Thank you Dad, for the path you took

This year, National Suicide Prevention Week begins on Sunday, September 8. This would have been my father’s 92nd birthday.

As many of you know, my father, Philip L. Stevens, M.D., died in his sleep on July 2, 2015. It had been a milestone day in which he had celebrated the 60th anniversary of providing medical care to generations of families in Tonganoxie, Kansas. On the day he died, he saw 15 patients in his office.

In his later years, Dad had suffered from severe bouts of vertigo. He called me one day and said he had been so miserable from the vertigo that he had contemplated suicide. “But I didn’t want your sons to have had both grandfathers die by suicide,” he said.

Thirty years ago this month, September 30, 1989, the paternal grandfather of my three sons died by suicide. Like my father, this beloved elderly grandfather suffered from age-related health issues. Newspapers in his hometown headlined his suicide. To help explain his death to my children, who were then ages 2, 7 and 10, I wrote “The Story of The Bear.” After reading the story to them, my 7-year-old son said, “That was a good story, but it’s too bad the bear had to die.” And then I told them the rest of the story … how their beloved grandfather had died.

Happy birthday today, Dad, and thank you, on behalf of everyone who knew and loved you, for choosing life.


wheat-photo-1995-webSeems like a lifetime ago, 1995, wheat harvest coming to a close. Sunset, St. John, Kansas. Me, taking this photo and wondering if and how the grain elevator employee’s shadow would translate to film. Yes, film, that’s what we used in those days. Here’s the image from that long ago night. Kansas at its best.



Hang your hopes onto a star, or at least a spider web twinkling in the twilight.

Evening song

4F9A7842-Lisa Scheller LLCLife gets in a hurry some days. The bandwagon moves on, and really, all I want to do is be here to watch the softening of the light at the end of every day. Crickets and meadowlarks, and all the other insects and birds whose names I do not know, share their evening song. The flowers bloom both day and night, stalwart even in their lives so short.

The importance of listening

“On that afternoon I finally learned that when any of us is in pain, the greatest gift you can give is to listen, patiently and purely.” — Mark Lukach

Read the full story by Mark Lukach here.

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