Saturday, June 17, 2017

Happy Father’s Day, Papa!

When I showed my husband Keith this picture of him with his dad, he smiled and said he actually can recall that thrilling moment. Then I asked him what he valued most about his dad. As he pondered awhile, I came up with the answer for him. After a quarter of a century coming to know and understand their relationship, I believed it was what he inherited from his father, who was an excellent carpenter; the indubitable talent for woodworking, ingrained through their German heritage. For hundreds of years his family created magnificent structures from wood, be it large like the 500 year-old church that still stands, the century-old family houses still lived in today, or small like the toys both his father made and those made by Keith today. My husband’s DNA is a deep-rooted and remarkable and what Keith is most grateful for is having a father who gave him this talent.

I asked Tiffeni what she adored about her papa the most. These are her words: I am the proud daughter of a wonderful and talented and very smart man; my Papa. From as early as I can remember I always wanted to follow him around to see what interesting things he was doing. He helped me with homework, told stories, and taught me history, geology, and math. He gave advice and was and is always my friend. He taught me important things that I needed to know, and unimportant and fun things too! He fed my imagination and creative spirit.

Here are two pictures I absolutely adore of Tiffeni with her papa. On a RV trip to Minnesota for a family reunion, we stopped at a campground that had a lookout tower. The three of us climbed the numerous steps to the top and were rewarded with a panoramic view of the forest below. I quickly took this picture and it truly reveals the father-daughter bond they have as she leaned against him, his strength and sturdiness provided the security she needed being up so high in the sky.

Gardening is their shared passion and to watch those two traverse the yard, talking about what plants would look good, what trees needed to be trimmed, bushes that needed to be moved, what vegetables and fruit to plant, and so on, continually amuse me. Last year this gourd was planted and grew and grew. When it came off the vine it weighed in at 32 lbs. and 18 inches round. WOW! These two also love architecture. Being the first child born and for 17 years was the only child, so our Miss Tiffeni was both son & daughter to us. Then Charlie came along!

Papa Keith was away on active duty when I found out I was pregnant. Tiffeni knew before he did and we worked real fast in remodeling the den into a nursery. When he came home, both of us were giddy with the news, but waited for the appropriate moment to tell him. So he asked, “What’s new? What did you do while I was gone?”  Our conspiring looks made him nervous. “What are you two up to?” “Well, you know the den and how we were not using it that much?”  “Yeah,” he replied. “Well, we turned it into a nursey.” “A nursey. Why would you want a nursery?” Then all of a sudden his eyes got big, a smile as wide as a rainbow lit up his face as he asked, “A baby? We are going to have a baby?” We both nodded and he fell on one knee, kissed me and hugged Tif and the rest is history. And here he is, Charlie! The son he always wanted and a brother Tiffeni thought she would never have.            

I asked Charlie like I did Tif a few words about his papa: He wrote: “Papa was the first one to hold me after I was born. I was told I opened one eye, but the bright light made me close it, but that was the instant I knew I saw my best friend, my papa. From that moment on we spend time with each other every day. With his military knowledge and my love for history and ships, we went to lots of maritime museums and watched ocean liners when they came into port. I enjoy helping him around the house, and is the greatest teacher. Forever best friends, we two!”    

Proudly wearing his Chief’s uniform, Charlie at one year of age sits on his papa’s knee and smiles. Their shared interest in ships has taken them on many adventures. Here they are on the deck of the SS John W. Brown battleship on which that took an excursion on.

Father’s Day is indeed a special day, and we are fortunate to be together to celebrate this man who is not only the best father any child could ask for, but the best husband, too. So on this day, we will shower him with gifts, cook a fabulous meal, and Keith will take to his heart this wonderful moment filled with love.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

30 Years of Collections . . . and still growing!

Today is my son, Charlie’s, 30th birthday. In celebrating him and his accomplishments, here is the story about his side of The Children’s Museum.

Charlie's shelves are loaded with all sorts of things. Baby sneakers, music boxes (he fell asleep to many a tinkling tune), endearing bronzes of his hand and foot (remember bronze baby shoes? They're gaining newfound nostalgia fueled by social media). Sesame Street dish & cup, statues & his baby blanket and stuffed animals.  Bunny reigns!
His fascination with trains was overwhelming. I think every boy and girl plays with trains. Depending on the level of interest, a collection of trains can be, like it did for Charlie, take over his bedroom, down the hall, and under the tables.

He loved Thomas the Tank Trains and Brio. There were never enough Brio tracks, especially the curved ones. Eventually, there were too many trains, so he donated some of them to “Toys for Tots.

After the trains came the blimps, then submarines, followed by WWII destroyers and aircraft carriers. From there his interest turned to cruise ships, with an insatiable interest in the Titanic. There are models and drawings of ships, and literally tons of books on sea-going vessels and novels.

Charlie became so scholarly on the Titanic that he tried out for a part in the traveling production of TITANIC, The Play. He didn’t get the part but because of his knowledge, the producer asked him to become the dramaturge, which is like a playwright. Charlie loved being on stage and appeared in many local productions. His favorite play was Oliver, because he played multiple roles.  

Cub Scout memorabilia, especially Derby cars, are displayed with pride, as is his many bowling trophies. Charlie loves adding things and soon he is going to need a museum of his own.

Charlie was home schooled from the fourth grade through high school. Everyone in the family was his teacher; Papa did science and math, his sister Tiffeni taught English and history, and Mom taught art appreciation and filled in when needed. We all had a blast and Charlie kept a large
scrapbook of his work. Because of its size, it is stored behind the curtain on a shelf, along with more drawings, projects and precious memories of his school days.

And today he will receive birthday presents of all kinds and it is certain that eventually some of them will go into his museum. His collections give him a sense of pride and shows not only him, but family members and friends, the learning journey he has traveled, the paths he has taken as he mastered the subjects that interested him . . . a virtual resume.  

This is the reason our Family Museum exists: to keep, display, protect the many things that have and continue to part of our life, our heritage.                                                                      Happy Birthday, Charlie!