The IV Pole Named Sheldon
By: Pastor Nate Loer
I will never forget the first time I met Jane Fiemeyer.
It was the summer of 2012, and I was relatively new to Wadena and my job as Lead Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church. And I took a life-changing road trip with my colleague and friend, Christie Meier. Christie wanted to introduce me to Jane, who was staying at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and was fighting Leukemia.
We arrived at the hospital mid-morning. We walked into Jane’s room and Christie introduced me to Jane and her mother, Jil. Right away, I noticed her IV pole with several medications. And I tried to break the ice by asking Jane if she had given her pole a name. She only hesitated a moment before answering: “Sheldon,” she said with a grin.
“Sheldon?” I asked. “Like the guy from Big Bang Theory?”
“Yep,” she said, grinning even more widely than before.
And just like that, Jane opened her heart and let me in. I would later learn that Jane was like that with so many others, too. A great big heart that seemed to have space for anyone and everyone.
Before the end of our visit, Jane told me about a project she was working on: duct tape wallets. She showed me a prototype and a bunch of rolls of duct tape. She said she was giving the money she made from selling them to help other kids with cancer. Reflecting back, I wonder if Jane was already considering her legacy, realizing that this moment was about more than her personal battle with that “big bully,” cancer. She wanted to be part of something bigger. I promised her that I’d come back and buy one from her. In fact, I asked her if it would be OK if I brought my five-year-old daughter along. I explained that she was having surgery later that summer and was really scared. I thought meeting Jane might help her be brave, too.
Of course, Jane said yes.
My daughter never got to meet Jane. She was sick with a cold the day I came back to visit Jane and buy the wallet as promised. But later that summer, that duct tape wallet was among the things my daughter packed in her suitcase for her open-heart surgery. And a few days after surgery, she proudly took that wallet and walked slowly and gingerly down the hallway to the vending machine to buy a pack of her favorite gum. They were among the first steps she took on her long path of recovery. Even without meeting, Jane’s courage had rubbed off on her, I think.
A few days later, Jane died. And all of us who had met Jane – even just a couple times – were devastated. But Jane’s legacy lives on. And I think of her every time I meet another big-hearted, Jane-like person. And I hope that I might be as big- and open-hearted as her.
Pastor Nate Loer has served as Lead Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wadena, Minn., since 2012. He is passionate about journeying with people through difficult times and making small, but significant, changes in daily life. He and his wife, Audrey, have four children.