Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 7

20 Jun

Wedding are just chocked full of happy memories,  like this:

What caused that sea of genuine smiles? This dear, sainted man.

And that’s thing about those happy memories, many of them are tied to people who are no longer with us.  Who knows what Pastor Krieger was saying, or even why he had the mic, but the man who gave me the nickname Chirps, and scolded me when there weren’t enough a Capella stanzas is sorely missed, gentle ribbings and all.

As is this beautiful woman on the left, framed between her two daughters.

Just a few weeks after I moved to town I was invited over to her condo for a cocktail party with the caveat, “they’ll all be talking about you anyway, so you might as well be there.”  Grace was the perfect hostess, the evening was full of lively conversation, delicious food, big guffaws (Pr. Krieger was there), and the most delightful Old Fashioned I’ve ever imbibed.

She wasn’t the only one who opened her home to me in my first days in Michigan.  This kind, generous couple hosted me for supper right before my interview.

Norma was on the interview committee, and she and I left their house just a minute or two late with these parting words from Norm, “You just tell them you’re late because I made you stay and drink a beer.”  I did.  Tell them that, not drink the beer, and Norm’s excuse instantly broke the ice, and calmed my nerves as I sat down with the room full of people I now happily call my friends.  I don’t know if he ever knew what a wonderful gift he gave me in that simple sentence.

The people below also gave us a great gift.  Well, to be fair, we bought it from them, but the thought, care, and maintenance they put into this house, now our home, is something for which we will always be grateful.  My apartment lease was up three weeks before our wedding, so as the final days of school were wrapping up, and our last minute wedding plans were ramping up, we threw in the purchase of a house.

We had no idea when we discovered this house with it’s custom designed pantry and spacious sunroom that the seller would be one of the music leaders of West Michigan.  We had an instant bond with them, and they graced us with their presence at our wedding, and the initials AS carved into each of the handmade kitchen cabinets still makes me smile.

Do you remember those beautiful seventh grade girls that helped me pick out my wedding dress?  Well, one of them just got engaged.  Sadly, she lost her father before he had the chance to walk her down the aisle.  Her Dad is the man on the right.

Losing part of your family is always tragic, whether it happens unexpectedly, or after a extended illness at the end of a long life.  My Grappa was able to make it to our wedding, but it was the last big event he was strong enough to attend.  He was too sick to make it to my sister’s wedding just six months later, and died a month after that.

We saw him near the end, lying thin in a hospital bed, but this is how I will remember him.

As two became one, Jerry’s family became mine, and that means that the losses of his family became mine as well.  Nearly five years ago we lost Jerry’s brother David in a single car accident, and just this year their dad died after a battle with Alzheimer’s.

The holes they leave are huge, but larger than any emptiness is the thankfulness we have for the time we had with each of these people.  They shaped our lives, brought us joy and laughter, and remind us to appreciate those still with us.

Okay, weepy sad time is over.  Let’s think back to the beginning of this post, shall we?  Happy memories.  Happy, happy, happy.  Here, just in case your mind’s eye needs a little trigger:

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One Response to “Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 7”

  1. Rachel June 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    That is the best way to remember your Grandpa. I’ll always remember him sitting in his recliner with Rover on his lap, just smiling and looking so content.

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