Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Vern!

Today would have been Vern's 70th birthday. This photo was taken at his 2007 birthday celebration at the Orleans Arena, his first birthday after the cancer diagnosis in May 2006. He was still in the wheelchair at this point, after having spent 7 of the previous 9 months in the hospital, rehab or acute care facility. Vern had been Guest Services Manager at The Orleans before he became ill and a special gathering was hosted in one of the suites during a Las Vegas Wrangler hockey game. Many of Vern's ushers and friends came by, and the Wrangler GM presented Vern with a personalized jersey. Vern was so honored. 

This photo was taken in 2008, his best year after cancer entered our lives.  He was off chemo, was able to walk again, didn't spend one day in the hospital ... a good year indeed!  At the time, we didn't fully appreciate what a wonderful gift that year was.  Our dear friend, Joe, gathered some friends for a lunch at South Point and surprised Vern with a birthday cake; he was so very touched by this kind gesture. It was a good day. 

This photo is from 2009, when I surprised him with a night at the Palazzo. We had to eat in our beautiful suite because he wasn't feeling too good, but he was able to make it to the showroom to see the Jersey Boys. He loved it - singing along with the rest of us to all of those great old songs.  We had recently learned the myeloma had returned and his strength was waning. This picture is on Sunday when we were checking out and he was exhausted. We had no idea at this point that kidney failure and dialysis was just two months away.

No special celebration in 2010 as he just wasn't up to it. I had put out a request through our CaringBridge site for former students, kids he coached, co-workers and friends to send along special memories. He loved hearing me read these special messages. 

I was going to end this post with the song "Smile" from Uncle Kracker with this picture from May 2009. That song always brings me a smile along with tears.  But I heard Josh Groban's "To Where You Are" on another blog last night and it just says it all for me.  I've added both of these songs to my "Special You Tube Videos" in the sidebar, if you're not familiar with them, and the lyrics are printed below. Happy Birthday my love.

"To Where You Are"

Who can say for certain?
Maybe you're still here
I feel you all around me
Your memory, so clear

Deep in the stillness
I can hear you speak
You're still an inspiration
Can it be?

That you are
my forever love
And you are watching over me
from up above

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile

If only for awhile
to know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are

Are you gently sleeping
Here inside my dream?
And isn't faith believing?
All power can't be seen

As my heart holds you
Just one beat away
I cherish all you gave me

'Cause you are my
Forever love
Watching me
from up above

And I believe
That angels breathe
And that love will live on
and never leave

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile
To know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are

I know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are


Susie Hemingway said...

A beautiful birthday tribute for Vern and a most brave entry for you. I think this post will have brought some tears today but I am praying that this also brought you much pride as you recall your loving caring.Some joy also at Verns happy face in the photo. Happy Birthday Vern.

betty obst said...

Thank you for sharing the photos of Vern throughout his journey, Dianne. Isn't it amazing, no matter how poorly he was doing or how bad he was feeling, he always had a smile!!!

I absolutely love this song by Josh Groban. It says it all, doesn't it?

Craig said...

Thanks for posting this, Dianne! And a very happy birthday (now belated) to you both.