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Life lessons learned from a friend

| May 6, 2020 1:00 AM

I imagine there are quite a list of things that happened in the days since I filed last week’s Main Street column. But it seems time stood still as our friends Rich and Pam Houser were dealt a blow in Rich’s three-month battle with brain cancer. A week ago Rich was hospitalized with a serious blood infection, he’d made it halfway through chemo and radiation but this was a monumental setback.

Rich and Pam made it through the stunning diagnosis in late January, Rich’s brain surgery, hospitalization and rehabilitation. By the time he returned home on March 18 there was a state of emergency due to Covid-19 and new protocols for limiting contact just when everyone wanted to surround the Housers and hold them close. A week later the stay-at-home order took effect.

The Housers soldiered on, continuing their long tradition of family dinners every Sunday with their children and grandchildren. Their village of friends brought meals every night, hundreds of cards and notes were sent to the family. They were shown the love.

In return we were shown the depth of their faith, a reminder of just how much Rich had blessed so many through his life with selfless service to others.

During Rich’s hospitalization last week it became obvious his weakened body had no more strength to fight off the infection. Visiting at the hospital is severely restricted and Rich told Pam he wanted to come home. On Saturday afternoon he was brought home and able to be surrounded and comforted by his family. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Rich Houser — 58 years, nine months and two days old — bid his final farewell.

The list of his contributions to our community and to others is long and it could be said quite accurately that his was a life well-lived. But it’s in the little things, the ripples of his kindness, generosity and how deeply he loved his wife of nearly 40 years that show the man he was.

Rich Houser was a teacher, although that wasn’t his profession. He, by example, taught us all how to be present, to live. And in the darkest depths of this cruel disease he taught us how to die, to take our leave with absolute certainty that there is more to come.

Rich and Pam opened their hearts, shared their pain and their faith, allowed us in to witness what it means to be family. Oh, there were tears, there are tears and there will be tears in the days to come. But the memories will always be of joy, of one man’s kind heart, mischievous laugh, the embracing of life and counting of blessings.

A message from Pam just before she brought her sweetheart home for the last time touched the heart; “You can hope for a miracle in your life or you can realize that your life is the miracle.”

Richard Houser, August 1, 1961 ~ May 3, 2020.

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Happy Birthday today to Tamatha Dougal, Kristi Pope, Connie Clark, Steve Eachon, Jeff Rhodes, Dave Tester and Karen Ouren. May 7 is the birthdate of Chris Moore, Randy Williams, Pete Shepperd, Kathie Brack, Lisa Aitken, Rob Rinard, Jr., Kris Phillips, Rena Pruitt, Ramona Kaiser, David Dasher and Phil Pyseky.

Celebrating on Friday are Olivia Backs, Chalee Atkinson, Matt Barkley, Stephie Clinton, Julie Adamchak, Tiffany Teal, Lindsey Sales, Nic Riorden and Jared Raynor. On Saturday Allan Aitken, Tara Dagastine, Carrie Holdren, Valerie Emery, Bonnie Clark and Carla Noonan take another trip around the sun.

Mother’s Day birthdays to Coltan and Cadan Virgil (16!), Shelly Servick, Don Smock, Shelly Matthews, Pearl Bouchard, David Dickinson (21!), Margie Adams, Zena Baltzell, Bonnie McDowell and Ginger Cutler. On Monday Anne Hagman, Jason Mealer, Debra Altman, Anthony Skarisky, Stephanie Knox, Ginger Cutler, Margie Adams, Chad Todd and Sharon Culbreth put on their party hats. Mary Rawlsky, Allison Cook, Lynette Walsh, Bob Hoskins, Jason Penzkover, Craig Ziegler, Olivia Jacobsen, Wyatt Dickinson (18!) and Jon Brewer blow out the birthday candles on May 12.

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Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email mainstreet@cdapress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.