Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Christmas Letter

We have traditionally (at least once every two years) sent a "Christmas Letter" to many of our friends and family at this time of year to bring them up to date on the happenings of our family during the past year. (We still will call this the Christmas letter, even though it may no longer be politically correct) We know that all bloggers have a sense of what this past year has been for us, so we will skip the details of my ordeal and provide the brief summary: 5 hospitalizations, 2 back surgeries, 4 rounds of chemo, 6 to 8 blood transfusions, and, oh yeh, a stem cell transplant. But I am doing better than I have in many many months. I am driving, going to the health club, going out to lunch, going to physical therapy and generally have more independence than I have enjoyed since June. I still struggle with lack of energy and returning to real work remains an insurmountable task. Most recently I just had a skeletal survey (xrays of every bone) and bone marrow biopsy to determine the stage of my disease. Results will be reported next week. That has been my world this year--my health. But as a part of this journey my heart has opened wide and I have received and learned love and compassion as never previously experienced. Read the previous blogs for details. I am very thankful for this holiday season, for feeling better, for my two daughters being home, and for the time our family will spend together.

Julia, our 18 year old, started at Colorado College in Colorado Springs this fall. It is a small liberal arts school nestled in a very conservative community. Classes are on the block system, i.e., taking only one class for 3 1/2 weeks, a 4 day break and then start the next class. She is made for college (and getting away from her parents). In addition to doing well academically, she also is participating in 6 intramural sports, as well as skiing on weekends. She is a quick witted, no nonsense, straight shooting young lady. Look out world!

Catherine, our 22 year old, is in her last year at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is majoring in Finance and International Business and will graduate in May. She already has a job as a research analyist with a pension consulting firm in Denver, which she will start part time in January and full time in June. She is attending college on a full scholarship and has achieved much success in the past 4 years, not the least of which included working as a research analyst for the famed business author, Jim Collins, ("Built to Last" and "Good to Great".) This work has opened many doors for her. As a result she was being courted by firms in Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, and Los Angeles, but she decided to stay in Denver, primarily because of my health issues. This is one of the most difficult parts of this illness--seeing how it affects my girls. I wish they could go about their lives without having to worry about their Dad. Catherine is also learning how to cook under her mother's tutelage. She has spent the last 3 days making Christmas cookies. Julia and I are encouraging her in this pursuit! Catherine has her mother's heart and brings light to our home every time she visits.

Susan is quite simply an angel and the nicest person I have ever met. Why she married me remains a mystery, but I will gladly be the beneficiary of her lack of judgment. I could not have gotten through these past 7 months without her. She helped me out of bed, washed me, drove me to the doctors, and maintained vigil over me during the many months when I was either too sick to care for myself or too disabled from back problems to walk or even get out of bed. She has been a source of strength and support like no other. Her many friends (she makes friends just walking down the street) have also been tremendous support for her and me. She still has her outrageous laugh and is in good spirits these days. She has had to take on the responsiblity of bill paying, supervising workmen, and many other matters that I used to attend to. Now that I am "coming to" after these long months, she finds my involvement to be "meddling" and sometimes, jokingly says, she preferred me when I was sedated. Not really.

So having to face one of life's most difficult challenges this year, we remain strong. We have become a closer and more loving family. We are so deeply appreciative for all we have received from all of you. My health issues have forced us to confront what our lives are about and how we should be living them. It is no longer an academic pursuit. We have learned that a life lived with love and compassion is our most important purpose. You, our friends and family have taught us this. I wish I had the vocabulary, as well as the time and space, to adequately express how deeply I feel about the important role all of you have played in my recovery this year. We give thanks for you, and all you have done for us, and wish you the very best this holiday season.

Love, Dan, Susan, Catherine & Julia


sigunjoe said...

Dear Dan,

Your letter was the best Christmas present ever! I know that being surrounded by your three women gives you even more strength every day. And talking about thanking your friends -- it is we who thank you, you who have shown us what is important in life.

Joe and I will be with you, Susan and my girls in our thoughts and in our hearts this coming Christmas.
We love you all. Bises, Sigun.

Arlene said...

God bless you all x infinity this very special holiday season!

Merry Christmas.



Molly said...

Love you Dan! Merry Christmas!

Sonya said...

Dan, Merry Christmas to you and your family. I wish you all the best this Christmas. May the coming year bring you and your family health and happiness.

Dorothy said...

Merry Christmas! Dan it was so wonderful to actually hear your voice the other day! You really sounded terrific, keep up the good work!!

I know that many of us who have entered into this blog site agree this means of communication has been as inspiring and comforting for us it has been for you. It has given us all a glimpse of your life the past months and all that your entire family has endured. Sigun states it very clearly it is us who thank the Patterson family for letting us be a part of your journey.

I am amazed as to why you would question why Susan loves you and is your constant companion! I knew from the first time I met you that she was such a lucky lady!!! Does that get me points??

We are preparing for the Christmas Eve "Croatian" feast. Maybe you can smell the scent of sauerkraut!

We hope to get together for coffee or an early lunch. I will call Susan or you after the first of the year.

Love to you all! Enjoy this Christmas season and hopefully we all will reflect on what is truly important in our lives! The Seals

Dan said...

And on a lighter note: you have all heard the song,"all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth". Well,I've been singing, "all I want for Christmas is a full head of hair." This is to report, that unfortunately, a full head of hair will not be appearing on Christmas. A few fuzzies are sprouting up on top, but that's about it. I will not have any more hair than when I started this process. and I am now shaving once a week and expect that I will soon have to return to the daily routine. and as for those long lost muscles? well, I am now at 10 pound curls and soon will be to 12.5. I have to compete with the light framed females for the same weights, but am glad to report that I am winning that battle and am managing to hold onto my 10 pounders until I have finishd my routine. Susan is encouraging the weight lifting as she is concerned I am turning into a short fat man, as I have gained 10 pounds of the 35 pounds I lost this summer, although I am 4 inches shorter. The girls (young ladies) are home, the Christmas cookies are made, and I am naturally having trouble resisting. Once again, Merry Christmas to all. Dan

Arlene said...

Dear Bloggers,

I didn't know how else to send this, so I think the best you can do is cut and paste into the address line of the net to play. Hope you enjoy. Merry Christmas to all!Cousin Arlene


Howie said...

Haven't posted for a while because we have just discovered some problems of our own. Sue's dad has been diagnosed with colon cancer. He's 86 and still lives on the farm with Grandma. He had surgery about three week ago and is in the process recovering, so we're trying to convince them to move to Bismarck so we can help them out. This has got to be one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do (and I am not doing it alone). He was born and raise on the farm and would rather die there, than move.

Anyway, your latest post was a beautiful Christmas message. Normally, I hate those contrived Christmas letters, but yours truly moved me. Good job!
I am glad that things are getting back to normal for you. The more a guy gets back to your original routine, I think the better your going to feel.

Keep taking it slow, You've got a lot of time to heal.

I know this will be a great Christmas for you and family Christmas. Merry Christmas and a Great 2006 to all the bloggers. Even you Timber!

Brett said...

Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful post, Dan. It was great seeing the family this morning. Everyone looked well-rested and healthy, which as you now know, is something not to be taken for granted. Have a blessed Christmas seasond that will provide you with many fond memories.

Arlene said...

Had dinner tonight at the Paradise. Next table - Richad Masur - "Phil Sutenfus" from My Girl and My Girl 2. David on "One Day At A Time" - Ok, here is what I found after I came home from dinner.

Here is his homepage. = http://www.nndb.com/people/927/000024855/

spike said...

Hi Dan. Lynne here to say Happy Birthday to Susan (a day late...sorry!) and wish the Patterson family what I'm sure you're already having...a Christmas filled with much wonder, joy and peace! Mike and I are off, tomorrow, for a week with Chris, Sandy and our grandbaby, Natalie! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

sigunjoe said...

Dear Dan,

Just a short line to say that we are with you all the way today. Bon courage! Bises, Sigun.

Arlene said...

All good thoughts and prayers today.


All of Us

Brother Ted said...

Good morning Dan and Susan. We are all with you today. Another step along the road to recovery and we will be with you in heart and spirit. As a wise man said many months ago on this blob "There is no noraml course of recomery, only individual courses." Peace and Grace. Ted

Dorothy said...

Good Morning Dan and Susan. Count us in with the positive thoughts for today. Dan,you mentioned patience a few weeks earlier, we will be patient today to hear from you. We will light our candles early this week and with good thoughts. Love to you all! The Seals.