Striking Gold

The dictionary uses evocative terms to define and describe the unique properties of Gold (chemical symbol Au):  durable, malleable, resistant to corrosion. It is a precious metal, connoting beauty and elegance as well as great value.

image from: all-free-download.com

These definitions may be applied to a 50-year marriage:  durable, malleable, resistant to corrosion. Likewise, the long-lived marriage is precious, signifying beauty and elegance in addition to great value. Continue reading “Striking Gold”

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Serial Number 37 404 688

Ninety-seven years ago today, my daddy entered this world. As one might expect, he had a significant impact on my life and I’ve posted about him numerous times in this space. With the recent commemorations of D-Day, I’ve been thinking often about Norman Arthur Stricker whose Army Serial Number was 37 404 688.

Searching for a Stricker crest, I found this artwork. It was just what I needed!

In an interesting turn of events, I’m spending this day some 14 miles from the Florida condo he and my mother shared in the years before his 1994 death. I thought this would be an appropriate time to debut a new subsection of my blog devoted to my Stricker roots. It’s located here and if you’re related to the Stricker family in any measure, I hope you’ll enjoy this tribute to my dad.

Know When To Hold

The recent commemorations of D-Day have sparked my reflections. With this final day of June 2019, my thoughts center on my father-in-law (FIL) whose birthday it is. He was born in 1921. I’ve mentioned him in several previous posts, most recently here.

Born in Kansas, the second child of Fred and Georgia, Max learned early the importance of hard work, a way of life embedded deep in their German heritage. He often reminded his sons how his own father tied a block of wood to the child’s foot so he could reach the tractor’s gas pedal. Able-bodied children learned the value of work to help families survive.

This work ethic propelled young Max into adulthood. Ambition and aptitude directed him to Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (now Kansas State University) where he prepared for his future career as an engineer. As sometimes happens, these plans were interrupted by the shadow of war. Like many of his peers, this engineering student enlisted in the US Army.

When Max reported for active duty, he served with the Signal Corps stationed in the Philippines. His eldest son (also named Max) was born during this overseas deployment.

Following World War II, Max pursued various engineering and corporate positions that brought him success. He was wise and expert, an admirable man. He and his wife raised four sons, each of whom exhibits distinct character qualities (even facial expressions) learned from their father.

Looking back though, I’ve come to realize … to my regret … I didn’t know my FIL well. He was an imposing figure to me, tall and commanding as one might expect of a former Army officer. As his daughter-in-law, I found myself unable to establish a comfortable level of familiarity where I could characterize him as my friend. Though he was kind and cordial, he seemed a generally quiet man, sometimes prone to share stories, but usually content to observe the interactions and conversations of those around him.

Mostly, what I know of the man is what I’ve seen reflected in my Beloved. The second child of a second child, my Beloved mirrors his father’s disposition as a generally quiet man. Observing my Beloved’s love for me and for his children and grandchildren, I’m grateful to his father for being a good dad and provider.

Perhaps more than anything else, I realize my FIL passed on to my Beloved a precious spirit of play. Pictured at right in the final years of his life, Max displays the winning hand in a monumental match of Texas Hold’em. To start, there may have been eight or ten competitors sitting at that roundtable contest. One by one, they went down in defeat to the most seasoned (and senior) card player at the table. Even as a man in his 80s, Max delighted in being champion of all.

We don’t have much occasion to break out the cards these days, but whenever my Beloved splashes his grand-twins in their mini-pool or welcomes the grandchildren to hop on top his truck for a raucous ride around the lawn, I’m gratified by his joyous spirit of playfulness … and how Scriptureonce again – demonstrates its essential Truth to our everyday lives.

Father’s Day Blessings

The yearly observance of Father’s Day has become a curious phenomena of late. Verbiage including phrases like “toxic masculinity” and the dreaded “male privilege” are bandied about, calculated to make all of us squirm. The always-reliable satire of The Babylon Bee makes this point with its June 15th story:  Father’s Day Updated To ‘Toxic Masculinity Awareness Day.’  While I appreciate their ironic take, I prefer the sentiment expressed on the chalkboard below.

image from: https://www.theshabbycreekcottage.com/

A brain tumor took my daddy out of this world in 1994. He wasn’t perfect, but how I loved him! From a very early age, I learned from him what qualities to value most when choosing my future husband. I posted about my dad’s struggle and death several years back. Since his passing, not a day has gone by that I don’t think about him and the impact he had on me and so many others. Continue reading “Father’s Day Blessings”

Let’s Go to the Tape

As in Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, our “stockings were hung by the chimney with care” … save one minor detail – we don’t actually have a chimney, just a mantelpiece (where a gas insert is supposed to go). Twenty stockings in all were hung, one for each of our grown offspring, as well as the in-laws and grands, with an extra stocking included for my Beloved’s brother who lives nearby.

Given the number of people coming together, our Christmas gatherings usually have a boisterous and sometimes chaotic quality. Children are everywhere, running inside and out, upstairs and down, constantly asking when we eat next, or more importantly, is it time to open presents yet!

The pandemonium was short-lived this year. Because Christmas fell on a Monday, out-of-town family members were quick to depart. A ski slope beckoned. Others had work responsibilities. The adults didn’t even have time for a customary late-night poker match.

Once the house fell silent, I remembered a blog post I’d read before Christmas:  Why Christmas Never Lives Up to the Buildup. Posted by Tony Reinke, a senior writer at DesiringGod.org, the post mainly addresses Christians living in what Reinke calls “the space between.” (With both Christmas and my birthday coming on the same day, I experience this “buildup” as a kind of double whammy.)

Continue reading “Let’s Go to the Tape”

Inscrutable Daisy

My mother-in-law died last week. She turned 94 last October, so her passing wasn’t unexpected. In addition to dementia (which prevented verbal communication), she suffered congestive heart failure. Bed-bound over the last six months, she slipped away quietly in her sleep. That was a blessing.

02

Previously in this space, I’ve shared tidbits about the complex relationship betwixt my mother-in-law and myself. Certainly, I have always admired my in-laws for crafting a long-term marriage. I’m sure they had their share of struggles … but they celebrated 65 years together before my father-in-law’s death. Continue reading “Inscrutable Daisy”

Survivors All

Our culture reveres survivors … and rightly so! The stories of concentration camp and holocaust survivors so stir our emotions, we often see these stories turned into movies. The Diary of Anne Frank was produced multiple times. I’m surprised The Hiding Place (from 1975) hasn’t been remade. In 2014, Unbroken was produced and directed by actress Angelina Jolie who deemed the survivor story of Louis Zamperini compelling.

Cancer survivors have their unique stories. Sexual assault survivors reveal horrific tales of abuse and torture. Given the admiration we accord survivors today, marketers exploit our curiosity by producing numerous movies, games and television series with a survival theme. (I must confess my fascination with Alone, now in its third season on the History Channel.) Continue reading “Survivors All”

Between Friends

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. You’ve probably heard a version of this message from the Ad Council, a gentle caution for drivers and passengers alike.Friends-Dont-Let-406606-web

I’ve decided a similar message should apply with respect to social media. Maybe something like this:  Friends don’t let friends contrive junk. I know, I know! It’s clunky and doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as the Ad Council declaration. But the meaning should resonate.

The sterile contrivance that is social media purports to keep us “connected” to friends and family. In truth, it’s a time-consuming distraction that draws us away from numerous activities and human interactions which once occupied our time and attention.

Social media in its varied applications also tends to work as an echo chamber … a mishmash of individual posts to which others respond by clicking share or like. But for me, the dreaded copy, paste and post if you agree is most exasperating. What if I agree with a post but choose not to copy, paste and post? Is my non-compliance misconstrued? (Oh, dear! What will people think if I don’t comply?) Continue reading “Between Friends”

Care Bear

Not long after our December wedding, I acquired two heart-shaped metal pans, perfectly sized for use in baking a suitable Valentine’s cake for my Beloved. (Though we were relatively broke, I justified the purchase … the cost of a new card every Valentine’s Day over our lifetime together would add up, but these baking pans could be used over and over, every single year!)HeartCake

As the number of our shared Valentine’s Days now edges ever-closer to fifty, our focus swerves beyond the traditional declarations of heart-shaped love. Few store-bought cards and still fewer cakes have surfaced because the occasional hastily-written love poem or hand-drawn note represents a sweeter treasure. Continue reading “Care Bear”

The Big House

On separate occasions over the last couple weeks, two of my grandchildren have asserted:  “My house is bigger than yours.” Perhaps this is a twenty-first century equivalent to the claim from my era:  my dad is stronger than your dad!strong man

When the five-year old initially made the statement, I gently disagreed with him. “Yes, you live in a big house, but not as large as this one.” Factually, I was correct but this grandson would have none of it. Some weeks later, when my four-year old granddaughter posited the identical suggestion, I admitted the possibility. (She does live in a larger home than the grandson.) Continue reading “The Big House”