A visit with John

January 26, 2009

Faith Outdoors

Last night, I got a chance to visit my friend John Nesheim, who fell into a ravine last Monday and was stranded for two days before being rescued and brought to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. He was in good spirits and I was so glad to have a chance to see him in person.

He is now bracing for the next step in his recovery — and it’s a big one. He said doctors are planning to amputate both of his feet today. The frostbite was so severe that the doctors said they couldn’t save his feet. John said he is at peace with it and feels fortunate to be alive.

A friend of his who’s a doctor calls it a miracle that John survived. I believe it. In fact, John told me he thought he wasn’t going to make it. I’m so happy God spared him and brought him out of the woods alive. I’m sure it must have been agonizing for his wife, Maureen, and daughter, Renee, those two days wondering where he was and waiting to hear from him.

The road ahead is going to be challenging for the Nesheim family. The good news is John and Maureen’s faith is strong and they have lots of family members and friends waiting to help, including me.

One of the key people for John will be his brother-in-law, Al Nicklaus, and his wife, Anne. John and Al have been best friends for years and each was best man at the other’s wedding. John married Al’s sister, Maureen. Al and Anne were at the hospital last night, too, and it was touching to witness their love and care for John. I know they will be there for John and Maureen and I hope I can be of assistance, too. John has done so much for me and has been a great friend for more than two decades.

When my first wife, Jennifer, died of cancer in May of 1995, three of my four brothers decided to take me on a fly-in fishing trip to Canada to get away from it all for a few days. We invited John along and he quickly agreed. On that trip and ever since, John feels more like a brother to me. Last night, we got a chance to laugh about that trip and about how smelly and grubby five guys can get out in the woods for three days. It would sure be great to go on a trip like that again.

Before John’s accident, I had told him that my wife, Julie, and I would like to have him, Maureen and Renee over for a wild game dinner. John and Maureen didn’t get a deer on their hunt this year, so we wanted to offer them a venison dinner. Our favorite recipe is venison meat pie, using a recipe we got from Anne Nicklaus. I’d sure like to make that for John and Maureen sometime. For now, I’ll keep their family in my prayers and encourage others to do the same.

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek