More Stories to Tell

Jennie Renner
3 min readJul 24, 2022


I thought Uncle Jimmie would live forever; I think he did too.

Aunt Paulette said that it wasn’t until the cancer was taking over his body that Uncle Jimmie admitted he was mortal. That is when he signed the “Do Not Resuscitate” order. It was Thursday, April 21, 2022. He died that Saturday morning.

Double rainbow over the Mississippi River across from Uncle Jimmie’s house on the day of his funeral

When I found out he had signed a DNR, I knew it was over. Up until then, I believed — I hoped — that he would find a way out of this like he had done so many times. As Paulette said at his funeral, up until the very end, he was orchestrating everything that happened. He was always in charge, especially when it came to his medical care.

Last fall, he had an aneurysm repaired in his abdomen, something even the Mayo Clinic doctors didn’t want to attempt. But Uncle Jimmie found a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic who specialized in such procedures.

When Jimmie told me he was going to have this surgery, he said to me, “My whole reason for staying alive is to be an example.” He continued, “Do your best and show your family that you did your best.”

I tried to pay attention whenever Jimmie said something, knowing that his many years of life meant he had a lot of wisdom to pass on — and, of course, great stories to tell. I often recorded our conversations. I didn’t record our phone call on this day, but wrote down what he said after we spoke. I came across the notes from our conversation recently.

“Don’t take the first answer (from doctors.) Never give up,” Uncle Jimmie had said. “My dad and my brothers didn’t have the medicine I have today.”

That was why Uncle Jimmie said he had to go through with the aneurysm repair procedure — however risky — because he had the option, unlike his loved ones who had passed away before him. He was doing it for them. And to be an example for me — and my generation, and the generations after me — to never give up.

By all measures, James Richard Fisher lived a full life. Hearing that he lived to be 87, you may think his time had come. But those of us who knew him well say, “he was a young 87 — he still had so much life in him.”

Me with Uncle Jimmie outside a restaurant in North Manchester, Indiana — May 11, 2019

And that’s still true. There's no way that a man who was so full of life — often described as larger than life — is actually gone.

He lives on in the lives of those he touched. In all of us who loved him and listened to his stories. He is still here.

Because there are so many more stories to tell.



Jennie Renner

I am an artist. Sometimes I use words to paint a picture. Sometimes I use images. And sometimes — I use both.