The Way We Were

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The title of this week’s blog really is more to me than the title of one of Crystal’s favorite movies. It is really the reason we wrote our book. It is all about remembering the amazing lives we have lived and those of our parents. There is a saying that those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. That is a cautionary warning for political leaders and governments. However, the real juice of life is in the details. A person’s life is no more or less than a microcosm of individual events, decisions made, and interactions. They make us who we are and dictate who we become.

This week I have been thinking of one day which says a lot about who I became. I was eleven years old when I joined the Boy Scouts. One of the reasons I was excited about the organization was that the scouts went camping. That summer for the first time I would go with them. For one solid week, and the first time in my life, I would be away from my parents, and my friends (except other scouts of course). It was the adventure I had thought about for years. However, I wasn’t the only one thinking about it. My parents thought about it. Dad was fine with it and thought it would be a good experience. Mom though, was a different story. I was an only child. To her, I was her reason for existing. They thought I didn’t hear the discussions about mom’s fears and dad’s logical arguments. There are no wolves and bears around that part of Michigan. He won’t be alone. He is old enough. If he is eaten by a bear we will adopt…. Sorry, I made that last one up.

After all of the convincing was done, mom put on a brave front. Ironically, somehow it became her job to get me a physical for camp. It was easy though. I came home with a note from my scout master. All we had to do was show up at Dr. Gasteyer’s office at nine in the morning and he would give me the exam for free. That was when I first learned that my school was named after a doctor. Gasteyer School was named after the examining Dr’s father. That was back in the days when Drs actually made house calls. I had gone to the school for five years and never asked about the name’s origin. I guess I just wasn’t very curious.

That morning we set out at right around nine. The good Dr’s office/house was about three quarters of a mile away so we rode our bikes. Mom was always up for a good bike ride. When we got there, however, we were shocked. First of all when we arrived at the address there was only a white wooden house in the middle of a residential neighborhood. However we knew immediately that it was the right place because there were people everywhere. The entire front yard was full of mothers and sons waiting for their free exams. I know mom must have considered going back home; but she wouldn’t want to be the reason I didn’t get to go to camp. She knew how important this was to me. So we put our bikes next to the house and waited. We talked about anything we could think of. I tried to explain all about the White Sox (a conversation I usually had with dad). I told her more details about camp, at least what I could remember before I had started daydreaming. At one point she pulled out some paper and a pen from her purse and we played tick tack toe and some other games. Slowly the line got shorter. Around lunch time mom left on her bike to get some fast food. We ate on the steps leading up to the house. Finally in the early afternoon we got to the actual waiting room. At least there were some outdated magazines, including Boys Life (my favorite). It was four thirty in the afternoon when we finally got in to see the Dr. After a lot of questions and an exam lasting all of five minutes the Dr told us what we already knew. I was a healthy boy. He also mentioned in passing, that we could have just made an appointment for another day and gotten in and out. They couldn’t have made that announcement five or six hours earlier? We finally got home around five. When dad got home a short time later we told him the whole story. He laughed. Then mom yelled at him. I think she really wanted to yell at the Dr. Dad then graciously offered to take us out to dinner. It was one long day, and one I will never forget.

The one lesson I learned that day, and it wasn’t like I didn’t know before, was that mom would do anything for me. Doing what is best for your children, even when it may not be best for us, is a lesson Crystal and I have tried to carry on with our girls.


Crystal Michelle and Lisa on a camping trip (I still remember some of my scouting skills)

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