In mid-September, Ogden's Timm Gehrett -- musician, husband, father of five -- started a new tradition. Daily on his Facebook page, under the headline "3 Things I Love This Morning," he lists just that. Number one, always, is his wife Michelle. The other two loved things vary, but tend to be made up of simple pleasures -- the taste of fresh coffee, the sizzle of bacon, the airplanes he studies as he learns the craft of aviation mechanics through Salt Lake Community College.
Since Sept. 1, Gehrett recognizes just how precious the little things are that we all tend to take for granted. That was the day doctors at McKay-Dee Hospital found an aggressive tumor known as a glioblastoma in Gehrett's brain.
His was the sole income for his family of seven. He has no medical insurance. But Gehrett has discovered he is wealthy in friends and family. A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gehrett has already received support from his ward, getting help with everything from meals to making money for the family, via a fundraiser garage/bake sale.
Now his musician friends are chipping in, too, with an event Wednesday at Mojos Caffe & Gallery. It involves a bake sale and a night of music featuring Ogden talent. Musical acts for the evening are being organized by Ogden band Fox Van Cleef.
"We played our very first gig with Timm's band, Mean Molly's Trio, at Mojos," said Dustin Bessire, vocalist for Fox Van Cleef. "They were the hot ... band in town when we first got started. We feel honored to be helping him and his family out."
Ron Atencio, proprietor of Mojos, said Gehrett's band played its very first gig at Mojos.
"Then they played annually on that date, every year, for at least the next four years, and were like our house band for a while before things really took off for them in the area," he said.
Atencio said he got to know the whole family, as Michelle Gehrett was often at his all-ages venue with at least some of their children. In fact, she was pregnant with Jack, the Gehretts' youngest, while the band played the club. Atencio dubs such children -- incubated to the sounds of the club's bands -- as "Mojos Babies."
"They are such a big, loving family, and kind of grew up around here," he said. "Of course, I wanted to help somehow as soon as I heard."
Before the brain tumor, Gehrett was a very busy man. Involved with church and family, he also worked full time while going to school. Although Mean Molly's Trio stopped playing a number of years ago, Gehrett was still active, when time allowed, in the music community.
But this past summer, just as he and his family were getting ready to move into a new home, strange things started happening. Gehrett became forgetful around work and home -- unheard of -- and started having severe headaches, unknown to him before.
"We thought it was just stress, school and work, and the move coming up," he said.
Then came the day when Gehrett was driving and instead of steering into the left turn lane, as he intended, he drove into the median. His wife took the wheel and took him straight to the doctor, where Gehrett was diagnosed with stress-related complex migraines.
This seemed likely, as he improved after the family's July move. But in August, Gehrett took a profound and sudden turn for the worse. Unable to keep anything down, and in extreme pain, he still believed he might be fighting migraines, with a coincidental case of food poisoning.
'A large mass'
Gehrett remembers little of this time, but does know he finally asked to go to the hospital on Sept. 1. His wife took him, thinking he needed intravenous fluids for his dehydration. When they arrived at McKay-Dee, Gehrett was so weak that Michelle had to all but carry him inside. He passed out before they made it to the door. Rushed to the emergency room, Gehrett was soon being given massive doses of morphine, with little relief.
"We told the doctor there about the complex migraines," Michelle Gehrett says. "He said he thought that was it, too, but because Timm passed out, he thought it was a good idea to do a CAT scan. We could tell he was weighing the options, because we are self-pay."
Fifteen minutes after the CAT scan concluded, the doctor returned with the news.
"He (the doctor) was white as a sheet," said Michelle Gehrett. "He'd found a large mass on Timm's brain."
The doctor feared it was inoperable, and knew he could not attempt the surgery. Without surgery, Gehrett might only have three months to live.
"The nurse came and talked to us later," Michelle said. "She told us that after that doctor told us about the tumor, he went and found an empty room and cried. She had never seen him do that before."
Gehrett went home to see his children, and his family, who were gathering in Ogden from all over. His children were given a week off from school to be with their dad. Right before he was to return to the hospital, at the request of his father, Gehrett tried to play a song for his wife, one he'd played for her on their wedding day.
He couldn't seem to find the notes, and when he then tried to correct that by tuning his guitar, an act as natural to Gehrett as breathing, he could not manage.
"That was maybe my lowest moment to date, my most hopeless," Gehrett said.
A third doctor who was consulted, Ogden neurosurgeon Bryson Smith, believed he could help Gehrett. But the surgery likely would not come without sacrifice.
"They told us, 'You will lose your left field of vision, and some dexterity,' "
Michelle Gehrett said. "He might lose memories, or the ability to store them, they said. Then Timm asked about his hearing."
Said Gehrett: "They told me I might lose that, too -- my biggest fear, with my love of music. And these were the best-case scenarios. They said I might come out in a coma, or I might not even survive the surgery."
Dr. Smith, who waived his surgery fee, was able to remove about 90 percent of the tumor, leaving Gehrett with a palm-sized horseshoe of a scar on the right rear side of his head. His eyesight, hearing and cognitive abilities all seem to be intact for now.
Gehrett is now taking daily doses of chemotherapy at home and has been visiting the Huntsman Center five times a week for radiation. He gets cramping in his joints if he does not drink at least 30 ounces of water a day. Otherwise, he has suffered no side effects from his treatment so far.
Time will tell
Besides "Mojos Baby" Jack, now 6 years old, the Gehrett children are Hollee, 15; Alison, 13; Eli, 11; and Andrew, 9. They know their father is fighting a brain tumor. Besides the week off school post-diagnosis for the kids, the Gehretts have tried to keep family life as normal -- and as honest -- as possible.
"I told the kids I would not lie to them," Michelle Gehrett explains. "I told them they could come individually to me and ask for more information, if they want the numbers we've been told. So far, they have not asked me. The older girls have seen things on Facebook, but they know those numbers are averages. They know their dad is not average, and never has been. Those are somebody else's numbers."
Gehrett plans to be around to teach his youngest how to drive.
"This is usually something that hits you in your 50s, 60s, 70s," he said. "I am 34. There is a small group with this -- younger, in good health otherwise, and who come through the surgery well -- who have years. That is what we are shooting for."
Michelle Gehrett said she will deal with each goal as it comes.
"I'll shoot for two years, and then five, and then I'll shoot for 10," she said. "I have to look at it differently than Timm does. That is the only way I can cope. What happens to him, happens to him -- but what happens to me, happens for a long time."
Feeling the love
Ogden's Clint Stanger was Gehrett's bassist in Mean Molly's Trio. They went to high school together, although they didn't know each other until Mark Young, the third member of the trio, introduced them when he wanted Stanger's bass in the band.
"I didn't even want to be in a band, until I heard Timm," Stanger said. "He wrote all the music. He had all the parts, he had an idea of the sound. I was definitely impressed. It seems to come naturally to him."
Gehrett has been writing and recording constantly since his surgery. He plans to debut some of the new material at the Mojos benefit, which pleases Fox Van Cleef's Bessire to no end.
"I always thought they were great, and we became great friends. But I am also a singer, one who was always real inspired by Timm's voice," said Bessire. "I am looking forward to hearing him sing again."
Atencio said the upcoming benefit at Mojos hits close to home.
"These people, who have history here at Mojos, are part of the family and the fabric of this place," he said. "We always had fun when Mean Molly's Trio played. You think those moments will last forever. But you have to relish each moment. It is a lesson I am learning."
Adds Stanger: "Timm has always had a good outlook. He has had a lot of hard kicks in life, and he never has let anything get him down. And he has always been there to talk to, if anyone was having a hard time or needed advice.
"At that yard sale friends had for him recently, I thought it was really cool to see how impressed he was to see people showing up to help out When I sat down with Timm, he said something that really moved me. He said, 'Everyone has this support system they don't even know about. Step back and look at your friends. They will be there for you when you need them.' "
- WHAT: Benefit concert with bake sale and art sale for Timm Gehrett and family
- WHO: Fox Van Cleef, Josaleigh Pollett, Chris Aguilar and Friends, and The Pillar
- WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5
- WHERE: Mojos Caffe & Gallery, 2210 Washington Blvd., Ogden. All ages welcome.
- TICKETS: $5/door, additional donations encouraged. For information, or to donate baked goods, call 801-603-6737