Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Retired English Teacher Is Going To Work

Once the Christmas decorations were down and put away, I looked at the winter months spreading before me and wondered just how I would get through those long days when my hubby was off to work.  Oh, I had plenty to do.  The desk is covered with family papers, old letters,  and photos needing to be sorted, filed, and archived.  I promised myself I would get that done after the first of the year.

I'd begun going through closets and cupboards sorting and tossing while I put away Christmas, but I still had much more of that type of sorting and tossing to do.  

Books are stacked waiting to be read during the winter months.  

Writing a personal history was also on my to do list.

I had my ladies groups at church to look forward to.  And, there is my writing group that needs to get going again.  All of that would also take up much of my time.  Not to mention that I could always go to lunch with my girlfriends.  Yes, I had all of that going on, and I so enjoy these activities.

I'd started a workout plan on our new elliptical machine.  I hoped to make sure I also got the club to do water aerobics at least twice a week.  There were Zumba classes being offered, and those low impact aerobics class also.

I promised myself that I would start cooking more at home and planning healthier meals.  I have been pretty consistent in doing that since the beginning of December.  

Yes, I had plenty to do while Jim was working.

Yet, I could not shake the desire to go back to work, so there was this job, and I applied for it.  As I told one of my girlfriends, I hate filling out the application process on-line, so one day, I sat myself down and completed the process anyway, partly as a practice of discipline.  

I had another year and a half left on a teaching license that I had renewed and never used since I had renewed it.  It took some doing just to renew that license on-line.  I'd had to reconstruct all the professional development I had done, prove I had done it, and submit all the papers to get the renewal.  It seemed so much easier when we just found our papers and submitted them to the Colorado Department of Education.  Now, it all had to be done electronically.  My husband, and many of my friends thought I was crazy for doing it.  "Why do you want to renew again?"  In my heart, I just wasn't ready to let that hard won certificate expire, so I renewed it.  After all of that, I had never used the renewed certificate to teach again.

Mostly, I have just been missing working in the profession I loved so much.  I missed the mental and intellectual challenge that teaching brings.  I missed the contact with students.  I missed working with other teachers. I wanted and needed the feeling that my days had a purpose that met the passion I have always had for teaching.

A phone call came.  An interview was granted.  I was greatly impressed by the principals I met.  I loved the school.  I was excited about the possibilities.  The next day, a job was offered.  I took it.

Today, I signed a contract to teach again.  I will begin my new job on January 24.  I will be teaching ELL (English Language Learners, or English as A Second Language.  I will go between three elementary schools and one middle school in School District 11.  I am quite happy about it all.  

Tonight we went to dinner to celebrate that I had signed a contract to teach through the end of the school year.  As Jim signed the check, I mentioned to the waiter that we had just eaten a celebratory dinner.  Soon, very unexpectedly, the waiter reappeared with a dessert to help me celebrate my new adventure.  He said,  
"Thank you for being a teacher."  

After I signed my paperwork today, I was quite humbled to think that I can again become a part of a profession that has given me so much more than I ever gave it.  I'm grateful to have the health and the desire to go back and work with young people again.  I'm looking forward to mentoring and working with the aides whom work with the ELL population in the schools where I will be working.  

Many years ago, a fellow worker in the school where I worked said to me, "I could never give up working as an elementary school secretary, because I'm hooked on the smiles I get each day."  I understand that.  I love seeing the light come on and the excitement that a child expresses when he or she finally understands and can speak a language that is new to them.  I can't wait to get back to working with my dear ELL students.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bidding Goodbye to Our President and His Vice President

Just back from a massage, my muscles a bit more relaxed, my tensions beginning to ease, hungry, now that is well past noon, I toast some raisin bread, grab the peanut butter, and pour myself a glass a milk while I pick up my phone so I can check out what is happening on Facebook.  

The White House tribute and farewell to Vice President Joe Biden is live.  He had just been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  The farewell speech is nearly over when I join others watching this man speak so lovingly and respectfully about his time in office and about the friendship and bond that has developed between President Obama and himself.  Heart emoticons, and thumbs up emoticons float across the bottom of the screen on phone.  Comments are scrolling below the emoticons.  I hit the heart emoticon and think about how much I love this man and his boss.  Words like dignity, class, civility, and humility come to my mind as I watch the man we commonly call Joe speak.  He hits the nail on the head for when he describes Obama as a man devoid of any sense of entitlement.  I would say the same could be applied to Joe Biden.

I begin to reflect upon our current political environment, upon my own political beliefs, and about the world of politics in which I have lived since I was a child.  To me, The Office of the President of the United States has never really been about politics.  I have respected all of the presidents whom have presided over our country throughout all of my lifetime because of a sense of patriotism that was bred in me from my earliest days.  I learned values of respect for my elders, for my leaders, and for our system of government while I sat at the dinner table and was encouraged by my father to participate in whatever discussions we would have at dinner.  I learned these same values all throughout my school career.  

I learned American History from my parents and grandparents as stories of our own family history, so linked to the history of this country, were told on long Sunday afternoon rides throughout the countryside of Colorado, or when we took vacations with our grandparents.  

As I watched those emoticons float across the screen, read the remarks that others made in the comments, on a Thursday afternoon in January, listening to Joe Biden speak, I wondered just why I was weeping again.  

I had wept earlier this week as I listened to President Barack Obama give his farewell speech.  I wept as if I were saying goodbye to a loved one and to an era which this loved one represented.  Indeed, I had the sense that this was exactly what was happening.  I was weeping because not only was a much admired and loved leader leaving office, but also because the end of an era which I had embraced so fully was coming to an end.

A sense of history washed over me as I listened to President Obama speak.  I thought of the farewell addresses I had read and studied in school.  I thought of the lessons and warnings that we as students were to discover from the departing president's speech.  As we studied those speeches of past presidents, we were asked to note what could we learn about the times in which that president lived from the speech.  What was the background for the remarks that we could learn from history?  What did the speech tell us about the president himself, his administration, his goals and achievements? Earlier this week, as I listened to this man speak, our current and outgoing president, knowing we will not see the likes of his oratory skills for a long time to come, if ever in my lifetime, I resolved to get a printed copy of his speech so I could read it, ponder it, and reflect upon in the days to come.

Today, as I watched the love of a people float across the screen in form of emoticons as Vice President Biden spoke, I realized anew the very different type of connection we feel with each other and with our leaders during these days.  In an instant, we can express to the rest of the world how we are feeling about any given moment in history as we view that moment live on the screen.  

There were comments not worthy of the country in which we live that would pop up in the comments.  Those commenters have the right to express such thoughts because of the rights we in America have, and I support the right to speak one’s beliefs as fundamental to our democracy, but oh how I miss the days of civility and respect.  Yes, to be honest, and I wish to be, our democracy has never been perfect.  We have a history that shows that often we have not shown respect or civility or social justice to our fellow citizens, but never, as far as I know, has such lack of respect and civility been seen in the behavior of those seeking public office as occurred during the election of 2016.

Phillip Yancey recently wrote the following about the political season we just survived:

First, civility lost.  I must fault Trump especially for debasing the presidential campaign.  He had a pejorative nickname for almost everyone: Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Low-Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco.  In the three presidential debates, Trump interrupted Clinton almost one hundred times.  He bullied people offstage and on, mocking a disabled reporter, disparaging women for their looks or their weight, playing to racist fears and ethnic prejudice.  Bullying, racism, sexism, and xenophobia have always been present in American society, but never before has a candidate for the presidency modeled them so blatantly.  Trump let the bats out of the cave, in effect legitimizing the darkest side of a free society. 

On a Thursday afternoon in January, just a few short days before a new president steps into the highest office in the land, my mind went back to an earlier time in my life.  

It was the Sixties.  I was a freshman in college.  To be exact, the year was 1963.  Martin Luther King gave a speech, one I would later teach to ninth grade students, I Have a Dream that year.  There was no civility or dignity or respect in that year when the Ku Klux Klan blew up a church in Alabama.  It was in that era, in that time, when wars over civil rights were being fought in this country, that I walked across campus one night to hear John Howard Griffin speak about the experiences that he had that became the basis for his book, Black Like Me.  

Away from home for the first time in my life, and in the academic setting, I began to develop more fully the beliefs about civil rights and social justice that I would hold throughout my lifetime.  

In 1963, war was raging in Viet Nam, and I had seen many from my family and from among my schoolmates ship off to a place I'd never heard of before to fight in a war I didn't understand.

It was in those days when I walked down the hall of my dorm from my room to the community bath, that groups of girls dressed in nightgowns and pajamas, with rollers in their hair, would be sitting cross-legged in the hallway around a record player one of them had drug into the hall singing I Want To Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing There.  Those were the earliest days of Beatlemania.

Those thoughts all came to me on the heels of the memory I had today as I listened to Joe Biden and wept.  I remembered another day in history when I had wept because I sensed an era had ended.  That day in November I will never forget.  The date was November 22, 1963. On that day, I listened to the radio in that dorm room in Wilson Hall on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado as it was announced to the nation that President John F. Kennedy was dead.  

Yes, this is what this feels like, I said to myself as I watched Vice President Joe Biden bid his farewell to the nation.  Seeing Obama and Biden leave office feels like I am seeing the death of Camelot again.  

I surprised myself when I compared the previous eight years to Camelot.  Certainly, I don't want to infer that these years have been the makings of a myth.  A myth always involves a hero, and I am not one given to hero worship.  Even as I think back to Kennedy, I know for certain that he was a flawed man with many traits I find personally reprehensible.  While I greatly admire Barack Obama, I am not going suggest that he is without his faults.  I do believe he will go down as one of the greatest presidents in the history of our country, but I know he did not always have my support on every issue.

So why am I feeling like I am bidding Camelot goodbye again?  Why did I weep when both Obama and Biden bid us farewell? 

When I was young, our country was so different.  I believe we had a sort of innocence about us not found in today’s society.  I have always believed we lost our innocence as a Nation that day when JFK was assassinated.

JFK transmitted a vision civic duty and participation to many of those of us whom came of age during his presidency. I was educated and came of age during post World War II.  Our teachers and our parents, those from the Greatest Generation, taught us about dignity, respect, honor, civility, honesty, courtesy, patriotism.  These values were modeled for us.  I was taught at home and in school to read, to think, to question, to be responsible, to participate in civic discourse in an educated and informed manner. 

So many of the values that I was taught, that I tried to teach to my children and to my students, that I have seen displayed in the public square for most of my life are disappearing in the current political climate. 

Oratory skills have been lacking in much of our political world for a long time.  Perhaps that is why I took such delight in listening to Obama whenever he spoke.  His breadth of knowledge, his command of English language, his ability to inspire and motivate others to take positive action, were always on display when he spoke. It was apparent that he thought things through.  He is a critical thinker.  His legal training and expertise is apparent.  Beyond that, he is a man who has faced many adversaries, but has emerged as a man who loves and respects others, and gives that love and respect freely.  Have you ever seen him show disrespect?  Have you?  I haven’t.  He loves his wife and his children.  In many ways, he is Everyman.  Perhaps that is why I find I like him so much.  He is a man of the people.  Yes, Joe Biden, he truly does seem to be a man without a trace of entitlement. 

That is why I feel the sadness and sorrow that I do as I face the days of the incoming administration.  I am not mourning the death of myth.  I am not mourning a death of Camelot. I am mourning the death of all of those values and virtues that I held dearest in my leaders: civility, respectful treatment of others, a sense of dignity, evidence of critical thinking, wisdom, inspiration, hope for the future, and grace under fire. 

Just before I embarked on writing this long post, as is my practice after I eat my lunch each day, I opened a piece of Dove chocolate.  The inside of wrapping was imprinted with these words: “Be more loquacious, starting with learning the meaning of loquacious.”  No one has ever accused me of not being loquacious.  I love words.  I place great value in the ability to use words well. 

Now, we are entering an era where the incoming President of the United States does not seem to value the time honored way of our forefathers in fostering hope through the use of well-chosen words.  We are entering an era where the President-elect chooses to communicate in sound bite like messages made up of 140 characters.  We are entering an era where derogatory adjectives are applied to describe the person of which the President-elect is speaking.  We are entering an era where truth is subjective.  The times are being described as times of post-truth. 

My grandmother’s maxim keeps coming to me whenever I hear of a new tweet being sent out from our President-elect ensconced like a demagogue (Oxford University Press definition in mind) in Trump Tower:  Fool’s names and fool’s faces are always seen in public places. 

Today, we lived in a time of great political divide.  We always had political divisions.  That is the American way, but I’ve never known the divides to be quite so divisive when it comes to friendships and family relationships.  I’ve never seen political beliefs cause people to interact in disrespectful ways like I have in the few months.  I’ve never seen my values and my beliefs questioned like they have been recently.  “How can you be a Christian and think that way?”  “You are a baby killer if you vote for Hillary.”  Yes, all of that has been said to me.  My patriotism has been called into question ever since I began supporting Obama years ago and stood against Bush and the wars he got us into.  

Jim & Sally
Obama Rally 2008
Pueblo, Colorado
I’ve been labeled a liberal, when I think of myself as a lifelong moderate.  None of the personal affronts I have experienced matter to me, except that they represent a lack of ability to discuss issues rationally and are indicators that so many no longer respect differences of view and show disrespect towards those who see things in a different light.  The attacks or label applications represent how we no longer appear to be able to discuss issues but rather prefer to slip into labeling and name calling.  I mourn over the loss of civility that I have witnessed and experienced even in my closest relationships within my family, neighborhood, in friendships of long standing, and even in informal church gatherings. 

I know many of you will not share the views and my beliefs that I have expressed in this post.  I would not wish to live in a country where we all had to think alike.  I certainly would not wish to live in a country where I had to participate in group think, nor would I wish to live in this great nation of ours if the very freedom that made us so great was stripped away from us:  Freedom of Speech.  Perhaps, that is what I fear most as I watch reporters and journalists being mocked by our President-elect.  I fear we will lose our freedom of speech, and our freedom to express dissent. 

I weep when I hear President Obama or Vice President Biden say their farewells because good and decent men are leaving the highest office of our land, and I fear that dignity, grace, and civility are leaving the Office of Presidency of the United State of America when they walk out the door.  That is why I weep. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Home for The Holidays

This is not a newsflash for those whom know me best.  I was a frenzied mess before Christmas.  Nothing new there. The closer December 25th came the more I found myself eliminating from my mental check list the things I hoped to get done before Christmas.  There would be no baking.  There would be no cards sent out.  I may have written a Christmas letter, sent out cards, and done a lot of baking earlier in my life, but this year, I had to make some choices.  I only have so much time and energy, and I had to decide how to spend each.

The decorating of the house seemed to take me weeks.  I don't put up a lot, but it all takes time.  We have a small tree because space is limited in the living room.  One of my favorite things to do each year is to hang the ornaments on the tree because so many memories are associated with each ornament.

This year I added a few ornaments that I had made back in the 70's.  They had been tossed in some forgotten box long ago and had not been on the tree in at least twenty years.  My former sister-in-law had taught me how to make these.  I had crocheted around small round mirrors with metallic gold thread.  When I found a few of the remaining ornaments this year, I marveled that I had created them at all, especially when I considered that I was raising five young children at the time and had at least one of them in cloth diapers.  I wonder how I accomplished all that I did back in those days.  I think I put a lot more pressure on myself to do it all.  I remember I would sew nightgowns, and dresses, bake cookies, make candy, and do all the other Christmas activities that a mother of five children would do.  I was younger then.  I had more energy.  I also think I had unrealistic expectations concerning all that I needed to accomplish.  Thankfully, I am older and wiser now.  I do like having a few of these ornaments as a reminder of those days of long ago.

This year, part of the delay in decorating happened because a nasty virus hit me a few weeks before Christmas.  I seldom get colds or flu these days, so I was surprised when I woke one morning with a fever of 100.4.  After nearly eighteen hours of sleep, and the downing of many fluids, I was better the next day.  No one likes to be sick during the holidays, but I was especially disappointed at the timing of my illness as I had planned on hosting a party for group of my church friends for the next day.  That all had to be cancelled when I became ill.

It had been more years than I like since I had hosted a family Christmas celebration, so this year, I got my bid in early so that others would know how to plan.  Only three of Jim's daughters and their families were able to attend.  It seems that as the grandchildren become older, we are spread out in even more directions.

Jim and I decided upon our traditional Christmas Eve menu of Mexican food.  We had homemade (not by me) tamales, several cheese and chili casseroles, Spanish rice and homemade green chili.  Every year in the fall, we freeze a bushel of Pueblo green chilies.  We love to add these wonderful chilies to everything from eggs to grilled cheese sandwiches.  This year, my husband said I added too many chilies to green chili because it was HOT.  It was hot, but I thought it was just right.  (Others said it had a nice kick to it, so I guess it was ok.)  The downside to cooking with a lot of these chilies is that my hands were burning and so were my lungs from breathing in the fumes when I was chopping those green beauties.  After the first bag of chilies, I put on some plastic gloves.

We also had ham and rolls and salad for those whose palates haven't grown accustomed to the hot chili flavors we enjoy.  When it came time to serve the food, things got a bit crazy, but somehow, the buffet we set up worked even if it wasn't very fancy.

Just before dinner, at sundown, Jim had us all gather in the dining room so he could light the first candle of Hanukkah.  He explained the significance of lighting the candle and spoke of his heritage and of his parents.  He then said a blessing for us all.

I snapped a quick photo of part of the family as they sat down to eat.  Later, I had to laugh at just how bad of a photo I had taken.  A candle seems to burn right on top of Caleb's face.  Obviously, our Christmas Eve dinner was eaten a  more relaxed style. With a cabinet full of china behind us, we chose to eat from paper plates.  My children imposed the paper plates routine a few years back for holidays other than Thanksgiving.  While I still wish we had a more formal table, it is so much easier with the size of our family to toss the dishes when we are all done eating.  Jim's former wife and her husband joined us for Christmas Eve celebration as is our usual practice.

In the kitchen, the grandchildren seemed to especially enjoy the holiday poppers that were a surprise gift at each place setting.  I love the paper crowns they all donned.

After dinner, we all went downstairs for a gift exchange.

Julie's tree that I decorate every year with her ornaments has a bit of a funny story this year.  I think she would enjoy the story of this year's tree.  I bought a live tree, as I always do, at the grocery store where I always buy the tree each year.  In her first years of college she worked for this particular grocery chain, and I know she always liked a live tree, so I buy an "elf" tree.  I quickly picked up a tree this year without checking to see how fresh it was and realized when I got it home it was already losing needles.  I put it up anyway, gave it some water, and planned to decorate it in a few days.  By the time I got around to decorating it, it was seriously dry.  I had Jim take it upstairs and set it out for with the garbage on the Monday before Christmas.  The garbage collectors left it.  I guess they thought it was a mistake that I set it out.  So, I stuck it in the garage.  Then two days before Christmas, I decided that I should rescue the poor rejected tree and decorate it after all.  I only turned the lights on for the time we exchanged presents because I feared it would go up in flames.

Upper right of the photos is one of the newly weds.  We were so happy to have grandson Caleb and his wife Rachel with us here from Ogden, Utah.  The middle photo typifies our Christmas.  Brad is wearing Jim's readers.  It seemed we were always asking if someone had a pair of readers one of us could borrow.  Jim just had cataract surgery, and for the first time since he was eight years old, he no longer wears glasses except to read.  The problem is, he can never find the readers.  It seems the children are also getting to the point where they need readers also.

Jim got an elliptical machine for Christmas this year.  It didn't come in his stocking, but it did provide a good place to hang his stocking.

The guys all had beards this year.  Jim started growing one a few weeks back.  He hadn't shaved in a few days, and I said there was no reason to rush into anything and suggested he grow a beard.  He never has grown one before, so it has been a fun adventure for him to learn how to trim it.  He has a ways to go before he catches up with his grandson Caleb.

Back upstairs, the family waited for dessert.

Thia, Jim's oldest daughter made the most amazing cake.  It tasted as good as it looked.

It was all over much too soon.

On Christmas Day, Jim and I attended church before we came home to eat a light breakfast and open gifts.  Amy, who had spent Christmas Eve at her own home with her children, came down to see us in the early afternoon.

Jim totally spoiled me this year with an Apple watch.  I was thrilled to get it and have really enjoyed having it.

Amy brought me this beautiful bouquet for Christmas.  It seems that girl never fails to bring me flowers whenever she shows up for special occasion.  I so appreciate that about her.  She really outdid herself this time.

She wouldn't let me take her photo.  It kills me not to photograph my beautiful girl, but she just doesn't like me taking photos of her, so I honor that wish.  It was wonderful to have her with us.  She brought gifts, flowers, and her presence which was the best of all.  Her children spend Christmas Day with their father and his family.  Later in the evening she returned home so she could sleep in her own bed.  I can understand that desire.

Jim has been enjoying his elliptical.  He loves the way it mimics running as he was once a runner.  I think it is a great thing to have in the house because he never has time to go to the club to work out.  Here he is pushing himself to get back in shape in the comfort of his man cave.  The other bonus about working out at home is, in his words, "And I don't have to wear white socks."

On the day after Christmas, as I walked from my office towards the main living space of our home, I was taken by just how grateful I am for all the blessings in my life.  Our home is a place of comfort and peace.  The best kind of evening is one spent at home with the man I love as we quietly read.  There is still just enough clutter left from opening Christmas presents, and from the dog's toys to make this home a place that is lived in.  It always seems a bit empty when the kids leave after a visit, but at this time in our life, we are so grateful to be living close enough to our children that they can drop in even for a short visit.  Jim always jokes that he "loves to see the headlights, but the tail lights are even better."  In truth, it is good to know our children have established their own lives and their own traditions.

After so many years of working long hard days, it is a true blessing to have quiet peaceful evenings at home.  Tonight we had thought of going to a movie, but preferred to stay home.

As the year comes to an end, this post is being sent out with wishes for the very happiest of new year wishes.  2016 has ended on a very happy and healthy note for us.  We are so grateful for that.  We look forward to see what 2017 has in store.  Blessings to all you, my dear friends.  I truly do wish you

A very

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Passing of the Family Patriarch

Just past midnight I received a text from my daughter Keicha telling me her paternal grandfather had passed away. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to spend some time with him this fall.  He was a dear and special man in my life. 

On February 14, 1966, I went to work at the Internal Revenue Service in Ogden, Utah.  On that same day, another young man also started working at this same place.  We met two days later, and it was clear that we were quite taken by each other.  We would marry six months later.  

My dear in-laws were our only attendants when my former husband and I married.  I loved these two people as if they were my very own parents.  They always treated me as if I were their daughter.  I could never have picked finer in-laws.  Now, both of them are gone.  

Dad, as I called my father-in-law, worked at IRS during the night shift.  After I was married, and when I was pregnant with my first child, Dad and I would often eat our dinner together at work.  He always checked in on me during break to see how I was doing.  Once, someone asked me who the man was I kept talking to at work.  "I even see you eating lunch with him," the person noted.  I said, "Oh, that is my father-in-law."  The person responded on how young he looked and remarked that they could not believe he was really just my father-in-law.  

He was a young and good looking man in those days.  He was only twenty years or so older than I, but he was very fit and active, so I guess I can understand how people questioned who he really was.  Dad was a river runner, a fisherman, a gardener, and had been quite a skier back in his day. 

Unfortunately, the marriage between my first husband and myself did not last, but my respect for and love for his parents never diminished.  Over the years, they both always treated me with great love and respect also, and I always looked forward to seeing them when I was in Utah, or on the few occasions when they came to Colorado to visit.  This past fall,  I am so grateful I had the see my dear father-in-law one last time.  Below is an account of the occasion:

I think we all have places that have become central to us when we look back on our lives.  Certainly the home of my former in-laws is one of those places for me.  It was in this home where I first got to know my former husband and his family.  Fifty years ago last month, I left this house to walk across the street to the church on the corner to marry my former husband and father of my children.  

Nearly every Sunday afternoon or evening during the years my family was young when I lived in Utah, we would visit Grandma and Grandpa at their home.  Often we were treated with homemade raspberry ice cream made by Grandpa.  The raspberries came from his garden.   His garden kept his grown family and probably half of the neighborhood in fresh produce throughout the summer for as long as I can remember.  How I loved those fresh tomatoes from his garden.  Often, my lunch consisted of just garden fresh tomatoes from Grandpa.

The backyard was the gathering place for so many summer evening picnics to celebrate a birthday, a baby shower, or Father's Day. I asked Grandpa how his garden was doing, and he said he only had a few tomato plants that had not done well this year, oh, and of course there were the raspberries.  And, there had been some good peaches earlier, he said.

Hoping to find some raspberries, Bridger and I headed to the backyard.  We were in luck.  There were a few delicious ripe raspberries waiting to be picked and eaten.  
Keicha came out to see what we were doing.  As she stood on the stairs of the deck memories of the day she walked down those stairs on her wedding day to be married in this very yard also came flooding back.  

My former father-in-law, now in his early 90's,  is a bit stooped over, and he said he can't hear or see "too good," but his voice was strong as he asked for all of the the children and grandchildren, my husband, and for my mother.  He told about a book he was reading.  He reminisced  a bit about the days he was a pilot for Bridger.  His once youthful, handsome face now seemed as if it had been refined by the years he has lived.  He has always been such a kind and good man to me.  Always.  I kissed him on the cheek when we left and told him I loved him.  He remains "Dad" to me.  It was hard to visit him and know that "Mother" is no longer there with him.  I'm so grateful to have had this short visit with him.


It is hard to imagine life without Grandpa Chris in it.  I will forever be grateful that he was a part of my life.  I am also grateful that he was such a great grandfather to my children and grandchildren.  All of them adored him.  I was blessed when I married into his family, and he continued to be a blessing to the generations that were added to his family.  We all will miss him terribly.  He was one of the greatest generation, and he was one of the finest examples of devotion to home, family, church, and country that his generation produced.  My heart is so very sad to see him pass to the next life, but I am grateful to know he no longer suffering and in pain.  My heartfelt condolences go out to his children and grandchildren.  God bless you all.