Category: Marriage

SPECIAL

Special

I’m still excited about my new book, Abidance: A Memoir of Love and Inevitability. Lots of  amazing responses. Actually, I continue to be excited by my old books, so I have a great offer:

Any one book – $15.00

Any two books – $25.00

Any three books – $35.00

All four – $45           THESE OFFERS ONLY APPLY ON ORDERS EMAILED DIRECTLY TO LOIS

And only $3.00 shipping on any size package!!  (You send your check when you get your package, IF YOU LIKE YOUR BOOKS.)

Email TODAY. lois.hjelmstad@gmail.com

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“This beautifully written love story inspires couples to renew their commitment to living fuller lives together. Whether you’ve been married for one year or seventy, this wonderful story will bring tears, laughter, and inspiration to your lives. A must for aging readers, which includes everyone.”

– Connie Shoemaker, author of The Good Daughter: Secrets, Life Stories, and Healing

“I truly adore Abidance. Lois has written a page-turner about two soul mates whose marriage has endured much struggle and yet have been blessed with boundless love and good times. In this day of social media and everything digital, this is a tale about something we often forget: The deep and abiding love two people can have for each other, and the life’s journey they share.”

-Fred Silverman, New York Producer

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Again, email TODAY. lois.hjelmstad@gmail.com

You can also pick up your full price copy here:

https://www.amazon.com/Abidance-Inevitability-Lois-Tschetter-Hjelmstad/dp/0963713906

 

Love you all, Lois

I Can Breathe Again

Dear ones –

Yesterday was emotionally taxing, as well as physically draining. Not totally surprising.

Les and I got up at 4:15 a.m. (four hours earlier than usual, I’m embarrassed to say, but we are old) and readied ourselves for the trip to the hospital.

The registration and prep time seemed very much like same old, same old of prior excursions.

The surgical waiting room seemed same old, same old, too. I worked a Jumble, a Sudoku, and five crossword puzzles. Almost two and a half hours passed.

Suddenly the puzzles could no longer distract me. When the familiar fear that perhaps Les would not come out of this surgery jammed itself back into my consciousness, I grew faint and almost threw up. The physical reaction was as unexpected as it was powerful. I began pacing the floor.

Several minutes later, the doctor came out and gave us good news – although it was more difficult than he might have expected, the procedure had gone well.

I exhaled.

I spent the night on a hard chair by Les' bedside overnight and listened to the music of his breath. This afternoon we came home – he with a sore chest and I with a very relieved, but bruised heart.

Only time will tell if this newly-minted biventricular pacemaker disrupts his heart failure sufficiently for him to have a decent quality of life. We are cautiously optimistic.

But I grow ever more aware of mortality – especially his. 

Thank you for your prayers, cards, good thoughts, hugs, and other support. 

Much love, Lois

 

 

 

 

 

 

Married 65 Years Today

Today it is 65 years since Les and I married. Our church magazine had asked me to write the story of our lives and I'm sharing that with you today. It's longer than I like my blogs to be, but, hey, it's our anniversary! And it is 65 years.  

It was one of those weird butterfly effects. What if Les’ grandparents had not migrated from Norway? What if his oldest brother, Magnar, had not left North Dakota, run out of money in Colorado, met and married a nice Mennonite girl? What if his next brother, Harold, had not visited Magnar, met yet another nice Mennonite girl and married her? And what if Les had not visited Harold and Doris??

Lester Sigvald Hjelmstad came into the world on a farm near Ryder, North Dakota, some ninety-one years ago, the seventh of eleven living children born to John and Mary. The Lutheran Church baptized him when he was six weeks old. He attended a country school across the road from the Hjelmstad homestead until he was fourteen. At Ryder High School he became BMOC (Big Man on Campus), lettered in four years of football, and captained the team. He also lettered in basketball three years and went out for track. He presided over his senior class. After high school, he worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps for eighteen months and then helped his father and neighbors with farm work until he went into the U.S. Navy whereupon—as he always told his children—he single-handedly won WWII.

Meanwhile, when Les was eight years old, Lois Luene Tschetter was born in Webster, South Dakota, the first child of Paul G. Tschetter and Bertha Nikkel Tschetter, both of Mennonite heritage.

Lois lived in Webster, attending the Methodist Church, until she was twelve when she moved with her family to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

In 1944 the family moved to Denver and joined First Mennonite Church in 1945. Lois attended South High School, where she was IGOCWOAT (Invisible-Girl-on-Campus, Wallflower of All Time). She graduated valedictorian of her class of 721, but no one noticed.

Les and Lois met at FMC in November 1946. Six months later Les took her home after a social gathering. And that was that.

They became engaged in four months and married eleven months afterward. Lois was still seventeen. Les joined FMC on February 1, 1948. 

At first Les and Lois lived and worked for $150 a month on a chicken ranch in Lakewood,Colorado. They were offered that ranch for $13,000, but there was no way to come up with the $1300 down payment. Now several businesses and a famous restaurant grace those thirteen acres. Oh, well…

After two years of watching the dang chickens smother themselves just as they were ready to market, Les went to work at Gates Rubber Company in Denver, first as a tire builder and then as a supervisor. He ended up working there for thirty-seven years, twenty-six of those on graveyard shift. Meanwhile, Lois worked at National Hartford Insurance Company for three years until Karen was born.

Bob, Keith, and Russ followed. When the kids were seven, five, three, and one, Les and Lois moved into their current home in Englewood, where they have lived more than fifty-four years. They are not ones to make quick changes.

Their lives have been centered in church, where Les was an elder and served on Council for fourteen years. One summer he took his only two-week vacation and taught Vacation Bible School. Lois taught VBS and was Sunday School superintendent. She also served as church organist for seventeen years. For at least thirty-nine years they attended every service, until they realized the walls wouldn’t crumble if they weren’t there.

Les and Lois credit their faith for cementing their shared values: intending to follow the teachings of Jesus in service and daily life, living simply in a harried world, supporting issues of peace and justice, and giving at least ten percent of their gross income to causes beyond themselves.

 In 1961 Lois began teaching piano to Bob because she and Karen were already taking lessons and the family couldn’t afford to pay for his. Soon neighborhood kids joined in. As her music studio built to sixty plus students a week, Lois participated in a number of college pedagogy courses. This accidental career hummed along, in one fashion or another, for forty years.

The real children grew up and established careers and families. The piano kids kept coming; Lois planned to teach until she was ninety-six. Les retired at sixty-five, returned to college, and studied his main interest – history, especially Civil War history. He earned a degree, shaved his mustache, and got a job. No, wait….

In 1990, a year after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, Lois' breast cancer diagnosis jolted her into writing. She and Les formed an independent publishing company and Fine Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear and Loneliness was first published in 1993.

A niece invited her to speak at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix and that launched another accidental career. Lois has spoken more than 600 times in all fifty United States, England, and Canada. Les has driven 400,000 miles in the process. Lois still gives talks locally.

In 2002, Lois finished The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother, Moving Beyond Regret. A tenth anniversary edition of Fine Black Lines came out in 2003.

For their 50th wedding anniversary, Les gave Lois two diamond anniversary bands. She gave him thirty-six poems and promised to write a book for him. Fair exchange?! It took twelve years, but in 2010, This Path We Share: Reflections on 60 Years of Marriage was released. All three books will soon be eBooks.

Lots of serendipity, lots of butterfly effect, lots of luck.

On September 12, 2013, Les and Lois celebrated their 65th anniversary. And how does one remain married for sixty-five years? Simple: fall head over heels, live long, and stay crazy-in-love.

*****

We are exceedingly thankful for our longevity, these many years together, our beloved children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended families, friends, and church family. You have supported us during these years in one way or another and become a strand in the fabric of our lives. We have been undeservedly fortunate beyond our wildest hopes and we take this occasion to give thanks for our multitude of blessings—and for each of you.

 As for the future? We continue our walk toward the Light.  With love, Les and Lois

 

Unwanted Anniversary Part 3

My journey with chronic fatigue syndrome continued and continues. I wrote of it again in This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage. This small excerpt shows some of the ways we coped:

"We eventually learned that while some patients recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome, many did not. However, I was determined not to lose my real life to a disease that, even though a mystery to medical science, was not usually fatal.

"From 1989 onward, Les and I struggled to make that happen. CFS shifted our roles. Doing heavy work made me worse, so Les took over as many chores as he could. We learned to stay at home in the evening. We started going to bed earlier than we preferred. If I could order from a catalogue, I skipped shopping. Friends slowly disappeared because I did not have enough energy to make and keep luncheon dates or carry on a converation when I did go. My family and friends tired of asking how I felt and hearing 'exhausted,' so I started saying, 'Fine.' 

"I increasingly turned to Les for strength and understanding. Only he could validate my journey with CFS; no one else knew or understood how difficult it was for both of us.

"Sometimes I dreamed about CFS. I would be visiting relatives or attending a party and feel too exhausted to lift my arms or legs; I felt as if I were disappearing into nothingness. The dream always frightened me to consciousness, but it was the one nightmare from which I could not awake.

"The rivers of entropy flowed on. And we knew that we could not stay in the Garden of Eden, no matter how hard we tried."

Most of the time, I accept my limitations. After all, I have had twenty-four years to adjust. It is part of the fabric of my life. CFS and my breast cancer a year later changed everything. And nothing. 

During all those years since April 6, 1989, I had two separate mastectomies, gave up teaching piano, wrote three books, traveled by car over 400,000 miles (without homicide or divorce?!) to speak more than 600 times, spent precious never-to-be-forgotten hours with my beloved husband and our four children and their families. 

But I know that there are many CFS patients who cannot live their lives, no matter how much accommodation they may try to do. I have been extremely lucky and I feel unworthy of the good fortune I have had. I am trying to give back as much as I can out of gratitude.   

This thread to be completed tomorrow with a poem…

Horror at the Airport

On November 27, Les and I arrived at Denver International Airport after a Thanksgiving visit to our son in Michigan. We deplaned at Gate B 95 – miles from where we needed to be. Les walked on the people-carrier and I walked briskly beside it. It was my walk for the day. Les began walking slower and slower. I suggested that he quit walking and just ride. I shouldered one of his bags to add to the two I already commandeered. Finally he said, “I can’t walk anymore. I have to sit down.”

Les looked so haggard and pale that I checked for his pulse. Where is it? I must have a bad spot. An airport cart waited nearby, but the driver said that he was unable to leave that area to take us to the train. “However, your husband can sit on the cart and rest. And there is a wheelchair station right over there,” he pointed.

We waited a while until a young attendant came to settle Les into a wheelchair. She took us down an elevator, then got us onto the train at Station B.

As we sped toward Station A, I suddenly noticed that Les was staring into space. Eyes wide open—nobody home. I called to him, “Les. Les, honey, wake up. Please wake up.” I shook him, and called again. No response. I could get no heartbeat anywhere. One of his arms dropped. The other dropped. I begged him not to leave me and screamed, “My husband is dying. My husband is dying.” I couldn’t grasp that our sixty-four plus years of marriage was ending on a stupid train at DIA.

Someone—another employee?—swooped in and whisked our attendant and Les' wheelchair off the train. I jammed one of my suitcases into the door to keep it from closing with me still in the train, departing for God knows where.

Where are we? I didn’t know. Our young attendant flailed her arms in the air and moaned, “Oh, God, I don’t know what to do.” She didn’t know where we were, either.

I kept calling for help into this huge empty space where I could see only three other people. I grabbed one passerby and begged him to please help me lift Les off the wheel chair so I could do CPR. But I couldn’t even budge Les’ right leg. I doubt if five men could have lifted him.

Then Les moved ever so slightly and the man said, “See, he’s OK. He doesn’t need CPR,” and hurried on his way.

Les was alive. But had he had a stroke or heart attack? Could he stay alive? At some point someone called the paramedics. When the eight burly men arrived, the lead guy said, “Your husband is very ill. An ambulance is coming.” They started IVs and oxygen, working feverishly.

And there we were somewhere in the bowels of a huge airport. Somehow the ambulance men found us and transported us (and our baggage) to a hospital.

When we arrived, Les was more lucid and began to stabilize. I stayed in his room overnight. I couldn’t have thought of leaving him. By the next afternoon, he had returned to his normal health. Diagnosis: dehydration and atrial fibrillation. 

The following Sunday, our pastor spoke of Advent as a time of waiting and preparation. He offered the thought that things we have done in the past can help us in the present and will assist us in the future. He told how, when his wife’s mother died recently, they read Scripture and sang hymns as she lay on her deathbed. The fact they had sung these hymns hundreds of times in the past made it possible for them to sing them at this sad time. The many previous readings of Scripture had girded their souls for such a time. We prepare, sometimes unknowingly.

Did past events help me during this crisis? Will this episode provide any help in the future? Was it a dress rehearsal, a preparation, what?

All I know is that I want never again to feel as I did for those harrowing, however-many minutes.

But I also know that I probably will.

Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad
©12/12/12