Monday, November 24, 2008

Someone I've been thinking about today

**Updated due to correct info I received from my fam...

You know, I'm often caught up in my own little world and forget about the hurt of others close to me. I have to admit I rarely remember the anniversary of my grandpa Lahman's death, but for some reason it hit me today that it was around this time some 20-odd 19 years ago that he died and I'm sure that this time is heavy on my dad's mind and heart.

That was a strange Thanksgiving week - the week that Grandpa died - and I remember a lot of it: Dad being down in south FL a lot, having a Thanksgiving pagent at school and being told shortly afterwards that grandpa passed away (I think my mom told Amanda and I in the bathroom of the Main Street Burger King in Gainesville...), travelling down there for the funeral, staying at John and Ronas, trying to have a happy Thanksgiving dinner despite that the funeral was either on or the day before Thanksgiving the day after Thanksgiving (he died the day before).

I figured I'd list some memories I have of my grandpa...
1. Grandpa had an artificial leg (he had his leg amputated years before because of complications with diabetes). I used to knock on his leg a lot. He also used to take insulin shots...and I didn't like shots!
2. Grandpa was VERY handsome. I always thought he was a good lookin' guy.
3. I used to like sitting at my grandparents kitchen table in the Hollywood, FL condo. The swivel chairs were so neat! I also remember liking to see my mom and dad kiss in the elevator on the way up to my grandparent's 2nd floor unit. Amanda and I also used to play shuffleboard in the courtyard area...Anyway, I remember he and my dad having conversations at that kitchen table. I don't remember what they talked about, but they talked there. Grandma used to serve us drinks in plastic cups with pastel-colored rims...I don't know why I remember that...

I only have a few memories, since I was only 8 or 9 11 when he died. My dad was about my age when Grandpa passed and I just can't imagine what it must've been like. Dad -I know this time is hard for you and I know I forget A LOT, but I just wanted to let you know that this year, I remember.

Amanda & Terry (and any other family), do you have any memories you'd like to comment about?


Amanda said...

First of all, thanks Mel for remembering. That was a rough Thanksgiving for our all our parents, of that I am absolutely sure.

I remember that Grandma always had gingerale for us to drink, and I loved the swivel chairs too. Didn't they have wheels also? Cool! I also remember asking permission to go down to the courtyard and play shuffleboard or swim in the pool. I don't know if we played shuffleboard CORRECTLY, but we played it a lot. I also recall Gma & Gpa having twin beds in the Master BR, and thinking that in that respect, their room was like our room! :-)

You are correct; Grandpa was a very handsome guy, and he was always so good-natured about his artificial leg, too. I usually averted my eyes from the insulin injections too.

Grandma always had a few coathangers under construction, and when she taught me how to make them, I remember wondering how in the world she could do it so FAST, and without even looking! Actually, when I make them now, I STILL wonder... it had to be all of that experience.

Teresa Hill said...

Glad you blogged about this, Melanie!

Yes, it was 19 years ago on Saturday that grandpa died. I was in Tulsa, OK at the time, in my very first semester at college. It was the day before Thanksgiving. My mom called me sometime that afternoon and let me know. I really wished I could've been there at his funeral, but it just wasn't possible (many years later she told me, in retrospect, that she wished she would've flown me down).

Growing up so close to them I have very happy memories visiting them in their condo in Hollywood. I also remember visiting their house when I was very young, when your dad and Lynn and Bob were still at home! There was a pool and I remember Vicki fell into it once, and Rona rescued her! Anyway, at the condo we would always order Chinese food from a place called China Lane. Maybe that's why I enjoy it so much to this day! :-) I remember the table and swivel chairs (I'm pretty sure they had wheels, Amanda) and the plastic bamboo weave cups with the brightly colored rims. I think I remember ginger ale too! Vicki and I LOVED to play shuffleboard! My mom and dad and grandpa would sit at that table and talk for a long time. I think things got a little "heated" at times with grandpa and my dad, probably over something political, but I don't remember exactly.

One thing I'll never forget is the last conversation I had with him. It was right before I left for Tulsa (I actually stopped at your house in Gainesville on my way and spent the night! June 12, 1989 to be exact!) to go to school. He was very concerned about my going, especially since I really didn't have the money to go - I had barely enough to get there! Anyway, I told him that I felt it was what God had for me and that I trusted things would work out. He said he really didn't see how it could. Well, God was faithful, like He always is, and 5 years later, after I graduated, my mom said that she remembered that conversation with him and that if he was still alive he would be very proud.

More recently, your dad came to see my mom on the 15th anniversary of grandpa's death, just a few weeks before she passed, and they had a nice time reminiscing.

He was a great guy - genuinely caring and was happy to just sit and visit whenever you wanted. My mom was just like him :-). I know she loved and respected him so much, and missed him desperately after he died. And yes, he was very handsome! I have a few older photos of him and grandma that are really nice!

Thanks again for bringing this up, Melanie!

Melanie said...

Terry - I didn't realize that my folks' visit to your mom in Nov '04 (I believe?) was anniversary of grandpa's death (see how little I think?). That must have been nice for Dad and your mom. Thanks for sharing all the dates!

Teresa Hill said...

Yes, Alister and I were home for Thanksgiving as well. Your folks came over to visit her as she wasn't doing too well at that point, and settle some things with Uncle John's estate. It just so happened that their visit fell on the anniversary. My mom brought it up, which of course they remembered. It was the last time your folks saw her, I believe, before she passed on Dec. 11 of that year.

Joy Keegan said...

Interesting that you ladies are speaking about Grandpa Lahman. I, too, have some fond memories of Grandpa - his smile was big and lit up his face, he let us tap on his wooden leg and didn't mind all the questions. The swivel and roll around chairs were a big hit for our family as well and the ginger ale was a big treat! I find it neat as well that as my Dad grows older, his features remind me a lot of Grandpa - he is a handsome guy and I see him looking more and more like Grandpa! Although November 22 has a different special place in my heart because it is my daughter Megan's birthday, it is precious to remember a dear family member who holds a special place in my Dad's heart as well.
Joy Keegan

Poppy said...

Thanks so much for remembering the anniversary of your grandpa's death. November 22 will always be famous as the day that JFK was killed in Dallas, Tx but for me it is because of my dad's passing. That date was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving so needless to say Thanksgiving Day in 1989 was a very rough one. His funeral was on friday the 24th. We moved away from South Florida in 1977, so neither one of my girls ever spent any serious amount of time around my parents. It is sad to me that they never were able to know you as adults, because I'm sure that they would be very proud of you. This Nov 22 was a very quiet day for me. I did not have any responsibilities at PPTG so I spent the day working out in the yard while Dawn held down the fort at the restaurant. I usually talk to at least one of my sib's, but that did not happen this year.
In 2004 we spent the week of Thanksgiving at Maderia Beach. The day that mom and I went to visit my sister Mary, Melanie and Patrick went to Bush Gardens and had a big day there. That was a very hard day for me to see her so ill. That was our last visit together. She could only take company in her room for short periods of time so we were able to visit with Teresa and Alister in between going in to see her.
Your post and the comments to your post caused me to have a good cry, but I don't consider that a bad thing. I miss my sister and my father and my mother very much.

Teresa Hill said...

Joy, it's so good to hear from you! Happy birthday to Megan! The last time I saw your dad, which was March of this year when he was up here for Christian's funeral, I was thinking the very same thing! He does look SO MUCH like grandpa! I've also noticed that your dad and Uncle Bob have the same hands as grandpa. That's something I've always thought was pretty cool! Speaking of hands, grandpa's pinkie fingers had a slight curve inward toward his ring fingers that my mom inherited and so did I! OK - everyone check your hands! If you have bendy pinkies, well, it's from grandpa! :-)

Something else I remember - his smile was certainly wonderful. His eyes would "disappear" when he smiled. My mom's did too. I think the other sib's eyes do this too!

This has been a really good time, everyone! Here's hoping we hear from more family members that may be lurking out there!

Melanie, I re-forwarded your email on to my sibs - Michelle's email was correct, but Vicki's wasn't, and I sent it on to Suzi and Steve as well.

Stephanie said...

Hey everyone, this is a great way to remember wonderful times with special people. I also remember the chairs and the ginger ale to drink. I didn't play shuffleboard a lot but I remember swimming in the pool. I was there a lot on the weekends enjoying chinese food and watching the Chicago Cubs play baseball in the afternoons.

Yes, his eyes did disappear when he smiled. I enjoy looking at his picture with grandma when I visit my parent's house. He was a wonderful man with a very loving heart. He is missed by all!

mom said...

It was a troubled time in my life at home when I fell in love with Jerry Lahman. I found a haven at his home and a welcoming smile and hug from his dad who seemed to think I was the berries! I admired his relationship with his wife and knew they had been through a lot together especially with the loss of a leg (which your dad told me about as I was about to walk into their home for the first time to meet him) Visions of a pirate with a striped shirt and a parrot on his shoulder and a peg leg vanished when I nervously stepped into the room and met my future father in law. A smile that stretched across his face and caused his eyes to disappear! A handsome man with brownish graying hair. Huge hands that were welcoming in warm hugs and a conversation if you had the time. Dad liked to find out about these people his kids were dating and I think I got the thumbs up. I would hang out at their house many evenings late as I had no curfew at seventeen and he and mom would always be up. They were very affectionate to each other, dad always patting mom's butt and I found that different from my parents and I liked it. A different set of parents entirely had raised the man I fell in love with. Dad was in a hard transition as the house on Taft Street was sold and condo life was to begin. It was an easier place for them to be a good decision and they always kissed in the elevator...a tradition we still try to keep. We still have the roll around chair he used in the apertmaent. Your dad uses it in the boat house to mess with his never ending fishing rods, lines lures etc. I know he would be so proud of dad and the risk he took to start his own business. I know your dad has missed the opportunity to sit and talk and share his hopes and dreams with his dad. His dad was always a listening ear especially in his later years. It was at Thanksgiving time that he left us but I am always thankful that he was my father in law and opened his heart and arms to me throughout all the years God allowed. I have received a great gift from he and mom...their fith child as my husband and best friend. He and mom raised some wonderful children. And the legacy lives on in some wonderful grandchildren and beautiful great grandchildren. Thank you Lord for bringing my in laws into my life at the time I needed them the most. I am assured of a good lookin' husband in his old age with a full head of hair judging from his dad's good looks and constant squeezing and hugging as well!
Love Ya Mel...Thanks for sparking the memories! Mom

Jason said...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I share many of the same memories as my fellow cousins. Somehow its comforting to know that we all share the same Grandpa (and Grandma) Lahman experience. The swivel chairs, the ginger ale in plastic cups with pastel colored rims, the elevator ride to the second floor (I remember a distinct smell in that elevator, not a bad one, but unique), and the twin beds in their bedroom. I'll add the memory of playing in the guest room at the end of the hall. In the closet we would find a box of toys with a set of Bristle Blocks that I enjoyed playing with. I think I remember a play doctor set, but I'm not sure, maybe another cousin can verify that memory! I also remember the exercise bike in G&Gs bedroom that we always asked permission to ride. My fondest memory of their room was the photo of their six children on the wall. I would stare at that picture of my dad, aunts, and uncles and be amused at their youthful appearance and imagined them being very happy growing up together - like a perfect sitcom family.

I also remember butterscotch candies in a dish between Grandpa and Grandma's living room chairs, and the organ against the wall. I remember being able to knock on Grandpa's leg and he never seemed to mind. I don't recall the day of his passing, but I remember the funeral. I remember thinking my dad looked sharp in his suit and Brian wore a clip-on tie.

I regret not being able to know Grandpa Lahman through my teenage years when I could've had more meaningful conversations with him and gleaned some insight into his character, but I do know that the legacy he and Grandma left behind in their children is proof that he was a good man. He raised and nurtured a wonderful family and for that he is deeply missed.

Thanks for thinking about Grandpa blog!

Poppy said...

I have been thinking quite a bit about dad these last few days and just wanted to share some thoughts and a little trivia. He attended Northwestern University in Chicago but I don't know if he ever got a degree. He enlisted in the army during WW 2 and he was a lieutenant serving on the island of New Guinea, just north of Australia. I don't remember him talking that much about his time in the service, but I know that he was responsible for military transportation on the island. I believe that there was army hospital close by. When the movie and later when the tv show M.A.S.H. came out in the 1970's, he talked about the show as if he had experienced that first hand. According to Wikipenia, MASH units bagan in 1945, but were not used extensively until the Korean war. Dad loved that tv show. Dad was not really a big tv fan. He would watch sports and loved watching all of the Chicago teams, but other than that he would much rather read. He always had a paperback novel(or two) sitting on the table next to his chair. Mom would watch tv and dad would read.
He was always employed in some kind of sales. He sold bakery displays to markets all over the midwest. I believe before that he was a salesman for Scott Paper Company. You know Scotties vs Kleenex was big talk in the Lahman house way before Burger King vs McDonalds, Publix vs Winn Dixie, or Papa's Pizza To-Go vs Dominos! He bagan selling life insurance with Northwestern Mutual and that is the only employment that I remember. He always wanted to do his own thing, and selling was the way that he was able to accomplish that. Shortly before I was born, he had a great idea that he and mom should buy a egg farn in Mundelein, a very small town in Illinois. He hired a man to live on the farm with us to help take care of things while he was working through the week. His sales positions always required over night travel so he was only home on weekends. As hard as he tried, he was never able to make a profit seling eggs, so that business only lasted a couple of years. I remember that before we moved to Florida he tried to market a couple of things from home with a friend of his. One was a jewelry box or maybe it was some kind of jewelry tree. The other was a toy scuba outfit for kids. Neither of those worked out either. When Dawn and I decided to get into the calf raising business with our friend Skip, Dad told me that he always wanted to have his own business and encouraged us to go for it. Raising calves was not our best idea ever, but dad thought it was neat that we threw caution to the wind and went for it. He was always very interested in whatever work we were involved with and liked for us to talk to him about "how it was going". He was full of ideas and like to tell you what he thought. He was very logical and wanted to help you think things through. Enough for now.

Teresa Hill said...

Wow! What cool info, Uncle Jerry! I am absolutely LOVING reminiscing like this! :-)

Didn't know he went to Northwestern - impressive! I remember hearing about that egg farm in Mundelein - and also remember hearing how much that property out there is worth now! :-( It's certainly not a small town anymore!

Living up here in Chicagoland, I certainly feel the connection with the whole Lahman side of my family. I'm even teaching in Mt. Prospect, at the Catholic grade school Aunt Lynn graduated from and maybe uncle Jerry and Uncle Bob attended! Not too far away from where they used to live! One of the 6th grade teachers at the school was actually Aunt Lynn's best friend when they attended there together!

One day I'll never forget is back in March, when all the sibs were here for Christian's funeral. The day after, I got to drive around with them as they visited places from days past - the houses in Des Plaines and Mt. Prospect, the forest preserve where many a baseball game was played, the cemetery where our great grandparents are buried (Gonsch and Lahman). It was truly a special day and put together some pieces of the puzzle for me as I thought of my mom's growing up years up here.

Let's keep this going everyone! I'd love to hear from more sibs!

Hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Amanda said...

Yes, Jason, that elevator did have a unique scent. I have occasionally smelled similar elevators and thought of Grandma & Grandpa.

Thanks, dad, for sharing about Grandpa's past; we were all so young when Grandpa passed away, there were a lot of things we never knew about him. He would have told us had we asked, but 12-year-olds don't often wonder about where their grandparents went to college.

Jason said...

thanks Uncle Jerry, that was great. I agree with Amanda and Teresa, that info about Grandpa is priceless stuff that I never knew and would love to know more!

Jason said...

I remember stories about a farm, I never knew it was an egg farm. Didn't Uncle John get seriously hurt on the farm?

Julie Henslee said...

Mel that is so awesome of you to do this. I too remember going to Grandpa's and having Ginger Ale as we all sat around the table. I remember Grandpa's sweet smile. I know our parents miss him dearly and I hope all this brings a smile to their faces. I see Grandpa in my daddy's face more and more each day. I still have dozens and dozens of hangers that I still use that Grandma made us