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  Family - Weekend Effect

Little Actions, Great Love

Matt & Dawn Dingeldein

When we were trying to pick a topic for this presentation, we just could not find one that was right. When I was in my room in the hospital recovering from my second surgery and reading a book called Mother Teresa’s Reaching Out In Love, the topic became clear.

Dawn: Love is defined by many ways, such as strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties and has many more. In our family it has meant more than any meaning in a dictionary. You see, facing two surgeries and the cancer to go with it, love has a new meaning. For me it is that Matt has stepped in and taken over things that for a few days I couldn’t do, and the girls helped to some degree. Trying to heal from any surgery is not easy and changing how I did things was a must including slowing down to heal. Little things such as laundry, doing dishes and the basic housework may not get done right away since I was not up to it yet all the time. And he understood that it may not get done that day or the next but he would come home and bring up clean laundry for me to fold if I couldn’t carry it just yet. He stepped up to help with those things and has had to cook dinner more, which is great.

Matt: After Dawn’s first surgery, things were a little rough around the house. She was trying to recover. I wouldn’t let her do a lot of things, because she needed rest. I took on most of the responsibilities in the house as far as cooking, cleaning, and getting the kids taken care of. Her recovery was going along nicely, only a little pain. Then we got the news that she had to have a SECOND surgery because of the cancer that they discovered. Oh man, could we go through this again??? Just give up the concerns to GOD and trust in GOD. After the second surgery, her recovery was just harder than the first… More pain and suffering. I just wanted to take it all away. Let me suffer instead.

Dawn: You see, I see the little things he is doing as showing love. Not just the hugs and kisses, which are nice, but stepping up to help with housework and Tori’s homework. These are things that I would usually do, but recovering from a second surgery has slowed me down again. Those little things are what show the greatest love for me. They may not be easy for him or he may not enjoy it but he does them out of love for me. We have been through the loss of a child before we had our oldest, due to a miscarriage. When I was pregnant with our youngest, Emily, I had to be on bed rest for a few days. He had to take care of Tori during this time so that I could make sure Emily would stay put for the remainder of her 9 months. He has been through my medical crises and has been by my side no matter what. Now he has been there through my latest medical crisis right by my side. One thing my mom said after we lost our first child was she gained a lot of respect for him when he was there for me while we grieved the loss of our child Glen. My mom said he could have run away from the situation but he didn’t.

Matt: I love my wife and my family. I remember our vows... I will love you through thick and thin, for better or worse, in sickness or in health... That’s what it’s all about. You just can’t give up and run away. That would be WRONG. GOD put us all on this planet of ours for HIS divine purpose that only HE knows. We believe that we were put here for each other. You can’t run away from that… Besides, Dawn has stuck with me without a whimper throughout all of my career redirections. She would look at it as though we were going on YET another adventure. I mean, living in three states in three years is a lot to ask of anybody, not to mention having three OB/GYN’s for one pregnancy. That’s enough to put anybody on bed rest... The hardest thing about that is not having any family connections to fall back onto, as everybody is at least several states away. She’s a real trooper.

Dawn: This latest challenge is the roughest because we not only dealt with 2 surgeries, but I will also have to be treated for thyroid cancer. The surgeon would have never found the cancer if they had never done the first surgery, so it looks like surgery was best for my case. He let me make the decisions in this; I did my research and we listened to my doctor’s opinion. I still had to follow my heart as to the best way to handle this situation. Matt is being so supportive and helpful during this whole ordeal and the girls have also. They get to see that even dad is helping more and being supportive and they see what they need to look for in a spouse. And they get to see those little acts as signs of love. There are days when he knows that I am not at my best and he is there to pick me up and encourage me. On my good days he is there to encourage me to continue with what I can do for a few days and more if I need it. I will continue to have good and bad days as I heal and I know he will be there for me as I heal no matter how I feel. He takes over when I can’t, and it goes both ways.

Matt: I know that the healing is and will be difficult. There are days when Dawn just doesn’t want to get out of bed at her normal time. I guess that on these days, I probably am “the bad guy”, because I have to “encourage” her a little more than normal. We get through it though. If it wasn’t time for Tori to get up for school and get ready, I probably would just leave her in bed to get more rest. But I can’t…. I have to finish getting ready to go on my daily grind to work, and that can’t be changed. At the end of the school year, Emily’s playgroup went on a school bus to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I took a vacation day to take Emily, to get her out of Dawn’s hair and let Dawn get a little rest and relaxation by herself. That way, she didn’t have to commit to doing it.

Dawn: Here is a story that is a good example of Little Actions, Great Love from the book as I stated above:

Mother Teresa knew that people were looking for ways and means to put their love into action, so she put forth their unasked question: ‘How do we love?’
‘Not in big things but in small things, with great love, was Mother’s answer.
She once illustrated what she had said with one of her own acts of love.
‘In Melbourne, where we had gone to work, I met a man and I asked him if he would allow me to clean his house and wash his clothes. He said: “I’m alright.” I said:
“You will be more alright if you allow me to do these things.”
After I had finished, I saw a big beautiful lamp full of dust in the room. I asked him, “don’t you light this lamp? And he replied, For whom?” For many years nobody has come to see me. I do not need the lamp.”
I asked him,” Will you light the lamp if the Sisters come to see you?”
He said, “Yes, if I hear a human voice, I will.”
So the Sisters started visiting him. After two years he sent me word: “Tell my friend that the light she has lighted in my life is still burning. It is still alight.”
See, that little act was something so beautiful. It is our little actions that can create much love.

10 and 10:
What little actions can I show you this week? HDIFAMA?

What little actions have you shown me recently?

In Feb of this year (2006) Dawn was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and decided to have surgery. During the surgery they found 4 suspicious spots. Pathology showed cancer. They did a second surgery on Good Friday and got all the cancer. Dawn had other tests that showed her thyroid was still working so had to spend additional time in the hospital to “kill off” her thyroid.

Dawn said “We were scheduled to give a presentation the weekend after my second surgery I was lying in the hospital and trying to come up with a topic and nothing suggested seemed right. I was reading a book called Mother Teresa's Reaching Out In Love. That is when the topic hit me, we calling our presentation Little Actions, Great Love.”

“This just seemed right for what we have been facing since February. We have 2 girls and they are 9 yrs old and a 5 yr old and have been real troopers about it. They have had to adjust to life that mom may not always feel up to things like before but I continue to get better everyday.”

God Bless
Dawn & Matt Dingeldein

Matt & Dawn live in IL and are the Prayer Couple Coordinators for their local community.

Click here for a printable version (PDF, 17KB)


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