Monday, September 11, 2017

In Loving Memory

On Sunday September 3rd my father in law, Joe Sr. passed away after a 6 month battle with small cell lung cancer.  I never really mentioned that he had been diagnosed because it was just something that was almost too hard to even believe.  Now that he is gone it still just seems surreal that we will never get to see him again.  It's been a very tough few weeks, but things are finally beginning to settle.  

So a little backstory for you guys, Joe had been feeling a lot of back pain since late last fall.  He had initially started seeing the chiropractor who adjusted him for a few weeks, but when he wasn't improving, the chiropractor told him he should go see his regular doctor for some blood work.  That blood work came back showing elevated white blood cells so CAT & PET scans were ordered which revealed a spot on his lung.  This was right around his 61st birthday and right at the end of February.  After the spot was found a biopsy was scheduled but during Joe's birthday weekend he was having a really tough time breathing so his doctor suggested heading to St. Francis in Peoria to the emergency room in hopes that they could get him feeling better & maybe expedite the process of having the biopsy done.  Joe went into the hospital the day before I went into labor with Georgia.

It was roughly a week later they found out the diagnosis, 5 days after Georgia was born they FaceTimed us from St. Francis to tell us that Joe had been diagnosed with small-cell lung & bone cancer.  It was so hard to hear, but we were glad that they were going to be aggressive with treatment and had planned to start radiation and chemo soon.  With an unplanned blood infection caused by hospital staff during an IV placement, his treatment was somewhat delayed but they eventually got him started and the radiation helped.  

I was lucky that in the early days of his diagnosis I was on maternity leave so I got to spend a lot of time with him, as did Joe.  Once we heard what his actual diagnosis was, Joe decided to get laid off for 3 weeks so he got to spend those 3 weeks at home with Georgia and I and he got to spend some good time with his dad.  

Over the course of the next several months Joe endured chemo and I had never seen someone handle it as well as he did.  He did lose his hair and it did give him fatigue, but he never got sick from it and was able to have all the rounds that they had anticipated.  He got to walk his youngest daughter down the aisle in June and he seemed to be doing pretty well, all things considered.  

His next treatment type was immunotherapy which they started towards the end of summer.  You could visibly tell that Joe was in pain, and it was so tough to watch him, but he continued his fight and did whatever he was told by the doctors to do.  The plan was 6 rounds of immunotherapy, but they only got through 2 before they were told that there was nothing more that could be done for him.  On August 22nd Joe's parents sat us all down and told us that this news.  They said we had about 2-4 more months with him and that we might be called to help at any given time.  Little did we know that less than 2 weeks later Joe would pass away quietly at home surrounded by all of his family.  

Seeing how aggressive cancer can be was absolutely heartbreaking to watch.  You never think that it's going to affect your family, even though you hear so much about it and hear of so many that seem to have some form of it these days.  When we got the news I couldn't believe it and I felt so terrible for Joe and his other siblings that they would have to watch their dad go through this.  The Ridley's are probably the closest family I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Although it was hard to see them all hurting, it was amazing to watch them all be supportive of each other and their mom through Joe's entire illness.  

Joe leaves behind an amazing wife, Linda, a women I could only dream to be as strong as.  I seriously do not know if I could handle a situation like this with as much grace and strength as she has.  He also leaves behind 5 children, Melissa, Joe, Jon, Logan, and Delaney.  All of the kids are now married but he will be missing out on the lives of his current grandchildren and the grandchildren to come.  We will be sure to keep his story and spirit alive by telling them stories of what an amazing man their grandpa was.  

I could go on for days about the type of man that Joe was and the memories that I have of him over the last 10 years of being a part of this family.  I know that the memories that I have don't compare to the lifetime of memories that his kids and wife and mother & siblings have, but what I do know that I think everyone can agree on is that Joe will be truly missed every day.  His warm smile, soft voice, and eagerness to always help others are qualities that I think many people admired about Joe.  I know his sons feel like they've got some big shoes to fill, but what they probably don't realize is that they are all already like him in so many ways.  His daughters will miss their daddy and I hope one day that Georgia has the relationship with Joe that Melissa and Delaney had with Joe Sr.  

I have now seen first hand how hard your fight can be, and I watched someone endure the pain and the heartache of knowing their life was ending but still continued to fight to beat the disease.   His strength and determination through the entire process was admirable.  Although he did not win this fight we are relieved that he is no longer suffering.  He will be truly missed.  


  1. I am so sorry to hear this Elena, it sounds like he was a wonderful man.

  2. So so sorry for you loss elena. Praying for comfort for you guys.

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss - this is a beautiful tribute and it was lovely reading about what a great man he was. What a blessing that he was able to walk his daughter down the aisle and spend time with his new granddaughter. Praying for your family xx

  4. So very sorry to read this. Glad that he got to meet your sweet Georgia. Condolences and prayers for you and your family. ~ Bev in Vancouver, BC, Canada

  5. I'm a little late to reading this post. I am so sorry for your family's loss. You wrote your feelings so beautifully it made me cry. Joe Sr. sounds like an amazing man to have known, or blessed to call your family. xo


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