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Heroic Parenthood

November 28, 2008 | 2 Comments

Dear Mr. Keillor,
I will be one of the lucky people who will be in attendance this Saturday as you perform in Music Hall in Cincinnati, OH.

I am attending not only because I am a true fan, but I wanted to see your show live after hearing it so many times on the radio.

In 2004, my son Leo, then 11 years old was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) and had to undergo months of treatment in the Oncology unit at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center. Leo's treatment included drugs that caused him to get painful corneal abrasions on his eyes. Light was very painful, so we would cover all the windows with black paper, have Leo wear sunglasses and basically live in total darkness for days at a time. During these times, every Saturday night, Leo and I would sit side-by-side on his bed, in the dark and turn on WVXU to listen to your show. Often, we would tune in again for your Sunday replay. Leo loved your show and we laughed so much while we listened. Your show really helped him and me through some very hard times.

Unfortunately, Leo did not survive his cancer and he died in March of 2006 at the age of 13. Obviously I miss him very much, he was such a smart kid and had a killer sense of humor.

I wanted you know this because your show meant so much to us and that now, when I happen to catch your show, and hear your soft voice over the radio, I am transported back to that dark hospital room with my sweet friend sitting at my side.

When I watch on Saturday night, I am sure Leo will be right beside me and my wonderful husband who got the tickets for me. (He knew I HAD to go) I will think to myself, "Leo, this one is for you".

Many of us never know what part we play in another's life. I thought you ought to know what a gift your show was to two people sitting in a dark room on the oncology unit at Children's Hospital. Thank you for the sweet memories.

Susan J.
West Chester, Ohio


Leo was lucky to have you for a mother, who could see him through those dark days with such presence of mind and strength of spirit. You've set a rather high mark for heroic parenthood, Susan. I'm glad you'll be at the Music Hall on Saturday and I hope we get a chance to meet afterward.


Dear Susan and G.K.,

I hope you both did meet after the show. It would be so meaningful.

I have been a fan of the show but would admit I wasn't one who is diligent enough to tune in to our local NPR every Sat or Sun. However, I would certainly take every opportunity to listen to the show if and when I am driving during the show hours. Yesterday (Nov/29) was one of those opportunities when my family and I were driving back home to Columbus, OH from Augusta, GA. We had been scanning through all channels and luckily got to the NPR when we reached WV. Although it was getting dark and chilly out there, listening to the PHC always gave me a bright, warm and fuzzy feeling, not to mention a big smile on my face. It made the drive through the mountains of WV even more delightful! Those 2 hours through the WV mountains were the most enjoyable time of the 10 we had driven.

And then, knowing yesterday's show was actually staged in Cincinnati, OH made me feel a little excited and disappointed at the same time; excited because you folks were in OH and disappointed because I missed the opportunity to be there to experience the show 'live'! Regardless, I still enjoyed the show thoroughly as usual and decided to check out the show schedule on your web site (for the 1st time) when I got home.

That's when I came across your post, Susan. It brought tears to my eyes and thought I'd let you know how much your love and strength are an inspiration and your sorrow was understood. I know your son was with you as always, especially at the show last evening. He would truly appreciate your thoughts and your sharing of his sense of humor also. Somehow, the PHC show have linked us all together in a miraculous way.

Thank you so much, G.K. and every one of the show members, for bringing so much joy and humility to all of us.

With deepest admiration,

-P. Berger

Dear Susan,
I couldn't believe it when I read your post to the host; it made me cry and I was filled with a warmth for you. To take the time to let Garrison know how precious the show was to you and your son just demonstrates what a wonderful person you are. I am sure that your son was totally blessed to have you for a mom for 13 years. I'd be willing to bet that's the way he saw it. Thanks for giving of yourself in such a way; you have enriched the lives of everyone who reads that post. You remind me that the world is a much better place than I think it is. God bless you.

Cole Stewart

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