Sunday, October 7, 2007

Autumn Changes

The past few weeks have been filled with expected and unexpected changes. As with all change, some is good , some is inevitable and some is unwelcome. But, one of the "givens" in life is that nothing remains the same and everything changes.
The week before last Steve's father passed away after a very short bout with cancer. It was expected and he lived a long and very full life, but that did not blunt the sadness and loss we all feel. For the entire week Steve and I and all of his brothers (4), their wives, his mother and sister were together planning and bringing about a suitable wake and funeral for the patriarch of the family. It was a time filled with lots and lots of emotions and feelings as would be expected.
Fred, Steve's father came from Germany when he was 10 years old. When WWII began he enlisted and became an army pilot but didn't get out of the US for some reason. After that, he married Lois and began a busy life of fatherhood and endless activity. During that busy life he raced Porches, founded an athletic program at his church, coached football, basketball, track and tennis, acted with two of our local theater companies, modeled for various Milwaukee-made products (he was extremely good looking), played tennis and racquetball (winning 1st place for the over 50 class in Wisconsin). Then when he wasn't able to be as physical as before, he began painting, producing scores of very good and varied works of art that hang in his children's homes. He also painted lovely designs on wooden candle sticks, and salt and pepper shakers. Some of my favorite things he did were gourd Santas that were each completely different from the other and painting on shelf mushrooms!
I liked it that when he wasn't able to do an activity anymore, he'd move on to something else, never complaining or expecting pity. The last year or so of his life - he was 87 - he began learning to use the computer and got pretty good at it. He loved getting and sending e-mail to family and friends and liked visiting my blog too. Sometimes he'd call me up with a "computer problem" and we'd be on the phone for an hour trying to figure it out.
I didn't know him very long because they lived in Florida until last year but we had a very nice friendship and I'll miss him. He always seemed happy and kept up with the world of sports (his love) as well as all the goings on of his big family.
I found him to be a very interesting and vital man. Like his life, his death has changed us all.
Here are a few pictures of him at our family reunions - looking very dapper (as he always did).

This is how I'll always remember him.

Here are two baskets of flowers from his funeral.

Good bye, Fred. It was so nice knowin' ya . . .
My birthday fell during that rather tumultuous week and Ashley came over to drop off a lovely card and fantastic bouquet.

I think she'll be a Campbell's soup model!

Thea in deep thought. Doesn't she look queenly?? Steve and the pugs relaxing before we head to work.

These guys gave Steve something to enjoy this week.

Three bucks! The very nice one (for our area) is on the far right.

Isn't he a beauty! Bet you thought the hostas took a beating before - now look at them!!

Teeny, tiny, little mushrooms.
Golden Garden spider and Toad Lily.
One of the expected and welcome changes of Autumn - miscanthus flowering.
Death is nothing at all; it does not count. I have
only slipped away into the next room.
Henry Scott Holland
1847 - 1918
Bye for now,


Pam said...

Sorry for your loss, Fred sounds like he was an extraordinary individual. A full life lived with enthusiasm.

And happy birthday.

Alyssa said...

Pam - Thank you. Yes, he was enthusiastic about life. I'm getting closer and closer to 60 now!

Mary said...

Alyssa, that's a wonderful tribute to a special man. He was indeed very handsome! I'm sorry he left but I'm glad he still lives in your heart. Your memories will get you and Steve through.

It's exhausting to go through a funeral and I am glad to see you have relaxed with the beauty in your yard. Keep smiling, as that is what Fred would want.

Old Wom Tigley said...

I fine tribute to a fine man for sure.
I think it is good to talk and share your feelings and thoughts at times like these, the hurt you all feel soften with time and memories of all the good times will pull you all closer.

I look forward to your next post and wish you and your extended famiy well.

DeeMom said...

Oh my Dear Alyssa,
Our prayers and thoughts go forth
I was worried about you…now it all makes sense

What a lovely tribute to a wonderful man that must have Touched MANY lives.
Happy Belated Birthday, we took off for DC to be with our daughters, the Eldest will soon celebrate her Birthday as well.

Again the Deer are totally awesome.

Bottom line I was worried about ya

Alyssa said...

Mary - I have some really nice and fun memories of Fred. Thinking of him makes me smile. That does help a lot. The weekend after the funeral we both did some work in the gardens. It does clear the mind and sooth the soul.

Old Tom - Thank you for your kind wishes. Yes, we do a lot of talking about Steve's father and I seem to learn something new about him all the time.

Dee - I'm sorry I didn't let everyone know that I was fine. I will leave a little note if something like this comes up again. Thank you for your kind words - it means a great deal to me.

kate said...

Hi Alyssa,

Your words about Fred paint a picture of a vibrant, happy soul - full of life and determined to live every day to the fullest. I would never have guessed his age!

It is always hard losing one of our close family members ... I am glad that you were able to spend time together mourning and also celebrating the life of a wonderful person. I think it's great that your memories of Fred bring a smile to your face.

Happy Birthday to you!! I love the pictures of the deer ... boy, they can destroy Hostas pretty darn thoroughly!

I hope you have a good rest of the week. Thinking of you, kate ox

Alyssa said...

Kate - I'm glad my attempt to portray Fred has been pretty successful. I think everyone is getting a good idea of what he was like. It made me feel better to write about him. Thanks for the birthday wishes - I had a nice relaxing day.