My nephew, Dave Balcerzak married my niece, Chantel in June of 2002, but they had known each other since childhood. We all loved Dave from the beginning. He is a big teddy bear, who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He fit into the family instantly, and we have all been so pleased to have him in the family. Dave is a man of considerable technical talent, and has been there for those of us who have been in need of repairs on computers, but that is the least of the reasons that we love Dave. When he married my niece, Chantel, Dave became Dad to her kids, Jake Harman and Siara Harman Olsen. He was the only dad they really ever had, even though they had a dad. Dave was there for the long haul. He didn’t leave when the going got rough. He was there when there were tears and broken hearts, and through the difficult teenage years, and it was Dave who was their dad at their weddings, who walked Siara down the isle. Dave is the man they call Dad, because he is the man who has been their dad, and dad to his own two kids, Keifer Balcerzak and Katy Balcerzak Collett. Dave is a dad at heart. He was the dad that he should be for his kids, and the dad he didn’t have to be for Chantel’s kids. And now he is grandpa to the four grandchildren they have given them.
A few months ago, Dave had some health problems that put him in the hospital with heart problems. While there, he had a stroke. That was really the beginning of a miracle for Dave. Miraculously, a CNA quickly caught that something wasn’t right. All Dave said was that his big toe hurt, but she saw so much more. Dave was quickly treated for a stroke, and then for an irregular heartbeat, that was the cause of the stroke. They tried shocking his heart, but the rhythm wouldn’t hold. Finally, they did a Catheter Ablation procedure. Basically it is a procedure that destroys the area of the heart muscle that is causing the arrhythmias. It sounds like a drastic measure to fix arrhythmia in the heart, but it worked. Within a couple of weeks, Dave was back to normal, and able to walk Siara down the isle at her wedding. It was a miraculous moment, and one he wasn’t sure was going to happen. He would not have had the stamina to do that had his heart not been repaired. Once again, Dave was able to be the dad, he didn’t have to be, but chose to be. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! We give thanks to God that you are still here with us. Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every life and family has its ups and downs, and its major challenges. The way those challenges are handled tells you what kind of a family they really are. Sometimes, the losses, hardships, tragedies, or illnesses can break a family. They fall apart and they are unable to survive as a family. Even if that family survives, it is never the same again, but when a family is dedicated to each other, and wants the very best for each other, they will not only survive, but they will thrive. When a family is filled with love for each other, and they stubbornly refuse to give up, the truly miraculous can happen. Such a family can pick each other up after anything, and turn their lives around so that they are on solid footing again. And they will stick to it, no matter what sacrifices have to be made.
When my great grandmother, Henriette Schumacher was 50, she was struck with debilitating arthritis, that would put her in a wheel chair…off and on at first, but in the end, for fifteen years continuously until her death in 1936. In all, she would spend nineteen years in the wheel chair, during which time, my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher, along with his daughters, Bertha and Elsa took care of her. The girls were so dedicated, that they sacrificed their own chance to have children. Still, they never complained, for as Bertha said, “God gave them the children they missed, in Mina’s little daughter, Paula, and her four dear children.” Henriette never had the chance to feel like she was a burden, because of the love they showed toward her all those years. There were no regrets, because they still had their dear mother.
Bertha and Elsa spent many happy years in the company of Mina and John Spare. They had a great love for their sister and brother-in-law, and later their daughter and grandchildren. Their lives were richly blessed with their niece, and her little babies. After spending many years helping their dad care for their mom, it looked as if they would never marry, and the dream of having children of their own was now long gone. After their dad passed away on January 2, 1933, the girls continued to take care of their mom until her death on July 11, 1936. They stayed for a time in Fargo, North Dakota before moving to Boulder, Colorado. By 1948, both girls were married. Elsa married Frank Lawrence on April 29, 1944 in Boulder, Colorado. Bertha married Arthur Hallgren on May 12, 1948 in Boulder Colorado. But, the time for them to have children had come and gone. Then, Arthur Hallgren passed away just three years and seven months after they were married. It was a devastating blow, and Bertha would not marry again, but rather would spend her time with her family, especially her niece, Paula and her children; and writing her wonderful journal so that her legacy could be passed on to so many other family members. I don’t know when Elsa’s husband, Frank passed, but Bertha passed away December 22, 1984 and Elsa passed away November 23, 1992. They may not have had children, but their lives were very important to the family members whose lives were greatly enriched by the dedication of these two amazing women.