February 11 — On The Wall

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis posting is a day late since I was sick yesterday.  I am feeling better today so I thought I’d catch back up.

For February 11, the Photo-A-Day Challenge was On The Wall.  This painting is on the wall of my den and means a lot to me.

Not many people probably have an oil painting of a beloved dog, but my grandfather did.  Before he passed away, he gave the painting to me, signed “To Patti” and included his initials. He then wanted me to take it home.

“Are you sure Grandpa,” I asked him.  “Yes, Patti.  We know you like it (or something like that).”

Unfortunately I don’t remember exactly what he said.  I was beyond moved as this painting held a special place in Grandpa and Grandma’s living room.  This dog was his and Grandma’s beloved miniature schnauzer Schatzi.  She was a great dog and so loving.  She was my favorite and Grandpa knew it.  Talk about a special gift.

The artist really captured how cute and sweet she was.  She had floppy ears and was full of life.  To this day, I still like Miniature Schnauzers.  When I was growing up, we had our own named Eva.  She was a sweetie too but scared of her own shadow.

Now, Ian is wanting a dog but he likes the larger breeds.  We will have to see what we can do in terms of a pet.  Not quite ready for that and all of the responsibility but they sure bring a lot of love.

I wonder what other special treasure I will come across today?  I look forward to finding out what is in store.

February 2 — Mail

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAHi and Happy Monday!  Today’s Photo A Day Challenge is Mail.  These envelopes are from letters that I sent to my grandparents while I was a child.  When I was younger, we regularly sent cards to them. After they passed away, they were sent to me.  It is amazing that they kept these cards for all of these years. I think my brother and sister got their letters back as well, as well as my cousins.

My grandparents liked their stuff and didn’t want to throw away special things from their children or grandchildren.  They kept lots of things and had 8 storage sheds on their property.  I remember cleaning those out and what an adventure that was.

My grandparents lived through the depression and that might be why they kept so much.  Or they just couldn’t part with things.  I am not quite sure. I just loved the chance to go through their treasures while they were still alive and see what mattered to them.

Now that they are gone, it has been nice to re-read these cards and letters that I sent to them decades ago. I have enjoyed reading all of these letters that I wrote in the 1970s.  It is hilarious to look back at what I was into and my writing abilities.  It is a treasure.  And the cost of stamps is something else too.  Only 8 cents in 1972.  Wow – much has changed, hasn’t it?!

Today I am thankful for:

  • My amazing grandparents
  • Grandma and Grandpa teaching me about love and family
  • Reading a note from my 10-year-old self
  • Family treasures
  • Our fascinating family history
  • Grandpa’s stories on tape and in writing
  • Memories with Grandma and Grandpa at their house
  • Family sing-alongs in their living room
  • Fun with my aunts, uncles, siblings, parents, grandparents, and cousins

I wonder if I will keep special letters as long as Grandma and Grandpa did?  I may keep a few but will have to be careful.  After all, I don’t have 8 storage sheds.

Family Love and Memories

img116Yesterday, I watched two DVDs of my grandfather’s 80th birthday party.  One DVD included his stories and some songs and the other included memories of him and toasts.

We celebrated his 80th in 1988.  Hard to believe it was that long ago now. It was amazing to see all of us circa 26 years ago.  So much has changed since then.

In this video, I saw my grandpa (inspiration for this blog), my grandma, Grandma’s maid-of-honor and family friend Evie, our family friend Wayne, who was like a second grandfather, and his amazing wife Rett.

They have all passed away and were fascinating people.  I was enriched for having known all of them.  Evie was a pilot and had great stories to tell, Wayne was a fireman, and Rett was Grams’ best friend.  The fact that all of them lived such long and amazing lives is wonderful!

This photo was taken a few years after this birthday celebration in the same room where the video was recorded.  I spent a lot of time in this room through the years and loved it.  The turquoise walls, Grandma and Grandpa’s chairs, their piano, artwork, and knickknacks make me smile.

I also noticed that some important people who are now in the family weren’t back then.  Many loved ones have joined our family through marriage and births.  It is amazing to think that my grandparents now have 18 great-grandchildren, if I haven’t left anyone out. The family love has continued to grow!!

As I watched this DVD, my eyes welled up with tears as Grandpa told stories of Willie, and several other characters that he made up.  It was such a gift to again hear his voice as I remember and the lines that each story would end with.  It took me back to my childhood and all of the fun times we had as a family.

As I have written about, each Willie story would end with his scratching his head and saying, “I still wonder where rainbows come from.” The entire family would always say it with Grandpa.  Chills to see and hear that again!

The family singing was magical.  My amazing Aunt Linda can play almost anything on the piano without music, and often transposes the key as needed.  She did this on the DVD.  All of us in the family sang along to a song wishing a special birthday to Grandpa, also to a song that Mom had written about the family for Grandpa’s and Grandma’s anniversary, and several favorite show tunes.  As I watched the singing, I sang along again.

It was wonderful to be back in the family cocoon.  Kirk and Ian watched it with me and asked about the people there.  Ian was amazed to see his grandparents and his mother looking 26 years younger.  “Wow, Mom, is that you?” he asked.  “Yes, Ian. It sure is,” I told him.

I was so happy to watch these old videos of how I remember my grandparents and their house looking.  To see it again and all of those people whom I love so much was an amazing treasure.  So many happy tears and happy memories.

It has been a few years since I have seen my cousins and aunts and uncles.  We are planning a family reunion for next summer and I cannot wait!  It  is great that the fourth generation of our family loves to be together as much as the rest of us.

I wonder what amazing memories will be made and recorded at this next gathering?  I am sure there will be many and I am so looking forward to it.

Dr. B’s Words of Wisdom

SRP.28_Patti.Dick.and.Artha.1986As my regular readers know, my blog is inspired by the stories of my wonderful grandfather, Dr. J.R.B.  He was an amazing storyteller and had quite an imagination.  He also wrote a column for his city’s paper for 20 years about his children, pets, his wife, family, and friends.

In 1985, he and my grandmother gave all of us in the family an amazing book of his columns and some family photos.  It is one of my favorite and most special treasures.  I love that my writing is often similar to his.  Today, I was looking at this book and came across a great column.  When I read it, I thought of Ian who has just had a birthday and my nephew Isaac who will turn 17 years old tomorrow.

This photo was taken of me with my amazing grandparents in 1986 – one year after receiving this precious gift.  I have enjoyed reading it on occasion ever since and draw inspiration from his columns and his stories that he used to tell.  I still miss both of them very much and wish they could have met my husband and son.

Here are my grandpa’s words on Parent’s Hardest Job, which was published in November 1950:

____”I’ve been watching our small son wrestle with Brownie, our family pooch.  It’s man-style wrestling now.  All at once I knew our boy is a baby no longer. The little baby has gone forever.

“Know how I feel? Like boo-hooing. I think a parent’s hardest job is watching the little ones grow up. Do you feel that way too? They grow up so doggone fast.

“Probably our regret is selfish.  One reason we love our children so much when they are little is that they make us feel very important. Their helplessness feeds our big-shot appetites. Compared with them we’re competent, successful, brilliant.

“We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t enjoy these superior feelings.

“Then they grow up. They become more and more independent. They compete with us. We become small potatoes. And we don’t like it.

“What should I do with my son, and you with yours? I should be more generous. I should get my thrill out of his new accomplishments. I should encourage his growth in all ways.

“So, little boy, go ahead and wrestle man-style. Nice to see your progress.

“The trouble is that your father is a soft-hearted old lump-in-the throat guy who just can’t seem to practice what he preaches. Oh me!”____

Aren’t these words amazing? I teared up when I read them today.  I thought about Ian and Isaac and the rest of my nieces and nephews and how quickly they are all growing up.  Time moves so quickly and there is so much change in our children.

I am honored to be able to have a front-row seat at my son’s growing up years and so many other amazing young people.  I feel blessed and humbled about that.  I wish them all the best!

I wonder if I could put this feeling into words as well as Grandpa did?  I am just glad to have his words to read and learn from.

Happy Grandparents Day

fran-dick-arthaDid you know tomorrow is Grandparents Day?  I didn’t until recently looking at the calendar. I was blessed with knowing three of my grandparents for most of my life.  Here are the three grandparents I knew. From left, they are Grams (Fran), Grandpa (Dick), and Grandma (Artha).  This was circa 1970s at the house where I grew up.

All three of them had long and amazing lives.  Grams lived to be 93 years old, Grandpa lived to be 86 years old, and Grandma lived to be 92 years old.  I only hope that I have such a long and wonderful life as they had. I never had the privilege of knowing my other grandfather.  He was quite a man from all I have heard. He would have loved his family.

My siblings and cousins were blessed to have these amazing people in our lives. All three of them taught me so much.  They taught me about the importance of family, the gift of education and its importance, the ability to write and tell stories, the necessity of hard work, the love of teaching children, the enjoyment of music and singing, and the ability to laugh and make the most of my life.

I still miss each of them so much.  I loved them dearly and know that they all loved me as well.  The fact that I had one grandparent until well into my 40s is such an amazing blessing.

Now, my parents are wonderful grandparents to Ian and his cousins.  They are called Grandma and Grandpa.  Up until recently, Ian called Dad Auguguk.  This was a name he made up since he couldn’t say Grandpa.  My husband’s parents are Gran and Grandpa Cates.  They are also great with Ian and his cousins on that side of the family.

I am thankful to all of them for how much they love Ian and enjoy spending time with him.  It is really great that the wonderful grandparent tradition has continued with them.

To my grandparents, I am thankful for:

  • Learning the ability to speak for myself
  • Encouraging me in my dreams
  • Making a point to have the family get together
  • Having a beach house where our family can continue to gather
  • Listening to me when I spoke to them
  • The gift of my cousins, and aunts and uncles
  • Telling me about Willie, Mrs. Oheyou, and the importance of wondering

To my parents and in-laws, I am thankful for:

  • Times you play with Ian
  • Taking Ian on bike rides at the beach
  • Buying him a bike with training wheels
  • Reading with him and now listening to him read
  • Spending time with him and his cousins
  • Watching him so Kirk and I can have date nights
  • Loving our son as much as you do

Here are a few quotes about grandparents:

  • “Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting.” ~ Author Unknown
  • “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” ~ Alex Haley
  • “When a child is born, so are grandmothers.” ~Judith Levy
  • “Grandchildren: the only people who can get more out of you than the IRS.” ~Gene Perret
  • “Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap.” ~ Doug Larson
  • “A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart.~Author Unknown

In honor of grandparents day, I want to end with what my Grandpa ended all Willie stories with, “I Still Wonder Where Rainbows Come From.”

March 28 – Nostalgia

Fran.Dick.ArthaHi and Happy Friday.  I am so glad it’s Friday.  We will have a weekend with family and friends and that will be nice.  Today it is raining and washing away my tears. Well, at least part of them.

Today’s photo challenge is Nostalgia.  For this photo, I decided to include one of Grams with my other grandparents who I had the pleasure of knowing.  The three of them are in Heaven together and amazing angels.  They are all greatly missed and loved.

I love how happy they all are.  This is how I remember the three of them.  From left are Fran, Dick, and Artha. I learned so much from all three of these fine people.  I only wish I could have met Fran’s hubby, my grandpa Crawford.  He passed away before I was born.

For most of my life, these gems of people were in my life.  Grams (Fran) passed away a few days ago. I was 29 years old when Grandpa (Dick) passed, and 32 years old when Grandma (Artha) passed.  I feel truly blessed and honored to have had them in my life for so long.

This nostalgic picture is great of the wood panel wall, the gold curtain, the pattern of the couch, their clothing, and glasses.  I just love it.  It immediately brings me back to my childhood.

I wonder what other fond and nostalgic memories I will have today?  I am sure there will be some.  Have a great weekend!!

 

November 8 – Someone I Miss

SRP.28_Patti.Dick.and.Artha.1986Hi and Happy Friday!

Today’s photo challenge is Someone I Miss.  I miss the two people in this picture with me — my Grandpa and Grandma.

This photo was taken in 1986 at our family beach house (pre-renovation). This was the summer I graduated from high school and was going to college that fall. The time I spent that year with the two of them was beyond special and something I will never forget.  The time with the rest of the family was also awesome.

This is how I remember them looking.  They usually had smiles on their faces and loved being with their family. I learned so much from them – about love, friendships, family, the importance of hard work and finding the right career and passion, teaching, writing, storytelling, and the list goes on.

I am so very thankful to be part of their family and to have known them for as long as I did.  What a true and amazing blessing.

As my frequent readers know, my grandpa is the inspiration for this blog and its title.  He was a great educator and writer and I like to think I am following in his footsteps.  Some of my writing is similar to his style and for that I am glad.

Grandpa died in 1996 and Grandma died in 2000 — a long time ago for both, but I sometimes can still remember a conversation like it was yesterday.  That to me explains the relationship and positive influence they were in my life.

They are loved and remembered fondly.  Can’t ask for more than that, can I?  Who do you miss?  I hope that your memories are fond ones and not full of pain.

May you have a blessed weekend.

Rainbows and Storytelling

…I still wonder where rainbows come from.

Thus ended each story about Willie the Elf that my grandfather used to tell.

That phrase inspired the name of this blog and some of my writing. You see my grandpa was an amazing storyteller and Willie was my favorite character.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching a video of several of his stories, with the one about Willie being the best (in my opinion).  The time was 1988 when our family was celebrating his 80th birthday for a weekend.  Here is a photo of me with him and his wife, my grandma, a few years before that.  This is how I remember them looking.

In looking through some videos, my mother happened upon this amazing treasure.  It was like our own little time machine.  We were taken back to another time and another place and it was amazing!!

The story we watched was my absolute favorite!  In the story, Willie travels to Knoxville, Tennessee, and finds the Sunsphere which was built for the World’s Fair in 1982.  The building looks like it has a big, gold ball on the top.  In the story, Willie is thrilled since he thinks he has found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  And as a result, he will finally get his answer of where rainbows come from.

He ends up getting stuck and his faithful friends come in and help him down, with a mug of hot chocolate to calm his nerves.  He then realizes that it isn’t the pot of gold but isn’t too upset about that fact.  He then goes back to his cabin in the woods and again says, “I still wonder where rainbows come from.”

These characters were brought back to life to me as I listened to the story with my parents, husband, son, and father-in-law.  I hope to watch this sometime with my sister and brother but am afraid we’ll all be crying too much.  I was laughing and crying tears of joy and remembrance.

I cannot describe the excitement of once again seeing my grandfather tell one of his stories.  The voice was the same as I remember and he looked exactly as I remembered. And, I remembered every word of the story, even though I haven’t heard it in years.  A few items were a bit different, but it was mostly the same.

The rest of us, however, have changed quite a bit. We all looked like the 1980s –with the clothes and the hair.  I saw my parents then at the age I am now. (Isn’t that amazing and profound in itself?)  And, I heard laughs of family members that I have heard my entire life.  Seeing my siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends was such a treat!  Our own buried treasure, that’s for sure!

Since this video was made, we have lost many dear people — such as my grandfather who passed away 8 years after this video was recorded — but we have also added so many special loved ones to the family through marriage and children.  The circle of life has continued as it always does.

My family liked and still likes to celebrate birthdays and be sure to have time together.  Our times were filled with fun and laughter, stories, and hours of singing as my amazing aunt would play each song on the piano from memory.  We were all very different people, yet loved coming together.

I am honored to be a part of this amazing family.  We have different faiths, jobs, political views, and walks of life, yet we did and still do love each other and are thrilled to see one another when we can get together.  We have learned, for the most part, to agree to disagree.  And, to me my life has been so much richer for these experiences.  You can learn so much if you are willing to listen to someone who has a different view of life.

Now, my siblings and many of my cousins have children so a new generation is growing up with the family values, stories and songs.  I hope that this videotape can help make these stories relevant to them as well.

Ian has been told about Willie and loves the stories.  I try to tell them but it isn’t quite the same, well, not to me anyway, but he loves them as I used to and still do.

He has asked me what Willie looks like.  “I want to see a picture of Willie, Mommy,”  he told me.  What he doesn’t realize or completely understand is that Willie was a creation in my grandpa’s vivid imagination and he looks different to all of my family and everyone who hears the stories.  How do I explain that to him?

One time when I was a child, I drew a picture of what Willie looked like to me, so I can show him that.  But, he may have another idea in mind.

I changed the banner at the top of my blog in honor of Willie’s quest to find answers about something he was passionate about.  In his own way, Grandpa was teaching us about following our bliss and our passion.  I didn’t realize that when I was a child and young adult since I was too busy enjoying the fun of the story.  But, I can never thank him and my grandma enough for that gift as well as the gifts of imagination, love of writing, education, family, and love.

Because of these stories, I have always loved rainbows and still do.  Last summer, a friend who lives across the street from my family’s beach house, took a picture of a rainbow with the beach house at the end of the rainbow.  That too made me cry since that house is one my grandparents bought and our family has enjoyed.

Grandpa and Grandma, you are loved and missed!  And, thanks to this video, Grandpa, you and your stories will live on for Ian and his generation.  What an amazing blessing!  Thanks Mom for finding this treasure for us!!