For once, I was ‘drivin’ the bus'

We were excited! It had been last fall since The Outdoors Guy and I were at our kids’ cabin in Barnes, WI, north of Hayward.
Jon, Sara and our grandsons, Jackson and Bryson, had invited us for Mother’s Day Weekend.
But, it was also a celebration of The Outdoors Guy’s sixth anniversary of a continued clean bill of health since he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer May 8, 2015. God has blessed him and our family in ways we could not have imagined since that day. One in particular: He is in the company of only 2% of pancreatic cancer patients to survive this dreaded disease.
Naturally, there was some reminiscing about Grampa’s battle and also when, on Labor Day Weekend 2017, he had a stroke while we were at the cabin. It was a frightening time for all of us as we stood in the Hayward Memorial Hospital parking lot with nightfall closing in, watching Grampa being lifted by helicopter bound for United Hospital in St. Paul.
But, The Outdoors Guy is a fighter who hasn’t been ready to give up the battle. Part of this is due to the incredible strength God has given him throughout his journey and his remarkable team of doctors and staff.
Throughout the weekend, there was the usual ebb and flow reminiscing about the good-times/frightening times we have experienced together in the past six years. But, we were also excited to see the latest addition to the cabin, a new pontoon boat. What fun it was to have Jon, Sara and the boys show us the many features it sports. Then, Jackson, age 13, who, at the insistence of Grampa, passed online boater’s safety with flying colors earlier this spring, took us for a spin around the lake.
Then, Saturday evening, Jon said something I wasn’t expecting, “Mother’s going to drive the pontoon.”
“WHAT?!!! I exclaimed. I’ve never even piloted a fishing boat, much less a pontoon boat.” Still, why not? I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, especially when it comes from the kids and grandkids!
Jackson showed me the ropes. I started off slow and tenuous, but gained confidence as we went. I found it was easy to handle and an enjoyable experience. I told everyone, “I can’t wait to tell “B” (my sister, Brenda) that I piloted a pontoon!!!” Laughter echoed across the lake!!!
We never know where life is going to take us. There is good and bad, joy and sorrow, but God has it all wrapped up in one precious life story for each of us to accept and embrace no matter what life throws our way. And, when it does, have faith God is riding on the bus (or pontoon) right along with us!!!














It Hurts

This week I was saddened to learn of Mike Kearns death. I did not know Mike well, but The Outdoors Guy did.
Although they worked in different media, Mike was on the airwaves and Bob was a writer, the two of them spent many years and countless hours traveling together to cover sporting events.
Mike was a lifesaver for Bob because he was always “drivin’ the bus” while Bob banged out the game story on his manual typewriter as they rolled down yet another highway from yet another game in more cities than The Outdoors Guy, Mike, or our families would care to remember.
For me, it was always a relief to know Bob was in Mikey’s capable hands on the road. I would have worried a whole lot more had I known Bob was staying late at a school to write his game story, call it in, and then return home much later into the night than he did with Mike at the wheel.
The two of them shared an abundance of sports history that I know Bob cherishes and will hold forever close to his heart. We are forever grateful they could be media rivals, yet comrades united by the love of sports.
My deepest condolences to Dawn, all of Mike’s family, and to his many friends and radio fans.
Blessed be Mike’s memory.

Also see "How do I tell an old friend goodbye?" - Bob's Blog at https://boblamboutdoors.com/index.php/bob-s-blog/2856-how-do-i-say-goodbye-to-an-old-friend.html

The Outdoors Guy is ‘Flourishing!!!’

Two weeks ago, The Outdoors Guy had his regular blood work,  CT scan and then an appointment with his oncologist, Dr. Paula Gill of Mayo Clinic, La Crosse to review the results.
Since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer May 8, 2015, he has periodic tests and CT scans every six months to be sure the tumor hasn’t once again reared it’s ugly head.
Unbelievably, it is nearing the six-year mark since his diagnosis and he is still going strong. Once again, test results were excellent and his appointment with Dr. Gill went well, too.
According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or PanCan, Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., behind only lung cancer and colorectal cancer. It was expected to become the second-leading cause after lung cancer around 2020. The overall five-year survival rate from pancreatic cancer is only 9 percent.
Another interesting fact: Pancreatic cancer is the ninth-most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the 10th-most commonly diagnosed in men.
PanCAN states the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients increased from 6 to 9 percent between 2014 and 2017. PanCAN also notes that although it seems like scant progress, a 3 percentage point rise means more than 1,700 people across the country survived five years when they would not have three years earlier. Amazingly, The Outdoors Guy is included in that statistic!
As he nears his six-year anniversary, The Outdoors Guy continues to find joy in the simple things in life, namely being out in nature on a daily basis. When he says he’s going to the boathouse, I think to myself, “Let. Him. Go!!!” Besides God and family, it is the next best thing to have kept him alive!
An added bonus is yesterday when he had his first COVID vaccination with the second to follow in three weeks.
No one can predict the future. But, our family has had more “future” with The Outdoors Guy than we ever thought possible nearly six years ago!
Dr. Gill was right on the mark when she told him at his most recent appointment, “You are flourishing!!”
He is and we are very grateful to God and blessed for every day his life story continues!!!












It’s the little things in life

There hasn’t been much excitement in our lives since a year ago when COVID-19 reared its ugly head.
Staying home as much as possible has become the norm.
The most action we’ve had this winter has been the 4-6 inch snowfall our area received Feb. 4.
The Outdoors Guy and I live in a country condo association on the outskirts of La Crosse. As the snow continued to fall and the wind kicked up, we wondered if our snowplow guys would still come on the 4th because of all the blowing and drifting. Finally, about 8 p.m., Thursday evening, we saw their headlights at the condos below us and knew they were on the job.
By the time they reached our condo, it was about 9 p.m. Bored out of our minds, we stood by the window and watched Matt perform his magic in his large pickup truck as we relaxed in the comfort of our home. In less than 10 minutes, he had our double-driveway cleared and was on to the next condo. There are 50 units in our association, so it’s no small feat.
Mostly, it’s oh-so-nice to have the job done with no effort on The Outdoors Guy’s part. Because of his battle with pancreatic cancer, one of his side effects from chemo is not being able to withstand the cold like he used to. I have back problems making shoveling a big no-no for me. So, it’s a great relief to have snow removal done for us.  
After Matt plows, has dad, Pat, follows up, clearing snow close to the garages with a small tractor. On Feb. 4, Pat was running late, so we didn’t get to see him work his magic as he zig-zags back and forth at lightning speed! We left our outdoor lights on for him. Bob woke up about 1 a.m. The job was finished. Nice!!!
But, one thing is for sure. If things get any more exciting around here, we honestly don’t know if we can take it!!!

My COVID-19 experience

If you read two of my previous blogs in May, you know I had day surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital-Rochester for a cochlear implant.
In those blogs, I didn’t include information regarding COVID-19. Two days before my surgery scheduled on May 6, I was required to be tested for the virus at Rochester’s Mayo Clinic.
The nasal swab test returned negative. But, to my complete surprise, the blood test was positive. According to my local primary physician, Dr. Martha Binn, this meant I was indeed infected with the virus at some point in the past. But I was asymptomatic and did not know I was sick. Still, Dr. Binn said I did have the virus.
What makes my diagnosis ironic is sometime in March I told family members this was the healthiest winter I’ve had for several years with not even a cold. Strange!
Upon reflecting as to when and how I could have picked up the virus, only one possibility came to mind.
The last weekend in February, we were with family at a Minnesota hotel/water park. The following week, a family member became very ill. At the time, we thought it must have been a bug. Yet, it was something our family member had never experienced before.
Back in February, we were aware of COVID-19 in China and Italy, and we had begun to learn about cases in New York. But, we didn’t realize it had already infiltrated mid-America.
Later though, after we learned more about COVID-19, there was no doubt the family member had contracted the virus at the hotel/water park. I am convinced that is where I got it, too. Why? Because the hotel lobby was packed and the game room was busy. Elevators were crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with people breathing on each other and plenty of floor-button touching. YIKES!!!
As far as we know, The Outdoors Guy didn’t contract COVID from me, nor did any of our other family members from their household. Yet, they could have and, like me, were asymptomatic.
We continue to wear masks and take recommended precautions.
Will we get the vaccine when it is available? Absolutely! The obvious reason: Dr. Binn advised, “There is no way of knowing how long the antibodies will last.”
My antibodies could be long gone by now.
Our country’s citizens anxiously await the day when life returns to normal. Then, except for lessons learned and the tragedy of lives lost, may COVID-19 be but a distant memory in our nation’s history.