Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Most Generous Father

Generosity.  I think he got it from both his parents who were always generous with their time, love and gifts to us.   My brothers and I had the best birthdays and Christmases.   If we had good grades, we could always count on a trip to Topps or Shoppers world on Dads payday, where we could pick out a toy.  Thats how my Barbies acquired their beautiful extensive wardrobes, thanks to Dad.  The morning of my High School graduation, Dad showed up with an orange yellow Chevy Nova as a present for me. I couldn't wait to get dressed and show it off to my girlfriends.   As I entered the workforce, that car lasted me quite a few years and having proven myself responsible ( I did have my fathers work ethic of course ) Dad agreed to co-sign a car loan for me.  I didn't let him down.  I faithfully made each payment on time and when I was ready for a brand spanking new car, he co-signed for me again.

He was generous as well when I married and his gift helped us purchase our first home.  Poor Dad, we married the day before the Bears won the Super Bowl.  I think that whole weekend was a foggy haze for him.   But his beloved Bears pulled it off, and so
did his daughter!  To this day he continues to love and support all of us.  He turned 81 in March and we're so fortunate to still have him around to love and tease.   He's the patriarch of our family, supporting and loving his deceased younger brothers family as well.  We all look up to him and appreciate the long hours of hard work he did to give us all the life we enjoy today.  He loves being a grandfather and great-grandfather these days.  Thanks Dad for all that you do for your whole family!   We love you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Another Special Reunion

A wonderful thing happened on Saturday, March 8th, 2014.  After many weeks of planning through the magic of Facebook, a fairly large group of childhood friends reunited and met again.   Most of us had not seen each other in over forty years and yet most of us lived within a 20 mile radius of one another.   We found each other through Facebook and word of mouth just recently and everyone was so eager to reconnect that planning the reunion was effortless.  It just kind of fell into place just as our conversations did when we met again.  There is something amazing about the human condition that allows us to pick up just where we left off with good friends, even when many years have passed between us.   We hugged, we kissed, we laughed and shed a few  tears, all the while reminiscing about the wonderful childhood we had growing up in our little subdivision in Steger, Illinois.   We were baby boomers, our parents built simple 3 bedroom homes with one bathroom, yes ONE bathroom!  We didn't grow up in mega mansions or eat out at fast food restaurants.   Our parents raised us modestly and we were grateful for what we had.  For most of us, it was our Dads who went off early in the morning to a full day of work, taking the only vehicle in the family.  Most of our Moms never even learned to drive.  We were a one income family, mom made us three homecooked meals a day, we played hard, we slept well, we had a good life.   We knew just about everyone in our subdivision and usually hung out with the ones that were our own age.   We'd do our chores, get out on our bikes, meet our friends for baseball or badminton, we'd search the sides of the road for empty pop bottles that could be exchanged at the neighborhood grocery store for penny candy like Mary Janes and wax bottles of syrupy juice or dots on paper or candy necklaces that got your neck all sticky when you sweat and boy did we sweat.   Air conditioning was a treat.  Our houses had a window unit, not central air like nowadays.   It was rarely turned on unless conditions became unbearable for the adults of the home.   But we were used to it.   We played in heat, we went to school in heat.   We were a generation of NON WIMPS!  We came home for lunch and dinner, then we were out until the porch light came on, then we better get our butts home fast!  Summers were fun, but so was school.   At our reunion, we all remembered the same things which was amazing.   I grew up with parents who loved to take pictures so my childhood is pretty well documented.  It helps when you're the firstborn.  They can't take enough picture of your adorableness.   When Polaroid came out with the Swinger camera, Santa brought me one with a nifty case that held extra film and that awful smelly chemical that you had to treat the pictures with.  Thank God for that camera.  I seemed to take it everywhere.   School functions, family reunions, you name it.   I started posting some of those pictures on Facebook as I reconnected with the ones who were in them and one thing let to another so I started a Facebook group titled "Steger Kids from the 1960's Reunion" and before you know it, we had 40 members.   Some live out of town,  but a majority live in the area so we picked a date and a restaurant in our hometown and would you believe everyone who said they were coming did?  In fact, more came than we anticipated.   We ordered pizzas and drinks, took pictures and laughed till our sides hurt.   Our music teachers who just happened to be married to each other even came.

 Mr. and Mrs. Griffin were two of our favorite teachers and Mr. Griffin brought in his I Pad.   He was another one who always had his camera at hand, so he showed us amazing pictures we had no idea he had of us.    It was such a treat to see them again!  Sweet Marie brought in a beautiful cake and other sweet treats.  Here she is with the cake and here she is at my birthday party, top right in the blue dress.  Other girls in the picture that attended our reunion are Diane in the red dress on the left, Cathy seated in blue next to Peggy in a striped dress.  We're still working on contacting the others in the picture.  We won't give up!

It was extra special to reconnect with one of my best childhood friends.  We hadn't seen each other in years and it was so much fun to see Cathy and her older sister Sandy and catch up on everyone's lives!  We all vowed this would be the first of many more reunions to come.  We're even planning a picnic in the summer where we can all meet each others families.   There are snobs who look down on Facebook and make fun of it.   But it has been instrumental in me finding and reconnecting with friends from childhood, school, my first jobs and long lost relatives.  I will forever be grateful for this wonderful thing called the internet!   I hope others are enjoying it as much as I am.