Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard and in the midst of the emotional loss the family will need to make some decisions. Who needs to know the loved one passed? What do you do when they are in Hospice and pass at home?  Do you call the doctor? Do you call the nurse? Do you call a funeral home? Does your loved one want to be buried? Cremated?  Is there a will? What happens to the children who are minors?  Where exactly does one even begin!!!!

We have all heard stories of how assets were divided “unfairly” or how a relative from nowhere came in and took this or that or in some cases how the cherished pet was left with a vast fortune!   This is a very emotional and trying time for the family and sometimes can tear siblings/relatives apart.   Wanda didn’t want this to happen to her family.   Years ago, after her sister Katie’s death, Wanda developed a Family Record Guide book, called a family meeting and handed us all a booklet to have and to fill out!  (How many of you have filled yours out??) Wanda had taken a proactive approach to planning for certain details and this was another item she wanted to share – BE PREPARED!  

Please take the time to discuss and share with your family your final wishes and what will happen to your stuff when you are gone. Plan for your future let them know your wishes while you are alive and well, so there is no He Said/She Said! Wanda and her kids had the opportunity for family meetings to go through the checklist below. She also had filled out her Family Record Guide book – so we knew she loved yellow roses, cally lilles, what music she wanted and who she’d like to sing at her funeral 

The list provided below is intended as a starting point and to get you and your loved ones something to think about.  Search the internet for more information and details.  Office supply stores have the basic documents to get you started as well.   Check the laws in your state with an Estate Attorney or your Family Attorney to make sure everything is legally documented.  My mom, brother, sister and I will be going over this information while I’m home!  Get the binder ready … and the let the organization begin!

CHECKLIST – I recommend cutting and pasting the following questions into your own document and start answering today!


Vital statistics

  • Birth date and birthplace
  • Social security number
  • Father’s name and state of birth
  • Mother’s maiden name and state of birth
  • Personal history – include past occupations, military service and honors, memberships, other names used (former married names)
  • Family names – include children’s names / birthdates / social security / phone and address’s – immediate family i.e. Brothers and sisters and their contact information
  • Contact list of who to be contacted in the event of your death / serious illness
    • List by name / relationship / telephone / email address
  • Legal & finance & insurance information
  • Do you have an advance directive? What is an advanced directive: a living will or durable power of attorney in which a person stateshis or her wishes regarding medical treatment in the event ofmental incompetency or an inability to communicate.
  • If not, what are your wishes regarding being placed on life support?
  • Do you have an attorney?  Name and addresss.
  • Do you have a power of attorney?  Who is it? Where is it?
  • Current will?  Where is it?
  • Who is the estate executor? Name and contact info?
  • Do you have an inventory of your insurance coverage?  Where is it located
  • Death certificates need to be ordered – typically done through funeral parlor or crematory 
  • Was the person an organ donor? Who needs to be contacted for organ donation?

Banking information

  • What is your banking account information – list out account numbers.
  • Who are the signers?  Add signers before death to insure your family can easily access (if you want).
  • Savings account information?
  • Do you have a safety deposit box?
  • What other financial assets do you have and where are their documents? 

Funeral arrangements

Who to notify:

  • Local newspapers / other newspapers from hometowns
  • What picture to use for obituary?
  • Who is writing the obituary?

Plans for funeral / service

  • Burial or cremation?
  • Do you have a funeral service location picked out?
  • Pastor? Minister? Priest?
  • Wake/visitation service?
  • Who is in charge of arrangements?
  • Pall bearers/greeters
  • Songs to be played
  • Who to read the prayers/scriptures
  • Speakers to talk about your life
  • Slideshow – who is arranging the pictures and the slideshow



  • Earth burial .. Crypt/casket/ urn
  • Cemetery
  • Do you have a plot already?
  • Marker?
  • Inscription on the marker?


  • Where do you wish your ashes to be scattered?
  • Cremation service provider information? 

Special instructions

  • Wardrobe to be buried or cremated in
  • Jewelry
  • Flowers for casket / grave site
  • Special messages to the family
  • How do you want to be remembered … Party after the ceremony celebrating your life (maybe you loved hawaii and want it themed)
  • Memorial contributions for a specific organization?

Other items to consider:

  • Where is the pink slip to the car? Who gets the car?
  • Who gets the wedding rings?
  • Who gets the rocking chair?
  • What is special for each person that you’d like to leave them as a keepsake?
  • How are you marking items so they know who gets what.
    • Having a marking party so you know what is special to everyone and everyone is clear on who gets what.
  • Who is going through all the belongings to sort it out – what to keep, what goes to charity, etc?

On behalf of Wanda, I hope this gets you thinking and planning!!!



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She looked so well… what happened??

What happened?

If you saw Wanda a month ago at her 75th birthday, you wouldn’t have any idea that she was even sick, much less a month away from death!  She even commented on that day “ I hope people aren’t disappointed that I don’t look like I’m sick or dying!”   Of course no one would want anyone to look like that!  Wanda had a great birthday party and talked about all the love she felt from everyone, even during this last week!

Hospice provided Wanda and her family a book entitled “When Death is Near; A Caregiver’s Guide.”  The booklet is an overview of what could be expected during the final stages of life, detailing the timeline down to the final hour.   Did we see the signs?  Yes we were starting too… but no one is really prepared for the quickness in which they can happen!

After the “drugs are not fun” episode, the Hospice nurse came for her regular check up day on Wednesday.  The nurse mentioned that Wanda’s platelets were low and that she wasn’t sure that Wanda would make it through the Holidays.  Kerry spoke with Hospice and was going to call a family meeting with the Hospice nurse to discuss Wanda’s condition, to answer any questions and help to understand the current condition she was in.   Most importantly, now was the time to spend with Wanda if you wanted to get in those last moments before it was too late.

Page 18 of the booklet reads:  Because each person’s dying process is unique to him or her, the outline below is only a general guide.  People may exhibit some or all of these signs and symptoms at varying times.


  • Withdrawal from people and activities – NOT Wanda she was ready to be with people, share her journey, complete items on her Bucket List!
  • Communicating Less – NOT WANDA; she had a speaking engagement set up to share her experiences in Hospice with the Hospice community; her main reason for doing the blog.
  • Eating and drinking less – NOT WANDA – food was tasting very good to her!  She raved about the ham we had after the birthday party, Kerry went over and made her meatloaf and mashed potatoes, she was daring to eat gluten too!  She even called me and requested chocolate chip cookies on Friday; which I made and Kerry took to her on Saturday.
  • Sleeping more – Yes, Wanda was starting to sleep more during this last week – to week and a half.



  • Disorientation and confusion – YES this had started, simple little things would now be hard for her; we noticed it subtly the week before last, but this last week when she had trouble remembering how to forward an email or use her computer, my heart sank.   Wanda was in her 70’s but she was hip and armed with the latest technology; a Macbook, an iPad, an iPhone .. She knew how to Shazam a song and download it to her phone! And now all of the sudden she can’t figure out how to forward an email!  Nah, she just must be having a bad day; tomorrow she’ll be better!  I was in denial.
  • Use of Symbolic language (“I want to go home”) – she didn’t say those words to my knowledge, but there were other signs.  When she was in pain or meditated, she would see her mom and Kelly having cookies and milk; they would always say “you can’t have cookies and milk with us.”   This last week she had shared with my mom, Carolyn, that when she saw them again, they invited her to join them for cookies and milk L perhaps that’s why she wanted chocolate chip cookies brought to her!  (Her mom, Stella, and son, Kelly, are both deceased)
  • Talking to others not present in the room – I don’t believe she did this; she did miss-hear Kirby on Saturday when he said “Kerry’s on her way” and said back to him “Good Katie’s here”  (Katie is her sister that passed away).  Wanda did begin to see different people around her though – she would see her Mom, Orv and Kelly; and lately had seen them more and more. 
  • Physical changes:  Yes these all happened to Wanda within the last few hours.
    • Increase or decrease in pulse
    • Decrease in blood pressure
    • Changes in skin color
    • Irregularities in breathing
    • Changes in body temperature, hot/cold
    • Not eating, taking little or no fluids


DAYS TO HOURS – all these signs did happen during the last day

  • Sleeping most of the time – Jack had an appointment on Saturday and Kirby was staying with Wanda as she had been in bed all morning, which was not like Wanda.  Kirby checked on her every 15 minutes and around 11:30 found that she had fallen out of bed.  He immediately called Kerry to tell her to hurry; as she was already on her way over.  Hospice was notified and they came over. The rest of the day she was in and out of sleep.  Phone calls were placed to family to come over to see Wanda as it was only a matter of time.   
  • Surge of energy
  • Restlessness –  She had a little restlessness when sleeping; her legs have always had cramps and it was still obvious this day while she was sleeping.
  • Difficulty swallowing –
  • Further discoloration of skin
  • Ongoing changes in breathing (long pauses between breaths)
  • Rattling breath sounds
  • Weak pulse
  • Further decrease in blood pressure
  • Decreased urine output or no urine
  • Eyelids no longer able to close completely

MINUTES – Yes these happened.

  • Shallow breaths with longer pauses
  • Mouth open
  • Unresponsive

God was ready to have Wanda come back to him and to be an Angel.  Why he had to speed up her journey this last week so quickly we will never know.

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Wanda’s Memorial Information

Dear all,

My mother Wanda Schnebly passed away at 12:55 p.m., Sunday afternoon, October 14th. She was under hospice care and died peacefully & without pain at her home in Yorba Linda California with all of her immediate family members present. Many of you know her personally or through her book “A Ticket To He”, or from her blog “til we meet again” at

Mom touched the lives of many in such a positive way. Her 7+ year battle with multiple myeloma cancer is over now and she is in a much better place.

There will be a memorial service in California on Saturday, October 20th and also a funeral service and burial of her cremated remains in Iowa on November 10th as shown below:

(714) 528-1483
*** A reception will follow the service in the church lunch room and portions of donations will go to PUMC & to Heartland Hospice Care ****

(641) 585-3281

*** DONATIONS WILL GO TO FCUMC & KRYSILIS, INC. (home for the handicapped originally founded by Wanda Schnebly)

My family and I appreciate the kind words and prayers so many of you have expressed to us, feel free to continue to post your share your comments on her blog or Facebook page!


Kirby Schnebly

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We ask today that you pray for Wanda as she enters the final stages of her journey.   Her family has gathered to be with her for these last precious moments (it could be hours, it could be a day). Kyle, her son, and Carolyn, her sister, arrived this morning from Iowa.   There will be more information, but for now the Family requests your prayers for a safe passage for their Mother, Grandma, Sister, Aunt, Friend.

Please pray for Wanda in your own special way and if words are at loss please read the Lord’s Prayer below:  

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come,Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.




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WHAT A STRANGE, RENEWING day it turned out to be!  I had dreaded this day for a long time, almost a half-year, because my legs ached and ached so much that by evening I could barely walk from the family room to the bedroom.  What did this do to my perspective, how would I see myself now and how would others see me riding around on a scooter with oxygen on.  I remember how I disliked seeing people so dependent.

Jack had looked in some of the medical equipment stores and on Saturday, he, Kerry and I went to the one he recommended.  What a time we had!  Our shopping started out sane and orderly as I test drove the scooter around the small store.  I’d been driving the scooters at the grocery stores and Target and had had no problems except for hitting a few counter corners and 1 or 2 shoppers, not enough to injure them, but enough to get them out of the way.  (gently)

Kerry watched me for a short time and then seated herself on one of the small scooters.  Timidly she pressed down on the power and “whoosh” it took off.  She got it stopped and turned the speed down to “turtle” and took off again this time with much more control.  It wasn’t long before she was “turtling” or “rabbiting” all over the place.  This 50+ woman laughed and laughed as if she were a young kid.  She was riding the scooter I’d decided to buy and I had scant time to try it out because, like a kid, she didn’t want to give it up.  We got the paper work done and watched as the salesman showed us how to take it apart for transportation.

When we got home, she and Jack reassembled the scooter and then the fun started again!  She made meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn all the while she was seated on the scooter.  When she wasn’t cooking, she was “rabbiting” or “turtling” all around the house, making tight turns, sharp backups and squeezing through uneven, small pathways.

What was I doing?  The same thing when Kerry let me have the scooter.  I laughed with her, drove the scooter like a crazy, little kid and lost at least 20 years in wrinkles and worries.  It was such a simple, fun thing to do and the best part is I can do it every day and so can you!  BE A KID AGAIN!

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DRUGS Not So Much Fun

Drugs will make you think you’re having fun when in reality  you’re putting your life in danger or it makes you think you’re a super person who can run, jump, cycle, sing or do just about anything else better than anyone.  It will wrack havoc in your body, disfigure your features, redistribute your weight, give you peripheral neurothphy and make you feel like a  monster.

My first encounter with steroids was in 2004 when the doctors prescribed them as part of the “Gold” treatment for multiple myeloma cancer.  The Dexamethasone’s (Decadron), job was to assist the Thalidomide in bringing me into remission so I could have a stem cell transfusion.  The steroids caused such havoc in my body that after a few months I refused to take them.  My thanks to God that the Thalidomide did the job and in March 2005 I had the transfusion at City of Hope in Duarte, CA.

Side effects I had were weight gain with redistribution of weight to my stomach and face area causing my clothes to be too small and making me look like The Pillsbury Dough Boy; constipation, change in taste, headache, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, swelling of my tongue and cheeks making it difficult to speak and easy to bite my cheeks, constant talking, a feeling of being “high” like in a drug high (which was a good feeling, but a dangerous one) and shaky hands causing difficulty in writing or any fine motor movement.  Upon stopping, most of these side effects lessened or went away.

When Dr. Brasfield suggested taking Dex again, I was very reluctant.  “I feel like I’m on a constant high and talk incessantly.  If I’m on the phone, I never hang up.  I tell people to call me again when they want to hear someone talk.”

She laughed.  “Just don’t call me.  You could go to a nursing home; elderly people like to hear people talk.”

I did go back to taking the Dex again, but at a much lower dose.  My first dose was in August 2011.  I went to a birthday party for Briana and by the time I got there, the  steroids were working.  I’ve never been a Jerry Lee Lewis fan – I liked Elvis – but I heard Lewis’s song, Chantilly Lace, and loved it.  My kids swear on a Bible I can’t sing and forbid me to even try, but this day they couldn’t stop me and when I got there I told them, “This is a song I want to be sung at my funeral.  So I sang a little of it.  “Chantilly lace and a pretty face … you knowww   whattt   I like.”  I thought I sounded good.  So good I wanted to dance on the table and belt the song out, but I figured the kids would get too embarrassed because I know I can’t dance.

Now, back to the damage steroids are doing to my body and mind.  Even at a low dose, they are causing weight gain and redistribution of it around my middle, my cheeks are getting puffy, I talk a lot and I feel confused at times.

The other night was a very dangerous incident of that.  I had gone to bed at 10:30, which is early for me.  During the night I had an hallucination in which a man was throwing me against the floor forcefully.  I had a terrible time getting away from him, but eventually I crawled back into my bed.  The next thing I remember is the phone ringing.  I answered it as I looked at the clock.  The voice on the other end was Rachael.  I mumbled, “Rachael, is it ten o’clock?  I never sleep until ten o’clock.”

“Yes,” she said.  “When do you think we should have Kelly’s birthday party?  Tonight or tomorrow night?”

Tonight?  I couldn’t go anywhere tonight; I can’t even get out of bed.  “Tomorrow night,” I mumbled.

“Okay,  See you then.”

Before going back to sleep, I remembered I was suppose to give the sermon tomorrow at my church.  I hadn’t finished it.  The next time I saw the clock it was noon and I was still too groggy to get up.  I didn’t think I’d be getting up any time soon, so I called the church and left a message I was sick and wouldn’t be able to do the sermon.  And then I fell asleep and didn’t see the clock until sometime around noon the next day.  I was still so tired I could barely get out of bed, but I ate the eggs and toast Jack fixed me and then I went back to sleep.  Kirby and Kerry came over and I got up and talked with them.  Kirby was sure I’d taken a drug overdose.  “You’ll be all right,” he said.  “You’re coherent, you can move about and you ate.”

I knew I’d be all right.  When they left I went back to sleep and didn’t get out of bed until sometime the next morning.  The next day, Jack said, “You’re back to your old self.”  If anyone would know it would be Jack who had been watching me for the last 3 to 4 days.  He told me on Tuesday, “I watched you on Saturday and you kept moving around in the bed, so I knew you weren’t in a coma and that you’d be all right.  But I don’t want to go through that again.”

When we notified Hospice, they set up a new medication routine.  It’s just one of their services and there is no cost for using it.  Because there were no blood tests taken, so we’re not sure if it was the steroids, Ativan or a combination of drugs.  That was a mistake we will avoid making again.  We will call Hospice immediately any time I seem to be in trouble.  QUICK ACTION CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE SO YOU CAN HAVE FUN – FUN THAT WON’T KILL YOU!

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THE BIG “A” My granddaughter Brittany, great- grand nephew Ian and great-grand niece Gracelyn (Ian and Gracelyn are from Iowa) at the Angels’ game on July 5, 2012, We went to the Angels game to watch Mark Trumbo play. It was exciting!

Mark Trumbo was on the 2000 “Heat” Little League Team with Kirby’s sons, Kelly and Brandon.  Kirby was coach for the team. Mark is in back row on the left and Kirby is in front row at far right.

Kerry was team “Auntie” for the 2000 HEAT team for Brandon and Mark Trumbo!  Mark’s Mom is fighting cancer now too, just like Kerry’s Mom, me, is fighting cancer.  Mark is at far left in back row, Kerry is holding team picture board and Brandon is at center front.

Mark, #44,  greets Kirby, Wanda, Ian, and Gracelyn at the July 5, 2012, game at Angels’ Stadium.  Angels won!  Mark’s 2012 statistics:  AVG 264, AB 508, R 64, H 134, HR 31, RBI 7, SB 4, E 5, and RBIs 89.

A lifetime memory seeing Mark Trumbo as a major League baseball player and remembering his skills as a Little Leaguer playing with my grandsons.  Loved sharing the experience with my Granddaughter Brittany, and great nephew and niece, Ian and Gracelyn.  Mark signed balls, T-shirts, baseball cards and hats.  Some of the items will be raffled at the Relay for Life Cancer Walk in Winnebago County, Iowa.

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