Thursday, May 30, 2013

Below is the slideshow of pictures from Peter's life that was shown at his memorial service a week ago Friday.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The life that is truly life

We write with grateful but heavy hearts to share the news of Peter's passing this morning, May 18th, at 7:40 a.m. The loss we feel is profound, and yet we rejoice in faith that he is even now entering into the light of God's presence. He went in peace, surrounded by our prayers.

For those of you who are in the area and would like to come, a memorial service in honor of Peter's life will be held next Friday, May 24 at 2:30pm at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Corvallis. The reception following the service will be held at our home.

These past few weeks have been intense and sad, as we've cared for Peter in his steady decline. For those of you who are counting, Peter's death comes just a few days short of the 2-4 month prognosis his doctors gave us in March. If Peter were here to write this post, he'd certainly have plenty of conjectures about how and why his cancer went the way it did towards the end and what it all means medically. The truth is that we will never know - we simply rest in thanksgiving for Christ's presence with us, the Great Physician who knows the inner workings of our bodies and ordains the days of our life, and the moment of our death. Cancer did not have the final word in Peter's story. His journey has only begun now that he has passed into the "life that is truly life" (1 Tim. 6:19), where we trust he will live with God forever in his resurrected body.

We want to thank you all for your prayers, kind thoughts, phone calls, blog comments, messages, and words of encouragement during this time - our whole family has felt your care so deeply and truly sense our unity in Christ's love. We're especially thankful for the season of Pentecost that is now upon us, and trust that the Holy Spirit will come to our hearts to illuminate and console, as Jesus promised. We do not mourn as those who have no hope.

Peter L. Ogle, asleep in the Lord.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ascension hope

It's a strange juxtaposition to watch the lush unfurling of spring as we accompany dad in his gradual decline. Life outside is burgeoning as his life wanes. These days have been so beautiful - warm, and sunny, with highs in the 80s - and yet quite bittersweet. We are grateful, but sad. It has been especially poignant to follow the rhythms of the liturgical season; the readings and prayers during the time between Easter and Pentecost are full of jubilation at Christ's resurrection, the promise of his presence with us, the hope that eternal life with him awaits us.

Tomorrow is the day when the Church remembers Christ's ascension to heaven, 40 days after the resurrection. Jesus said that he was leaving to go and prepare a place for us, and that he wouldn't leave us alone but would send the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and advocate. How we need that assurance during this difficult time.

In the past week or so, dad has been sleeping a lot (20+) hours a day and doesn't have energy to do much more than the minimum that his basic needs demand. On Monday, hospice sent a hospital bed that we set up in the living room, where dad is now spending most of his time. He has intermittent periods of wakefulness, but isn't able to sustain much conversation. He eats, but not a lot. Nick and I sometimes read to him. In the morning we've continued to pray together as a family. All of dad's siblings and his mother have been here to visit within the past week or two, and those have been especially sweet times, even when he has been less lucid. We've had lots of help and company when we've needed it, and plenty of quiet downtime with just the five of us too.

As you can imagine, it is difficult to write this post. After all these years and so many bends in the road in my dad's journey with cancer, we are finally approaching the end. For as much as we are all at peace, having said all we can say and done all we can do, it still feels surreal to think that his death is so imminent. Our task now is to be present, to simply be with him, together, as he prepares to embark on his journey home. As his earthly body quietly shuts down, we rest in hope that he will be raised again in a heavenly body. And we trust that he is not "leaving" us, but rather going before us to that place Jesus promised to prepare.

"I know that my Redeemer lives and on the last day I shall rise again. In my body I shall look on God, my Savior. I myself shall see him; my own eyes will gaze upon him." (Job 19:25-27)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Azaleas in bloom

Dear friends and family,

Nick and I are trying out a new form of communication on The Ogler. If it doesn't work, we’ll try something else, but our current model of having me sit down and write short essays is becoming increasingly difficult. So instead, I will dictate to Nick or whoever else among my loving family members, and we’ll see if I can muster a little intelligence or insight.

It is important to me to say what I feel needs to be said. So we’ll give this a whirl.

I would like to be able to speak with each of you, individually; but that won’t be possible. Just talking to myself tires me out. I am able and happy to read emails from you also, so please keep them coming. Since I am not getting out much, this is how I can stay in touch with my loved ones.

No big changes overall in my physical condition. The fatigue continues, deepens if anything. This is a natural progression for brain cancer. I wish I could hope for better, but I accept this as the natural process that we work around the best we can. Ellen and the kids are great. I’m getting plenty of nutritious food, thanks to the many contributions of prepared meals by so many of those whom we love. It would be hard for us to get this all done by ourselves.

We have been blessed by daily times of prayer together, in which we all can speak with God about the significance and meaning of these days. There have been so many wonderful reminiscences. We've laughed and shared smiles as we look through photo albums of when the children were small—and Peter had hair. The blessings of family have been so dear to all of us. Being together has been in itself the best of ways to spend our time.

It helps to have had many warm, sunny days in which we have all gotten out into the garden, to do some cleanup and spring prep. I never guessed we’d get the garden whipped into shape this spring, but thanks to my willing minions (including my sisters), we've done it.  The azaleas are blooming, and the berries fattening up in anticipation of more golden days ahead. We can smell the lilac already.

Living is hard, but life is good. We are all blessed to be a part of God’s great creation. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


It's me (Allison), stepping in again as guest blogger to provide an update on the past few days. There's not too much to report in terms of major events - we've simply continued to enjoy our time together and to help make dad as comfortable as possible. He's been sleeping more and is very fatigued, but he's still able to eat (and enjoy!) food and be present in conversation with us and with visitors. He's had no other major headaches and isn't waking up as often during the night with back pain. His major complaint for the time being is just the fatigue and mental malaise.

In our visit this morning with the hospice nurse, Robert, we discussed some questions regarding what to expect in the coming weeks. Without going into the specifics, we know that we can expect dad's overall energy level to continue to gradually wane, with daily ebbs and flows. Robert likened this process to the landing of an airplane, reiterating that his role is to help manage the turbulence and allow dad to have a "smooth landing." He indicated that dad likely has many more weeks to enjoy with family and friends, but we are all mindful of how quickly these days pass and our desire to spend them well.

We're grateful for the hospice care, as it complements our efforts to accompany dad in what Robert alludes to with the airplane analogy. Dad has written before of having lived a good life and now wanting to die a good death. And he knows that his dying will be merely a passage into the life which is truly life. Over the last few weeks, dad has voiced that he is not in any hurry to die, but that he is ready. It continues to be a privilege for us to walk with him in these days, to rejoice even in this sacred threshold, this unique transition of life that Mother Teresa dared to call our "coronation." We can only see death in this light because of our faith in the resurrection. Life on earth is sweet, to which my dad's life bears testament, but the joys of heaven will be sweeter still, and so we have hope.

We enjoyed the sweetness of a warm April day yesterday, taking advantage of a visit from my dad's sisters (Kathy and Liz) and brother-in-law (Dave) to do some work in the garden. After an hour or so of weeding, the siblings headed down to the local nursery so my dad could pick out some flowers to fill the empty spots in a few beds. The garden continues to be a source of beauty and refreshment for us, especially on these warm days.

My dad has also enjoyed several other visits and phone calls from good friends in recent days. It's difficult for him to sustain long conversations, but he is delighted and encouraged to spend time with people who have meant so much to him, sometimes over the length of many years. It's a gift for the rest of us too, to witness the way in which dad has cultivated relationships with very different sorts of people and how he has been a vessel of God's love in his friendships.

Dad does hope to write again on the Ogler, but I'll continue to fill in for the days when he lacks the energy to write himself.

Friday, April 26, 2013

God, give me the words

This shorter blog post does not represent “throwing in the towel” but is an indication that it’s become increasingly difficult to sustain my concentration. I have so much to say, so much to grasp after, yet my mental and physical energy seems to dwindle away. And so I adjust, as we must all to infirmity, pain and weakness of all kinds. God may yet give me time, which we will see in the days ahead. My children have proved able, even impassioned blogger substitutes. I’m sure you will hear from them in the future in my absence.

This all comes up because I haven’t felt well in the past week. It’s pain and weakness mostly, and mental malaise. I can attribute this partly to the completion of radiation treatment of a spinal mass subsequent to everything else I've experienced in terms of symptoms and treatment. I’m wearing down. I finished 10 rounds of focused radiation on a spinal mass this past week and I hope to rebound as the swelling gradually subsides. The other effects of recent treatment will also continue to work out their effects.

I’m sleeping well, with only occasional headaches, and have enjoyed good visits with friends and family. More to come.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A place of springs

Guest blogger: Allison Ciraulo

Lord Jesus Christ, take all of my freedom, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All that I have and cherish You have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by Your holy will. Your grace and Your love are wealth enough for me. Give me only these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more. Amen.

This prayer, written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, seems a fitting one to pray during these days. While we've had more active moments, with a number of visitors and several meetings with the hospice team, most of the days this week were still pretty quiet. Dad had a bad headache Sunday night that left him in a fog for most of Monday, and other pains have ebbed and flowed throughout the week. We've spent quite a few hours together on the living room couch, all five of us with Nick home now. “Couch time,” as we affectionately refer to it, usually involves talking about life, processing things that are happening, and sometimes praying together as we did this morning.

This time spent together has been a great blessing. Our moments of prayer help to orient our days and keep us in God’s peace. This season of my dad’s life is a gift for all of us, but it’s not always easy to maintain that perspective. We need Jesus to invite us every day to continue the journey and we need to be reminded that we will be given everything we need in order to keep walking. We expect that there will continue to be challenges, both physical and emotional, in the coming days and weeks, but rest in the providence of God and in the comfort of one another’s companionship. We're also grateful for the friends and extended family members who are accompanying us so graciously, many of you reading this blog who have given of yourselves and helped to carry our burdens.

Gorgeous days like this also do a lot to lift our spirits. My dad and I spent the better part of an hour this afternoon puttering around the garden and doing some weeding. With the 4WD walker he was able to get around pretty well, perching on the walker seat to weed the raised beds. The temps are forecasted to be in the mid-70s through next week, so we are hoping to get plenty of good work done outside in the next few days.

My dad plans to continue sharing his journey with all of you through this blog, even if some posts come from yours truly filling in as guest blogger. Please stay tuned. This may indeed be the valley of the shadow of death, but God makes it a place of springs, a garden that blooms as surely as the springtime now unfolding before our eyes.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sloppy synapses

Well, the synapses are getting a little sloppy but I do want to keep writing while I can. Bear with me. I hold out hope for better days when I’m stronger of body and mind and can address something more substantial than this simple entry.

I have a final radiotherapy session tomorrow, after which I’m hoping some of my fatigue will begin to lift. I’m getting around OK with a walker these days; I intend to upgrade soon to the 4WD model (not wi-fi enabled). I’m not getting much exercise, but perhaps that will come as the nerves in my spine settle down and I become more comfortable again. I’ve had my meds adjusted so am back to sleeping well again at night. And I have no pain during the day. In sum, things aren’t too bad.

We signed up officially for hospice on Friday. This doesn’t change things much, other than making palliative care more immediately available, if needed. I’m relieved to know they can have a nurse here within minutes; the load for arranging for my medical care thus doesn’t fall totally on family. Plus I get massages at home on demand. What a deal.

Nick has wrapped up his job in Seattle, and will be arriving home tomorrow. The nest has suddenly filled back up—at just the right moment. As Ellen continues to work, with my complete approval, this assures that someone is around to help me out when I need it. I wouldn’t mind having the chauffeur service so much if it wasn’t mandatory.

I was able to get out yesterday and direct Allie and Jon with some weeding, as I’m not able to get anything done in the garden right now. Again, maybe soon. With the April showers and warm temps, the Oregon jungle is undergoing its annual rejuvenation. What a riot of fecundity. I can sit in my recliner and just watch the grass grow—figuratively speaking, at least.