heart attack

It is with great sadness that our family heard the news yesterday about our cousin, Larry Hein’s passing. Larry was the oldest child of my husband, Bob’s Uncle Eddie and Aunt Pearl Hein. Eddie passed away just three month and two weeks ago. Larry is dad to Dalton and Destiny, brother to Kim Arani, and brother-in-law to Mike Arani. It has been a rough few months for this family. My heart just aches for all of them.

Larry was born and raised in Forsyth, and never really thought about going anywhere else. I remember on the visits my husband, Bob and our family took to visit our Forsyth family, Larry loved spending time with his cousins. Grandma and Grandpa Hein has a ranch north of Forsyth, and the grandkids all loved to go out and play. There were three of the younger grandkids, Larry, Scott, and Kim Hein, and they spent as much time at their grandparents’ house as they could. It’s the normal way of kids, isn’t it. Whenever we went to visit, my kids couldn’t wait to play with their cousins. Even though Larry, Scott, and Kim were older than my girls, Corrie and Amy, they all played the kinds of games the younger kids wanted to play, and I always found that a sweet thing for those kids to do. I miss those days.

Larry was a mechanic in Forsyth, Montana, where he owned Hein Repair for a number of years now. He worked on just about anything that needed repair. He was a great dad, brother, and son. He was an asset to his community, and well liked by all who knew him. Yesterday, a heart attack took Larry from all those who loved him, and left an empty place in all our hearts. We are all now left to pick up the pieces of yet another heartbreaking loss in the family. My thoughts go out to this precious family. I am praying for comfort for all of them as they grieve this new loss and comfort each other on this sad time. Rest in peace Larry until we all meet again. We love and miss you very much.

When you have been given a miracle in the form of a second chance in life, you don’t want to waste it. Just under nine months ago, on October 14, 2018, I received a second chance miracle. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate what I had or anything like that, but rather it was that I could have lost my husband, but by a miracle of God, I didn’t. That second chance miracle makes this particular birthday…my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s 65th, even more special than it would have otherwise been. A landmark birthday, like the 65th is always special, but we almost didn’t see it for Bob, so this birthday is almost like a re-birth. I find myself feeling a little more emotional than I might have otherwise been, because he is still here, and I realize how very blessed I am.

I think a second chance miracle tends to bring with it some added responsibilities, however. When you are given a second chance, you need to spend the time wisely. Things like working out and eating right come to mind. A heart attack can make people quit, but not Bob. I have been very proud of Bob’s determination to stay healthy and to make the most out of his second chance miracle. I have seen many people who didn’t want to do the rehab that was prescribed for them. I’ve heard all the possible excuses. It hurts!! It’s hard work!! I have other things to do!! All of these excuses simply say that the person speaking them doesn’t appreciate the second chance they have been given. Bob has never once said anything like that, but rather went faithfully to his cardiac rehab, and when he had completed the course, he decided to continue in the maintenance program and his own expense. Its not required, but Bob wanted his full life back, not just a much slower version of existence that he would have to settle for.

Bob and I love to hike, and we have plans to continue hiking for years to come…especially now that we are both retired, and we have more time and the freedom to go and hike when and where we want to. That is a very liberating thing for us, and we are very excited about it. Bob and I have decided that we aren’t going to let anything slow us down. The road ahead will not be an easy one, because hiking, being in good shape, and preparing for hikes is not easy. It’s a lot of work, but when you reach the top of that mountain trail, and you look out on the view from the top, you know that you don’t ever want to be stuck at the bottom of that hill. Today is Bob’s 65th birthday. Happy birthday Sweetie!! I love you!!

As we all know, Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks to God for the many blessing we have had throughout the year. Most of the time, we tend to be thankful for the same things…family, friends, jobs, a home…just to name a few. Like most people, I am thankful for those things too, but this year Thanksgiving has taken on a different meaning for me. Along with the normal things to be thankful for, I am so thankful that I am not a widow. That could have easily been the case, but God gave me and my family a miracle just a little over a month ago. That miracle was that while my husband, Bob Schulenberg could have died of a “Widowmaker” heart attack, he did not…nor is he incapacitated in any way.

Bob’s miracle took the form of a number of Heaven sent people, who were in the exactly right place and the exactly right time to see Bob fall, come to his aid, perform CPR, and to add their prayers to mine, in our moment of urgency. Some of these people are really never at Walmart, where Bob fell in the parking lot, and yet God had orchestrated their unusual visit to happen at exactly the time it was need to save a life…my husband’s life. I have always known that God is on my side, but never was that fact made more clear to me than that Sunday afternoon. I had no idea what that shopping trip was going to end like. I had no idea that my faith, and the faith of so many other people was going to be called to action that day. There were no real warning signs…or at least not that we took as warning signs. Bob was a healthy man, with none of the normal risk factors for heart disease. we had just come from a walk at the mall and he had bowled 6 games in a tournament the day before…and took first place in singles. Nevertheless, right after we got our groceries, a clot lodged in his Left Anterior Descending Artery…the Widowmaker kind of incident, and down he went.

While I should have been in a state of panic, oddly I was not. Yes, I felt worry over him, but everything happened so fast that there was no time to panic. There was work to be done,and Ginger Sims, a progressive care nurse at Wyoming Medical Center, stepped in just about a minute after the heart attack started, and took control of the situation. Her “take charge” mannerisms, took the fear out of the situation, and put the action into it. With the help of her friend, WMC surgical nurse, Valya Boycheva, and WMC transport worker, Laura Lance, CPR was administered immediately, and the blood flow in bob’s body was maintained throughout the entire event. Because God spoke to these people and put them at Walmart that day, Bob had an excellent outcome to what could have been a life ending event.

After something like that, how can I possibly ever look at Thanksgiving in the same casual way I had before? The answer is that I can’t. God gave me a gift that is so amazing that I still have trouble wrapping my head around the events of that day, and just how blessed I am to still have my husband. There really is no way to totally make sense of it all, because it is bigger than the human mind can grasp. God is so good, and when he performs a miracle, it’s spectacular!! God doesn’t do things in a small way. He goes all out, and that is what he did for Bob. I can never thank God enough!! It’s been a whirlwind of activity, but much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

scan0116scan0057Yesterday, while coming home from a routine trip to see my sister-in-law, Brenda’s doctor in Fort Collins, Colorado, she received a phone call from her cousin, Sheila Cole. We don’t hear from her often, so we were immediately on high alert, and rightfully so. The news was bad…her mother, who is my mother-in-law’s younger sister, Linda Cole had passed away of a heart attack. Linda was the middle of three girls in their family. We were stunned. She was only 69 years old.

The phone call instantly transported my thoughts back about 35 to 40 years, when Bob and I took our girls over to the dinky little town of Kennebec, South Dakota every year to visit their great aunt and uncle, and their cousins. We always had a great time when we went. It wasn’t that we did so very much, while we were there, but we talked and laughed, and just enjoyed each other’s company. When they moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, those visits became fewer and further between, and over the last ten years, we really hadn’t been down there at all. Looking back now, I have to wonder if we would have made the trip, had we known the future. I guess we all have those thoughts when someone passes away. All of the woulda, coulda, shoulda thoughts come to our minds with regret, as we contemplate the loss of that loved one. We felt the same way after her husband, Bobby Cole passed away in May of 2014, but just thought there would be enough time for it later, or hoped that she would make the trip up here for a visit. Whatever the case may be, the time for all that had passed now, and we were simply left with our feelings of shocked disbelief, and a lot of phone calls to make.

Still, my thoughts have persisted. I remembered all the years that Linda and Bobby had spent as part of a square dance club. They made the elaborate costumes that square dancers had always worn, and looked forward to each event. While square dancing was never my thing, I could always see that they totally delighted in it. Later, when they moved to Winnemucca, they both worked in a casino, and could often be found doing a little gambling after work before heading back home. I suppose a lot of people would have wondered if they scan0086scan0105-2ever got in trouble for not coming directly home, but I can say that they didn’t, because they were there together. I guess that was always the most important thing…being together. That’s what marriage is all about. I know that the two years since Bobby’s passing have been lonely ones for Linda. Even though her children, Sheila and Pat talked to her often, it simply isn’t the same as being with your life long soul mate. Now, they are together again, and while our hearts are heavy, I know they are having the time of their lives. Rest in peace Linda. We love you, and miss you already.

William Spencer shortly before his deathMy great grandfather, William Malrose Spencer I, was a hard working man, who had a lot of stress in his life. It is my understanding that he was a stern man, which was probably common for the times, but my guess is that he was a Type A personality. These days, we know that high stress and a Type A personality are sure fire ways to an early grave. I can’t say that my great grandfather died what would be considered an early death in 1922, but these days, it certainly would be considered young. He was 64 years old, when he dropped dead of a heart attack right after hauling a bunch of logs up to a fence so they could be used for repairs around the farm.

On first glance at the picture of him with his cows, I saw a strong man taking care of his animals. But this picture was taken just a short time before Great Grandpa’s death. How could a man look so strong one day, William Malrose Spencer Iand be dead of a heart attack just a short time later. Upon closer examination, I noticed that he was smoking a pipe. I suppose that his smoking could have contributed to a heart attack…especially when added to his Type A personality and high stress lifestyle. So many things that can contribute to an early death, were virtually unknown to people just a few years ago.

These days, while we don’t always pay attention to the experts on health issues, we are told what things can be detrimental to our health. Quite possibly, if my great grandfather had known what things he was doing that were likely to lead to a heart attack, he would have lived his life a little differently. These days too, we know about things like CPR, aspirin, blood thinners, and heart medications. Any one of those things could have prolonged his life…even after the heart attack. Unfortunately, none of these things was available…or at least not in the current forms that we have these days. So when the heart attack happened, Great Grandpa was simply gone in the blink of an eye. It is entirely possible that when the attack happened, he was alone, and that nothing could have been done when he was discovered, but just as many people in those days have had their heart stop and no one knew what to do, so they died even though there were people with them. While mouth to mouth resuscitation was first introduced in 1740 to save a drowning victim, CPR was not developed Right in this Spotuntil 1960. Before that, if there was no heartbeat, it was all over.

It seems so sad to me that people back then died when there was often a simple way to resuscitate them and save their life. People simply didn’t know it. Those techniques had not come about yet. I’m sure that when people learned of those things later, they felt a twinge of sadness over the loss of a loved one who might have been saved has they lived in a different day and age. I know that as new technology comes about now, I feel sad for those who could have been helped by it, but there is nothing that can be done now. It was how things were in that time.

scan0052 (4)scan0011 (2) For years, Bob and I and our girls went to visit his aunt and uncle, Linda Knox Cole and Bobby Cole and their children Sheila and Pat, in Kennebec, South Dakota, where they owned and operated a hotel. One thing about visiting relatives who own a hotel, is that you don’t have to worry about where you will be staying. For many years, we really enjoyed going over to visit Linda and Bobby once a year. While we were there, we didn’t do anything special. We visited and played some cards. It was a very laid back, unhurried sort of mini vacation. The girls always liked going over, because they had cousins to play with. We didn’t always have a week or more to go on the trip, so more often than not, the trip would take place on a three day weekend, and would end with the girls having to go to school the next day. That left the trip home for the girls, in a full head of curlers. The good news, is that I hadn’t started curling their hair in socks yet, so I suppose that made it a little better for them. They never acted like they were embarrassed about being in curlers…even when we took pictures in the curlers.

One year, the trips to Kennebec just stopped. The hotel caught fire when a bolt of lightning hit it. While they knew the strike was close, they did not know it had hit the hotel until they smelled the burning wood from the upstairs rooms. The hotel was a total loss…at least the income areas of the hotel. The last time I saw the hotel, it was a charred shell of what it had once been. It was a sad time for everyone, because it was the beginning of change…a change that would end the yearly trips to Kennebec. After weighing the options, Linda and Bobby decided to move to Winnemucca, Nevada. While my in-laws tried to see Linda and Bobby during their snowbird days, with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease in my mother-in-law, and the advancement of COPD in my father-in-law, their snowbird days came to an abrupt end too. After that, Bob and I saw Linda and Bobby a couple more times, and now, sadly it has been probably five to ten years since we saw them last.

During the years when we were busy taking care of my in-laws, Bobby had a heart attack. He survived and tried to make some healthy changes in his lifestyle. The one bad habit he could not give up, was his smoking, and in the end, it would be his smoking that would bring on his death. A couple of years ago, Bobby was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. They tried their best to fight the cancer, and hoped for a longer life for Bobby, but that was not to be. scan0086scan0014 (2)Bobby passed away on May 31, 2014. So much has changed over the years. Time and distance have kept family members apart, because of mounting health issues. I wish Linda had been able to see her sister, my mother-in-law, Joann, before the time came when she could not remember who she was. And I wish they had not had to go through Bobby’s last years alone too. Rest in peace Bobby. We love you and we will miss you.

William Malrose Spencer IMost of us don’t exactly think of the place our grandfather died as being anything that would stick in our minds, but in the case of my great grandfather, William Malrose Spencer, it would seem that it was something that the family thought of often. It wasn’t because he was murdered or anything like that either, which is something that might cause it to stick in your mind. He died a natural death, of a heart attack, after working to haul a bunch of poles up to a fence for repair and construction work he was going to do around the farm in Isabel, Missouri. The date was March 20, 1922, and my great grandfather was only 64 years old. That probably wasn’t considered young at that time, but it really is today. He had always been a hard working man, and probably didn’t take as good care of himself as he did for his family. There were seven children in the family.

By the time my great grandfather died, my grandfather was married and living in Wisconsin. He and 267my grandmother had two children, one, my Uncle Bill was only two months old at the time of his grandfather’s death. Uncle Bill had been his grandfather’s namesake…named William Malrose Spencer II. At some point, my grandfather made the trip back to Missouri to see his mother and find out what had happened. It was a sad trip…his first one home where his dad was not going to be there. I can only imagine how hard that trip was for him. His dad had always been a gentle man loved and respected by all his children. My grandfather, being the oldest and a son, had likely worked along side his dad on many of the projects he had, so I’m sure he felt like maybe if he had been there…to lighten the load or something…maybe his dad would still have been alive. It is something most children, who have lost a parent in such a fashion feel. In 265reality, there would have been nothing he could have done, but I doubt that knowing that would have helped his broken heart any.

As I look at this picture of my grandfather standing there with his mother, and the one with my Uncle Clifford with his mother, I can see by the way they were standing there that they felt such devastation. My heart breaks for both of them. Losing your dad is such a hard thing to go through, but not being there to say goodbye would be even worse. At that point, all you would have is a picture in your imagination, and someone to tell you, “It was right in that spot.”

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