By Kris Ann Zdroik
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Kris and her father on her wedding day.
My Dad, Ronald J. Bodden, was born in 1937. He served four years in the U.S. Coast Guard, obtained a degree in accounting, married and raised five children with my mom, and was grandpa and great-grandpa to many. In 1998, Dad retired from Associated Bank as Vice President of Corporate Accounting. After retiring, he was a daily communicant and avid pro-Life advocate. A wise, honest, gentle, and devoted man, faith and family came first for Ron. Anyone who encountered him soon felt his loving kindness and sincerity. Thankfully Dad was able to spend about 10 years traveling with his wife, family and friends before the onset of his health challenges. He was known to plan trips around the daily Mass and adoration schedules of the various churches, cathedrals, and basilicas.
About five years before Ron’s death, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, and ultimately Progressive Supranuclear Palsy—which took his life.
After a few years of daily visits to dispense medications, help with finances and household tasks, run errands and accompany Dad and Mom to doctor appointments, my husband Jeff and I and our nine children moved in to take care of my parents. We are a home school family, so we had many hands to help tend to Dad’s growing needs. The good Lord blessed us with six strong sons, then two daughters and another son. The older boys were able to lift, transfer and help transport their grandpa to church and doctor appointments. Our youngest three did their part by shaving, grooming, feeding and reading to Grandpa.
My degree was in Health Promotion/Wellness. Never did I imagine that I would be doing extensive wound care of multiple pressure ulcers. I spent many nights praying with Dad throughout nighttime cares. I felt very close to St. Mother Teresa and the crucified Christ as I witnessed such sacred surrender. I knew Dad was offering up his crosses for others in need.
As Dad’s disease progressed, we needed more help caring for Dad. We had friends who came to our aid in the form of nurses, certified nursing assistants, and caregivers. Many friends came bearing meals and helped with cleaning. Overall, it was a labor of love. Dad peacefully accepting and carrying his crosses, while we, by God’s grace, were able to care for Dad until his dying breath.
In the last week of Dad’s life my family, along with my siblings and their children, kept a vigil in Mom and Dad’s bedroom. We figured his time on earth was short, so we all took turns saying our goodbyes. Many friends and extended family also came to honor Dad in his dying days. Multiple priests had given Dad Anointing of the Sick during his long period of declining health and finally the Last Rites. God worked many miracles through Dad’s suffering and sweet surrendering.
My father passed from this earth into the hands of his merciful God and Savior on July 6, 2017.
After Dad’s body arrived at the funeral home, I received a call. The contorted position of Dad’s legs baffled the funeral directors. They told me that in 30 years in that profession they had never seen someone as crippled as my Dad was on his dying day.
I’ll end with a quote from my Dad. A few months after our family moved in to care for him, he said to me: “Whatever position I may be in, that the Lord wants for me, so be it.” – Ronald J. Bodden, March 2014.