Papa

(This is the eulogy I gave at my father’s funeral.  He died in May 2008 at the ripe old age of 96.)

Papa’s obituary was correct and factual and in that way it matched him.  He was an engineer, and he was nothing if not correct and factual.

For those of you who are touchy-feely personalities, you probably thought it was terribly dry, and you don’t really have a feeling for the man whose life I honor today.

But correct and factual actually embodies him better than many of the other things I can say about him.  That’s not to say he was uncaring, or cold – unless you think the rock your life is built on is uncaring or cold.

To me, he was strong, solid, dependable, deep, supporting, and faithful – qualities I’d opt for any time over sweet, sentimental, emotional, sensitive and demonstrative.

I remember in the movie “Love Story”, the main character was estranged from his father, and said “My father never wrote letters to me, he sent Memos”.  When we heard that my sisters and I looked at each other and said, “So???”  Papa used to always send us memos in school.

To:  Abbie

From:  Papa

Re:  Funds

Do you need any?  How are your grades?

Love, Papa

When Ray was just 2 months old, I became gravely ill.  Al and I were still in college – Al was about to graduate – we had NO money – we didn’t know what to do.  So Al put Ray and me on an airplane and shipped us back home.  I ended up in the hospital for three weeks, Mama was working at a new job, so during that time, Papa took vacation from work and stayed home to take care of the new baby.

I don’t know many grandfathers who thought their “baby days” were over, who would have done the same, but there was never any question about it with Papa.  He just did what needed to be done.

Papa loved to fish and, although he was a loyal churchman, we occasionally could convince him to take us fishing on Sunday mornings – particularly if he had caught a line full on Saturday.  In Arkansas during the summer the only time the fish will bite is early in the morning – right during church.

I remember my sister and I convinced him to take us on a float on Little River one Sunday morning from Cerra Gordo, Oklahoma to Little River Country Club.  Someone would drive us up-river where we would put in about dawn, and then we would float back down to the club.  As I said, this was a Sunday morning, and Papa’s conscience must have gotten the better of him, because we did the middle three miles singing “Love Lifted Me”, “Shall We Gather at the River” and all the other good old revival songs at the top of our lungs.  We sang the verses and Papa provided the oompa-pas.

As an engineer, he always loved to stick his head under the hood of any car around.

Mama was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1993.  Papa took over running the house as Mama became less and less able to keep up with things.  But he didn’t do it like a woman would, he did it like an Engineer with schedules, and flow charts, and checklists.  And he never complained.  He didn’t take up cooking, he took up shopping for microwavable dinners.

He let Mama keep doing the wash – because it was one of the things she could still manage, until the day she emptied the trash into the clothes washer and started it running.  Papa was taking a nap in his recliner in front of a baseball game when he heard a terrible rattling and clanging coming from the laundry room.  Empty bottles and cans were agitating in the washer!  But he didn’t fuss.  He just cleaned out the machine, and put a lock on the sliding door.  He continued to care for her at home until the sibs and I finally convinced him that it wasn’t doing either one of them any good.

He was a great tease and kidder.  It is one of the things that never left him, even at the end of his life.  Clara, one of nurses in the health care unit, said a few days before he died, he was semi-conscious, and she had just finished taking his blood pressure.  She leaned over him to straighten the linens on the other side of the bed and suddenly he popped his eyes open and said “Boo!”  Then he just grinned.

While we lived in New Jersey, Mama and Papa became friends with one of the preachers at the church and his wife.  Orville and Margaret Austin remained friends for 30 years, even though they moved away in 1963.  They really enjoyed playing bridge – men against the women – because the women claimed the men didn’t really know what they were doing.

I think about 7 o’clock last Monday evening, Orville and Margaret and Mama were gathered in heaven to meet him with the cards already dealt.  “Sit down.  What took you so long?  We’ve been waiting for you for 10 years.”

He was my foundation, my rock, my underpinning, my support!  He was my father, and, although we had him many years longer than the biblical three-score years and ten, it was still too short a time.  Someone once said, “You are old when there’s nobody left to whom you are a little girl.”  I miss him.

Five things that made me happy today – 2/10/22

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

Audre Lorde

1. It was mid 40s and misty when I got up. Not much (or any) improvement all day with the temperature topping out at 49 deg. under cloudy skies.

2. Today is our first grandbaby’s 24th birthday (hardly a baby anymore). I remember that day well.

3. HCR is doing a review of American History – starting with the Vikings. Today we looked at European maps that were drawn in the 14th to the 18th centuries. You can tell by the maps they drew, how they anticipated using the area. In this one fro 1507, you can see they had no idea of anything except the coastlines. Fascinating.

4. We had Whoppers for lunch today. Alas, their 2-for-$6 deal left over the weekend. I wish they would have a ChiKing available at lunch, but so far no joy.

5. I MAY actually be getting a new sink to the replace the one that had a big crack in it. It was repaired with something that gets sticky and comes off on the bottom of pots and pans, or if you run hot water in it.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Papa’s Family

I know I’ve talked a lot about Nannie and Gankie, my mother’s parents. Papa had parents, too, but Papa’s father was dead by the time I was born. His mother rode the train across the country to attend Mama and Papa’s wedding in Texarkana, and she regularly came to see us wherever we were living until her Parkinson’s disease became too much.

Papa’s father was born in Illinois, near Peoria, after his father was dead. His father was born in Germany and immigrated to this country as a young man. His name was Francis Xavier Griesser. At some point before he married my grandmother, he changed his name from Griesser to Greisser. He was one of six brothers and as nearly as we can tell any Greisser or Griesser in this country is related to us.

Papa’s father was Victor H. Greisser, and his mother was born Bessie Hutchinson. My cousin Susan named her Gaga, and we kept that name for her. Gaga immigrated from England with her family when she was about 2 years old. Her father was a Methodist minister and they lived near Peoria, Illinois through the 1880s. I always (think of her family as being like Little House on the Prairie after they moved to town.

Shortly after Grandfather Griesser and Gaga married they moved West. Grandfather Gerisser got a job with a mining firm and they lived in Boise, Idaho, where two of their three boys were born. Shortly before my father was born they moved to Spokane, Washington. Grandfather was a civil engineer and worked on some of the dams and locks on the Columbia River. There is a particular type of lock mechanism that he invented and is named after him.

Grandfather Griesser had heart trouble in the late 1920s and moved Gaga to Palo Alto, California where he died in 1933.

One of Papa’s older brothers lived in Menlo Park, the next town over from Palo Alto. He had a daughter who was six years older than I was. When we visited Gaga, we often stayed with Uncle Vic, Aunt Franche and Susan.

Papa’s oldest brother lived in Portland, where he was an engineer for Portland Power and Light working on the dams on the Columbia River. Aunt Ester outlived him by many years. They had one Son, Art, Jr;, who was 10 years older than I was. After we moved to Tacoma, we reconnected with Aunt Ester, Art, Jr, and his wife, and one of his children. We visited them in Portland a couple of times, but unfortunately we’re not close.

We lived near enough to Gaga to visit monthly the two times I lived in California. She also came to visit us when we lived in Houston. She was a comfortable grandmother who required little to nothing of me. I wish I had known her better because she and Grandfather led an interesting life in the frontier of Washington and Idaho.

Gaga was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease in her later years, and died in 1967 at the age of 99.

Intentions Review for All of 2021

My Star Word for this year is “Affirmation”. The internet says an affirmation is a positive statement of agreement.

I am a child of God, holy and beloved.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These were my intentions for 2021.

Physical Health

  • Eat real food. – Check
    • Eat more vegetables – I keep boxes of cauliflower and broccoli in the refrigerator to fix for dinner or to snack on raw. New potatoes are usually unavailable and I’ve started getting Yukon Golds instead. Brussels sprouts are good. I keep sweet onions, peppers, celery, and sweet potatoes on hand.
    • We have “soup of the week” on Wednesdays, particularly since the weather has turned colder.
    • Be sure to get 25 grams of fiber every day – Check
  • Big Al and I are triple vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. I’m still minimizing being around people, so I do grocery pickup instead of going inside the store.
    • All my family is vaccinated!

Emotional Health

  • Remember that I am a child of God, holy and beloved.
    • If I can say it for me, I must grant it to every other person on the planet, whether lovable or not.
  • I was very faithful in posting my “Five Things that Made Me Happy Today”.

Intellectual Health

  • Expand my leisure reading.
    • Major Pettigrew ‘s Last Stand  by Helen Simonson – finished
    • Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie – finished
    • The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie – finished
    • The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie – finished
    • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry – finished
    • A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George – finished
    • How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates – finished
    • Stargazer by Anne Hillerman – finished
    • Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg – finished
    • Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan – finished
    • The House on Vesper Sands – Paraic O’Donnell – finished
    • Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven – Fanny Flagg – finished
    • Payment in Blood – Elizabeth George – finished
    • Well-Schooled in Murder – Elizebeth George – finished
    • A Suitable Vengeance – Elizabeth George – finished
    • For the Sake of Elena – Elizabeth George – finished
    • Missing Joseph – Elizabeth George – finished
    • Playing for the Ashes – Elizabeth George – finished
    • Better Off Dead – Lee Child and Andrew Child – abandoned
    • In the Presence of the Enemy – Elizabeth George – reading
  • I’m trying to keep up with the news without obsessing over it.
    • Listen to NPR – Check
    • Watch Rachel Maddow – Check
    • Follow Heather Cox Richardson for perspective – Check
  • I subscribe to the New York Times and try to work the crossword puzzle and read several columns regularly, including the cooking column.
  • I subscribe to the Seattle Times and read several of their newsletters.
  • I subscribe to the Washington Post. and read several of their newsletters, including Travel, Fitness, and Cooking.
  • Support aspiring writers via Patreon and Substack – Check
  • Participate in Great Decisions here at Franke Tobey Jones – Finished for the year.
  • I subscribed to MasterClass. I’m following Cornell West teaching Philosophy.

Spiritual Health

  • Continue to participate in weekly Bible study, and weekly Worship – Bible Study is on Zoom and I’m attending regularly.
  • Worship is available on YouTube Live, and I’m regular in attendance from my living room.
  • Continue with General Assembly Nominating Committee – No meetings were scheduled.

Social Health

  • Tend the relationships I have at Franke Tobey Jones
    • Wellness Center – My personal trainer is on maternity leave. I’m trying to soldier on alone.
    • Gazebo Group – We are doing ZOOM once a month, and meeting in person the rest of the time in the Wellness Center. It’s not ideal, but it seems to be the best we can hope for.
  • Tend the relationships I have at Bethany Presbyterian Church Bible Study – Check
  • Continue to connect regularly with the sisters, virtually – Our weekly Zoom chats are one of the things that keep me sane.

Social Justice

  • Participate in Town Halls and face-to-face meetings with elected officials. I follow my local, state, and federal representatives on Social Media and send messages about things that matter to me.
  • It never occurred to me that I would need to lobby the Congress to pass laws to make it easier/possible to vote, but here we are. I’ve gotten complacent living in Washington where we have easy registration, vote by mail, and non-partisan independent commissions to redraw voting districts after a census. I was pleased to see that the President has appointed our REPUBLICAN Secretary of State (who is in charge of elections in Washington State) to a similar post at the national level.
  • I have regular contributions to the DNC and my US Representative. I also contribute to reps in other states if they seem particularly outstanding.
  • Support the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and MoveOn – Check
  • Support the election of officials who are champions for Social Justice issues – Check
    • Climate action
    • Racial justice
    • Health Care Availability
    • Wealth Inequality

Intentions Review for November 2021

My Star Word for this year is “Affirmation”. The internet says an affirmation is a positive statement of agreement.

I am a child of God, holy and beloved.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here are my intentions for 2021.

(After the dumpster fire of 2020, you’ll notice I’ve pared down my intentions for 2021, and I intend to hold them loosely.)

Physical Health

  • Eat real food. – Check
    • Eat more vegetables – We’re back to relying on the cruciferous veggies. Hardy cold weather vegetables came early this year. New potatoes are occasionally unavailable. Sweet onions, peppers, celery, etc. are good for mirepoix.
    • I’m starting to go to “soup of the week” again.
    • Be sure to get 25 grams of fiber every day – Check
  • Big Al and I got our second Pfizer shots on February 13th, so we’ve been fully vaccinated since the first of March! We got our boosters on October 27th.
    • I’m still minimizing my shopping trips. I would hate to succumb to COVID now that we seem to be (maybe, fingers crossed) approaching the end.
    • My grandchild who was unvaccinated has gotten both of her Pfizer shots. HOORAY!

Emotional Health

  • Remember that I am a child of God, holy and beloved.
    • If I can say it for me, I must grant it to every other person on the planet, whether lovable or not.
  • Continue to post “Five Things that Made Me Happy Today” every day on my blog – Check

Intellectual Health

  • Expand my leisure reading.
    • Major Pettigrew ‘s Last Stand  by Helen Simonson – finished
    • Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie – finished
    • The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie – finished
    • The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie – finished
    • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry – finished
    • A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George – finished
    • How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates – finished
    • Stargazer by Anne Hillerman – finished
    • Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg – finished
    • Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan – finished
    • The House on Vesper Sands – Paraic O’Donnell – finished
    • Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven – Fanny Flagg – finished
    • Payment in Blood – Elizabeth George – finished
    • Well-Schooled in Murder – Elizebeth George – finished
    • A Suitable Vengeance – Elizabeth George – finished
    • For the Sake of Elena – Elizabeth George – finished
    • Missing Joseph – Elizabeth George – finished
    • Playing for the Ashes – Elizabeth George – finished
    • Better Off Dead – Lee Child and Andrew Child – reading
  • I’m trying to keep up with the news without obsessing over it.
    • Listen to NPR – Check
    • Watch Rachel Maddow – Check
    • Follow Heather Cox Richardson for perspective – Check
  • Participate in Creative Writing classes – giving it a rest for now.
  • I subscribe to the New York Times and try to work the crossword puzzle and read several columns regularly, including the cooking column.
  • I subscribe to the Seattle Times and read several of their newsletters.
  • I subscribe to the Washington Post. and read several of their newsletters, including Travel, Fitness, and Cooking.
  • Support aspiring writers via Patreon and Substack – Check
  • Participate in Great Decisions here at Franke Tobey Jones – Finished for the year.
  • I subscribed to MasterClass. I’m following Cornell West teaching Philosophy.

Spiritual Health

  • Continue to participate in weekly Bible study, and weekly Worship – Bible Study is on Zoom and I’m attending regularly.
  • Worship is available on YouTube Live, and I’m regular in attendance from my living room.
  • Continue with General Assembly Nominating Committee – No meetings yet, although we’ve tried to schedule a Zoom meeting. Maybe later in December.

Social Health

  • Tend the relationships I have at Franke Tobey Jones
    • Wellness Center – My personal trainer is on maternity leave. I’m trying to soldier on alone.
    • Gazebo Group – We are doing ZOOM once a month, and meeting in person the rest of the time in the Wellness Center. It’s not ideal, but it seems to be the best we can hope for.
  • Tend the relationships I have at Bethany Presbyterian Church Bible Study – Check
  • Continue to connect regularly with the sisters, virtually – Our weekly chats are one of the things that keep me sane.

Social Justice

  • Participate in Town Halls and face-to-face meetings with elected officials.I follow my local, state, and federal representatives on Social Media and send messages about things that matter to me.
  • It never occurred to me that I would need to lobby the Congress to pass laws to make it easier/possible to vote, but here we are. I’ve gotten complacent living in Washington where we have easy registration, vote by mail, and non-partisan independent commissions to redraw voting districts after a census. I was pleased to see that the President has appointed our REPUBLICAN Secretary of State (who is in charge of elections in Washington State) to a similar post at the national level.
  • I have regular contributions to the DNC and my US Representative. I also contribute to reps in other states if they seem particularly outstanding.
  • Support the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and MoveOn – Check
  • Support the election of officials who are champions for Social Justice issues – Check
    • Climate action
    • Racial justice
    • Health Care Availability
    • Wealth Inequality

30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/23/21

Today I’m thankful for to be a Presbyterian. I know a lot of people call us the “frozen chosen”, but I don’t feel like that. I feel connected to people all over the country who are working together to be a Mathew 25 congregation. We are trying to put our energies into to valuing other people by feeding the hungry, comforting the sorrowful, and housing the homeless.

30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/14/21

Today I’m thankful for my siblings. I love our weekly sisters Zoom calls. I’m sorry we don’t live closer, but when we’re together, the years fall away and we enjoy each other. We are about as different in political thought, religious beliefs, and daily activities as it’s possible to be, and the current political climate has driven a wedge between some of us, but I’m hopeful that will pass with time. I love them all.