Mimi Toomey watches over her husband Ron, as he drifts in and out of sleep. She looks over the curves of his face, his beard, over every scar and wrinkle. She watches his chest rise and fall. Mimi catches a glimpse of the obvious pain, displayed through Ron’s tender eyes.
She feels a different pain. Hers is within, knowing these moments will pass too quickly. Soon – all too soon – her companion’s pain will ease, and the embrace she’ll feel will be from the memories of love and challenges overcome. Her comfort and peace come from knowing his life is in order.
Over the last 20 years, Ron has successfully battled addiction and bipolar disorder to become the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful companion.
“We’re best friends,” Mimi reiterates. “We do everything together. We’re Team Toomey!”
The communities of Monticello and Eastland have come together for one of our own, rising to support longtime residents Ron and Mimi Toomey after Ron’s sudden cancer diagnosis and emergency surgery.
Ron had been losing weight for months and was seeing several doctors about what they thought might be a bone spur in his tailbone.
It wasn’t until a visit with Dr. Rhett Maughan that they thought it might be something more. They never got a chance to evaluate it before the excruciating pain in his abdomen started.
The discovery of cancer was made by Dr. Mario La Giglia just after Christmas when Ron went to see him for the incredible pain in his abdomen. A CAT scan revealed the pain was from a perforated bowel, a result of metastasized colon cancer. The cancer had also spread throughout his body, even into his back.
Toughest to swallow was the prognosis. Though they have yet to see an oncologist, it was clear to the surgeon how advanced the cancer was. He predicted Ron had a few weeks, or maybe a few months of life left.
Emergency surgery soon followed.
Mimi wrestles with the weight of what she has been told. It is one of the single hardest things to hear from a doctor.
“We were looking forward to a lot more living,” Mimi reflects. “I don’t like this idea; I don’t want him to go.”
Yet, Mimi feels calm. “I can feel the community prayers,” she said.
Ron and Mimi Toomey have been residents of San Juan County for over 20 years. Mimi was raised here and returned 20 years ago. She convinced Ron to move down from Provo a few years later.
Ron has been in love with the land ever since. He absolutely loves San Juan County.
Ron has been active in the ATV Safari, Bears Ears Resistance, and has a special place in his heart for those overcoming addiction.
He has worked with the Addiction Recovery Program sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since its inception six years ago and supports those in the community traveling the road to recovery.
When asked if he would consider moving back to California near the beach, Ron responded, “Why would I move? I live on vacation here.”
Jeff Frost, Ron Toomey’s employer for the last 13 years, says Ron does what is right.
“He’s a really good person and a loyal friend,” Frost said. He related a story about Ron which impressed him.
On one landscaping job, there was a homeless man living in the basement of the Lutheran Church in Moab.
When Ron started up the mower, the man came out of the basement, got out of his wheelchair, and started hitting Ron for waking him up with the mower.
Ron showed composure and handled the situation until the police arrived. It’s a testament to the calm Ron shows in difficult situations.
None will be more difficult than the road he must travel now, as he and his wife look to enjoy every possible moment together.
Efforts to raise funds for the Toomeys started immediately. Miriam Peterson, a sister-in-law, has coordinated efforts.
Peterson says the main need is monetary funds. She spearheaded community efforts to bring a daughter, Chantelle Culbreth, and her family out from Florida.
The visit was made extra special for the family, as they were sealed together in the Monticello Temple.
Jan Redd, a friend of the Toomeys, planned to donate a new jacket to Mimi’s Thrift Shop. When she learned of Ron’s illness, she decided to sell the jacket online and donate the proceeds instead.
In a Facebook post on Monticello’s Trash to Treasures, she challenged others to do the same. Miriam Peterson suggested adding the hashtag #toomeyfund, so others would know the proceeds from the sale would go to the family.
“Mimi has helped more people than most of us realize,” Redd said. “She is one of the kindest people I know.”
Redd is referring, in part, to Mimi’s Thrift Emporium, which sells second-hand goods. The store is organized and clean. Many in the community have benefitted from the goods the store sells at a fraction of the cost of new merchandise.
Mimi urges others to remember what matters most, to be a partner with their spouses. “Learn what love really is. Learn to calm the water. It’s not always about being right. Sometimes you have to say I’m sorry even if it’s not your fault. Back up and start over.”
Ways to donate
Donations to help the Toomey family can be made at any branch of Zion’s Bank. Simply give them Ron or Mimi Toomey’s name. They’ll be able to find the account and deposit the donation into the right account.
Donation jars have been placed in local businesses.
Donations can also be made online through Paypal: email@example.com or Venmo: miriam-peterson-3.
Another great option is to sell something on Monticello’s Trash to Treasures Facebook page with the hashtag #toomeyfund and donate the proceeds.