Thursday, February 16, 2012

Peter Ediger, 1926 – 2012

Peter J. Ediger, poet, prophet and peacemaker, died in Las Vegas February 16 after a brief illness. Ediger resided in Las Vegas, where he co-founded Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service in 1989 with the Franciscan Friars of California.

The lifelong activist and advocate for nonviolence, social justice and Christian pacifism had recently directed his prophetic words to local churches, challenging them to obey Jesus’ command to “love your enemies.” In addition to regular work with Pace e Bene, he worked part time for Family Promise, served as a member of the Las Vegas Catholic Worker community and contributed to the work of Nevada Desert Experience until near his death.

Born to Jacob H. Ediger and Margaretha (Wiens) in central Kansas in 1926, Ediger was ordained by the General Conference Mennonite Church (now Mennonite Church USA) in 1954 and pastored several Mennonite congregations until 1986.

He was preceded in death by ex-wife Marjorie Reimer Ediger and brothers Abraham and Menno, and survived by sisters Katherina Epp, Marie Regehr, Anne Martin, and Elma Kauffman; children Irene, Joe, Janice and Duane; and grandchildren Jack, Greta and Sallie.

The memorial service is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 21, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4601 W. Lake Meade Blvd, Las Vegas.

For more information, contact Duane Ediger, 312-523-9955.

Peter has died

Peter Ediger died this afternoon.

His friend LR arrived from the east coast late last night. She, a few local friends and I were able to share Peter’s last lucid hour before a long night. The highlight was LR’s reading of a poem of hers.

Louie and I spent Peter’s last night with him. His groaning and arm movements reminded me of Jacob’s struggle with the angel. His breathing became irregular.

By morning his breathing was still labored, but more regular. It was apparent that he could hear but was not able to answer questions.

About eight friends and family gathered ‘round his bed late in the morning and held a mass led by brother Louie.

He was resting comfortably a few hours later with LR at his side when he took his last breaths.

A memorial service, possibly as soon as this weekend, will be announced shortly.

-Duane Ediger

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Peter is now receiving inpatient hospice care.

He perked up quite a bit yesterday evening once it was clear he was leaving the hospital for what has turned out to be a quieter, more homey hospice environment.

This morning the doctor, together with six other members of on-site staff reviewed his situation with those of us present. Based on what is known, the doctor thinks that it is possible that damage to Peter’s health could be reversible in time if Peter were to be able to eat and drink well again. I am pleased with their disposition to give care consistent with a recovery trajectory within the parameters of hospice care.

However, he has had very little appetite today. Peter communicates mostly in brief phrases. He is resting most of the time. He feels significant pain and is receiving medication for it.

Updates are likely to be further between as there is no Wi-Fi at this hospice care center.

-Duane Ediger

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

to hospice

Peter has been more frequently awake today. But he wants to be out of the hospital. He does not want to eat, though he has been drinking water quite well today.

After conversations between, among and with Peter, the attending physician, the gastroenterologist, family and local support community, the attending physician signed papers for Peter to go into hospice care. The hospice rep Irene and I spoke with a week ago or so is here right now.

Peter's blood pressure, which has been stable until the last hour or so, is fluctuating. He is calm now and usually sleeping. My understanding is that Peter will be turned over from the hospital's care to hospice soon. He will be taken to their inpatient facility. Louie and I will go to be with him there.

For this next chapter, I will be joined by my partner Carol, who will arrive here late tonight.

-Duane Ediger

Monday, February 13, 2012

liar out of me

Five minutes after the last post, Peter is speaking a little more clearly and eating some bites of his fruit plate lunch. Make a liar out of me anytime!



Peter was moved from the Intensive Care Unit early this morning. He has been sleeping nearly all the time. Yesterday he was able to sing a song in German with his sister Katherina. Today his ability to communicate verbally when awake is very limited. This continues to be true after pain medication dosage has been lowered. He has not eaten today and is taking very little to drink.

Some of the lethargy may be due to the medications not getting out of his system as fast as they would if his liver were working at full capacity. Maybe, maybe not. Results from the biopsy are not yet in.

At nearly all times when permissible by hospital staff, someone has been at Peter's side.

Janice is now at the airport waiting for her flight back to Denver.

Thanks for your care, concern and continued prayers.

-Duane Ediger and Louie Vitale

Saturday, February 11, 2012

post-procedure report

Peter came out of a simple diagnostic procedure about an hour ago. The scope that the doctors sent down to look at his stomach found an area of severe inflammation, and samples were taken (biopsy). We'll get those results in a few days. Meanwhile, Peter can eat soft foods and drink water again (thank goodness! his requests for drinks today were hard to deny).

He seems in good spirits now, continuing to receive sensitive care in the ICU at Valley Hospital, we expect for a few more days, depending on these test results. Janice and Duane are especially grateful to Father Louie Vitale for his night vigils which allow us to sleep and be more alert in the day time.

Friday, February 10, 2012

the known and the unknown

Peter has had a restful, stable day in the ICU. He started it by initiating a phone conversation with an encouraging friend. The remainder of the day he has mostly rested.

We don’t know the cause of yesterday’s blood pressure drop. We do know that liver function continues to improve. Based on this and doctors’ recommendations, we (Peter’s kids: Irene, Joe, Janice and I) authorized an endoscopic procedure, scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. It may provide a clue about, and potentially a means to cauterize, an unknown lesion in his upper gastrointestinal tract (should there be one).

Acting on what we know, we approach the unknown.

The other day, Peter awoke and shared a dream. In it, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was bombing some land. “Louie, we have to stop him,” Peter half-joked with Fr. Louie Vitale.

The other half was serious. We know the beast is poised to pounce. We know Secretary Panetta is being pressured to smother cities, towns and hamlets in Iran, Syria and God knows where else under bullets, bombs and mortars in our name or with our “foreign aid” munitions, to poison their creatures with kilotons of “depleted” uranium munitions in our name, and to terrorize their families in nighttime raids in our name – or to offer a few words of toothless disapproval, while someone else does these things.

We know not the day nor the hour, nor what forms of deceit, shame and brutality will confront those who dutifully dissent. But the unknowns must not stop us from acting on what we know. We know that war is wrong, that to prepare for, fund or supply war is sin, that Leon Panetta can be held accountable to the Gospel of Jesus* and that we have an opportunity to communicate clearly to him what actions he may and may not rightly authorize in our name.

Peacemaking requires acting amid many unknowns. One who reminds Christians that they must love their enemies does not know whose heart will be stirred. One who caringly corrects another after an interaction tainted by oppressive habit does not know what future harm they may have prevented. Farmers torn from their lands in Colombia or Indonesia who are jailed, threatened or killed for trying to bring their communities back do not know which beatitudes their risk and sacrifice fulfill. But in case others did not know, their actions show the hand of God is at work in the world.

*Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was raised in Catholic schools, received political science and law degrees from a Jesuit-run university, and has served on the Board of Directors of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management.

This post is written by Duane Ediger. He recognizes that it is a departure from those that preceded it and wishes to avoid any implication that its proclamations represent the views of any other particular family member or the family as a whole.


Peter is sleeping soundly.

Yesterday afternoon he showed lower energy, was sleeping more and asked for pain meds more than previously. A routine blood pressure check showed 80/40. Fifteen minutes later it dropped further. He was continually asking for more pain medication, but that would have pushed the pressure lower. He was taken to ICU where they could administer medications to raise his blood pressure to the point where pain medication could be given. Currently his blood pressure is holding up without medication. However, his blood counts had gone down, and he is now receiving a transfusion. There may have been some internal bleeding.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Peter's blood pressure has been dropping and his pain vastly increasing over the last hour or two. It is very low and we don't know what is likely now. He is headed now not to rehab, but to the ICU.


Headed to rehab

Good evening. After a frustrating 24 hours of back and forth about possible diagnostic procedures of varying invasiveness, the gastroenterologist has changed his recommendation. Peter’s bilirubin levels continue to improve, down to 9.9 from a high of 18.3. (The target is about 1.) Surprised by the last three days’ improvements, rather than a biopsy, he is recommending discharge to a rehab facility. The improvements point away from the likelihood of bile duct obstruction and/or cancer and toward a reaction to medications as the underlying cause of the liver’s temporary, severe loss of function.

Peter is still quite weak and feeling pain from the sores on his back and sometimes following meals. He is still jaundiced. Yet he was on his feet again today.

Please continue in prayer. In so doing you join Chief Johnnie Bobb of the Western Shoshone (right in photo; author at left), Imam Aslam Abdullah, Rabbi Sandy Akselrad and Pastor Adolph Kunen, who are among those who’ve prayed at his bedside. Father Louie Vitale, Mary Lou Anderson and Jim Haber have been constant in daily support of all kinds. A variety of friends from Pace e Bene, Family Promise and the Catholic Worker, and kith and kin from across the nation and around the world have joined the chorus.

If you have not yet read John Dear’s NCR article on Peter’s challenge to Las Vegas churches to teach and practice love of enemy, I highly commend it to you.

My sister Janice flew in from Denver this afternoon. Irene and Joe continue to offer support.

May the healing waves keep rolling in.

-Duane Ediger

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thanks. Peace be with you.

February 8, 2012

Good afternoon. This morning I read your replies to the last two days' emails to Peter. He was deeply touched. "Thank you all. Peace be with you," were the words he wanted me to offer you in return.

Visits from friends near and far have been a welcome thing, within energy limits. Rest is still high on Dad's priority list, but so is sharing grace with close ones.

Given his condition Monday, it felt appropriate to arrange for goodbyes. The hopefulness of yesterday's improvement was a very welcome development. Today's lab test results showed further decline in bilirubin (that's what we want), but the concentration is still high and the prognosis uncertain. Based on this, on professional recommendations and on how he feels, Dad -- with support and encouragement from family, friends and colleagues -- decided to authorize a needle biopsy of the liver. The physicians have indicated this relatively low-invasive procedure is the best first option toward a diagnosis. It will be scheduled for tomorrow. Results will point to any next steps. We will take this all one step at a time.

The photo above is of Dad during his PT session yesterday afternoon. He walked, with some trepidation and support on both sides, about 8 feet from the bed and back with walker. Louie Vitale just called and let me know that this afternoon he walked -- by himself -- a lot further outside the room in the hallway. Singing.

May grace abound.



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Good morning. Dad continued very weak throughout the day yesterday. He took no food; only water. He said lots of goodbyes. Father Louie kindly offered to spend the night with Peter. I got a good rest in his apartment. Quite a difference a night can make. When I arrived, breakfast was in front of Dad on the bed, the back raised up, and he had eaten more than he had on Sunday (maybe a little too much, he later said). His face was brighter, his voice clearer; skin still very yellow. He was able to hold the phone and speak with one or two people. After breakfast he slept for a while and is visiting some again.

This morning’s bilirubin level, 16.9, is down a little from yesterday’s 18.3. The nurses have told us the doctor will be in soon. I will send another update when we have more insight on where things might be headed.

Thanks for many prayers and communications of love.


Peter is saying goodbye

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dear family and friends of Peter,

For those of who who may not have been aware, Peter Ediger has gone through a rapid decline in health over the last 12 days. Unexplained sores developed on his back and shoulder. He was prescribed antibiotic medications (Bactrim and a topical salve). Soon after he began taking them -- which occurred during a visit I had with him two weeks ago -- he began feeling weak. The sores were later determined to have developed in places where he had applied a heating pad. At Irene's behest, he called for an ambulance and was admitted at Valley Hospital in Las Vegas a week ago tonight.

The results from this morning’s blood test indicate a bilirumin level of 18. This is over yesterday’s already alarming level of 13. The Doctor has not come yet today; when he does we will check in regarding things, but based on his assessment yesterday, it is clear that his liver will not be able to recover.

He continues to lose energy, although when awake he has been mostly lucid and not delusional. This morning Irene and I shared the test result with him. He understood and has shared his readiness to go. Irene had already prolonged her stay and needed to get back to Boston, so she and Dad said their goodbyes and affirmed their love for and gratitude to each other. Peter was able to have brief phone conversations with a few other close family members and friends.

Yesterday, Irene, Peter and I had a meeting with a hospice representative. In light of today’s results I expect to be making an arrangement later today.

Though the direct cause and mechanism is not entirely clear, the general consensus is that a reaction to one or more medications led to the failure of liver function.

I apologize for not keeping regular communication with as many family members as would have been good in recent days.

Peter is at peace and sends his love to you all. When I asked him if there were anyone in particular with whom he would like to talk, he said “If I start I won’t know where to stop.” So consider yourself loved and remembered by Peter as his heart says goodbye to so many beloved souls.

I plan to be here for a week or more as necessary. I can be reached at 312-523-9955.

-Duane Ediger