JUST JUNIORS JOURNAL
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
-Seen on a sign by Route 309
"It's Friday, honey, and I love you."
-Lou's father, at the funeral
THE RELAY FOR LIFE
The LS Kids attended the American Cancer Society's annual Relay For Life on May 24, 2003. The Relay For Life is a project held to help raise money to find a cure for cancer, and to help less fortunate cancer victims purchase the medications they need to survive. This year's Relay was especially poignant, since Lou's mother died of cancer two weeks before the Relay was held.
Lou, Staci Wyland, Debbie Benfield, Krystle Welch, Hilaire Reese, Bobby Benfield, Brenda Geyer, Mia Shelley, Ginger White, and Michelle all went up to Hubert Jack Stadium at eleven AM. Kazlynn Otto, DCS Bureau Member from Texas, stood by the phone to do research if neccessary. Vesta Jones, DCS Bureau Head, came in from Perry County. She brought with her the newest member, DCS Bureau Member Heather Lawyer, who sported a shirt that said "I'm not antisocial, I just don't like you."
The first job was decoration. While Staci and Debbie blew up helium balloons, Lou, Mia, and Krystle hung them up by the entry gates.
From one to four PM, the Kids took shifts selling the luminary candles, which were purchased in the name of a cancer victim or survivor. The Kids all puchased candles in the name of loved ones with cancer, including Staci's grandmother, Vesta's grandmother, Mia's father, Brenda's sister, and Lou's mother.
While some of the Kids were selling luminary candles, others were blowing up balloons and making a balloon arch for the survivor ceremony. Lou and Hilaire got rid of the rain puddles in front of the ceremony area.
Then about 4:30 PM, they started assembling the luminaries. Over twelve hundred luminaries had been sold, and the Kids put them together and placed them around the track. At about five thirty, Vesta, Heather, and Krystle started blowing up balloons for the survivor walk, which began at seven.
Every year, they announce the names of cancer survivors, and bring them out on the track to walk around it in a ceremony. Staci Wyland, a survivor herself, was in the walk, while Vesta and Heather helped hand out balloons, flowers, and sashes to all the survivors. Then, led by three men playing bagpipes, they took one lap around the track.
After that, they lit the luminaries lined around the track. After that, the Kids played some games on the field, including Tug Of War, Football, and Volleyball.
At about 1:30 AM, Vesta and Heather went home to hit the sack. Lou said he was going to stay until morning because of the tragic death of his mother two weeks previously. Staci told him she would stay right by his side, and Debbie and Krystle decided to stay with them to support Lou, too.
-Staci Wyland, AGA
-Ginger White, Staff
A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
Ann Catherine Kollar Bernard was married to Lou Bernard Senior. She had four children, Lou, David, Jonathan, and her daughter Jennifer. She started working as a guidance counselor at Slatington Elementary School in 1989.
Lou's mother Ann got diagnosed with cancer in August 2002.
The cancer started in her kidneys and then began to spread throughout her body. She was in chemotherapy for awhile after that.
After being diagnosed with cancer, her family tried so hard to be strong for her. But Ann's cancer grew worse and she became even more ill. Before Lou's mother passed away, Lou, both his brothers and his sister came to visit Ann and her husband.
Ann passed away of cancer May 5, 2003 around 5:30 PM. Her funeral was held at her church, Assumption BVM Catholic in Slatington, Pennsylvania.
She was a very sweet and special woman. She meant a lot to Lou and his family and many of their friends. Many people attended her funeral. Her husband, her four children, many co-workers, friends, and extended family, and one of Lou's childhood teachers also came.
We will always remember Ann as a bright women that made many people happy, and we all wished that this never happened.
Lots of loving thoughts, wishes and prayers go out to Lou and his family during this difficult time.
SUPPORT FROM THE KIDS
A Wonderful Person: Staci Wyland
I loved Lou's mom like she was my own grandmother. She was a very wonderful person. And she made the greatest chocolate chip cookie in the world.
Just remember, Lou, she is in a better place. And no matter what, she is there now to look over you all the time. I love you, Lou, and I am here for you whenever you need it.
It's Okay To Cry: Debbie Benfield
Lou, I'm sorry. It's okay to cry....And we're here for you.
From Krystle: Krystle Welch
Lou, I'm sorry. I could cry. That's all I can think to say....I'm so sorry.
Cute Little Kids: Hilaire Reese
I'm so sorry, Lou. I don't know what to say....I have never met her. But I'm here for you. You don't have to thank me; that's what cute little kids are for.
Understanding: Marjorie Shelley
Hey, I am sorry about your mom. Will you be okay? I hope so. I feel bad cause I didn't even get to meet her, but I know how you feel. If you need anyone to talk to, just come to me.
Shiva: Ginger White
One of the Jewish periods of mourning is called Shiva. Lou, I will sit Shiva for your mother.
We believe that death is natural, all part of G-d's plan. Lou, your mother led a worthy life, and will be rewarded.
Believers: Vesta Jones
I am so sorry to hear about your mom....I really don't know what to say....I am pretty upset myself, she is an awesome person....
I know you aren't a big believer in prayer, but I am, and I will be praying for her and you and your family.
Being There: Amber Fleming
Lou, you have always been there for me. You know where I live, and I will be there for you now that you need me. And always remember that we all love you.
Smile For Me: Kazlynn Otto
I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. If you need to talk about anything call me. I love you, Lou, and if you need to talk just tell me. I'm always here for you like you are me.
Anyways, I love you, Lou, and please smile for me. I know it's hard but please do it for me.
Still Here: Regina Spence
Oh Lou, I'm so sorry. I know how it feels. But I am still very sorry. Just think, now she can be with you wherever you are, and whatever you do, she'll always be with you.
I'm sorry about your mom. Just remember, I'm still here, like you always said for me.
Use The Knowledge: Rachel Wykry
I am sorry to hear about your mom. I will pray for
her. How are you doing through all of this? I know it
must be really hard for you. Take care of yourself, you
have to do that. You're always telling me that, so I
will use my knowledge that you taught me.
On May 20, 2003, Assistant Group Advisor Staci Wyland and her mother Roberta attended a meeting of the American Cancer Society, to help plan the upcoming Relay For Life. Staci was attending because the meeting was held while Lou was at work.
They sat around the table and discussed the Relay with the Cancer Society, and wrote names of cancer patients on the bags for the luminary candles, sold up until the Relay every year.
Earlier in the month, Staci and Debbie Benfield had spent time handing out the forms to order the luminary candles.
On May 19, 2003, LS Kids Reserve Bureau Member Kendra Koch gave birth to a baby girl. The father was Tommy Long, of Lock Haven.
Marissa Elizabeth Long weighed six pounds and eight ounces. She was nineteen and a half inches long, and her head was thirteen and a half inches in diameter. She has a full head of black hair and she resembles both of her parents.
During Kendra's time in the hospital, AGA Staci Wyland walked the halls with her, and sat in the waiting room while Kendra had the baby. After Kendra and the baby came home, they were visited by DCS Bureau Head Vesta Jones, HNVP Marjorie Shelley, and Lou.
IN THE LONG RUN
KANSAS- In March, the LS Kids received a request from Lou's younger sister, Jen. She was requesting donations toward her "Send A Crazy Girl To Alaska" campaign, so that she could run in the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage. She will be running for the Leukemia Society, to raise money for cancer research.
The LS Kids sent thirty-five dollars to Jen, to benefit her cause. In April, Jen made her goal, raising the five thousand dollars necessary to participate in the marathon.
"I believe your kindness has restored my faith in the world," said Jen. "Hold your head high and know that you have helped save someone's life."
Lou and Jen have been dealing with cancer recently. Their mother has been battling a cancerous tumor since September, and succumbed this month.
Jen is currently training for the marathon, running four to five miles at a time. So far, her record is sixteen miles at a time. The marathon itself will be over twenty-six miles.
PENNSYLVANIA- On May 24th, 2003 AD, I went to the Relay For Life at Lock Haven University. I went with the LS Kids. When I first got there, I knew I would have fun, hey, I was with ALL my friends.
It took a while before I started to get mixed feelings, but I did. When I was standing at the funnel cake stand, noone knew where I was, and I could see everyone from a distance. I stood there for about thirty minutes, and just watched. And I started to cry.
I realized that day, these people are the best friends I have ever had, and the best I'll ever have. These are the people that have been there through my growing up, and they don't hate me for anything I've ever done through the transition of adolescence to young adulthood.
That day, at that time, everyone was there, Staci, Heather, my sister, Krystle, Debbie, Mia, Ginger, Hilaire. And I realized how long we've been together. Staci and I have been friends since the ninth grade, Lou since I was twelve, Brenda even longer. And they are still as close as ever....I realized just how precious these people are to me. I knew it all along, but it hit me hard that day.
We have all lost someone close to us from cancer, and we are all there for each other, noone to judge us or each other. These people care about me, and don't care what I look like, or anything.
It's hard to describe the feelings I had that day, but I can tell you how much I miss these people when I am not around. I wish I were closer, physically and emotionally, and every other way possible.
I realized that day, those people are going to be in my life forever, and I love it.
SYMPATHIES FROM EUROPE
GERMANY- Word of the death of Lou's mother even reached Magdeburg, Germany, home to Stefan Beilich, who once spent a year with Lou's family as an exchange student. Steve heard of the news from Kim Flowers, a friend of the family who runs the exchange program. He e-mailed the family to offer his sympathies.
"To be honest, I am really filled with dismay at the news. It makes me very sad," said Steve. "I still very much cherish the memories connected with my stay in America, and in particular my stay with all of you. We have a saying in German that suggests that if you lose sight or touch with someone, you are bound to forget that person rather fast. I just wanted to let you know that this is certainly not true in your case."
Steve stayed with the family during the 1990-1991 school year.
Cancer is a group of many related diseases that start in the cells, the body's basic unit of life. The body is made up of many different cells. Usually, cells grow and reproduce when the body needs them, and this keeps the body healthy. Sometimes cells reproduce when not needed, extra cells will form, and cause a mass of tissue, called a tumor. There are two types of tumors: Benign tumors, which are not cancerous; and malignant tumors, which are.
Lukemia and Lymphoma are types of cancers formed in the blood-forming cells. Cancers are usually named for the organ type or cell from which they begin. There is lung cancer, cancer of the lungs; melanoma, skin cancer, and etc....
When cancer spreads into the lymph nodes, it usually means it has spread through the body. National Cancer Institute booklets are available by calling 1-800-4CANCER. You can also go to http://cancer.gov, http://cancertrials.nci.nih.gov, or http://cancernet.nci.nih.gov.
For information on treatment, screenings, prevention, and support, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
-DCS Bureau Head
BLONDE AT HEART
No funny column this month. I don't want to write it, and nobody else wants to read it.
I'm so sorry, Lou. I thought she was better. If there's anything I can do for you, call me.
I'm so sorry.
RHYME AND REASON
For My Child
A piece of my heart was given to you.
So I can be there
For everything you do.
A piece of my mind I have laid.
So I may still help you
Not to be swayed.
A piece of my strength I've given to thee.
So I may help
All those who are weak.
A piece of my soul for my child.
So you may know my love.
Learn from what I've taught.
And build with my strength.
Look to the heavens the ray of sun.
I'll be with you forever my son.
THE RUDY REPORT
Sometimes, all you can do is howl.
I don't want to dance now. I don't want to eat. I don't want to go for a walk.
Death. I don't understand death. It's like people go away, but they never come back. And I will never get to do the Happy Dog Dance for her again.
She will never come in the door again. She will never take me out for a walk. She loved me, she fed me and played with me and brought me toys. And I loved her. And now she is gone, and I don't understand. And all I can do is howl.
-Rudy The Dancing Beagle
ADORE IT/DEPLORE IT
Adore It: A San Francisco company, Genentech, has developed a drug that may help kill cancerous tumors. Adoration to Genentech, the American Cancer Society, the American Institute for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute, and all the others who try to make a difference.
Deplore It: In April, doctors staged a work stoppage to protest rising malpractice insurance rates. The doctors may or may not have a point, but with people out there who need them, is striking the right way to go? Take two chill pills, and call me in the morning, doc.
Mother of Lou
Ann Catherine Kollar Bernard, of Slatington, Pennsylvania, died at home on May 5, 2003 after a protracted illness. She was fifty-nine.
She had recently retired as a guidance counselor for the Northern Lehigh School District. She began her career as a parent in the district, and then became a member of the PTO, president of the PTO, a substitute teacher, and then the guidance counselor.
She was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and graduated from West Chester University. Later, she returned to school at Kutztown University to get her counseling degree. She was part owner of Green Valley Christmas Tree Farm. She was active in many community causes.
She leaves behind her husband, Lou Bernard; a mother, Catherine Kollar; and four children, Lou, David, Jonathan, and Jennifer.
Wendy MacFadgen Spencer of Massachusetts died Friday, April 18th. She was in her mid-thirties.
She grew up in Watertown, Massachusetts. She had worked as a travel agent. She married James Spencer in the early nineties. She was the cousin of Lou.
She leaves behind a mother and father, Mary and Fred MacFadgen; and three sisters, Laura, Amy, and Megan.
Karen Brandt, 29, died May 24, 2003 AD from a car accident. Born October 21, 1973, she was the daughter of Robert Alberts and Debra Haines.
She is survived by her daughter Erin, and her husband Donald, to whom she had been married almost twelve years. She worked at Liberty Business Information with Lou.
The Just Juniors Journal Is:
Assistant: Staci Wyland
President: Debbie Benfield
Hard News VP: Marjorie Shelley
Features VP: Mia Shelley
Secretary: Krystle Welch
Quartermaster: Hilaire Reese
Staff: Bobby Benfield, Ginger White
Renovo Bureau: Sarah Wilson, Meghan Wilson
Reserve Bureau: Brenda Geyer, Nickole Vincent, Kendra Koch, Julie Rote
Distant Correspondents: Vesta Jones, Amber Fleming, Kazlynn Otto, Rachel Wykry, Regina Spence, Heather Lawyer, Tami Chunn, Natasha Miles
I stood at the top of the hill, above the cemetary, while my mother's coffin was lowered into the ground. I had tried not to cry; I tried so hard. But I couldn't help it. Usually, I cope with things....But not this time. I was dead inside. We had been hoping for a happy ending....But I don't believe in happy endings. Not anymore.
I went to see my mother, the last weekend that she was alive. I spent hours sitting by her bed while she slept. By then, things had gotten bad, and sleeping was all that she could do.
I'll never be sure if she knew I was there or not. But I sat with her and held her hand. I cried some. Everyone had assumed that I went to talk to her, to say the things I'd never gotten to say before. But in the end, I didn't say much. In the end, I passed along the only message that had really ever mattered.
"I love you, Mom."
I had placed a photo of my mother and I, taken at my wedding, inside the coffin with her. I was a pallbearer at the funeral; attended the service numbly. And then it was over....And she was gone.
It was two weeks exactly after the funeral that the Relay was held. The Relay, an annual event to fight cancer, is the biggest project of the year for the LS Kids. Some of the people I knew expected me to back out. The Kids knew better.
Instead of backing out, I stayed there for eighteen hours, working, helping with the cause. The Kids stood with me---Staci, Debbie, and Krystle had all agreed to stand by me the entire time. We raised money, we assembled the luminary candles, and then Heather and I placed them out on the track. I pulled the wagon with the candles out, and pulled the wagon with Heather riding back in. I also pulled two muscles, but it didn't matter.
I kept moving, didn't stop. I couldn't---I'm not built that way. One woman, when she heard about my mother, said,"My God, I'm sorry. I don't know how you're keeping it together." I'm not, lady, I'm not.
The Kids were all there for me. I had one Kid or another pretty consistently by my side all month. Staci and Debbie, Krystle, Hilaire, Ginger, Vesta, Kazlynn, Rachel, Amber, Gina....All of them supported me. There was a strong undercurrent of payback in it---Each Kid, one way or another, had made it clear that I'd always been there for them, and now it was their turn.
After dark, I walked around the track, sought out my mother's candle. Vesta and Heather were with me. On the northwest end of the stadium, I found it.
The candle I'd bought. The last thing I would ever be able to do for my mother.
I knelt by it. I looked at the candle, burning in a small, white bag with my mother's name on it. Vesta asked,"Lou? You okay?"
"She would have liked this," I said.
And then I cried. Heather held me, and then Vesta joined her. We hugged each other---"Group hug," said Heather---And then Vesta took my hand, and we walked across the field. We met the others there, Staci and Debbie and Krystle, Ginger, Mia. And we stood together, and held each other. They were all there for me. It was beautiful---For the rest of my life, I'll cry every time I think of it.
I'm crying now.
And then I bought the Kids T-shirts from the Relay, and they ceremoniously took permanent markers and signed each other's shirts in a spontaneously invented tradition. And then the Kids went to play volleyball, and I watched them. All of my Kids....Their whole lives ahead of them.
Life goes on. And that's the wonderful thing....Things continue. And there are still happy times; people heal, they laugh and hug and enjoy again. That's the happy ending, not Happily ever after but Life goes on.
I stood at the top of the stadium, watching my Kids play. Usually, I cope with things....This time, too. I was alive inside.
The Kids and I, doing what we do, achieving something good....That's the happy ending. And I believe in happy endings.
I always will.
-It's June, mom, and I love you