering around as a result of the concussion, felt a kinship with Justin Morneau. It was a tough summer for us all.

I will not speak of this again in this space because my plan is to resume comments and observations on the good life I have been given. I don't know if kids returning to school get the assignment to write about How I Spent My Summer Vacation, but here's what I learned during the summer of 2011:

We have children when we are young, for a variety of reasons. But it is only when we are older and encounter tough times that our kids come to the rescue and see us through. Ours did, and I am deeply grateful.

The folks who work with the widow and family on planning the funeral/memorial service are incredibly kind. Jim wanted "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" sung at his service. It's not a liturgical song, but it was done. We decided that his ashes should be carried in my lap to Greenwood Cemetery as I sat in the front seat of Jim's red Mustang convertible. Not a hearse. The red Mustang. Also done. There were other accommodations, and again, I am deeply grateful.

Selecting and designing a tombstone and seeing your own name and birth date, with the death date to be filled in later, is a daunting business. I am thankful it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And it will be a very nice monument once it's put in place.

Patience is a virtue I have totally lacked. But even at my advanced age, I am learning. Day by day, things get better.

And that, dear readers, is what I have to say in October 2011. Next month I'll carry on about the coming winter, my dog Sunshine, deer hunting, Thanksgiving or goodness knows what else.

But for this month, all of the above is what I just had to say.

Thanks for reading.