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Carl’s Story

Welcome to our CaringBridge site. We created it in August 2012 to keep family and friends updated on Carl's cancer journey. Carl lost his battle with cancer and went to his heavenly home on January 23, 2013. We appreciate your words of love here on the Guestbook. Click on Read My Story below for additional info. Thank you. - Marilyn, Greg, Lynée, Matthew, Braden, Camden, Justina, & Brandt

Carl had a melanoma cancer spot removed on his arm, along with the sentinel lymph nodes, in 2009. The lymph nodes were checked and cleared of all possible melanoma. As we've now learned, melanoma microbes can go undetected, skip lymph nodes, or remain dormant for years, lying in wait to metastasize...

Fast forward three years to July and August 2012. A kidney stone scan revealed nearby swollen lymph nodes, and a biopsy was recommended. The biopsy results showed a mass of melanoma in those lymph nodes. Carl's oncologist immediately ordered MRI and PET scans. Both showed 3 melanoma cancer tumors in his brain (2 large, 1 small). The PET scan showed lymph node areas affected by melanoma in the torso area. Surgery to extract the 2 large brain tumors occured on 8/21/2012, and Stereotactic RadioSurgery (a one-time pin-point radiation) for the smaller tumor on 9/12/2012.  Additional brain tumors found by MRI were radiated 10/24/2012. At the CU Anschutz Cancer Center Melanoma Clinic, Carl underwent three months of IV systemic immunodrug therapy as the only treatment option given, as standard chemo and radiation have not medically proven to be successful at this stage.

“'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His word;

Just to rest upon His promise;

Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,

How I've proved Him o'er and o'er,

Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!

O for grace to trust Him more.

”Proverbs 16:3: "Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. The Lord works out everything for His own ends." - Carl's life verse

My Dad was born on October 27, 1940, in Meade, Kansas, to a Mennonite pastor and school teachers, Jacob and Mary, who were also farmers. Dad is proud of his farm roots! He has two older sisters, Gerry and Pauline. After moving to various states, the family settled in Reedley, CA, near Fresno. That's when he met my mom...they were 12!

Dad spent two years studying music at Biola University in S.CA (my alma mater), and the last two at Tabor College in KS. He and my mom were married on August 11, 1961, between their jr and sr years of college. They both graduated from Tabor and went on to graduate school, my dad for music and my mom for elem ed. They ended up in Baltimore, MD, in 1966 where my Dad received his Doctorate in Music degree at Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins Univ. While he was studying there, he was Director of Admissions, Opera Director, and Voice Prof, along with singing opera and oratorio roles with many different companies.

I was born in 1969 and Greg in 1977 in Baltimore. In 1979, we moved to Louisville, KY, where Dad began the Sacred Music Drama program at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was there that he had inspiration to write and publish his book "Sacred Music Drama: The Producer's Guide." In 1983, we moved to Greeley, CO, where Dad took over as Director of Opera Theater, Voice Prof, and Graduate Student Advisor at the University of Northern Colorado. He retired from UNC in 2004. He also was the Conductor of the Greeley Chorale for 20 years, a 100-voice community choir that has taken many international tours.

He has been both a Visiting Fellow and Scholar at Cambridge Univ. England, and in 2010 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Opera Association. Dad has done many other things, from guest directing and conducting to recently teaching voice in La Paz, Mexico, at their music academy. They have always loved the southern Baja region, and since having a home there in 1999, they have made every effort to spend as much time as possible vacationing in that beautiful area. The past 3 years in La Paz has especially taken them on a new journey of involvement in their local English church, mission ministries, and the La Paz music academy.

They are thoroughly enjoying retirement, which for my parents has never meant being a couch potato! My parents have also spent countless hours at Work out West in Greeley doing exactly that...working out! My Dad has always been in incredibly fit shape, playing college sports and running many miles a week. He is the strongest and most hard-working person I know.

We are thankful for all the vacations we've shared together over the years (we affectionately call those our "Gatherings"), with the most recent in June to the East Coast and Mexico over the holidays, and for all the blessings that have come from those.

Celebrating their 50th anniversary August 2011 with 161 guests in their home was a party never to be forgotten!!

DAD, WE LOVE YOU!  You were healed in HEAVEN on January 23, 2013.

  - Lynee Gerbrandt Graves

Latest Journal Update

Almost a Year Later...

As I look out towards the Sea of Cortez, I am reminded of the times spent walking on the beaches in Mexico over the past 29 years.  The water rises and recedes, just like the events in our lives; nothing stays the same. Our hearts are full one moment, empty the next.  However, our God is the same; He cares for us deeply, shares our pain, and rejoices when we look to Him for comfort.  He is the great healer and is constantly at our side, holding us by His right hand.  

Months have passed since I have written on CaringBridge; Carl left us on January 23, 2013, and we have continued to miss him deeply.  We talk about him often, and wonder what he has been doing the past year! Is he still designing ponds in someone’s back yard or conducting a heavenly chorale?!

This past year, 2013, has held surprises, joys, frustrations, delights, and sorrows; the emotions often run deeply – laughter and tears are quick to surface!  Lynée has just completed a large photo book of Carl’s life; what a treasure and a beautiful remembrance of who he was professionally, and most importantly, of his personal commitment to his family and friends.

My goals the past months have been to simplify my life and live in the present moment; this is easier said than done!  Carl loved large creative projects, did them well, and maintained them with excellence! Greg, Lynée, Matthew, and the grandkids have been helping me with the houses, the yards, the cars, and the other practical aspects of daily living!  My helpful neighbors have gotten in the mix also, with their tractor/snow shoveling driveway help as well as the fixings of sprinklers and draining of ponds!

At the end of July, I enjoyed a long weekend in the mountains with Lynée and family; we drove to Crested Butte, CO, where we joined our Robinson family friends in seeing Greg sing a hilarious version of the Barber of Seville!  In September, Lynée and I flew to lovely San Francisco for a few days of sightseeing, and then drove to Carmel to hear Greg’s first Don Giovanni performance. 

In September, I was asked by the Union Colony Civic Center 25th anniversary committee to give a speech at the anniversary ceremony about our family’s connection to this awesome community center.  Over the last 25 years, Carl, Greg, Lynée, and I have performed on that stage many times.  I told the audience a few personal stories and they laughed right along with me!  Because of many positive comments I received by audience members, maybe in my next life, I’ll be a stand-up comedian!

This fall, I came back to sing with the Greeley Chorale and reveled in the music that filled my soul during the rehearsals and final performance in October.  The John Rutter Requiem was very moving to me; the director also had chosen several pieces of music that Carl had directed over the past years.

In November, I flew to Quito, Ecuador, to spend 12 days.  I heard Greg sing his first role in the opera Faust, and met his Ecuadorian girlfriend, Inti, and her family.  Quito is a lovely city, filled with energy and color.  Greg and I also spent two days in the town of Baños, three hours away by bus, hiking in the Andes Mountains to see the amazing waterfalls and ride the cable cars. Greg and I arrived back in Colorado just in time to celebrate our traditional Thanksgiving with our Robinson clan, play our beloved turkey bowl football game, and eat a luscious turkey dinner at Lyneé’s house.

Two weeks later, I packed the suitcase again to leave for La Paz, Mexico, where we have spent much time over the last three years.  Greg joined me at the San Jose del Cabo airport, and we boarded the shuttle for La Paz, three hours away.  Lynée, Matthew, and the four grandkids came a few days later.  The following several weeks were spent enjoying and socializing with our friends, singing as a family at our Christmas Eve service at one of the marinas, carrying out our Christmas Day traditions of breaking the piñata, reading the Christmas story, lighting the candles in our yule log, offering words of thanksgiving, and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus around His birthday cake.  We also found time to swim with the whale sharks, go kayaking, watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, spend time at the horse ranch visiting with our missionary friends, the Gatto’s, and relax in the sun and surf in both La Paz and Los Cabos.  These family gatherings sustain me and add much joy as I go along in my daily life with my Lord. 

Some of you continue to check this CaringBridge site from time to time, and I am grateful for your continued support, love, and prayers over the past year and a half since we, as a family, began this difficult journey.  Happy New Year to all of you! Hold your family and friends close to your heart and continue to tell them that you love them!  Let us all go forward with hope, joy, faith, love, and peace in this new year – 2014!

- Marilyn