Monday, September 20, 2010

Goodbye to Grampa Rudy

Rudy and Grace in 1940 0r 1941

This morning (Sept. 20, 2010) I am flying to PA for my father-in-law's (Harry Rudolph Anderson's) funeral. He was 93 years old. As I have been packing there are so many memories going through my mind. Jim and I have been married for almost 31 years which means I knew Rudy Anderson for about 33 years give or take a few months. That doesn't mean I haven't always known who he was because he and his partner, Jim Eicher were known as the local builders who helped build Fallingwater in Mill Run, PA and also built so many of the prettiest homes in our little boro. I remember when they built a friend's house. I watched that house go up day by day all the while being in awe of how quickly they worked and how nice everything was. When the house was done.....well, let's just say I was hoping someday I would have enough money for them to build me a house, too! So I have admired Rudy for many, many years.

For 31 years Jim and I usually stayed in his (and Grace's) home on our yearly trip to PA. and he was always generous and gracious. We have played a lot of cards around the kitchen table on Smith Ave. and had many conversations about "the old days". Rudy had a fantastic memory for events and it always amazed me at the detail with which he could talk about his childhood. His stories of working on Falling Water and the problems they overcame in this endeavor are priceless. The PA Conservancy loved it when Rudy would come and talk to those people touring Fallingwater. I especially loved his telling when he and his partner, Jim Eicher drove west to Taliesan to visit with maverick architect, Frank Lloyd Wright and to see the school he had there. His first hand and detailed observations and insight are unmatched.

In the last few years it has been a tough thing to see someone who was always so busy and loved to work as much as he did get to a point where he was unable to do what he loved the very most. So today I am happy for Rudy because he now has a new body and is able to walk unassisted and wield a hammer and saw like he did when he was 25 years old.

So let me just end by saying I have always felt blessed to have Rudy Anderson as my father-in-law and I am praying the Lord has a wing he needs added for Rudy is just the man for the job!

Daughter and primary caregiver, Darlene giving a tribute to Rudy during his 90th party.

Josh, Randi, and Jim playing 3/13 with Rudy....everyone's fav.

Rudy and his kids three years ago.

Rudy saying hello to great, great grand, Hannah and her Grammie, Jeanie.

Jim and Chris chatting with Rudy on his front porch. 2009.

Sophie and Grampa

Jim reading Rudy his mail. 2009.

Josh and Rudy 1985.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9-11-01

There are five times in my life when I was given news that shocked me so much I remember exactly where I was and what I felt like at that very moment.

1. When our school janitor, Mr. Rittberg stuck his head in my third grade classroom and told us President Kennedy was shot. It was not long after that he came back to tell us he was dead.

2. When my mother came in my bedroom and told me my father had been killed in a car accident on his way home from work.

3. While sitting at my desk at work the radio announcer stopped the music and announced that President Reagan had been shot.

4. When I came home from RJHS for lunch (when I was subbing) turned on the TV to catch the news and they were bringing bleeding people out of the Murrow building in Oklahoma City. I remember feeling such a feeling of horror and then suddenly a feeling of peace and an awareness the Lord was letting me know He was there with the victims and He was not only grieved but He was pouring out his love and grace on those injured. In that way this event was unique and I will never forget the Lord's tender heart..... His sadness......His strength.

5. It was a beautiful sunny morning at RJHS and we were watching Channel One news in the library. Coach Spradling always brought his class into the library because they didn't have a television in his classroom. I'd gone into the office to make a copy and Mrs. Howard, the guidance counselor was in her office and she told me a plane had hit a building in NYC. I went back to the library and turned on the television in my work room and motioned to coach Spradling to come see. A couple other teachers who had plan periods first hour came in because they'd been listening to the radio as well and wanted to turn on the TV. We had just turned on the TV and four of us stood there and watched as the second plane hit the other tower. We were all speechless and it was in that moment we knew this was not an accident as we had previously thought, we knew it was intentional ......and we knew it was HATRED ......and we knew it was EVIL. I called Josh who was in bed, a freshman in college. He promptly told me this was the only day he could sleep in and wanted to know why I would wake him. I told him to turn on the TV something bad had happened in NYC and I hung up.

More people came into the workroom to watch the TV ( I remember a copy machine repair guy I had never seen before squeezed in the tiny room with us.) Our principal thought it would be best if we didn't relay any of this information to the students in case some had relatives in New York City or in the military in case there were more attacks and we would be in a state of war on American soil.

Thinking back to third grade and President Kennedy, I wondered if that choice to insulate students would rob them of a moment that would forever live in their memories making them part of some sort of national and collective memory. Even as an 8 year old I felt part of something very large just knowing we (every American) experienced that collective shock wave going across our country at about the same time and that was all part of my memory. We were allowed to know and it made me feel somewhat equal with the adults for the first time. We all cried together and when I say ALL, I mean ALL! Even my Daddy cried and I had never seen that before. I knew our principal's motivation was to keep peace at school and also to keep the day as normal as possible. If I had been principal I might have come to the same conclusion.

We had to turn off the television and go about our day as if nothing had happened......but my mind was spinning and I knew my sister periodically went into the city on business, so I was concerned. Jim was also flying that day and I was unable to get him on my cell phone. Remember we didn't know what was happening or how many planes were slated to crash. For all we knew this was a nation wide attack.

Periodically, someone would come into the library and whisper more news. I had a class in the library and didn't know about the Pentagon being hit or the plane crashing into the field in PA. for a couple hours. The whole rest of the day is now a blur. I do remember getting Jim on his cell as he was driving to New Iberia. He had landed in San Antonio and all planes were grounded so he rented a car to drive to New Iberia and hadn't seen any of the television images, but had been listening to the radio. He said the traffic was insane. I remember thinking he needed to come home in case this was just the beginning of a nationwide attack.

I went home and called family and found out my sister's next door neighbor had a brother in one of the towers and they had not heard from him. I also found out Barbara Olsen, an author and commentator was killed in the plane going into the Pentagon. I stayed glued to the television and took comfort in the words of Rudy Gulliani and President Bush. I remember I cried.

Since those times I've read about the chemical reaction in the brain at times like this and how it sears the memory and is a different kind of memory. I know this is true because for a few minutes we are able to take a mental photograph. The room, the lighting, the other people in the room are all taken into account. Feelings are even recorded. Those memories are not filed in the same drawer with the others, but are kept safely in a dark quiet spot and visited rarely thus keeping colors bright and edges forever sharp as a knife.