Dear Friends and Family:
Shane, however, was a godly man who embraced his path with a never wavering faith and, as he left this earthly journey, he blessed us with his love and example. Burt was especially moved and inspired by the time he was able to spend with Shane a few days before his passing and that, combined with a number of other things, led to some very tangible improvements in his health.
We were very excited in late September / early October when he was able to have the feeding tube removed. He has been eating “normally” and, while he is still a bit underweight, has been gaining consistently. We were even more excited after Thanksgiving when he was able to come completely off the Fentynal pain patch he has been on for 5 or so years. He had been gradually coming down all year. He started out on 200 micrograms and was down to 25 before the last cut. He is still in pain and on other pain medication but that particular one is particularly nasty and removing it from his system has done a great deal for improving his functionality.
He is doing so well, as a matter of fact, that we have begun to explore possibilities as it pertains to going back to work. At this point he is planning on taking a couple of classes at Rochester in the Spring (winter) semester to see how things go. If all goes well, he will take a bunch of science classes beginning in Fall 2012 and apply for the new nursing program at the college in Fall 2013.
Daniel is now “officially” in 5th grade though some of his coursework is more in line with the 4th grade. We continue to meet with our home school group 3 Fridays a month and with a couple other families for history every Monday. We love the relationships that continue to grow there and feel truly blessed by an amazing and supportive community.
Some of the highlights of our year activity wise included:
• Two trips for Debi to Arizona to visit friends, one in January just to visit and one in July to photograph a wedding. We would have loved for all three of us to go but it just was not feasible with the cost and Burt’s health at the time. The next trip we plan to have all of us go … and I am shooting for a winter visit as opposed to a summer one. I definitely enjoyed the January weather a lot more than the late July weather!
• Another May Michigan vacation with my folks from Indiana and my brother, Tim. This year we stayed in Cheboygan and explored Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie, and the Cheboygan area. It was a lovely trip and we plan to return in 2012.
• Lots of summer fun with friends. The college provides a wonderful backdrop for young people to enjoy summer fun with lots of room to roam and a river for swimming. It seemed like we had people over a couple days a week in June and July and we loved it. Additionally, Daniel went the MCYC for his second year of camp and participated in VBS at both Rochester church of Christ and Meadowbrook Christian church with many of his friends from church and the home school group.
• In October Burt & Daniel made a somewhat impromptu trip to Florida with my brother, Tim, to see the folks there. I was sad that I was not able to make the trip but I had to teach and really needed to be in the residence hall and the boys had a very nice time having “guy time.” One of my favorite parts was that Dad & Jeanie did not know that Burt and Daniel were coming. They were just expecting Tim so it was quite the surprise when he showed up with “extras.”
• In November we made our annual trek to Tennessee for Thanksgiving. One major highlight of that trip for me was participating in the 5 mile Boulevard Bolt in Nashville on Thanksgiving morning. All four “sisters” ran along with two of the nieces and it was a great time. I finished the “run” in about an hour and ten minutes and was very pleased with that time.
We also finally got family pictures done in November which was actually great fun. My friend, Sarah Robinson, is a photographer. I liked her work enough to actually pay her to do ours (and if you know me, that’s a pretty big deal) and we could not be more pleased. The family picture with the letter was taken by Sarah. The portrait of Daniel I did myself.
We hope that your lives are filled with blessings and that, even in hard times, you feel the peace and love of God in the coming year!
Burt, Debi & Daniel Rutledge