Monday, February 4, 2013

This day

Why I love and miss my dad.

He loved to dance, because he was fun and because it made others smile.  He would dance anytime, anywhere.  Most memorably, on a family movie outing, he danced very slowly, while sick, down the aisle of the movie theater, across the front of the theater and out into the lobby with a finger in the air and without missing a beat.

My dad worked hard.  He loved to explore every creative option and test the boundaries.  He was not always liked for this progressive style, which makes me admire his work ethic all the more.  I wish I had that inner fortitude, to bravely ignore the norm and not cave under criticism.  While in between jobs, he never got down.  Instead he took what he could get, which was a job at a calling center with mostly college-age workers.  His trademark was always meeting or exceeding his quota of phone calls and passing out candy to the other workers. He was criticized for behaviors that seemed strange to others, but every day he continued to show up to work with a smile and with a pocketful of candy.  He was strong.

He cared deeply for others.  While my aunt was sick and needed surgery he desperately wanted to travel to Indiana and relay God’s love for her.  However, he was too sick to travel as this was in December of 2010, and he passed that following February.  Instead, he sent me, with a mission to care for her and to tell her about God’s love.  No pressure!  When I agreed to fly out there the glimmer in his eye communicated his deep excitement for how my aunt would be touched and for what God had in store.  While I was out there he left me a garbled voicemail about how much he knew that this was God’s will.  He trusted.

He welcomed the stranger.  In the last year of my dad’s life he went on a “project” kick.  In true dad form he was determined to make our house the best it could be.  He could not do the work on his own so he hired many workers who we came to know well because they were around a lot.  He could not always communicate what he wanted to them with words but every morning he would wake up, prepare coffee and lay out snacks for them so that they would all feel welcome and at home.  They became our family’s friends because they could feel this love and joy emanating from my dad, even though he could not always speak with them.

He loved me deeply.  His hugs were the best and became a very safe place for me.  A place that I still miss.  He wrote me poems, he painted me pictures, he told me I was beautiful, he danced with me, he took me out to breakfast, he met me at bookstores because he knew I liked to go there, he didn’t always understand me but he always offered me his arms, he played catch with me, when I was little he would buy me a pack up gum and a pink water gun every time he went to the hardware store, he was proud of me.  He was happy if I was happy.  That’s how I know he loved me.  He loved very, very well.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Of Blood, Death and Mystery

2 years and 2 days ago.

My daddy slipped into the early morning darkness
and was gone.
Only now does it feel easier to write about it.
There has been enough time,
enough revisiting of those places of pain
to now be able to see them and speak of them,
instead of being swallowed up by the enormity of their remembrances.

I was in an armchair
in the corner
in their bedroom.
Rolling and dreaming and watching and waking.
When would the moment arrive?
It was more than apparent that it would be this night.
With each waking moment,
taking note of the the new rhythms of his breath
turning more and more machine-like as the night waned on
As was I becoming, and had been for the entirety of that season.

My aunt, the nurse,
checking his heart rate and softly acknowledging what we already knew.
It had been her birthday, the day before.
But she spent it rolling and dreaming and watching and waking
with us.
Because that's what blood does.
When the waters heave
you bite down hard,
"grin and bear it",
do what you need to do,
get damaged by it all,
become forever changed
and hurt, hurt, hurt
Just to be near them,
and hold their hand
and check their heart beats
and sleep in their corners
and hope that you somehow help to lighten that impossible load
Even if it strips you raw to see it all, you do it.
Because their blood is your blood.

The moment came.

Light as air,
Heavy as dusk.

It is something that my mind still locks away in a cabinet labeled:
"Great Mystery"
There are no words for the normalcy and horrific nature of Death.
It is both ugly beast and natural life progression
that twists and bends to form one strange and mystical creature.
Something I too, will walk through one day.

But today,
life is normal.
And that is crazy.
More than is good.
Something so easily accepted now,
that felt so impossible then.

And in the Kingdom
Death is not the story most told or felt
for him or for you or for me.
It is one thread of reality
that gets masterfully woven into
one majestic garment worn by every
saint and sparrow,
star and seed,
that must fall down into ground
to grow into Life.

Alleluia and Amen.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Final Note

I don't think I can continue this blog.
I do not plan on posting anything else, but I will leave the blog up for those of you who would like to be able to continue reading back through it.
Again, thank you for all of your support, and all of the memories that you made and shared with us. We love you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Think on this...

On days I get down about everything my dad had to go through, and when my fears about what my dad experienced flare up, I think on these things:

-With the very first diagnosis in 2006 dad drove himself to the church, laid down in front of the cross and submitted himself to the will of God. His trust in His good Father never faltered once, even as other cancers came and went. He was strong and never feared.

-With the bad diagnosis of this past year dad said, "I want to fight, but I most want to help people." He was not fearfully grasping for his earthly life, like I was.

-When I would get "pushy" about holding out faith in God's miraculous healing for him, he would always say, with resolve, "if God says no, then that's okay too."

-Since the very beginning, he was okay with death. I know that he of course wanted to live, but much of the battling the past year was also done with his family in mind. He knew we weren't as okay with it as he was. Especially as he was experiencing me struggling and fighting with every piece of knowledge of faith or new medicine that I had, to save him. After he told me, through tears, that he was not going to fight anymore, he was very restless for the next two days. I kept hearing him say, "I tried..I tried.." I realized that he was probably worried that he had appeared as if he gave up. We reassured him, "You did great dad, you fought hard, thank you for all you did, you just get to rest now." With those reassurances he was able to step into the full acceptance of his life's transition. He came downstairs the next day and danced in the kitchen. Going to bed that night he called us to his door and gave us deliberate hugs goodnight and his restlessness disappeared. He really was okay.

-As the end drew near he became more and more detached from this world and began slipping through the veil of the next world. He talked often to himself, or to people we could not see, even responding to questions they would ask him. At one point I asked, "Is God talking to you dad?" He responded with, "Oh yeah." The last day my sister rubbed his face and he just looked up in wonder, proclaiming, "Wow", as if he could see the most marvelous things.

-I have another favorite image of him from his last days. I was sitting next to him and he had his eyes closed, as was common, but he slowly and triumphantly raised his left fist in the air. He looked focused and victorious. I awkwardly broke the mood by telling him he looked like the Statue of Liberty and he seemed to "snap" back to this world. But I love thinking of him as ultimately victorious. His name and my name both mean "crowned with Laurel leaves", as in crowned with VICTORY, like after having won a prize.


Saturday, March 13, 2010


A woman from my parent's church wrote a neat article for the Star that included dad in it. You can find it here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stay Tuned

This blog has been hard for me to come back to, but I would really like to continue posting memories and lessons from my dad. I think I need just a little distance from all of this for a little while longer. But stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thank You

We want to thank you for honoring dad and our family with your presence at the celebration service last night. So many people came that when we entered the sanctuary I heard my mom gasp a little. You all filled the church and literally took my mom's breath away :-) So many people offered their support that I told mom that I don't think she has to ever worry about doing ANYTHING on her own! We are certainly surrounded.

We are realizing that much of our grief had climaxed before dad's actual passing, so in some ways his passing was easier for us then for some of our friends. There is still a very present aching, just not quite as visceral as it had been throughout. Soon we will begin learning the "re-footing" aspect of the whole process, and what our new normal will come to look like on a day to day basis. Not that we seek to forget, but that we will seek to press in to the full future that God has for us, a future not burdened with timidity or fear of any kind. The future that dad dreamed we would have.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Celebration Service

Thank you so much for your support of who my dad is and his healing...which he received early Thursday morning. We smile when we think of dad with full walking, talking and thinking abilities, praising the Father along with his parents.

There will be a celebration service on Monday, February 8, 2010 at 7:00 pm at Community Covenant Church (15700 W 87th Street, Lenexa, KS)

Come and celebrate Larry's life on earth and the eternal Life that he is living out right now.
The Heidebrecht Women

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Larry J Heidebrecht
August 16, 1949-February 4, 2010

Larry passed away gently at 4:15 this morning with his family surrounding him.
Here's to a life full of Love, Joy and Fun.
Details about his celebration service will be posted soon.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Our Protector

Today dad continued to "interact" with us in sweet, but slight ways. Although, we all agreed that his eyes do seem a little more vacant. Throughout the day he has at least one of us holding his hand because he seems to like the "anchor" that this provides, and possibly also just knowing that we are near. My mom's parents are here and are such a support as they hug, cook, clean and answer the doorbell whenever it rings. My mom's sister and my mom's close friend also camp out in dad's room with us and create an all-encompassing feel in the room. Dad peacefully rests and occasionally we can get him to make eye contact with us or blow a sweet little kiss. I felt a little extra teary today, but not in a completely sad way. Emotions are funny as they can be a whole mix of different things. There was some sadness for his physical condition, some tenderness towards who he is and has been, some joy for what his eternal future is bringing, some anxiousness about "the end"...all combined in one. We all agree that this is a very surreal time.

Mom reminded us today of one of dad's trademark characteristics as "protector". This would play out in a number of sweet, but humorous ways. For example, all three of us would find ourselves having to explain to any friend who happened to open the trunks to our cars, what exactly the suspicious looking large and bulky suitcase was doing back there. Dad had compiled a suitcase full of road safety items for each of our cars, packed them in suitcases and stuffed them in our trunks. These items included things like tire pumps, extra gloves, flares, light-reflectant road triangles, "Call 911" signs, and much, much more! He did not take our safety lightly.

He also bought knives for Lyndsay and I. He gave them to us "secretly" and told us not to worry mom about it. He showed us where to keep it in our cars and how we could whip it out quickly in case of an attack. It felt laughable storing these weapons in our cars, much less to imagine ever using them. But he was insistent and we appreciated it. Of course we both went to mom to tell on dad and how he had just equipped us with dangerous weapons. But later mom told us that he had come clean to her himself!

He loved us well.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Dad is doing much better today. He talks to us and opens his eyes and even sits up with our help. What a strange time this is...

There are some fun things from this past year that we wanted to share with you.
We like to call them "Dad-isms". With his language and reasoning abilities inhibited, some things dad would say and do became sweetly apart of who he is. Some little things he taught us this year:

-Dad taught us that you could cook anything in the microwave simply by pushing the "Potato" button...and then watching it until it seemed done. Amazing!
-When something was too difficult, we learned that we could just "leave it a go".
-When something was really important, you could simply respond by widening your eyes and saying, "HUGE!" This gets the message across quickly and concisely.
-If you need anything at all, you can just stop by Home Depot! We (along with dad's friends) would end up driving him to Home Depot about 3-4 times a week. He loved it. When he couldn't think of the name of the place he wanted to go, we could suggest Home Depot and be correct 95% of the time.
-His favorite snacks varied through out the year. In the beginning he loved huge, pecan cinnamon rolls. But they were too huge to eat at once, and he couldn't say "cinnamon roll" so we learned that when he asked for a "half" that he was wanting a half of a roll.
-He got tired of cinnamon rolls and moved onto Oreos. Whenever he would go to the store he would by multiple packages of various types of Oreos. We learned that when he asked for "two" he was wanting to examine his Oreo "buffet" and choose two cookies.
-If he got tired he could just pop a couple "happies", the name for what he would call his pain killers. They pepped him right back up and helped him be himself again.

Although markers of his illness, these things helped us have fun and smile about this whole thing throughout the year. Dad taught us especially how to do that.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Story

After an unusually restful nights sleep we awoke to find dad in the same position that he fell asleep in the night before. It seems that he has gone into a kind of comatose state, although he does respond to his name and move his limbs. This is certainly a step closer to the end, but also possibly a blessing of peaceful rest for him. Church and neighborhood friends stopped by with offerings of support and short visits with dad. What blessings the body of Christ is able to offer.

When we think of this blog, our desire is for it to honor dad and his heart. So, in honor of him I want to share a story with you that he has always loved.

I was a senior in high school and starting to think about which college to attend in the Fall. To help narrow the decision, my dad and I took a visit out to another high school that was hosting colleges from all over the area, for seniors to take a look at. As we were driving he asked me where I thought I would want to go. I replied with a couple of Bible colleges that I had looked at, then said "Anywhere but K-State." He nodded in agreement, but what I didn't realize at the time was that his mission then became to change my mind. He was an Ag guy and was of course a fan of any Ag school, especially one close to home.

We arrived and began browsing. After lots of looking, and feeling no more decisive then when I had arrived, we stopped walking directly in front of an auditorium. The doormen seemed to just be closing the doors, but looked up at my dad and I and asked, "The presentation is about to begin, would you folks like in?" With such a last minute offer I felt the pressure to comply before I even realized what school was being presented. I quickly asked what school it was, and they replied proudly with, "K-State!" Dad smiled unabashedly as they ushered us in. Dad led the way, walking past every open seat in every row, until we reached two perfectly placed seats, front row and center.

As the information was presented my heart began to soften towards this Ag school, out in the middle of what felt like "nowhere" to a Johnson County raised teenager. As I soaked up the information, above my head dad was launching his next ploy to win me over to K-State. He began making "eyes" at the presenter who was sitting on stage. Dad's eyebrows began to raise as his head motioned in my direction, non-verbal signals telling this guy to "hook me". The presentation ended and to my surprise the head presenter marched right off the stage, down the stairs and came right over to shake my hand. "Weird," I thought, but how nice that he wanted to meet me. He proceeded to answer any question I had and continued to sell me on the school. Not wanting to over commit myself I mentioned, "Well, I was really actually looking at attending a Bible College." The man didn't skip a beat as he launched into information about "A great little bible college right across the street from K-State. People can even get a dual degree from both schools!"

After the meeting dad and I walked out of the auditorium and I remarked, "K-State really does seem like a neat school." He nodded calmly in agreement, but if I would've looked up at him I know that I would've seen that knowing smile on his face.

Thus the vision was set in my heart, and I proceeded to attend K-State and Manhattan Christian College for the next 5 1/2 years, loving the schools more and more with each passing year. Dad knew just what he was doing when he helped point me in that direction. Thanks dad.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How's my hair?

Dad doesn't do much of anything on his own these days. The tumor has affected his ability to put words together in a way that makes sense. It has also impacted the control he has over the right side of his body, his reasoning and even his vision. His coughing and low energy have resulted in him only being able to speak in a whisper. So everything he does, he has at least one of us helping him do it.

But it was really sweet the other day when, after mom had combed down his hair, he reached his hands out to be able to complete a familiar ritual, on his own. At first we weren't sure what he was reaching for, but soon we realized that he was looking for his brush for one hand, and his hand-held mirror for the other hand. Mom placed both in his outstretched hands and, to the best of his ability, he held that small mirror up and checked the back of his hair in the larger bathroom mirror, letting the brush clumsily roll over the parts that needed brushing. This is something we've seen him do for years, without a second thought. And to watch him do it now, it is just so sweetly familiar that we can't help but smile and love him even more.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


My dad has always been sweet, but over this past year his sweetness towards us seemed to grow.

While my mom was at work one morning he called her phone and left a voice mail just to let her know that he was having a great day, that he loved her and that it was a "day of love." My mom started her job this year and she had to dress up for it. Every morning he pointed his finger at her and reminded her strongly, "Remember, you are beautiful." He also would leave little love notes in her lunches, for her to find on her lunch breaks.

My dad and I took a trip to Texas in November, to attend an Andrew Wommack conference. He was sure to reserve an afternoon for us to catch a shuttle to the nearest mall. His mission was to buy me something special. After looking in a few stores we came across this special purchase: A pair of leather boots. I didn't own any boots at the time. I tried them on, they were rolled down at the top, and his eyes lit up. "Those are beautiful!" he exclaimed. He had me put my foot up on the stool in front of him and he unrolled the top and demonstrated how they could work in the snow too. We were both excited as he happily purchased them for me.

He worked hard this past year to finish our unfinished basement. He designed a portion of it with my sister and her artistic gifts in mind. She was a painting major, and he was all for seeing her succeed with her talents. He created a studio just for her, researching the best kinds of ventilation and lighting. Knowing how she likes her privacy when painting, he created this special area just for her. What a gift.

Dad allowed God's love to soften his heart through this whole process, when he could've done quite the opposite. I am so grateful for his openness to our Father.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fun and Gratitude

Even though dad has been sleeping a lot, every time he wakes up he checks to make sure that we're having fun. I reassure him, "Yep, I'm watching a fun movie!" or "I'm eating a great snack!" Then he smiles in satisfaction and closes his eyes again. As long as we are happy, he is happy.

A couple days ago he was feeling really good so he had me sit down and write out some of his thoughts. The "translating" was difficult and I'm not sure I captured exactly what he was thinking, but everything I read back to him he loved. The result was a paper full of gratitue towards the people who have helped us, and plans for helping others in the future.

The deep love and gratitude in his heart continues to blow me away.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Good Morning

After a couple of rough days dad woke up more like himself yesterday. He seems back on his "fun track" and has expressed it with pranks, jabs and lots of laughs.
This morning mom went to pick up our Aunt Wendy at the airport, so I sat in their room with dad. We enjoyed Carrie Underwood singing on the Today show. He remarked, "Ohh, I like her. She's pretty." He ate a good breakfast of muffins and coffee, which ended up all down his shirt so we promptly changed him into a new shirt. He fell asleep after breakfast until Aunt Wendy entered the room. He awoke with a confused look on his face, asking "Who are you? What's your name?" I was quick to try and set him right by explaining, "This is mom's sister, this is Aunt Wendy." Before I realized, a smile had slowly crept onto his face and he shouted, "GOTCHYA!"
Good old dad, we never know quite what to expect :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

An Anomaly

Although his journey is coming to an end, truly my dad made this year a beautiful year. One thing that the doctor remarked to him was, "Larry, you are truly an anomaly. With the kind of cancer, and as much of it as you have, you should not be walking, talking, thinking, or planning." All of which he has done, defying the odds of his diagnosis.

We surely have had a special grace resting on us this year.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Visitors Beware!

Dad's balance has been off lately so everywhere he goes he has one of us hanging on to the back of his shirt, to stabilize him. So we were in for a surprise when mom's good friend, Mindy stopped in for a visit tonight. In typical dad style, his tail started wagging as soon as the doorbell rang. Mindy entered, dad spontaneously stood up and began charging our unsuspecting friend.
We shouted after him, "Dad? Dad! DAD!!!"
His legs wobbled, his head led the way and his body slammed awkwardly into hers, resulting in a headlock type of hug and a very shocked Mindy.
After more embraces, laughter and teasing the overzealous greeting finally ended. Dad plopped down on the couch next to me, smiled slyly and said, "I have fun!"
Yes you do dad, yes you do.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The grace to carry on

One of the things that has struck our family the most about how dad has handled his sickness is the absolute GRACE with which he has accepted every circumstance put in front of him. Dad was a self-made business man, straight off the farm of Oklahoma. He struggled to succeed, but succeed he did. He rose to a top CEO of a business, and when that fell through cooked up his own business, which he managed from home.
However, with the diagnosis of brain cancer, his limitations were soon realized. The tumor affects things like his ability to speak, balance, and reason. In the beginning he pushed through, trying to keep up with "business as usual", but surrendering when communication proved too difficult. This did not get him down because he soon designated our home as his new mission. He has worked, and hired others to work, to update our 20 year-old home to look like new. He began saving mom's grocery store receipts so that when we were able to drive him to the store he would know just what to buy. He loved providing for us. As his reasoning and balance became more difficult he realized he needed to surrender house work as well.
He has since taken up the responsibility of, "fun", which is such a blessing to our family. He justifiably could have taken up "anger", "despondency", or "depression", but he has submitted to God's grace working within him and continues through this process with laughter, kindness, joy, and the single-minded intent to spread the love.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Brand New

Dad has been coughing a lot lately and after a tough night of continued coughing, he was drowsy this morning...UNTIL the doorbell rang!
We have been expecting a furniture delivery that dad has helped to plot and plan, for our sitting room. When the doorbell rang at 9:30 this morning dad went from closed eyes, sleeping and completely covered, to eyes wide with excitement, shouting my mom's name with two fists pumping in air. THIS is the dad I know so well :-) I ran into the bedroom to find his utter excitment as I helped him out of bed. Three young men were already moving furniture into our house as he was sure to greet each one of them. No matter his state, his welcomes are always so warm. As they moved and manuvered the furniture he stood in the kitchen expressing his excitement with each new piece that came through the door.
After it was all arranged he sat at our new table plotting and planning new ideas for different arrangements and set ups. He is a BIG ideas person and never fails to come up with ideas that rock the boat just a little :-)
Finally satisfied with the furniture, he laid down on our couch. From the other room I heard him turn to Lyndsay and tell her, "I feel brand new". What a statement for someone whose speech is impeded and who just had a long night.
He is simply unconquerable.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


This is a blog dedicated to documenting the love, faith and joy of my dad, Larry.
Currently in his third battle with cancer he has learned how to live in the overwhelming peace of God that tells him always that "everything will be ok".
He is fighting this battle with a spirit of absolute joy that comes out in his public dance moves, his sweet "i love yous" told to his wife and daughters, and many other ways.
His joy is unconquerable and he has a strong desire to let the world know that they can have this joy too. This is our way of letting the world know.
God is the source of his joy, and in all things God's love will outshine any darkness we face.
He is a blessing and I am here to tell you about the ways he inspires me, and to inspire you to live in Love as well.

Please feel free to leave your comments for Larry!