Category Archives: About Marriage and Family

The Great Boot Fight of 2020!

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            As you know, if you have followed this site, Crystal and I are very pro-marriage. However, it occurred to me that, sometimes we come off a little too ‘it’s all good’, and not enough ‘what the heck is happening now?’ (real world).

            Through the years, we have stated numerous times that, we have a good marriage. But it is by no means perfect. Case and point, just a couple of weeks ago, we had a real Donnybrook (old people talk…look it up). Our daughter, Lisa is helping us declutter our home. She suggested I could get rid of some shoes from an overcrowded shoe rack in the hall. It sounded like a great idea, so I proceeded. I immediately recognized about four pairs of my old shoes. I knew I was never going to wear them again; so, I pitched them (too rotten for Good Will). On the end of the rack, I noticed a pair of dirty, cheap looking, pink and white snow boots. They appeared quite small. I was certain they were some of Lisa’s old ones. I pitched them too. BIG MISTAKE!!!

            Apparently, they were Crystal’s only winter boots. We didn’t get much snow last winter. I’m not sure she even wore them. But that wasn’t how Crystal saw it. The discussion quickly escalated. How could I not know they were her only boots? Don’t I even know her? Etc., etc. etc. I told her not to worry, it was going to be a surprise, but I had ordered her a very nice new pair for Christmas. That is when the fun really started. How could I order boots without her even trying them on; and in the picture, they looked like Army boots (her words, not mine). Although, to be fair, I was thinking practical not cute.

            Well, you get the idea. Additional talking wasn’t helping. While she probably had a good point about buying someone else’s shoes over the internet, it seemed like a thoughtful gift at the time. I certainly wasn’t ready to admit it at that particular time. I went for a drive instead. I’m not sure what she did. However, when I got home things had quieted a little. I checked the computer, and to my surprise, I was already getting supportive E-mails from other family members. I’m fairly certain she did as well. Sometimes I think our family is a little toooo close.

            When Crystal and I talked, and I apologized again, and offered to take her boot shopping, we were good again. Apparently, she had a lot on her mind, and the boots had been a tipping point. Details aren’t important; but in the year of Covid 19, missed plans, holiday stress, etc., little things can turn into big things. Besides I, like a lot of guys, tend to plow ahead without trying to understand the way my wife thinks. Hint: not always like I think. I get it now.

            So, we did buy brand new, Crystal approved, boots. Amazon happily took back the ones I had ordered; which Crystal agreed didn’t ‘totally’ look like Army boots. The ones she chose cost about one third as much…so win win. It also led to my New Year’s resolution. I resolve to look at Crystal’s feet more in 2021.

            The point, and reason for airing our dirty laundry, is that no marriage is perfect or without friction. How can the joining of two imperfect beings possibly be perfect? I have never been the most observant guy. The first time I talked to her at a party, I couldn’t tell you what she was wearing, except a short skirt, with a great pair of legs sticking out. She knows exactly what I wore. Crystal, on rare occasions, keeps things inside until they all come out at once. What counts is being able to work through and resolve differences. You must be able to not only accept your partner’s strengths, but their weaknesses. You help where you can, but also have to know when to back off.

            Marriage is a journey, which two people agree to take together. If you have ever walked through the woods, you know that there are occasional bumps, roots, and vines which might cause you to stumble. However, it is important to get up, dust yourself off, and complete your journey. It is as God intended.

This is why Crystal needed boots. A beautiful shot by Mohawk Damn (4 miles away) Dec. 2020

Just a reminder, our book is available on Amazon starting January 12th

Vacation – To be or Not to be

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            Being a good father requires discipline, perseverance, and the ability to sometimes say no. Truly there is almost nothing I enjoy more than doing something which, makes my daughters happy.

            This year, however, was a case of ‘close, but no cigar’. We were finally going to take a true family vacation. It was to be all three daughters, along with their families: two son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. We had rented a beautiful, roomy house near a beach in Delaware. There would be plenty to do, with a nice boardwalk, boats, and wilderness to explore.

            However, was I ever wrong about this stupid virus. I was determined to go, no matter what. Then, one day before our final payment would be fully vested, Crystal came to me and told me we couldn’t go. I was devastated. Usually, I get the final say when we don’t agree, but after some time of prayer and reflection, I knew she was right. The stories were changing every day. We might be quarantined from the moment we arrived, or everything might be closed….Not part of the plan. It was too much money to take that chance.

            Truly there is almost nothing I hate more than disappointing my daughters. I couldn’t do it. So, I had our youngest, Lisa, e-mail the other two families. They had already secured the time off. I was pleased to hear that, after the initial shock wore off, within days, they had alternative plans. It is really great when you realize that you raised, and I along with wifey, take partial credit for this, survivors.

            God told me a long time ago that, I needed to listen to my wife. It’s a good thing I did this time. Not only would there be restrictions due to Covid 19; but tropical storm Isaias struck Delaware in the middle of the week. Chances are, we would have dealt with heavy winds, copious rain, flooding, and power outages. While I love my kids and grandkids, being stuck in a house, in the dark, with them, for a period of time, is not my idea of vacation.

            A younger, more fool hearty Ron, might have overruled his wife. Well, someday, God willing, we will do a family vacation. And someday, God willing, we will have more fun activities with our children and grandchildren. But in the meantime, I will just, along with the rest of the civilized world, have to learn to be patient, and SMART. This too shall pass.

The moral of the story is, first listen to God, then listen to your spouse.

We Joined Michelle, Alex, Ayla, and Ripley for a day of their camping getaway.

Memorial

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            It has been almost one year since my father passed away, at the age of 98. Today, on Memorial Day, I can’t help but think of him. He was a good father. He taught me a lot about life. I learned about the importance of hard work and responsibility, about taking care of family, and commitment (in marriage and life in general).

            In writing our memoir, I also learned about all he had to overcome in his life, through war and peace. On this day especially, I consider him a hero. When I was privileged to interview him for the book, I realized his unique perspective. While I always knew he was extremely proud to be an American, I had never before realized his pride in growing up in Germany, and in the German people. To be clear, he had no pride in anything related to the Nazis, but in his heritage. He loved growing up in a family with deep German roots. He loved the traditions, freedoms, and close family ties, dating back for hundreds of years.

            When he came to America at thirteen, while he was excited for his new life, he already feared what Germany was becoming. When he returned as part of the 83rd infantry I believe he was really fighting for two countries; America, of course, but also for the Germany of his youth and family.

            His reward came after the war, when after rounding up many Nazi criminals, he hired the young German woman, to cook and clean. That woman would eventually become his wife of sixty-four years, and my mom.

            As I get ready to grill some foods for our family, I fondly remember my parents, and appreciate all they did: their lives, their sacrifices, and their combined heritages. Afterall, today is a day to remember and appreciate all that have come before us, so that we might enjoy our freedoms, grill for our families, and continue to thrive.

            May God bless you, your family, remembered veterans, and your country.

Remembering my parents. Shown here with their great granddaughter Jazmyn

I Think I’m Grieving Wrong

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            It’s now been 9 months since my dad’s passing. He had a wonderful Hospice group (Capital City Hospice). I almost can’t say enough good things about them. They always treated dad with such respect and great care. They explained things to us, which his doctor didn’t know. Today, nine months after dad’s death, they continue to send me information about dealing with grief. All of their advice seems to have one basic theme. Grieving is normal, and will pass. It’s not like they are trying to rush you through the five or seven (depends on who you talk to) stages. They just emphasize that you need to continue to take care of yourself: rest, talk about it, go easy on yourself, avoid negative habits, etc. They even made the Christian point that, it is kind of like the Easer journey, between death and resurrection.

            This latest flyer suggested that journaling might be helpful in expressing and working through grief feelings. But I have this web site, and know this is a helpful topic for all of us. Sadly, loss is a part of life. Dealing with it is a necessary ability.

            I learned about dealing a little with grief in nursing school. But it’s different when it’s your turn. It’s great to know about the classic stages: Shock/Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression/Detachment, and finally Acceptance. But what if you are doing it wrong?

            I very much hate to admit this, but when dad passed my overwhelming feeling was relief. He hadn’t been himself for years. He just couldn’t deal with his losses. He was a shell of his former self, physically and mentally. I did whatever I could, but it was never enough. I visited and took him out more than anyone where he stayed. I actually felt sorry for many of other residents who seemed forgotten. Still, I felt guilty, because I couldn’t make things better for him. I tried to keep him safe, but he always tested the limits. He fell so often one nurse called him the rubber man. Except he wasn’t always rubber. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to every hospital in Columbus, Ohio with him at some time. He missed mom like I missed mom. We had that in common.

            My grief for her was more of the classic variety. With dad my stages were relief followed, in no particular order, guilt, and anger. I still somewhat wrestle with what I might have done differently (guilt). And while I’m not angry during the day, my dad has shown up in occasional dreams. One of my most frequent dreams is with him driving and me sitting helplessly beside him. He drove way longer than he should have. And I couldn’t get the keys from him. Crystal was (as usual) smarter than me. She wouldn’t get into the car unless I was driving. In another dream he was walking without his cane, trying to cross a busy street. I can’t get to him. Sometimes my dreams do turn funny (sort of). One time, I don’t know how, he was driving and we wound up in the middle of a shopping mall. I’m screaming, and people are darting around. That’s usually when I wake up.

            I have talked to a councilor about this. She helped me realize who got me to realize that everyone’s grief is unique. Part of my grieving took place while dad was still alive. I’m empathetic, and I suffered along with him. I felt bad when I couldn’t give him the answers he wanted or tell him he would get better.

            Lately, and this is why I am writing this, I am transitioning to an acceptance phase. Lately, at least some of my dreams turned happier. Mom and dad are together the way they used to be. With the exception of their last days they both lived good long lives. They were always good to me. They were two of the best parents I could have had. I am lucky to have had them. That’s what I will remember.

            If you are ever in a position of grieving, just remember, it is part of life. Help is available. People have been where you are. You are doing it right. There is no wrong way. It may seem difficult, but reach out to loved ones and professionals. Take your pain to God. He understands your loss and promises peace.

Dad and me in 2012 in front of his Oak Lawn IL. house of 60 years, preparing to move him to Ohio

Dad’s Eulogy

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Yesterday was my father’s memorial service. He died about a week earlier on May 31st., 2019, at the age of 98 years old. He was the last of our parents to depart from us. I was asked to say a few words. I am a better writer than public speaker so I read the following as a final tribute:

I never knew dad when he was in the army during WW2, or after the war when he stood up in his jeep to yell at a young German woman, who had lost track of time, and was out after the military curfew. I was there, however, to see her yell back on numerous occasions during their 64 years of marriage.

Mom and dad had, let’s call it, an exciting relationship. But beneath occasional friction they had a bond of love never to be broken. Dad never missed a day visiting her at the rehab center those last months. When she passed in January of 2012 he felt totally lost. At 91 he owned a nice three bedroom house, the house I grew up in, with a yard that was the envy of the neighborhood. But, it was increasingly difficult for him to take care of it. He had friends in the neighborhood but no best friends and no family.

That fall we sold his house and moved him to his new apartment in New Albany, Ohio. While life would never again be the same, he at least could construct a new life and be near family. Every day, weather permitting, he would go on a 2 mile walk through the beautiful nearby metro park, Blendon Woods. He did his own shopping, cooking, laundry, etc. Our whole family visited him frequently. He at least had a life again.

Dad was a very proud man and self-sufficiency was very important. The expression pride cometh before the fall was written with him in mind. That included the fall he took, when, at just short of 94 years old, late in the summer of 2014, he broke his hip getting out of the swimming pool in. He refused, as we had warned him numerous times, to use his cane.

Throughout his rehab, and subsequent move to assisted living, we continued to offer him all of the support we could. We visited multiple times each week, took him for walks, rides and out for meals. We included him in all of our family events. But, as is inevitable, he continued to decline. If nothing else, in the end, I could tell that I had made an impact in his life. I was his guy. Even in those last days, and in his delirium, he would be seated in his chair, stare at the ceiling, shaking, and say ‘Ron, you are going too fast’. Another time he reached out and said ‘Here Ron, take my coat’.

But that is over now, and me greatest feeling is relief. It is like a nightmare ending. Oh don’t get me wrong, it was a privilege to help him. I learned much more about my dad, and therein myself, in those last years than I ever thought possible. But the stress of watching a man I respected decline was undeniable. It’s only through the continued support and encouragement of Crystal and my family that I could continue. His suffering is now over and I am glad. We did everything we could to give him the best life and care possible. Of that I am convinced. I want to give my special thanks to the caring staff members of Sunrise and Bickford Assisted Living Facilities and Capitol City Hospice. Finally, I am also convinced that, he is finally at peace, and glad to be back with mom. Somehow, Papa without Mimi never seemed quite right.

For most of his life dad called Chicago home.

Secrets to Marriage: Part One: Dating: Crystal’s Corner

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As usual, Crystal had something to add on this month’s post. Enjoy!

Crystal’s Corner

Ron’s right; never stop dating. When we were first dating at Bradley University in Peoria, Il., we walked and talked a lot in Bradley Park, attended APO parties and dances, and went to coffee shops at night to listen to guitar playing folk singers.  Even when we had very little money to spend, we found ways to enjoy our time together.  At Bradley University which is on a hill, couples would go to tall buildings and up to the top floor or roof to watch the beautiful sunsets. 

While we were engaged and early in our marriage, we played tennis, miniature golf, bowled sometimes and participated in church activities.  We noticed sometimes that other couples, especially after becoming parents, were not having couples time together. 

Fortunately, both sets of our parents had set the example of continuing to date during their marriages. My mom would dress up to go out with my dad; and he would wear nice clothes too.  My Dad would tell us,   “I’m taking your mom out to dinner or a movie or some event; and I expect you kids to be good for the babysitter.”  The next day we would get a report usually from Mom about what happened.  As a child and teenager I always thought about the future of having a husband like my Dad who would be taking me out on dates.  My Dad also would buy my Mom a gardenia corsage for special occasions. Sometimes he would buy her candy or a present.

Ron and I have continued our dating relationship during our marriage.  Just like at school, whenever possible we still love watching a nice sunset together while holding hands or cuddling. Both of us also enjoy photography and we go to many parks, gardens, etc. to take pictures.  On our recent trip to the Alpaca Farm bed and breakfast, we first went to a garden in Zanesville to see the spring flowers.  We didn’t take photos there, but we did at the Alpaca farm.  I know about Alpacas and their wool because I am a knitter and crocheter. We always look for Alpacas and llamas while driving. There seem to be a lot of them in Ohio.

We encourage both of our married daughters and their husbands to go on dates with each other and even have getaway weekends together.  Sometimes we give them gift cards for restaurants. Sometimes they return the favor.  We are glad they are following our example.  Life can be difficult, really busy and exhausting.  You get worn out with work, housework, child care, etc., so it is important to plan time together to just concentrate on each other.  I always have told the girls,  “Your Dad is my husband, but he is also my boyfriend.”  And they say something like,  “Oh, Mom.”

I’ll never forget Michelle and Elizabeth, when they were little girls, watching me get ready for a date with their Dad.  They were fascinated with my makeup, jewelry and dresses.  Sometimes they would ask me,  “Are you going to wear the red shoes?”  These were my red high heels which were very uncomfortable that I only wore for special occasions like Valentine’s Day.  If I said yes they would have big smiles, and tell Ron that this was a special date because, Mom is wearing her red shoes.

I can say after 41 years of marriage to Ron that he is still worth wearing the uncomfortable red shoes.  He’s the best boyfriend I’ve ever had.

Three daughters and three granddaughters

I know the picture has nothing to do with the article, but isn’t it nice that, earlier this month, Lisa and Liz dropped everything in their lives to support their sister Michelle for the birth of new baby girl Ripley. Great kids!

Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree: A Liz and Brad story

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By Crystal Meinstein

            Every year Elizabeth and Brad and their five children go to the tree farm in Coshocton, Ohio to cut down a fresh Christmas tree to display in their home.  This year they are moving around the middle of December (YIKES), so they didn’t know if they were going to cut down a real tree.  On a very warm day early in December, Liz decided that they should go get the tree.  She mistakenly believed that only a few people would be getting their trees this early. Also, she invited her friends with their new baby and foster children,her sister in law and mother in law to go.

            Approaching the Christmas tree farm, they saw the longest line of cars they had ever seen in all the years they have been cutting down their own tree.  The line was slowly moving forward.  Elizabeth, Jazmyn (16), Bradyn (10) and Elijah (8) decide to go look for trees instead of waiting in the line with Brad.  Elizabeth has Addy, who is one, along with Jazmyn and the boys climbed the hill to look at trees.  Jazmyn, who is very artistic, found the perfect tree right away.  The problem is you have to use an electric saw to cut it down and they were all being used.  So Elizabeth followed someone else(feeling like a stalker) who had one of the saws, and watched them cut down their tree and then asked if she could use the saw.

            Elizabeth ended up with her friends’ new baby in one arm and Addy in the other, waiting until they could move the tree to the car. Then she got a text on her phone from Jazmyn. I guess she used her third, ‘mother arm’, to answer it. Apparently, Jazmyn had gone to the out house on the farm and the door stuck.  She couldn’t get out.  Elizabeth didn’t know what to do.  So with both children in her arms, she tried to find one of the adults to help.  Jazmyn, who was nervously waiting in the outhouse; was stunned when a strange man kicked the door open.  The man was also surprised and apologized.  But Jazmyn thanked him for saving her and letting her out of the outhouse.

            Brad and the boys carried the tree to their car. They strapped it to the roof and transported it home.  However, because they are moving soon before Christmas, they decided to not decorating the tree.  So according to Elizabeth, Brad is trying very hard to keep the tree alive so they can move it to their new place.

            Ron used to take the girls for tree cutting when they were young. However, recently its been strictly artificial for us. Ron and I bought a new tree a few years ago.  This tree comes in three parts and you have to “fluff” it, separating the branches to make it look like a real tree.  It is much smaller than our oldtree which we had to build one branch at a time before fluffing.  I had trained all of our girls and Keylan and Jazmyn to help put together our old tree. I come from my parents’ philosophy: Everything you teach your children and grandchildren to do, they take with them to use in the future. 

            This year I was fluffing and decorating the tree with lights and ornaments all by myself.  Our new cat Ella, tried to help me by knocking the ornaments off the tree. She played with them all over the downstairs.  Her favorites are a stuffed yellow Woodstock and a small green stocking.   The other day she brought the green stocking back to me so I could put it back on the tree and she could knock it off again.   Ella also likes to put the small decorations in our shoes.  Ron made her a seat on the window ledge, right by the tree. This helps her to reach more ornaments.

            We recently visited Lisa in her house in Kentucky. She has a new tree this year and guess who helped her to fluff it out and put on the lights?  Yes, it was me.  I must have been an elf in a former life also a psychiatrist, chauffeur, baker, teacher, nurse, janitor and more interesting occupations.

            Good luck decorating your house and/or office this year.  I don’t seem to have the energy to take everything down until the middle of January. Now I am in the process of wrapping the presents, sending out the cards,and making cookies.  Where are those elves when you need them?  “Meow”   No,Ella, not you.

Our Tree and our Christmas cat Ella.

Taking Care

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My dad is the last of our parents still surviving. He will  turn 98 in November. He is in assisted living and I visit on the same days every week. Consistency is important. Crystal comes with me about once a week. The girls visit whenever they can. Visiting him has apparently led to a new topic of conversation between our daughters. When our time comes, it has been decided that Lisa will get Crystal. That makes sense since they talk on the phone for hours every week anyway. Liz will be stuck with me. Michelle, obviously the wisest of the three, will just be available when the others complain.

I do find it interesting that in no scenario do Crystal and I stay together in our approaching old age. We’ll have to see about that. But, if the girls have their way, Liz gets me. Sorry Brad. Liz is smart, organized, very compassionate, and can out stubborn a herd of goats. Crystal insists that Liz reminds her of someone. When I ask who, she just smiles and rolls her eyes. I’m still not sure to whom she was referring. Except for the final trait, she might have meant me. I, however, have never been stubborn a day in my life; and I would fight anyone to the death who said I was.

Liz, however, was born that way. She was also born a daddy’s girl. I remember coming home from a hard day at work ready to crash in my favorite chair only to be greeted at our front door by an adorable two year old wearing her winter coat on backwards (easier to put on that way). She turned her head briefly to her mom and said her two favorite words “Daddy, Out”. Inevitably there was something I thought of that we needed at the store or something for dinner, or just a walk or a couple of pushes on a cold swing. She had me trained.

On rare occasions, her well tolerated manipulations backfired. She had to be around three years old and we had just finished some errands. It was time for a little treat. We stopped at one of my favorite restaurants, Pepe’s Tacos. Picture a classy version of Taco Bell with actually good Mexican food. I can’t remember what I ordered, but I always ordered a side of pickled Jalapenos. I just liked a little extra spice. Unfortunately, Liz loved pickles. She immediately reached for the peppers. I unceremoniously pulled them out of her reach. What followed was at least five minutes of discussion about what Liz insisted were the pickles I was hoarding. Somehow, I was unable to convince her that she wouldn’t like them. Tears were shed. Finally, after I wiped my eyes, I gave in. I cut off the tiniest piece of a pepper I could manage. She quickly popped it into her mouth and chewed. Her face changed in a matter of moments from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat. The little green temptress wound up on the table cloth. And I fed her some chips to sooth her burnt palate.

It was one of those rare teachable moments you get as a parent. When you are a kid, you promise yourself you’ll never say certain things when you are the parent. But temptation was too great. I believe my next sentence began with the phrase ‘maybe next time when I tell you’.

By now I’m certain that with her five perfect children, Liz has more than once, repeated similar shallow words in an attempt to maintain some measure of control and authority. That is just what you do with kids, try to keep them safe, sometimes in spite of themselves.

And someday when Liz and I return to Pepe’s Tacos and I ask for a side of Jalapenos; Liz will take them away and try to explain that they are no good for my ulcer. Who do you think will win that argument?

Spoiler Alert: Next post will contain details of progress on the publication of our memoir. Yes, there has been progress.

The girls visited this weekend. Liz and I enjoyed a couple of Jalapenos. They had no idea why I poised them like this. Can you guess?

 

Empty Nest, or is It?

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Nobody is perfect, not even me…… (Pause as readers get over shock)…..Often it is easier to find flaws in your spouse before admitting your own (ouch, right). That could explain the high divorce rate. I will therefore tread lightly as I discuss one of Crystal’s, let’s call it, a philosophical aberration.

I am somewhat of a minimalist. Give me a TV, a recliner, and maybe a couple of folding chairs for company and I’m one happy clam. Crystal, on the other hand, tends in a different direction. She likes her stuff. Getting rid of things is psychologically stressful for her. Letting me help declutter is apparently unacceptable. She is however, and to her credit, working on it.

While she has been “working on it” for some time, with only slight tangible results, the results of the last week or so has amazed me. The difference was Keylan’s (oldest grandchild) high school graduation. The plan, of which I had no part, was for Michelle (our middle child) her husband Alex, and our youngest daughter Lisa to spend several nights with us. Of course that meant including our lovely one year old granddaughter Ayla.

I can’t remember Crystal ever being so focused. There was baby proofing to be done, toys to be brought out, and room to be cleared. To my great surprise one of the, what I call junk rooms, suddenly had enough open space for a bed. Keylan and I played musical beds, moving one bed into the newly formed space and another in from the garage. The transformation was nothing short of miraculous.

The weekend was a flurry of activity. Having people and a baby in the house again brought back a lot of memories. I was most surprised at how well Ayla adjusted. She seemed very much at home and even slept through the night. Everyone reportedly slept well. There was once again laughter, playful banter, and a “discussion” over what to watch on TV.

Friday evening we went to the graduation ceremony. It was a little warm on the football stadium bleachers (around 90o F), but tolerable in the shade. Keylan looked sharp and was recognized for his perfect GPA. Liz and Brad (parents) were obviously quite proud. As for Keylan, he didn’t see high school graduation as a significant landmark. His eyes are toward the future. Ohio State University awaits in the fall.

Saturday was the party at Liz’s house. I had prepared the side dishes for which Crystal had volunteered me and was supposed to “help” with the grilling. Crystal and Lisa took a while to get ready and I thought I might get out of the “helping” to grill. I am sure it was just a coincidence that the first burgers hit the grill at exactly the time of our arrival. We ate about an hour later. I smelled like sweat and charcoal. No one told me that the two bags of marinating chicken were different, so they wound up on the same plate. Brad was an excellent assistant. I know he was only doing what he was told by his evil wife, my “loving” daughter, Liz.

The party was a big hit. Everyone loved the food. There were an abundance of children and babies running around and parents visiting. Keylan spent much of the time on the porch with his friends.

After another good night, and a final walk to the park, Michelle, Alex and Ayla left for their Kentucky home. Lisa decided to stay an extra day and steal one of our cars to get home. She stayed to watch the Memorial Day parade, which passed a couple of blocks from our house.

Now, the house is once again an empty nest. I’m not complaining. Crystal and I get along quite well. I’m also certain that this wasn’t the last time our house will serve our extended family.

Furthermore, I’m contemplating inviting the cast of the play “Little Women” to spend a night in our home. Think of all the rooms that will need to be cleared for that!

Crystal’s Corner

Last weekend was a milestone for us in many ways.  Keylan is our first grandchild to graduate from high school.  He has been attending college classes all this past year at the OSU in Newark, Ohio.  Also, I have been working really hard at decluttering, reorganizing and some redecorating.  I actually have been seeing a counselor to help me with my Dad’s passing and also decluttering and empty nest.  I am an artist, writer, crafts person, crafts teacher, lecturer and quilter and if you are any of those things you know you have books, craft paper, paints, yarn, fabric, etc.  I also collect and make dolls.

I have gone through a lot of paperwork, most of which is being recycled.  I have found some valuables such as Elizabeth’s footprint when she was born in Illinois, the girls’ art work, letters from relatives and friends, old photos, etc.  I am getting much better at letting go of items that I won’t use and organizing items I want to keep.  The girls are amazed and very encouraging about the progress I have made even before this weekend.  The counselor has helped me to focus on one area at a time, and to deal emotionally with letting go of the girls and the stuff.  If you have a situation like this, there is hope.

And a good time was had by all.

 

40 Years

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It’s been 2 score, double life sentences (no chance of parole), 0.4 centuries, 3 daughters, 6 grand children, 4 states, and uncountable opportunities (challenges/problems) since Crystal and I tied the proverbial knot. That’s right, on April 1st of 2018 we had another April fool’s day, and Easter (praise God), but my most important reason for celebration, to assure any future earthly happiness, was Crystal and my 40th wedding anniversary. My mother, Mimi, had a saying to describe a long period of time in German, that pigs don’t live that long. I guess it sounded better in German.

As I write this blog, it is my truest desire to come up with some words or a formula that will help people live better lives, and maybe even give a boost to the institution of marriage. I guess that’s one reason Crystal and I wrote our memoir. Just as a reminder, our memoir’s name “150 Years of Marriage” was coined in anticipation. Since we started by interviewing Mary Jane Carlson, who died in 2006, I know that our three couples total hadn’t yet hit 140 years. Since my mom’s death in 2012, only Crystal and I can add to the total. As of April 1st 2018 our three couples are at 159 years. By the time we are published maybe we should change the name. Think of it, in just another 41 years, “200 Years of Marriage”……..OK, maybe not.

Dad is now 97. I see him frequently. When I do, we will inevitably take a quiet drive along the Scioto River. This river drive is no secret. On a nice day there is a flurry of activity. There are walkers, runners, and people fishing. There are bike riders, and skate boarders, people walking dogs and pushing baby carriages. There are also boats on the water and occasionally we see the OSU sculling teams working out.

Water fowl are also frequently around in abundance. Occasionally, we will see gray or blue heron. But, more frequently, there are seagulls, ducks and Canadian geese. Most often, the ducks and geese are in fairly large groups. But what I find interesting is that you rarely see them by themselves. Often they are in matched pairs. I am given to understand that they generally mate for life. They share responsibilities such as finding food or raising families. They fly together and swim together. Oh, their bonding isn’t perfect. Male geese are well known philanderers. Sometimes their honking seems akin to a squabbling couple. But they generally stay together until one dies. I sometimes wonder if they were put here as an example for us. Crystal has, on occasion, called me a silly goose.

What is the difference between a marriage lasting 4 years and 40 years? Three things: choosing well, commitment, and a lot of luck! I guess Crystal and I have all three. Crystal will tell you that we were brought together by God. While I don’t disagree, you would think God’s plan would have moved a little smoother. Between job changes, multiple moves, serious health problems, family issues, etc., etc. etc., you have to wonder. But maybe that’s part of it. We haven’t had a perfect marriage. I don’t know if that exists. However, looking back, when the “opportunities” were presented, we closed ranks and worked together. I would even say they may have brought us closer together.

Today, when we sit on the couch and watch “Monk” or some other, as our kids would say, corny show, Crystal will periodically reach over to hold my hand. I guess that’s plenty corny too. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s kind of cool. When I think about the number, 40 years seems like an impossible amount of time. But when I reach back for Crystal’s hand, it’s like no time has passed. I can remember being twenty-something and falling in love with the girl I was supposed to be with. Maybe God got it right after all.

 

HAPPY 40TH Crystal!

 

Crystal’s Corner

Yesterday, April 1, 2018, Easter Sunday, was our 40th wedding Anniversary.  It was a bright warm sunny day like our wedding day. Of course last night it snowed. Forty years ago, on the first day of our honeymoon, we had to scrape the ice off of our car in Chicago. In so many ways, it doesn’t seem like 40 years, four decades, but it has been a long journey.

We got together with all of our daughters and their families and Ron’s Dad at a Greek Restaurant in Columbus.  It occurred to me as I looked around the long table, that none of these people would be here, if Ron and I hadn’t gotten married 40 years ago.

In our memoir, 150 Years of Marriage, we talk about when we met, dated, got engaged and married.  We also talk about our childhoods and our parents’ courtships and marriages.

I can remember very clearly our time at Bradley University, our engagement, planning the wedding, our wedding day, and our honeymoon in Arizona.

I also can remember living in our studio apartment for several months before we moved to a two bedroom apartment.  We entertained our family and friends in that little one room apartment and enjoyed every minute of it.  Nobody seemed to mind sitting on folding chairs, our small couch, or the bed to eat with us in that small space.

We moved seven times during our marriage.  We have lived in two apartments, a townhouse, and four houses in four states.  We are the best packers you have ever met.

Both Ron and I are cancer survivors.  I have had more than 10 surgeries including three C-Sections.  So actually, still being together, and in somewhat good health is kind of a miracle.

We are so grateful to God for our marriage, our wonderful family, our sense of humor and our deep abiding love for each other.

We know we wouldn’t have survived all of our difficulties and changes without God’s help.  Wherever we have lived, we have been sent to a church family, who helped us.  We have found wonderful friends and neighbors and kindred spirits.

We also have had a very close relationship with our parents and families the whole time.  We travelled often on holidays to get together, and now our girls travel to see family often.

You know you have succeeded as a parent when your grown children are hardworking, responsible, kind, loving and caring individuals.  We have also been blessed by two very special and loving son-in-laws.

We have six unique and terrific grandchildren that we cherish and enjoy.

At our table yesterday we had Ron’s Dad who is 97 years young, and our two youngest granddaughters who just turned one, and many ages in-between.   Four generations celebrating our Savior Jesus and our 40th Anniversary.  I don’t think life gets any better that this.

Even though life has thrown a lot of curve balls at us, every day I am happy to be Mrs. Crystal Meinstein and to see Ron smiling at me.

Our fortieth, the ducks are just sleeping on the Scioto. Both pictures taken April 1st 2018.