My dad turned 80 on the 23rd of March. We planned and pulled off a surprise party for him. All of my siblings were able to make it! 🙂 That’s a big feat, there are 8 of us. The last time we were all together at one event was when our Gramma Grace passed away 10.5 years ago. Looking around the house at all the people I got to thinking; “what a legacy my parents are leaving.” (Be sure to click on the hyperlinks.)
When I think of a family tree, I see it like this, with roots and branches. Our forebears are our roots, our children are our branches, and we are the trunk — that which links the two together.
One day Sam met Lucile, they liked each other and in 1930 they married. They had 4 children: Duane, James, Edgar and *Myrna. They raised their children well.
Now each of these children married and have children as well: (Colleen)- Hosanna, Hokan, Maja, Anders; (Sean)- Shannon, Samuel, Kelsie, Trever; (Martin)- Brandon, Adrianna, Kenneth, Andrae, Charles, William; (Brandon)- Stephanie, CX, Khyle, Kodyn; (Carrie)- Cody, Shantel, Savanna, Robby, Scott, EmmaLece; (Ryanne)- Javin, Orissa; (Clancy)- Grace, Livia, Stella, Collett, Brooks; (Megan)- Shaylee, Liam, and Clara. This next picture is not all of the grandchildren, but a pretty good chunk of them.
A few of the grandchildren are married and have or are expecting children: (Hosanna)- Layla, Jemma, ?; (Stephanie)- Alaina; (Cody)- Fae; and (Shantel)- ?. Hokan is getting married on the 31st. Our simple tree is turning into quite a forest. 🙂
We weren’t raised in the lap of luxury, but we had what mattered most, love. At the party, most of the grandchildren in attendance sang and played the song Daddy’s Hands for Grumpa. It was questioned as to why they didn’t sing a song about grandpas, the reason is that our children are more musically inclined than their parents. 🙂 When the song was finished, we took the opportunity to share a special memory, or a saying of our father’s that has stuck with us. What an awesome thing it was to share our memories with our parents and siblings.
With a 22 year span between the first and the last child you can imagine that we didn’t all have the same experiences. For the older childern, dad was home and he worked in radio and television. Colleen recalled a time when dad became quite flustered that no one checked the oil on a regular basis and came in the house saying: “I don’t care what kind of oil you put in there, just put something in!” Because of that, she is very diligent at checking the oil in her vehicles. Sean told of a time he took the car for a joyride with his friend when Dad wasn’t home. Then while they were out and about, he remembered he had an eye appointment. Sean went on to the appointment and when he came through the door, dad was sitting there. Sean said that he spent the whole appointment thinking: “I’m dead I’m dead!” Dad looked at him and said: “I had to ride the bike!” Never take the car without permission even if you are sure your parents are not going to be home! Martin remembered going to work with dad at the radio station, and later driving the truck with him. Brandon remembered a time when he skipped school with Sean and Martin. Unknown to Brandon, the older boys had ratted him out for having skipped school with them. Upon being asked how school was he responded that it was great. (He was like 5 and the older boys would have been 9 and 12). Brandon learned if dad asked you something, he probably already knows the answer. He also had another memory of getting a bunch of pop out of a vending machine with the same two quarters. The middle kids, didn’t really have a huge opportunity to spend time with dad because he had changed careers and was now a long haul truck driver. So my memories are mostly of going on the truck with dad in the summers. One summer, I went trucking with him all by myself. He had a load in Ohio, and it rained a lot there. We played a lot of backgammon while we waited for the rain to stop. I got BLTs every time we ate at a truck stop and I saved a soda straw from all the places we went. The things I remember him saying, were’t really sayings, but funny songs: Katalina Matalina Hoopingsteiner Walking on a Hogan Pogan Logan was her Name and Kitchy Kitcht Kaimeo. Ryanne recalled having to learn lessons the hard way, but always being reassured of dad’s love after discipline was needed. And also how when she went trucking and they were in Baltimore, dad found every opportunity to drive through the tunnel that goes under the Chesapeake Bay just to watch her cringe. Clancy told of going trucking with dad and playing baseball on the side of the road as well as learning a life lesson about people. He had said something not nice about someone he felt could make more of their life and Dad told him that it takes all kinds of people to make it work. Something dad said one day to Clancy that he remembers is: “if you think it’s right then do it.” It was said after he had asked to do something he knew dad wouldn’t approve of. He wisely chose not to do it. Now, by the time Megan was in Middle school, dad went from long haul to hauling locally, so she had more of an opportunity to get to know dad. Megan talked about a smell that reminds her of dad, the smell of mechanical grease. She also remembers being on my horse’s back in the field with dad walking along side, and the neighbor called the horse. The horse took off and Megan fell, dad carried her into the house. One more thing Megan remembers is how she and dad would run their feet across the carpet and then shock each other. They have a similar sense of humor which might have made mom crazy how they fed off of each other. Megan ended with a grateful heart for the parents we have. Colleen also had a few parting words of love and appreciation for mom and dad. Dad had a few words to say after our stories. He said how he wouldn’t have been able to raise us without my mom. He got a little emotional, it was sweet. He also told a few stories on himself. My mom said that there was a year when dad was gone 360 of 365 days! Yeah mom is tough and lived a good portion of her child rearing years as if she were a single parent. She is wise and is usually the first person I call when I need to know one thing or another. We are blessed that they are still with us and have been our rocks. They have been married for 58 years. As matriarch and patriarch of our ever growing family, they deserve our respect and love always.
Now family dynamics can be interesting. With so many people coming from different backgrounds joining the family, there’s bound to be some disagreements and some hurt feelings. The trick is to see this creation of a new family within the family with a long term perspective. The perspective we need to have is this: In the eternal scope of things, does this really matter? If the answer is yes, then do something about it. If the answer is no, then breathe deeply and let it go. Families are forever and we need to remember that! It doesn’t matter if you were born into, adopted into or married into the family, it is yours now! There will be times when we think we are right or should be in charge. This can and will cause hurt feelings. If we try hard to think before we act or speak, realize when we haven’t been kind, be humble and forgiving, then these bumps on the road to forever can be overcome.
I have always told my children that in the end all we really have is family. Friends come and go, (a few stick with you through thick and thin) but family is connected by roots and branches weaved together to create a tight mesh that holds us together. Love strongly, forgive freely and set your sights on the future.
The legacy we want to leave behind is one of love!