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Monday, 23 March 2009

You Are Not in Control

By Joanne Zimmermann

“You Are Not in Control," barked the voice in my dream! Was that God? He sounded very loud and demanding, not as I had picture him.

Thus began a journey unlike any I had ever been on.

My husband had terminal brain cancer and doctors said okay, we could go to Germany where he had been born one last time. We got there and tried to visit a church built in 1200 where he had been confirmed at the age of 15. It seemed to have been a spiritually changing event for him, as he had only wooden shoes and a Buddhist neighbor gave him his shoes and attended with his feet in rags.

St. Aegidian was closed. Then my husband began a downward spiral that resulted in him not able to lift himself or move much. We were staying with relatives but I had to hospitalize him and move closer to the hospital.

Not speaking German, having no cell phone, no computer, no car, only my legs, I tried to do this with some degree of control. Ha ha, someone had other plans! My bad knee completely gave out while I took a short walk from the apartment. I was in Bauhaus, the German equivalent of Home Depot. The clerk brought me a shovel handle for 5 Euros. I walked/limped home with the austere Germans eying my unique cane with great superiority.

Trying to communicate with our health insurance from this antiquated hospital (even though it was a university teaching hospital) was an adventure in itself. The hospital wanted everything in euros and in German and when they were open, my insurance company was closed.

In tears, I approached a patient advisory booth. A kind lady said, "I will help you.” She took her lunch hour to bridge the gap of communication, since she spoke English as well as German. She then took her Saturday to take me into St. Aegidian, to take photos for my husband to see.

Zimmermanchurch

She told me she was Muslim, but loved that church since her son died at age of 10 of brain cancer. We sat below "Kevin's angel" with a golden spear, and next to him was another angel with a large cross. I named him "Dieter's angel" after my husband.

Then she introduced me to a woman in the hospital psychology department who was a board member of St. Aegidian. She arranged for the pastor to come to the hospital and give my husband communion - even though the pastor almost never did that, since he had over 4000 members.

The service was beautiful, with candlelight and my husband saying all the words in German with the pastor. The pastor was amazed, since he said his members had trouble speaking directly to God, or Jesus. He said he felt religion was failing his people. He blessed my husband and prayed for strength.

We had to give up our return tickets as my husband was too ill to travel, but then I knew I had to get him home before he passed away. With the German system and laws, I doubted I could get a death certificate, and cremation was always delayed by at least six weeks.

The woman who arranged for the pastor to come then helped me get new tickets home. At the cost of nearly $10,000 we flew business class on one flight, preceded by a four-hour ambulance ride to Dusseldorf. Then when we landed in Miami, we had a six-hour ride home, and I took him directly to the hospital. After five days there, the doctor suggested hospice, and my husband passed away peacefully at their lovely, caring facility.

My husband was a singer with a popular German band and at the funeral service, I requested his singing of The Beer Barrel Polka as a processional, and When the Saints... as a recessional. The line, "we'll have a barrel of fun," was definitely my husband's style.

In between was some of the serious funereal material. The men's mission group sang a song and played a 12 Klakker salute to him. My husband made little wooden instruments called Klakkers to keep rhythm, and passed them out on mission trips. At the same time of his service, one was held on the island of Eleuthera, where he had helped build a church, in his memory. He had unwavering faith right to the end.

From the time I heard the words, "You are not in control," was the first time in my life I definitely was not, and so my faith was strengthened by this amazing experience. I always wished I had a strong faith like he did, but it is not something you can get by wishing.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The supply of stories is running low, so if you've had one on your mind to write, now is the time. All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

I believe the messages we get in dreams are meant to help us or at least point the way to getting help. During stressful times I've had to force myself to "give up the burden" and remind myself that big things were out of my control. And while we still must handle our daily responsibilities, it lightens our load.

Blessings to you.

My husband died from multiple inoperable brain tumors and it was very stressful, so I have some idea of what you must have gone through.

To be in a foreign country without speaking the language or having transportation must have been frightening. Then to have your knee give out and having your own pain to endure on top of everything else is terrible. I am glad you found a human angel to help you get through this.

You are a strong woman who endured this calamity with great courage. I salute you for writing such a moving story.

My husband died from multiple inoperable brain tumors and it was very stressful, so I have some idea of what you must have gone through.

To be in a foreign country without speaking the language or having transportation must have been frightening. Then to have your knee give out and having your own pain to endure on top of everything else is terrible. I am glad you found a human angel to help you get through this.

You are a strong woman who endured this calamity with great courage. I salute you for writing such a moving story.

Joanne - What an emotional and spiritually moving story! (When my 85-year-old uncle was dying, he told his children that he wanted "When the saints . . " included as a 'hymn' and inserted into the middle of his service. Much to the chagrin of the presiding minister, it was.)
Sandy

You must have loved him very, very much to have taken him to Germany and seen him through those painful days. And I am certain that the message you received in your dream came from God to prepare you to lean on Him when your strength waned. We think we're self-sufficient and "in control" until we face such life experiences and we quickly learn that we are definitely NOT in control. Thank you for sharing your story - you are incredible.

Facing those frightening odds took great courage and inner strength which came from the God of our Fathers and their Fathers. Not everyone could or would be able to endure the sufferings that you did with such an expectent heart. God bless and keep you and yours forever. You indeed are an incredible woman and Christian.

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