Family comes home to Manzke homestead for the holidays and beyond

Susan Manzke
A filled living room for a late family Christmas on Sunnybook Farm.

Many families are not able to get together on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Like us, other times are set aside to take the place of the calendar holidays. Our Manzke clan chose December 30 as the day for our Christmas celebration in 2018.

Everyone who was able came to the farm on that Sunday. Because of a flight delay, two of our younger grandchildren were unable to join the mob and were missed by all.

I did not need to prepare any food. All was provided, including munchies and beverages, by our family. It felt kind of odd not making a ham or turkey, but in the end, there was plenty for everyone and some leftovers for Bob and me.

Before the big day, we had overnight visitors and two nights following our Christmas, another of our family group stayed over into the new year.

Wyatt and Grandpa Bob look at a family photo calendar.

It was so neat watching the young children open presents. Even when the adults tore into their exchange gifts, there were priceless expressions, too.

It was good to have the house filled with children playing and shared laughter ringing from the kitchen to the living room.

Rachel, Dave, and their three kids stayed with us after everyone else left. Usually, having those exuberant children here makes the house seem noisy. This time the greatest amount of noise left when the other twelve family members went home.

Dave had come with expectations of taking Eli, 9, out for the first time ever, hunting in our woods. It was a complete surprise for Eli. Getting up very early on New Year’s Eve was no problem for our grandson. He wouldn’t be hunting himself, only sharing the experience with his dad.

Luckily, our cart started that winter day and they rode it half-way to the woods. Eli’s orange garb was fashioned from old hunting clothes from his father. It was so neat watching them head out the door, ready for the antlerless hunt.

Over the few days that they were with us, Dave and Eli went out three times. The last time took place after a windy snowfall. That morning the cart remained in the shed and they walked the mile plus back to the woods.

Does were spotted each day, but none were taken. Still, everyone considered the hunt a success.

A wild Wyatt comes down the hill.

Later, all three children skidded down our lawn and driveway, making use of the freshly fallen snow.

So now you have the joys of our holiday season. Beyond the joys were a lot of other emotions. One month ago, we discovered that Bob’s cancer had returned after being in remission for eight years.

 At first, Bob had pain in his hip. He chalked that up to old age and continued doing his daily outside chores—morning feeding of barn cats and afternoon checking on our nine chickens. Too soon his body didn’t want to take the walk to the barn or shed and I took over all chores.

Eventually, Bob arranged to see our family physician. The doctor wasn’t thrilled about the hip but he was even more concerned with a lump under Bob’s arm. X-rays were taken. A biopsy was arranged. The worst was confirmed. The melanoma had returned with a vengeance.

Bob and Susan Manzke with their family (from left) Rachel, Russ, Rebecca, and Rob at the oncologist's office.

Just this past week, Bob had three radiology treatments. Now we are looking toward other cancer-fighting medication. For every appointment, we’ve had one or more of our children with, driving us from home into Green Bay.

For almost 40 years, we have shared the good and the bad of our lives with you—thank goodness it was mostly good. This setback is no different. Bob and I are doing the best we can. With the help and prayers of family and friends, we take one day at a time.

We share this news with our column readers as after all these years you are our friends, even if at a distance.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;