Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas from the Kramer crew.

I hope you are having a great day wherever you are whether you observe Christmas or just have a day off.

I’m putting a copy of our Christmas letter here.  We get so many cards and greetings from all of you that I can’t send a card to to everyone so instead, I’m putting our letter here.

I’ve been putting off writing the Christmas letter this year.  It’s so hard to put into words all that has happened since I last sat down to update you on our family.  I mentioned to one of the kids that this year would be the hardest letter I’ve written to date.  They encouraged me to skip it, but Kramer loved the Christmas letter and liked getting Christmas letters so it’s with him in mind that I write on“…About this time last year, I started hounding Roger that he should ask to have a chest CT scan done.  Finally, in January, he had the scan done and on January 24th, we were told he had lung cancer.  After a few weeks of testing and appointments, the doctors decided to try to surgically remove the tumor.  It didn’t work.

Immediately, help started pouring in from so many of our friends, including Jo’s blog readers, and our kids.  Thank you to so many who sent gift cards, money and cards.  Roger and I both so appreciated it.  Kelli and Kalissa, living closest, quickly took on childcare duties while I helped Roger.  On February 25th, Roger was in the hospital and there was the big snowstorm.  Kalissa was set to do childcare but called us at the hospital to tell us her water broke.  Roger, while in his hospital bed, called the local snow removal guy and had Kalissa and Craig’s driveway plowed so they could get to the hospital.  That day Gannon Joseph was born, our 4th grandchild.  A week later, on March 4th Kelli and Jason had a baby girl, their first, Georgia Grace. She reminds me so much of Kelli as a baby.  Having the two close in age is such a joy!

April and May were filled with long trips and bad news.  The cancer moved to his bones and Roger broke his neck.  We spent a couple weeks in the hospital.  Once out, the trips for radiation became harder and harder.  On the 28th of May Kramer had a PET scan.  Following we were told he was filled with cancer.  He was given a couple weeks to live. 

Our family scrambled trying to give Roger the best days he could have.  One by one the kids came home including Karl who was in Texas.  We had a great couple of days.  Kramer was so strong.  Through all of this rather than questioning his faith, it grew stronger and stronger.  On June 2nd, with Kalissa and I by his side, and the house filled with all our kids and grandkids, Kramer passed away, 129 days after his diagnosis.

One of the last conversations I had with Kramer was about our kids.  Both of us were so impressed with them.  To say they were kind, thoughtful and selfless through this all is spot on.  We were so fortunate to have two nurses in the family, Kelli and Kalissa, who would drop everything at a moment’s notice and be there for both of us.

To say life has been a shocking change is an understatement.  All those times I told Kramer “you don’t do anything in the house” have come back and haunted me.  He actually did do things in the house.  I’m sure some of you wives can relate to similar conversations.

As much as would like to hold the moments with Kramer and not let him go, sadly, life goes on.  Thankfully, much of it is good.  In May Kayla and Spencer announced that they were expecting so Kramer got in on the news.  Their little one is due in mid-January.  This will be their first. 

Buck and Lora adopted Lora’s 4 year old nephew Scotty and he’s officially a Kramer now.  I am so happy and think the world of him.  Their little girl Lucy is just two and she’s a spunky one.  They are expecting an addition to their family in early April, so the Kramer clan is growing.  That will be grandbaby #7.  I jokingly tell Buck that I don’t know how Lucy will manage being a middle child.

Craig, Kalissa’s husband changed jobs and now is working for the farmer Roger use to work for.  He comes here telling stories and I love hearing them.  So many of them remind me of Roger as I remember him saying the same things.  I jokingly say that if Kramer must miss a spring planting and a fall harvest, he picked a good one to miss.  It’s been a terrible fall for farmers.  Kelli’s husband Jason has been muddling through the weather and poor harvest conditions too.

Karl was in Texas teaching at the beginning of the year.  At the end of May he came home and stayed.  He’s living with me for now and working for a huge hog farmer in the human resource department as a translator.  So far…he likes it.

As for me…I’m okay.  I’m still living at the house in Waucoma.  I couldn’t bear to leave it.  Everywhere in the house I see Kramer in all the work he put into the house and all the furniture he fixed for me.  I’m still doing childcare and writing the blog.  Check in and read it at www.joscountryjunction.com.  Carver, Kalissa and Craig’s oldest, has been a big help to me as I work through widowhood.  Even though he’s three, he’s quick to talk about his “Papa Moo” with me.  Cancer has struck me in other ways this year.  In September I lost my niece Jody.  To say she was my niece is an understatement.  She was my close friend and more like a sister.  I miss her so.  Also, in September we found out that my cancer tumor markers are on the rise.  I went through a gamut of tests.  They know the cancer is growing somewhere but can’t find it.  I’ll be going through the tests again in February and we’ll see if it’s grown enough that it can be found and dealt with.

Through it all, one might think we’ve lost our faith and that Christmas might be meaningless to us.  That’s not true.  We have seen up close the good God can make of hard circumstances.  As a family we are stronger, more forgiving, accepting and compassionate.  This year more than ever, we are stepping back and taking in the true meaning of Christmas.  When so much has been taken from us, we cling to the miracle of Christmas even more.  So with that…we wish you the Merriest of Christmas’ and send out prayers that 2020 starts with the hope of a better year.”

Long ago we opted to not have a big Christmas with all of the kids home.  Between having two nurses that work all hours and a son who plows snow, we rare could keep our plans anyway.  We make Thanksgiving our big family get together.

Karl and Kalissa and Craig’s family seem to end up here and that’s just great.  We typically play some board games and load up on pickled herring.  (Yes our family loves pickled herring)  We’re all missing Kramer but as time goes on we’re able to talk about him more and keep him with us in memory.  That’s very comforting…

So to you and yours…Merry Christmas from the Kramers.

 

21 thoughts on “Merry Christmas!!

  1. Sandy

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family, Jo. Your faith is strong and your ability to share your life with us is remarkable. All the best in 2020. Thank you for all that you do.

  2. Janet R

    Merry Christmas, dear Jo and family. You have had a very rough year and yet handled it with strength and grace. I pray next year will be much better. Looking forward to the new puppy and the new grandbaby to fill your days with laughter and love.

    Thank you for sharing with us, both the good and the bad. You are amazing.

  3. Elle

    Merry Merry Christmas to you Jo and the family. May God Bless You and Keep You and Carry You through 2020.

  4. Rachel Summy

    Merry Christmas to all the Kramers!
    Keeping looking forward, those new babies are welcome and happy news!!
    Keeping Faith and walking with God gives strength to you all.
    Looking forward to connecting in 2020!

  5. Doris G

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. May God richly bless you all in 2020. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  6. Mary Ann Mettler

    Jo – love to you and your family. I started following your blog when Kramer was in the hospital the first time – I think I noticed it on face book and and have followed you daily ever since. You are an inspiration. Thanks Have a great Christmas and year ahead.

  7. Diana L Breed

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. I have enjoyed reading your blog for several years. Your strength amazes me. God’s blessings to you all in the new year.

  8. Paula

    Jo, thanks for sharing the lovely Christmas letter. Once again, you blog hit close to home. I’ve commented that my dad passed away in June, 2 hours before his 90th birthday. I couldn’t bring myself to write a letter this year. It was just too hard, and I ended up writing short notes in several cards and just signing others. Thank you for the reminder that others go through similar tough times and for the reminder of all that is good and right in the world. Merry Christmas!

  9. Missy Reynolds

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. I so admire your frankness about your grief experience and the strength of your faith. May God richly bless you in 2020.

  10. Lisa B

    Merry Christmas Jo and family. I’m praying the next decade is better than the last. Good for you to write a letter this year. Enjoy your day.

  11. Angie in SoCal

    Again, so sorry for your loss, Jo. He was a good husband and father. I know you miss him. I would, too, if I lost mine of 51 years as he is so interwoven with my heart. You’re so blessed to have such wonderful children. Merry Christmas! I look forward to reading your blog in the coming New Year, 2020.

  12. Nancy A

    Your letter has been such a blessing to read. Thank you for your openness as you and your family have walked through this past year and for allowing us to walk along with you. So glad you have Rosie and the new babies coming this new year. You have had many blessings this past year as well as all the hard things. This new year has good things to look forward to. May God richly bless you.

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