Infrastructure: Community

Previous related posts at Nov. 29 and Dec. 22.  Also note Caring Bridge.

Today is daughter Lauri’s birthday (lower right in photo).  She says today is the 23rd anniversary of her 23rd birthday.  We all have our strategies….  I suppose there are better birthdates to have than Dec 28…if your interest is presents.  Christmas is too much competition.  Even as a parent, I tend to remember her birthday a bit late.  Happy birthday, Lauri.  “Back in the day” I called her “Miss Minnie”.  Why? I have no idea.  Ditto for her siblings in their earliest years:”Picklewisp” (Tom); “Miss Swiss” (Joni), and their youngest sister “Miss Heather”.  These are the kinds of things you think of when you get older.

Bernard kids Dec. 1975

It has been quite a month; quite a year.  We all know that life is uncertain.  This year, like every year, a Christmas note comes about a friend who died.  You know you’ll get such notices.  You don’t know  who….

This year I single out Lauri, among many others, including my and Cathy’s children, for being there when the chips were down.  This diminishes no one else.  Lauri became the taxi when there was a need; she ministered to my spiritual welfare at a time when the spirits were down.

All I can say is “thank you”.

Especially, an additional thank you and gratitude to my wife, Cathy, who now has to “manage” this case at home (not always easy!)


I gather that my heart procedure was more complex than predicted.  Predicting my small stroke was probably impossible – perhaps the probability was significant, but not the result, when it was found, after the surgery, that I could not properly stand on my left foot.  In the post-op fog, I remember that.  (The residual problem with the stroke appears to be minimal, and hopefully will become a memory, only.)

Today, Dec. 28, I’m running no foot races, but the walker I left the hospital with seems near unnecessary, though I’m pretty weak, physically.  Managing 16 stairs has proven to be no problem  Christmas-New Years week means physical and other therapy will not begin till Jan. 3.

I’m not one to be cooped up; an hour at a nearby coffee shop this morning was welcome.  We all have our habits.  Soon will be the first visit since the surgery to “my” Caribou Coffee, a near daily place to begin my day for the last 18 years.


As I write, 24 days out, I’m at home and the post-op process continues and will continue for quite some time.  I have been deeply moved by all the assorted kinds of messages from friends – simple greetings, e-mail, etc.  Family has been central..  Yesterday grandson Bennie Menier, my Caring Bridge kin kid, was over along with his parents and grandparents – he had previously visited me at the hospital as well.  Grandson Spencer arrived at the door on Christmas Day in his Marine dress uniform, home on a leave I didn’t know about.  Everyone who reached out was so solicitous.  A list would be very long, very incomplete, since I would without doubt miss someone/something.


Everyone, in whatever circle is part of my personal “infrastructure” – support system.  These are people who appear when chips are down, in mostly quiet ways.

I am not accustomed to feeling helpless; this has been a superb lesson in the goodness of humanity, generally, and doesn’t require physical evidence of any kind.  The word seems to get around.


I want to add a word or two about Edina Southdale Hospital, Fairview Acute Rehab and the entire Fairview-University Hospital system of which I have been a patient since the early 1990s; and with which I have been personally acquainted since my first wife, Barbara, died at age 22 at University Hospital July 24, 1965, awaiting a kidney transplant.

Day after day, for 17 days, my life was in Fairview-U’s hands, at a time when I was completely out of control of almost anything.  The system continues to monitor and advise as recovery continues.

Other than driving past the hospital and the Rehab center on numerous occasions, I had rarely entered their doors for any reason, and had never experienced in person the wonderful people who all did their best to shepherd me through not always gentle waters.  We patients can be difficult customers and I am thankful for all of those within the system who assessed, advised, coordinated, mediated, as needed, and continue to follow up.  It is good to know that I and my family are not on my own.

The person I select to represent the hundreds of Fairview folks helping me survive the 17 days is the anonymous man, perhaps in his 50s, perhaps a volunteer, who delivered my meal to my room several times in Acute Rehab.  I don’t know his name, and we didn’t talk about weighty things, and our conversations were very short, but much appreciated.  Each time he showed up with the tray his presence was a bit of sunshine – a kind word or two, and off he went.

I could list many, many others who dealt with me during those 17 days in the hospital.

Systems as Fairview are collections of people, with the assortment of personalities, etc., which go with the word ‘humanity’.  Add to the mix the clientele which goes by the name “patient” (a most interesting word when I think about it, shortly after my experience of having been one…)  We patients are not there willingly, and are often frightened, and possibly not on our best behavior. But hospital workers of all ranks seem generally to do their best while we are in their care.  Thanks to every single one of them.


Again, thank you to everyone, everywhere.

I would hope to personally acknowledge in some way, every one who has reached out.  I suspect this will be a near impossible task to do…so in lieu off a personal thank you, please accept my gratitude for your caring.

Happy New Year.


17 replies
  1. Nancy J Dunlavy
    Nancy J Dunlavy says:

    It is such a treat to receive your life musings again, Dick! I’m so glad to hear that you will soon be back to your early morning coffee stops – I know how much you enjoy that daily ritual.

    You have always focused on nurturing human relationships, step by step by step, sharing your thoughts and asking what others of us think. That is the main image that comes to my mind when I think of “Dick Bernard.” You are now reaping the benefit of the amazing network of colleagues, friends, and family that you have created over your many years of life!

    I’m writing this from our AirB&B in San Diego; we arrive back home to much colder weather tomorrow evening.

    May 2019 be a year of healthy transformation, for our human bodies, our communities, and our ailing world.

  2. Paul Moen
    Paul Moen says:


    Life certainly does have its twists and turns. While for some it is easy to conclude that they did it alone and did it their way, at least for me I have to conclude that there have been many who have hoped me in one way or another. It started with parents who cared; teachers who showed; friends who helped; colleagues who engaged in a common work; etc., etc., Then there are those who fit into more than one category. You were one of those folks for whom I can say that I was happy and blessed to have our life paths cross. And we can all be grateful for what the medical folks have done for most of us. Keep on plugging.


  3. Judy Berglund
    Judy Berglund says:

    So glad you are home and on the mend! I’ve thought of you and Cathy almost daily! Worried about you! Thank my lucky stars that I know you and that you were there for me when I needed you! Love you both!
    Judy Berglund

  4. Florence Hedeen
    Florence Hedeen says:

    I’ve missed your regular blog. So glad that you’re able to be back to it, but I know that you also need to be physically active to regain your health into the future! Please keep your health a priority. Likely, most of us would prefer that you’d be around for the long haul to receiving a nearly daily blog!

    With love from your sister, Florence.

  5. Bonnie Fournier
    Bonnie Fournier says:

    Hello, sweet man, from a long unseen friend. I was soooo glad to read of your (continued) recovery and read your latest post. May your healing trend continue! Smooches to you and Cathy! — Bonnie

  6. John Borgen
    John Borgen says:

    Dear Dick,
    Don’t come back full force and wear yourself out, BUT the world needs you fighting for
    peace and justice, Friends like you are golden!

  7. mary busch
    mary busch says:

    Happy birthday Lauri….we share december birthdays —

    Deeply appreciate your
    most welcome news dear cousin Dick….Our world is a better place with your self and voice beaming out…and generously attending to the often harsh details of living related to a larger world…My mom had her hip surgery at Fairview Riverside during which she experienced heart failure, they postponed the surgery until next day and added a heart specialist….then she was revived and enjoyed five more years….they asked my brother and I to decide to continue her hesitation, if she could think, we felt she wanted to continue life….glad to have John right there….Mary Kay

  8. Gerald Berning
    Gerald Berning says:

    Hope you are over the hump, Dick. Wow what a work out.
    You take the time to smell the roses. Dick Budden says he and others
    Came to ND to a reunion during 19

  9. Kathy McKay
    Kathy McKay says:

    Followed your recovery from afar through Dennis Dillon reports. So glad you are back writing. Best for 2019 and your stamina recovery.

  10. Karen West
    Karen West says:

    Keep up the good work Dick — especially strengthening your physical being for now. Let some of the other activities wait. I can relate to your trouble with one hand as I cut the end of my right thumb off yesterday slicing potatoes for scalloped potatoes — such a simple injury and yet to such a crucial body part.

    Karen West

  11. Val Dupre
    Val Dupre says:

    Hi Dick, Great to hear your “ticker’s” still working and obviously still of sound mind. Your summary of events and thank you’s remind me of the phrase, “It takes a village.” We all need one at some point or other. Take care.

  12. Mary a Maher
    Mary a Maher says:

    Hi brother Dick..keep up the good work! Of course you will be back doing your regular routine things and adding some new regular routines…like rehab! Getting strength and stamina back is the work of recovery and work, by its very definition , is rarely easy of fun. As I say to others and have said to myself when rehab work has been necessary …. Fake enthusiasm till you feel enthusiasm! Thinking of you always .. M


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