A different perspective

Rachel Giblin
Guest columnist
Susan at Bob's bedside after his brain surgery.

Forty years. That’s how long my mom has been writing this column. Over 2,000 articles that started off to be about our family of six’s adventures living on a farm has grown to five families across the state.

After an exhausting and stressful week, I decided it was time to give my mom a break and am stepping as a guest writer this week.

It was one year ago that my dad’s melanoma returned with brute force. After an extremely tough winter, the chemo medicine kicked in and gave my parents and family more time with my dad. Even though he took a year off of farming, he was grateful to still be able to get out and do some things around the farm throughout the summer.

I live in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin so day trips up to the farm are doable and are something I did on a regular basis this summer. But being removed from their daily lives made me start to forget that my dad is sick. He was doing so well this summer and fall that my visits were further and further apart. I had become too comfortable with the idea that his medicine would give us unlimited time with him. We were told the medicine he was on would stop working someday, but we had all hoped that day would never come.

Then the phone rang.

These days, it’s never good when someone calls me, especially when it’s my sister Rebecca.

Guest writer Rachel Giblin, youngest of the four Manzke children.

She let me know that she was headed to the farm to bring Dad into the ER because he woke up speaking gibberish to my mom. We were all thinking it was a stroke, but we quickly learned the cancer was ramping back up in his body and brain.

The six Manzke originals were back together in Green Bay hearing this news. It was like déjà vu from last December except for this week the doctor’s moved extremely fast with treatment. They could see the biggest problem area and knew what they needed to do first to get ahead of this. All within five days they had my dad in for brain surgery to remove a tumor that was causing swelling which was affecting his ability to put his thoughts into words.

Things happened so fast this week that it was hard to even worry about the surgery. Before we knew it, the Manzke originals were back in the hospital together, anxiously waiting to hear from the doctor.

The surgery was a success and we were able to see my dad within an hour. The nurse came to the waiting room and said only two people could go back at a time to see him in the ICU. I jumped to the front of the line and went back with my mom. It was great to see my dad but even better to hear him talk. He was still coming off of anesthesia so he was a little loopy, but he was my dad.

We were all nervous that the surgery would affect his memory so I was hesitant to test him too early but couldn’t help myself. I stood next to his bed, pointed to my mom and asked, “Who is that?”

There was a pause.

It felt like an eternity.

And then he said “That’s my wife. That’s Susan.”

All of our eyes started to tear up with those words. That is what we needed to hear.

As I write this, my dad is still in the hospital but he’s doing well. The doctors have an aggressive plan in place and my dad is ready to take it on.

I’ve been staying at my parent’s house on-off all week and see the Christmas cards coming in. My parents love to get these from readers and appreciate them more than you know. If you send them a card, please include a loose stamp to help them defray the postage for sending a card back to you. Your card from Sunnybook Farm will arrive, but most likely not until 2020.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog