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When my husband’s cancer returned in December 2018, things looked terrible. His body had all kinds of reactions, all bad. All I could do was to take care of Bob and not think of much else. It didn’t look like he would survive for long.

I didn’t want to write about Bob’s major problems in this column. So many people cared about him, it wasn’t going to be easy telling everyone of the terrible setback. Eventually, I did find the courage to tell you. As ever, our readers were very supportive and sent Bob all kinds of get-well cards, comforting messages, and prayers.

Those cards and letters were read by both of us. When Bob’s eyes played tricks on him, I read the notes to him. Every one was appreciated, but went unanswered. I was having a hard time writing my weekly column, I just didn’t have the energy to send messages back—for this I am sorry. Also, there were so many, it would have cost a fortune.

We were lucky that the medicine Bob went on started to work. Because of those strong cancer medications, Bob regained strength. This led to Bob being able to get around and even out to cut grass—after Russell made a mower adaptation for Bob to get on and off the machine.

We had the gift of an extra year with Bob, time to laugh together and enjoy our family. When the cancer returned in November of 2019, it didn’t look good at all. In fact, it looked terrible.

Again, the doctors tried to help him, but the crud that attacked his brain wasn’t going to go away. A brain operation got Bob talking and sounding like himself again. With the family we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve.

Cards were flowing into our mailbox. I returned our Christmas photo card to everyone, but with no personal messages—Christmas cards were still coming when Bob passed in January some from as far away as Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, and Washington.

Sympathy cards and heartfelt messages soon filled our mailbox. I read every one, so did our children. Your kindness was so appreciated, but personal messages from me weren’t returned. There were so many cards, hundreds, and I just didn’t have the strength.

I’m sorry to say that I still find it very hard to write return letters. So, I decided to thank you all here today.

When I started writing this column in 1980, no one expected it would touch so many people out there. I thought I would entertain you a little, but that was about all. I never expected to be on the receiving end.

Bob and I have friends all over Wisconsin and beyond. Many of the men sound like Bob. You guys are hardworking, yet you were able to share a laugh with us after getting stuck in a mud-hole, just like Bob. Or when you ran out of fuel, like Bob did. Or brought wildflowers for his sweetie, like Bob did.

There’s a basket full of cards here. Some are from Seymour, Camp Douglas, Kewaskum, Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls, Westfield, De Forest, Delavan, Hancock, Black Creek, West Bend, Allenton, Columbus, Brillion, Wild Rose, Beloit, and Milton, just to name a few. Signed names were Alice, Eugene, Charles, Linda, David, Judy, LeAnne, Jim and Gerald. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. Just know each and every one of you is considered a friend of the Manzke family and we thank you.

I’m working hard to keep writing my column. Being alone doesn’t make it easy, but I still feel Bob is here with me.

To keep me thinking, I’m writing a daily blog. I never know where that will take me but I keep writing just the same. Besides the blog, I started recording from the early years of my column. These are on YouTube (https://bit.ly/39pNUb3) and also shared on my Facebook page (https://bit.ly/2JD4euV). I’m doing this for my sanity and hopefully to entertain others out there, just like my column.

Again, I thank you very much for your support and friendship. I hope to stay connected with my readers for a long time to come.

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

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