"Once you choose hope, anything's possible." - Christopher Reeve

Friday, June 20, 2014

3 Years...

I thought about posting a year after ... I wrote an entire post, and my heart ached too much to hit "Publish"... and again 2 years after... and now, It's been 3 years since she's been gone.

 It's hard to revisit this blog, there was so much hope, and even though her story isn't over, there's not much more to tell.

Shannon and I took a long walk on Ruby Beach this spring when her and Erica came out to visit. We talked about how much has changed since Mom has been gone, and how empty we feel without her, how lonley. We talked about her cancer, and how we both knew how bad the diagnosis was, yet we still held out hope that she'd be in the clear some day.

Remission is a word we craved to hear, and "Cancer Free" was a complete dream, words we never got to experience with her. She fought 2 long hard years, countless treatments and lots of tears.

But, her story isn't all sad. She was a bright and wonderful woman before and during the cancer. Her story lives on through us kids, and through you who knew and loved her.

I wish her final resting place was closer to me so I could go sit and talk to her. I've kept a journal writing letters to her, but something about having a place to go see here just feels better.

I hope that you will remember her today... fondly. Honor her in your own personal way. Celebrate the life we had with her.

Thank you for loving her, and supporting us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What made you Cry today?

I was just listening away to the radio... and this song came on. Talk about make you tear up!
Missing you Momma!
"If Heaven wasn't so far away"
- Justin Moore

Everyday I'd drive to work across Flint River bridge

A hundred yards from the spot where me and grandpaw fished.

There's a piece of his ol' fruit stand on the side of Sawmill Road

He'd be there peelin' peaches if it was 20 years ago

And what I wouldn't give

To ride around in that old truck with him

If Heaven wasn't so far away

I'd pack up the kids and go for the day

Introduce them to their grandpaw

And watch them laugh at the way he talked

Find my long lost cousin John

The one we left back in Vietnam

Show him a picture of his daughter now

She's a doctor and he'd be proud

Tell 'em we'd be back in a couple of days

In the rear view mirror, we'd all watch 'em wave

Yea, losin' them wouldn't be so hard to take

If Heaven wasn't so far away.

I'd hug all three of those girls we lost from the class of '99

And I'd find my bird dog Bo,

And take him huntin' one more time

Ask Hank why he took those pills back in '53

Ask Janice to sing the second verse of 'Me and Bobbie McGee'

Sit on a cloud and visit for a while

It'd do me good just to see them smile.

If Heaven wasn't so far away

I'd pack up the kids and go for the day

Introduce them to their grandpaw

And watch them laugh at the way he talked

Find my long lost cousin John

The one we left back in Vietnam

Show him a picture of his daughter now

She's a doctor and he'd be proud

Tell 'em we'd be back in a couple of days

In the rear view mirror, we'd all watch 'em wave

Yea, losin' them wouldn't be so hard to take

If Heaven wasn't so far

If Heaven wasn't so far

If Heaven wasn't so far away.

So far away

So far awaaaaaaaaaaay

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Memorial Headstone

 We placed the order for this shortly before I left South Dakota. Today, Shannon sent me pictures that it had been set. Picking out a headstone was a lot harder than any of the three of us thought it would be, but we really like our final decision. It's very simple, elegant and nice, it's very her.

The blog will be concluding shortly. I plan to print it into a book for those of you who would like a copy, please let me know, for those of you who would like to say a few words to have it printed in the book, leave a comment and we'll get it in there.
Thanks for all your continued love and support. 
We miss you Momma!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tree of Life

This is the Tree of Life that hangs at Prairie Lakes Hospital that Mom now has a memorial on.
You can check out the close(r) view of the plate if you clikc HERE.
Thank you John Calvin and Prairie Lakes Hospice.

Crawford Funeral Home

When Mom worked at Cashway she met Bill as a customer; she liked Bill a lot, and would say things like "When I die, you take me to Bill."

So, when she started getting really sick there was no question in our minds which funeral chapel in Watertown we would use. Given that our entire family had used White, Comes & Fox prior to this funeral, it was a little bit of really unfamiliar territory for us. Crawford exceeded any expections we had, and then did a little extra on top of it, they were wonderful. I can't sing them enough praise.

Picking things out for her, there was never any pressured sales, and it was all about what we wanted as a family. They went the extra mile when her casket didn't come in the way we ordered it - well actually the extra 100 miles (200 round trip) to get the right one from Sioux Falls the day of her viewing. We picked things we knew she would like, and that didn't completley break the bank.

And when picking her hearse, it was pretty exciting to find this bad boy in their garage...

She went out in style...
Thank you Crawford, for everything.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Her Journey to Heaven

This blog really has been about Mom's journey. Her last night here with us has yet to be shared, it's been hard to find the words. But I've been asked if it was peaceful, if she was okay, if she knew she was loved, and the answer to all of that is yes. Since it's been 3 weeks today, I figured today would be a good day to share the story of that night...

I will never forget the night she passed away, and I'm confident to say that Kathy, Nani, Tony & Shannon feel the same way.

We had just said goodbye to a visitor for the evening, and Shannon and I went into the living room to check on Mom, Shannon lifted her covers to feel that her legs were ice cold. We had read in a book by hospice that this could happen days or hours before a person passes. Shannon and I were both worried, so we ate a bite of dinner, and gathered everyone by Mom's bedside.

Kathy found each of us a stool or a chair to sit on, and Shannon called Tony because things weren't looking up. We sat by her, held her hands and told her how much she is loved she briefly said "I love you" . We laughed at old memories, and cried together. Tony arrived just before a large storm, and helped everyone move their cars into cover, They came back in, and gathered around her bedside just as the storm started to rumble. We said the Lords prayer together and then we each took our turns reading her our birthday cards since we never got a chance before. Kathy then read her the note she wrote her at her benefit and Mom opened just one eye and watched Kathy read every word. We took her oxygen off of her, and kept talking about how much we love her, and telling her who was waiting for her on the other side. About five minutes after we removed the oxygen she took her last breaths. Shannon got up and retrieved her stethoscope and confirmed that she was gone.

The storm really lit up the sky and I stood outside watching it, waiting for Missy and Crawford to come for her.

We had a very beautiful opportunity to say goodbye. It was the most dignified death a person could have. We miss her, every. single. second.

But we know that Kerry, Grandpa Adolph and Kevin were all very excited to see her.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Prairie Lakes Hospital Tree of Life

We recived a wonderful letter, and a donation to the Hospice program from John Calvin in memory of Mom in our memorial cards. Shannon and I ran the check up to Prairie Lakes and they asked us for Mom's information to put a plaque up in her memory on the Tree of Life. I've requested the lady send us a picture of the tree of life as well, but here's her plaque :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Little Things

A few little things that happened in the mess of the last month that I never want to forget...
  1. When you'd ask her a yes or no question, and the answer was yes, it would come out sounding like "S-ha" instead of yes. It made me giggle.
  2. Mom telling me that if she got snippy with me again, I was allowed to Bitch Slap her.
  3. The way she was always so concerned with where Shannon was.
  4. The smile she would have for you when you woke her from a slumber.
  5. All the little sillies she'd say like I was allowed to spend all my inheritance money on derby gear and skull and flame tattoo's just like hers on her arms.
  6. After she passed, Cashway Lumber putting an ad in the paper that said they were closed at noon on the Friday of her funeral in honor of her.

What about our Mom will you never forget? 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Funeral services for Dianne Beth Nielsen, age 53, of Watertown, SD will be at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, June 24, 2011 at Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Watertown, SD.  Rev. Christina Matson and Rev. Justin Neugebauer will officiate.  Music will be provided by A. J. Sherrill as organist and Darla Anderson as soloist. Dianne passed away on Monday, June 20, 2011 at her residence after a two year battle with cancer.

     Burial will be in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Watertown.  Honorary pallbearers will be the employees of Cashway Lumber, Inc.  Active pallbearers will be:  Mark Reishus, Jason Meester, Wayne Meester, Scott Campbell, Dean Raabe, and Lynn Forde. 

     Visitation will be at Crawford Funeral Chapel in Watertown on Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and will continue at the church on Friday prior to the services.  The family is requested to meet at the church on Friday by 1:30 p.m. for a prayer service.

     Dianne was born on June 13, 1958 in Watertown, SD to Adolph N. and Colleen M. (Ward) Nielsen.  She graduated from Summit High School in 1976.

     On July 23, 1977, Dianne married David Kneeland in Summit, SD.  She lived on a farm near Summit where she raised her children.  Dianne moved to Watertown, SD and later worked for Cashway Lumber, Inc. for seventeen years. 

     She was a member of Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer.  Dianne enjoyed golfing, fishing with friends, and especially spending time with her family.

     Dianne is survived by one son, Tony (Julie) Kneeland of Watertown, SD;  two daughters:  Shannon Dorsett of Watertown, SD and Abby (Eric) Ronnebeck of Seattle, WA; four grandchildren:  Erica Rae Dorsett and Carter, Troy and Kyle Kneeland; her mother, Colleen Nielsen of Watertown, SD; one brother, Greg (Tina) Nielsen of South Shore, SD; two sisters:  Brenda (Mylo) Grabow of Rapid City, SD and Kathy (Todd) Brink of Watertown, SD; and several nieces and nephews. 

     She was preceded in death by her father; a brother-in-law, Kevin Bronson; and a nephew, Kerry Bronson. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011


 I didn't take nearly as many pictures while I was in South Dakota as one would think. Normally I'm the shutterbug capturing every moment. Here's what I have gathered from other people - Amanda, Julie, Carla. and a few from my cell phone. If you have pictures from Mom's funeral, Relay or other shots of her last few weeks, please send them to me!

So without further ado...
This one turned out blurry - but it's Tony using his "Indian Purse" - Our funeral director Chad got a kick out of it, though I'm not sure Brenda was impressed.

We decided Momma needed to go out in style - This is Crawford's 1957 Cadillac Hearse.

The inset of Mom's Casket - In God's Care

Her Solid Oak Box... we really thought it fit her.

Mom's temporary grave site marker
Momma's Grave site.
We thought it was only appropriate that we went to Relay after Mom's funeral. Dianne's Determine Dreamers came out in 6 fold... There were a LOT of us...

Our Tentsite - Great Job Julie!

Erica Walking for Grammi

Brenda walking with her Family

Our  group (Plus or minus a few)

Shannie, Brenda & Erica

Erica with Tysen

Waiting to take a team picture.

More waiting.

Walking with my gradeschool classmate Angie.

It was Kathy's Idea that we all wear one of Mom's hats while we walked. So she brought the bounty and let every one choose their favorite to wear!

Dianne's Battle is OUR Battle

Our Survivor Jackie - Double mastectomy just a few months ago !


Kimmy Sue - entertainment chair!

Elio & Tony

Erica was pretty determine to walk for her Grammi.

LOOK! Tony's HOLDING MY HAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our Family :)

It was so fun to walk with this many people - we just wish we would have been walking in Honor of Mom instead of in Memory of her.

Jason, Tony, Eric & Luke

Lisa - Rhonda - Carla & Jackie

One Full campsite!

Our Luminary

Adding her Survivor pin
Me with our Luminaria

About the time I lost it... tears, tears and more tears. Relay is going to be a lot harder from now on.

Carter's Luminary for Grammi - Great job buddy!


For Grandpa PaPa

By Erica

By Julie (?)

Such a pretty time of Relay...

That's by Troy - He drew Grammi watching him play Tee ball...

I think this is the back of Carter's - He drew Grammi in her Vikings Gear!

Lighting them up!

One someone else made :)

By Julie

So pretty...