Letters and Stuff from Dad

Tuesday March 29, 2005

Tributes, comments and feedback with our sincere gratitude

Hi again everyone.

Over the past several days slowly we have been getting our acts together and sorting and organizing numerous items. In the course of doing we have all encountered messages and cards with a myriad of tributes to Jacq ueline, and kind words to Doug and the rest of us whose lives she is so much a huge part of forever. Not to be boastful we would just like to share some things which our sons, and that includes Doug, and their wonderfully supportive partners, may be reading for the first time. ..and then there are the over 200 messages on her website.

In no particular they are as follows:

Sometime ago Jacq had a name analysis done. "The name Jacq ueline creates an overly-sensitive nature which causes you to sense and feel far more than you can understand or put into words. You have a deep, artistic, and creative side which shows through a love of music and literature. Writing is a more natural mode of expression for your deeper thoughts and feelings than the spoken word. You have the ability to concentrate and work intently on anything which holds your interest. However, you prefer to avoid routine, monotonous and mental tasks. You enjoy the out-of-doors and find your greatest peace and relaxation from the beauty and harmony of nature. You prefer to limit your friendships and associations to those who share your interests and appreciate your quiet, refined ways. Others often find it difficult to understand you. Your feelings tend to build up in you and, if you cannot release them through a creative, constructive channel, you could suffer with frustration, moods and much inner turmoil." ( Wow ?)

" Jacq deserves a medal for her efforts to rid herself of this affliction. Where Diana and Wally find the energy sometimes is beyond our comprehension but I guess it is just part of being good parents who are equally fortunate to have great friends and family members who have all come forward with their help , caring and prayers."

"You are an absolutely great family. You are a real example of how it must be. What a lovely tribute to a wonderful young lady. "

'Thank you for all your warmth, kindness and hospitality during a difficult time. You will be in our hearts and thoughts."

"I feel a need to keep in touch with you as you have been so kind and generous to keep us all informed of any news."

"Bravo to the princess who didn't think she was "

" Jacq certainly tried .like a true Cherwaty. Now she is no longer in pain but she will always be in our hearts and minds."

"I feel privileged to have been a friend of Jacq . You should be proud of the woman she became...a true fighter and a wonderful person."

'I was very honored to take part in Jacq uie's celebration of life."

"There is a saying that when a person leaves this life a part of us goes with them because each person brings out a part of ourselves that no one else can. A big part of me left with Jacq uie."

"She came into our lives and never asked for a place but rather just carved out a niche in our hearts. "

"With every e-mail I'm getting with excessive thanks (i.e. for the web site ) I wonder that much more if each of you know how appreciated you are for staying up late endless nights, going to numerous appts ., washing, driving for days, taking weeks off work, bathing , cleaning, calling, researching, cooking , feeding, nursing, fetching, buying, talking , joking, planning and comforting, not to mention the trillion other efforts everyone including myself is indebted to you for."

" Words cannot eloquently say how I and many of your friends have admired your courage in caring for Jacq uie..and that web site.what a tribute to a sister, daughter and great women of courage. "

"I can't seem to remember a time when Jacq wasn't in my life.."

"God gave us a beautiful little girl and now unfortunately he needs her back and I can think of no more wonderful place than where she is___ at peace, perhaps tending to rescued Golden Retrievers."

"I feel as if I was right along side you throughout this ordeal."

"I have learned a great deal from all of you. You are very warm, strong, open-minded, thoughtful, caring and accepting of what life dishes out."

Jacq really hasn't gone anywhere: she will be with each of us forever. "

"I can't fathom the pain of losing your lovely daughter but clearly the suffering she endured was more than you would want for her"

'Now, you who deeply feel its loss, be comforted. The rose blooms there. Its beauty even greater now, nurtured by God's loving care " ( from The Rose Beyond The Wall )

"If I were ever in your painful shoes I hope that I could respond in such a positive and Christian manner. You were not only lucky to have such a daughter. I cannot imagine anyone dying with more support and love from family and friends."

"You guys, all of you, are a real inspiration and a role model for us all. "

"God gave us memories so that we can smell roses in December. Every once in a while we are fortunate to share our lives with someone very special like Jacq uie."

"The real comfort comes in knowing that we've cared and we've invested ourselves and we've loved. "

"Do not think of me as gone..I am still with you...in each new dawn."

"The one you loved so much is safe within God's care and you are safe within the love of those who care so much for you. "

" Jacq uie's life was such an expression of love and service to others that her memory will always be here for those whose lives she touched. "

"We feel we know her because of all your messages..her courage, her strength and the love of her family. "

"She was a wonderful person, a great friend, and a true inspiration to others facing cancer."

"Love each other and know she's in the best hands and He does a great job. She'll be well looked after. "

"I feel so lucky that I was one of the fortunate ones to have Jacq as part of my life. "

"The three of you have had a rare gift this past year. Wow, I felt it every time I saw you all together and apart. "

"Never having siblings, some of my treasured moments growing up were with the cousins. You always made time when we were younger, Jacq uie."

Once again we are indeed blessed to have such caring e family members and friends to help us cope with these difficult days and we want all our children and Doug's family as well to know just some of the wonderful expressions of admiration not only for Jacq uie but for them as well.

"You done good , daughter dearest. "

With warmest regards, Diana and Wally for our families


Monday March 21, 2005

Hi there.

Well, the emotional roller coaster/ teeter totter ride is finally slowing down and the adrenalin has seemed in short supply all day. We think Molly and Grant took all ours with them this a.m. to the airport about 7:45 !

As much as many of you were here either for a visitation or the funeral service or to the house before or after there are others who could not be here for us of course. So please bear with "Old Practical One" for a few minutes while I describe our eventful past week..which in hindsight seems like a few short hours. Monday and Tuesday were a blur of visits/ phone calls etc making all the arrangements for Jacq 's farewell, originally scheduled for Wed., but wisely delayed until Fri. Finally we began the formal process with almost 3 ½ hours of visitors Wed. evening.over 200 individuals with lines forming outside the chapel a good ½ hour before. That night alone there were people from mine and Diana's high school years, university and nursing classes, practically every school I worked at, Di's work unit , the kids' grade and high school and community college classes, former teachers, coaches and scout leaders, working colleagues and clients of both Jacq and Doug, neighbors and family members..at least 10 of whom drove up from Hamilton Wed. alone...not to mention numerous golfing friends from various clubs in the city.

Our Graham had prepared, somewhat heroically, almost an album of 20-24 selected 8 x 11 pictures and a 20 minute DVD culled from the 100 or so family albums we have and other sources. He could not have slept much to be sure. The DVD is still available gratis to anyone who makes a contribution to one of Jacq 's cancer causes. Just let him or me know. The crowds who gathered around the TV set were regularly laughing or going, " AAHHH ! " quite noisily but who cared. We knew Jacq wouldn't mind. A few even came back to the house and gabbed well past midnight.

Thursday afternoon in honor of that other celebrity of note we all went casual and in green and even considered having the funeral director add an " O " in front her name in the hall. He would have but the mothers decided against it..so much for a celebration. The numbers (in total over 700 ) continued both in the afternoon and at night until reluctantly we left to rest up for Friday's emotional endurance test. A particularly interesting and very tender moment occurred when Jacq 's former husband Mike Szabo appeared, met Doug for the first time and they embraced warmly .and they were the last to leave her casket at closing with Mike staying in the background.

Tiny St. Anne's Church in Byron , capacity 125 - 150 , was overwhelmed with standing room only in both aisles and the sanctuary as well and the guests spilled outside where we were told a group of 20 or so went to a nearby Tim Horton's to return for the brief reception in the parish hall. The service cried out for a videotape as there was one highlight after another..starting with the minister who showed me a side of him I had never seen before. Jacq 's friends, namely her mother-by-love, a wonderful colleague from work and a lifelong girlfriend of over 30 years all helped to say farewell as did her brother Greg and her uncle Richard who gave a heartfelt eulogy to be followed by an absolutely enchanting tearful fairytale written by Doug back in March to Jacq and read by the minister. It was titled. "The Princess who didn't think she was. " I wanted to stand up and applaud but my better half prevented me.

The reception was a mass of hugs and kisses and wonderful memory-laden anecdotes.another blur. I must have just glimpsed at a dozen people who were gone before I knew it. Then it was back to our house where close and out of town friends and family were invited with the understanding that we would be hosting informal open houses both Sat. and Sun.for any else who cared to join us...that announcement was somehow missed.

Throughout it all the boys jumped in without a blink and we thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful family celebration. Regrettably and tearfully Greg and his crew were off mid-evening Sun. and Graham as well and last but not least Grant and Molly flew home this a.m. Our night-owl of a son-by-love Doug crashed til after noon and then he , Adele ( his mom ) and Di were off to their condo to pack up a few things .one room at a time. Plans are in the works for Doug's brother ,Tyler ,to purchase it, I believe. Doug will here and there until he decides where he wants to settle down... AND father-by-love was up to his proverbial butt in paper work, cards, phone calls and legal matters. Since they took Samson with them it seemed more funereal here today than at the chapel with just the occasional phone call. ..and tomorrow it will be more of the same.and then I have to finish Doug and Jacq 's taxes.. GGGRRRR !

Needless to say there has been a galaxy of stories of kindnesses and affection and love what with so many friends from all our pasts popping up whenever and cards overflowing from our mailbox..but one I incident must share. Wed.evening among the first visitors was one of Grant's very best friends from high school Scott Konopka and Andrea his lovely wife of a few years.I concluded he was there for Grant and the emotion clearly evident was for us, only to learn that his wife's father had passed away that very morning..That, my friends, is true heroism in my view. There are numerous other warm, funny , amusing remembrances to be sure not to mention the countless anecdotes of the things Jacq had done in her too short life for family , friends and colleagues as well as clients.

In closing may I say on behalf all my family how honored we felt by your responses in our times of need and for the wonderful farewell party you provided for our Jacq ueline. Thank you seems so inadequate.


With warmest regards,

Wally and Diana, Doug, Greg and Lori, Keaton and Cierra , Grant and Molly , Graham and Melanie, Adele and Jim and our respective families. Samson misses her dearly and says. " Arf ".

P.S. Those of you with whom I was not able to speak I sincerely hope to call or meet you again some day soon

P.P.S Gr'am and Mel are here. So di will be in touch later..


Monday March 14, 2005

Hi everyone.

If all the previous updates were difficult, this is by far the most difficult of them all. Our beloved Jacq ueline / our Jacobi / our sexy little " broadio " is no longer with us in body. After a wretched day of constant pain especially in her legs ( a new development ) and visits from both the respiratory therapist and the VON , just when she was showing signs of settling down for a somewhat more restful sleep , all hell broke loose and in less than an hour she was gone.' No heroic measures "was her wish as well as dying here with us at home and so , to quote the attendant doctor , "her final passing was successful".

Although there is any number of possible explanations for it all the bottom line was that the disease was so far advanced that her various functions were all severely affected beyond repair. Diana, Doug, Doug's mom, Graham , Melanie and I were here with her as she drifted away about 8:30 Sunday evening. The doctor, the VON, and a respiratory therapist were here to complete the paper work and the funeral director came near 11:00. We will be meeting with him later today to work out the arrangements as well as the church service. As she has requested she will be cremated and her ashes will be interred in the little cemetery beside Ste. Anne's Anglican Church in Byron with "something" to follow. Knowing Doug and Adele I expect we will be considering a more appropriate type of memorial/ celebration later in the summer perhaps.

Last evening alone we had several wonderful friends drop everything and be here with us until nearly 2:30, and 6:30 this a.m. seemed earlier than normal. We are all functioning on adrenalin to be sure...which we are channeling effectively. Poor Diana , as if she doesn't have enough on her plate , she has developed laryngitis and yet has labored with various phone calls ..as have all of us. There are obviously too many of you to call individually and , even if you have heard from another source , we wanted to let you know once again how much your love and support means to us all and to share our love for you.

As soon as we know anything concrete we will pass it on...Time out!

Well, just got off the phone with Ste. Anne's pastor and subject to specifics it looks like visitations will be Tuesday, the funeral service will be Wed. afternoon. Hopefully we can get an obituary in the paper with details as well. Speaking off the top of my head charitable donations would be appreciated to the Canadian Cancer Society, the London Regional Cancer Clinic, LHSC Adult Oncology unit and The Wellspring Centre to list a few. The very thought of visiting all these wonderful, caring people is almost overwhelming but in time we will see to it, God willing.

I'm asking both Diana and Doug to take a few minutes to read this and hopefully add their thoughts as well. For now , it's Jacq ueline's credo , " Okay, where do we go from here? Let's get on with it. "


This is Doug and I have just read the letter Mr. C. wrote and you can definitely tell he's a teacher of languages. I don't really have that gift so I will just try and tell you what I know in the easiest words I have.

I love Jacq .

That's all I really ever needed to know. I can't seem to remember a time anymore that Jacq wasn't in my Life. I think that everyone I know who met Jacq was better off for it.

Jacq inspired me to do great things. There was no where I couldn't go, nothing I couldn't do as long as I had her with me. When I look back on all the things in my life so far that I am proud of, they all were a result of her.

I'm not a very religious person, but my boxing coach used to tell his fighters "2 Timothy 4:7" before a fight. For the longest time I didn't even bother to go looking to see what those words meant. When I did I found, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

I am a better man for having had the privilege to be the husband of such a great woman. I now know what courage is. I know where inner strength comes from. I know how to love.

Thank you, Jacq . I love you.


It's my turn and what can I say?

My heart is aching but my tears are of a strange happiness as I have kept the promises that I made to Jacq ueline a few weeks ago and again a few days ago that whatever she wanted she would have .She was afraid that if she had to go back to the hospital for anything that they wouldn't let her come back home again. I told her that if she wanted to be at home then this is where she would be in her beloved sunroom .She had sunny days ,her family near her and her beloved sidekick Samson lying right at her side right until she left with the angels. I will truly miss her happy smile , her wit and her friendship which grew ever stronger as she grew older. She was so happy in her marriage and Doug loved her to pieces and was a truly great husband and partner to her. I often told her that he would walk on water for her and she knew that and was so grateful for him. A beautiful life gone too soon, but I am so grateful that I ( we all in our family ) had her for 39 years .I couldn't believe the doctor 39 years ago when he said "You have a wee little girl and she's perfect" and I am having trouble comprehending that now she is gone. But what I do know is that I fulfilled my part of the bargain or promise and that she is in a place where her valiant struggle and hateful pain that came to visit her in the last couple of days is now over and she can sleep in peace

.I will miss you my dear Jacq ueline ,you were and are a brave girl but I have learned a great deal from you and will be stronger for it. To our friends there is little that I can say except thank you for all your support and your presence and for being there for us now and in the past and I know that you will be there for us down the road. God gave me a beautiful girl and now unfortunately he needs her back and I can think of no more wonderful place than where she is ---at peace perhaps tending to rescued Golden Retrievers. We will see each other again-

I love you my sweet angel---Mom.

Take care. All of us.

P.s. Tho ' many of you have already learned of Jacq 's passing we wanted you to know of our feelings at this difficult time and definitely include you in our thoughts. To those of you are learning of this just now we are sorry to have to do so at all and know that you would want to know ASAP


Tuesday March 8, 2005 9PM

Hi again.

We have meant to write sooner but it has been just too hectic..almost a blur.. without the calendar and others to help . The weekend was a mess/mass of phone calls, visitors and visits to the unit where Jacq ueline was moved into a very large private room where she was treated royally..we were even allowed to bring Samson and Regi in for a time Sunday night ... until Monday p.m. when she was indeed allowed to come home to the Inn @ 697. The list of callers both physically, by phone and by the internet has been amazing and heartwarming..over 80 + hits alone at the website Graham has created. While we were waiting, first to hear IF she was coming home, and then WHEN , Grant was nice enough to drive me ( Dad the WIMP) over to have a tooth extracted which went beautifully with minimal side effects.am eating normally already.

Then the fun began. She arrived about 7:00 p.m.by Voyageur and was no sooner very kindly deposited when the VON supervisor was here and after oodles of paper work and phone calls later Jacq was off to bed in the back room where Doug slept beside her on the couch..Diana's turn tonight. Today was another day where a turnstile would have helped with 5 different support services personnel in and out ( to continue for a month if necessary ) and numerous friends and family even as I write. Everyone has been super helpful giving us all time to do our things as well. Grant and Molly were treated to dinner by Graham and Melanie to celebrate his achieving his Class A mechanic status just before he left to come here. After we shooed the last couple of visitors out near 7:00 we had a quiet supper thanks to our good friends Kriss and Vern Smith ...and now it has started again ... a girl friend here and yet another on the phone..and the others are just now back from dinner.

Needless to say we are either walking on eggs or on air depending on Jacq 's swings. She is still very fragile, on oxygen and numerous meds, and more chemotherapy is ahead of her. A very distended abdomen is another concern to be addressed on Thursday when we return to the LRCC for yet another assessment...and, believe it or not, we are literally booking visits for Wed. and beyond.. Greg and Lori, with or without the kids, will be here either briefly Wed. evening or on Sat., while Grant and Molly continue to be available somewhat indefinitely for now...Thank heavens as they have been real troopers and taken on any number of things. ..and Graham and Mel have been available at any time also.

So for now at least there is "some joy" in the Inn We have always maintained that a full house was a happy house and in many ways that is still very true. But...

Once again we thank you all for all your care and loving support.

Wally and the gang @ 697

Saturday, April 2, 2005