I can only remember one time when I went to my grandparent’s ramshackle cabin on the beach near Florence, Oregon. I might have been there more, but would have been too little to remember. For the older cousin and their then young parents as well as my parents, Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah it was a magical place. I know it was not spectacularly beautiful nor situated on the best location on the indescribably beautiful Oregon coast, but I do know that it played a huge role as a family gathering place for my grandparents and the families of all ten of their children.
The cabin was sold decades ago, but it is a frequent topic of conversation whenever the cousin’s get together. We younger cousins are a little bit envious of the memories of the older cousins, but revel in the obvious joy of their memories. My cousin Merle and his wife Carolyn and daughter Trisha were out there a few days ago. Trisha texted me this poignant image of Merle on the beach contemplating it all.
I always try to put up a picture of the kids on their birthdays. I missed yesterday, but Kelly sent a picture of herself with her friend at colleague at her new job. The both dressed in blue and black and I have to say it it looks great on both of them. She claims they did not coordinate with each other, but even the shade of blue matches. It seems a little suspicious to me. Kelly had to give a big presentation to her company’s board of directors, the CEO and the VP of Marketing (her boss) of the marketing research she has worked on since she arrived at the new job about six months ago. Then she went to a Marketing conference and, for her birthday celebration, out with her girlfriends. We did not here much about it yesterday because she was so busy–that is a good thing. She seems to be in a very good place where she can learn, hang out with friends and figure out next steps.
Christian took this picture on Saturday during a walk to Devil’s Bridge near Sedona, AZ. It certainly is a beautiful place. After our Bible study last Wednesday, one of our friends showed us the pictures he took of his hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back. It was an eight mile hike down which took six hours and a six mile hike back up which took eight hours. Ever since I saw it for the first time on the trip to take Christian to college, I thought it would be a great thing to do some day.
Today is Kelly’s birthday. We wish we could be with her today, but will have to be happy with a future dinner to help her celebrate when we move out there in May.
Lorena is at the airport right now, waiting to return home from a very good stay with Christian. Of course Christian was slammed with work–he had to respond to reviewers on a paper he wants to publish, prepare for a technical presentation for his Network Information Theory class, etc., etc. But at least now he is slammed with a shiny clean apartment, food in the pantry, rotated tires and all those other little details of which Lorena is queen.
For her part, Lorena truly loves the palm and citrus trees, the blooming flowers and the incredible, February, Tempe weather. It really is nice here in the Dallas area right now, but not nearly as nice as Phoenix as if that were even possible. We will start the serious push to get organized for the move starting next week. The rest of this week we do not plan to do much because life is going to get very rushed, very soon.
Lorena arrived in Tempe now and Christian is taking her to lunch. She is sending me all kinds of meaninglessful pictures a couple of examples of which I present right here. The badge at the left was the cause of lots and lots of grief for the whole family. We are truly glad that this was not the occasion for Christian’s first stint of jury duty. I hope he gets to do it someday, but today is not the day. The picture on the right is Christian’s new Pixel cellphone from Google that he put in his handy car holder Mom got for him in December. She got one for me, too, and I see that it is handy enough, I really need to install it and start using it.
I dropped Lorena off at the airport at 5 AM this morning to go spend a week with Christian in Phoenix. They have a great time when they get together. It seems like every time Christian turns around there is another road block that seems insurmountable. This morning, he goes in to serve jury duty. And it is not just jury duty, it is grand jury duty. That means if he gets picked he will be stuck there for four months. He is scheduled to move to Boston in a couple of months in his first pass working for MIT. I hope they let him out of it because if they do not, it means he will almost certainly have to stay in his program for an additional year due to classes they only give once per year, missed research opportunities and the need to drop all his classes for this semester which is half way complete. I surely hope he does not get saddled with this burden.
Update: Woo-hoo! Christian dodged the jury duty bullet. He told the judge he was in classes that were only given once every two years (true) and he had an internship in Boston at MIT Lincoln Labs that started half way through the four month jury duty term (true) and the judge said, “Goodbye.”
I have been reflecting on it quite a bit lately and it seems kind of weird that both of our kids have been on their own and paying their own way for over two and a half years now. For our part, we have been in upheaval since they left North Carolina for graduate school in late June of 2014. We have moved three times (once to Oregon, once to Texas and once in Texas) and we are about to move again. I am currently on my third employer with a couple of contract jobs on the side. It seems they are the ones who are stable right now. I thought that was what parents were supposed to do, but it has pretty much been the nature of my kind of skill set to have to switch around a bunch.
We are about to move a fourth time in May if all the stars align and hope that stability thing starts to set in. I have a job and contract opportunities that could very well, God willing, take me to retirement without having to move again. At the same time, it is very, very nice to have kids who are sticking to long term, worth goals, working hard and staying on track when that is something that is hard to do in one’s early twenties, especially in this day and age. We are pretty much death on that pride thing–probably because we (read I) struggle with it, but I do feel very fortunate to have kids such as these.
Lorena and I went to the funeral of a man we really did not know yesterday. It was truly a wonderful funeral of a kind and wonderful man. In form, it was very different from the memorial service held for Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah. Yesterday’s funeral was more of a traditional funeral that followed a form to which we are accustomed although there were some wonderful personal accounts at the beginning of the funeral that were different than most we have attended. Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s broke that form significantly, partly to accommodate the varying needs and desires of the family and friends in attendance, but also to remember two fairly non-traditional people instead of one with a familiar, but significantly less than traditional ceremony.
All that being said, both events were beautifully done with Christ as the focus even in those elements of the celebration that addressed the secular elements of the departed. I think that is a testament to the way all of them led their lives, focused on helping others as driven by their devotion to Jesus. In the end, that is all good and that is the point. This morning I read I Corinthians 1 where Paul gave an admonishment to some who counted themselves as having been baptized by one or another of the apostles rather than counting themselves as followers of Christ. I think that reading was very timely and the precise reason why both of the funerals were celebrations of successfully lead lives; all of those lives were focused on Christ and none other. Let this be a reminder to me.
Lorena, Kelly, Christian and I had time to spend together as a nuclear family while we were out in the Pacific Northwest for Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s funeral. We all agreed that in spite of all the hiccups that occurred (really bad weather, cancellation and change of venue at the last minute, etc.), it was the best service of its kind we ever attended. I am sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that it is our parents and grandparents who were the objects of the whole event, but that does not diminish the joy we experienced in celebrating their lives with dear, dear friends and family.
The photos with this post are of the kids when we had some time just to sit together and talk about life. Even though we are all at a different place now that the kids are off at college and working, we have decided we need to make more time for these kinds of getting together. We want to include our friends in that getting together, too. At these kinds of events it surely seems like all pettiness falls away. We will be contacting all the people who made all this possible over the next week or two to let them know how much they are appreciated.
One gift we received in all this is that we have the opportunity to attend another such event in Dallas this weekend. It is for a man not dissimilar to Grandpa Milo–bigger than life with a lot of love for “the least of these.” I think I learned a lot about how to be a friend at times like this from those who were there for us during these last days. I want to express a special thanks to my siblings who worked very, very hard to make things work well between all us siblings and with the larger, very diverse community. They and a group of close friends (you know who you are) really were the ones that made all this just work and I am grateful for you all.
It seemed appropriate to everyone that there should be at least a modicum of chaos surrounding Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s funeral. Sunday afternoon before the memorial service on Monday, Milwaukie High School called us to let us know that with only 19 hours notice, they decided to close the school and cancel our event. We briefly considered rescheduling because people had flown and drove in from all over the western U.S. Aunt Jean and Uncle Jerry came through with a beautiful venue in Oregon City, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Willamette Falls facility which turned out to be much more well suited for our purposes than the original venue: fabulous acoustics for congregational singing, a well tuned grand piano, a kitchen with an eating area for the potluck, easier parking, etc., etc., etc.
The weather was great, but the driving conditions were not exactly optimal. The picture at the top left shows the Sunset Freeway which was mostly clear, but many of the side streets were very much iced over and difficult to navigate. Nevertheless, the event went on and it was absolutely beautiful. I am more proud of my siblings and the community surrounding Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah than you can possibly imagine. In spite of all the challenges, probably about 250 showed up for the event and it went off without a hitch. It was exactly the send-off we all wanted and would have made them both proud. It was really stunning how everyone helped out, especially the ministers who preached, the piano player who played beautifully, the church members who handled all the setting up, tearing down and serving at the potluck and, of course, my siblings and their families who went to great pains to deal with a gazillion unforeseen obstacles and details. Just thank you to them all.
Lorena and I left Portland around midnight last night and arrived in Dallas just in time for me to go to work yesterday morning. The brief respite from the nasty weather/driving conditions ended today with a horrendous ice storm in the Portland area. I stayed awake long enough to get through the work day then crashed for the night as soon as I got home. I woke this morning with a feeling of gratitude for a loving community that helped us bury our parents in a dignified and respectful way, but with a celebration that would have made Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah proud.
The weather is monumentally bad all over the Pacific Northwest. Kelly was scheduled to work in Oregon today for her job and just stay there after work today until the funeral. Lorena, Christian and I plan to fly to Seattle today, then drive down to Portland to start helping with all the upcoming events tomorrow. Since the weather did not cooperate and allow Kelly to go to Oregon yesterday, she will meet us in Seattle tonight and drive down to Portland with us. That is a very good thing. I will be nice to have a couple of meals and a night together as a family before we say good bye to Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah. Christian took the picture in this post through the window at his gate at the PHX airport with his new Google Pixel phone. To say the conditions were not optimal would be a wild understatement. So far the camera and optical system seem to be crazy good for a cell phone. I hope he remembered to pack his new Fuji camera, too.
The blog was down for a few days due to technical issues. I am kind of glad for that because so much has been going that if I would have written about it in real time I would certainly have just confused everyone and probably even myself. The good part is the plan for the memorial service for Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah is coming together nicely. Lots of people plan to travel to Oregon and there are lots of people within driving distance. The venue (Milwaukie High School Auditorium in Milwaukie, Oregon–yes I spelled Milwaukie correctly, it is the people in Wisconsin who spell it wrong!) has enough room for 600 people. I am sure there will not be remotely that many people there, but we have plenty of room for everyone to attend who so desires and a great place for a potluck afterward.
The complications have to do with just about everything else: work, houses, travel, etc., etc., but more about that later. I am glad to have my blog back. Those technical difficulties happened at the absolutely least convenient time ever. For the first time in history it was actually being used to get some useful information to people and then it goes down.
Grandpa Milo died January 1. Dad was one of those bigger than life guys who started his life in a migrant farm worker family picking hops, beans and strawberries around the state of Oregon as soon as he was old enough to contribute as a small child, but who went on to all kinds of unique success in business, the military and even in school. He worked physically hard his entire life, even when he no longer needed to. He, like Grandma Sarah, was always a champion of the underdog loving much and doing more than his part in every setting. I do not want to turn this into a eulogy, there will be time for that later, but I wanted to mark his passing with just a few memories and thoughts.
In spite of the fact that I have appeared to be more like my father both in appearance and personality than my other siblings, we were very different from each other in character. It was of great joy to all of us that Aunt Julia is the one who was most like Dad in character and she had a special bond with him because of it. She was the one who had Grandpa Milo’s blond hair and blue eyes, too. Still, each of us kids had a very special and unique bond with Dad. My relationship with him was very, very close. We spoke in person or on the phone several times per week for my entire life–lessening some once I got married and had kids, but never disappearing.
It was one of the great joys of my life to discover that it did not matter that I did not have the same entrepreneurial drive as Grandpa Milo nor great joy in physical labor although I learned to tolerate it a lot more for having been his son. A lot of superficial stuff got in the way of my discovery of that fact. I assumed my success in business, sports, finances and, to a lesser degree, education were important to Dad. My epiphany was that Dad was more interested in my relationship with Jesus, the fulfillment of my responsibilities as a husband, father and member of society and my happiness than any success in following his footsteps with respect to this temporal life–probably in that order.
The picture with this post is of Dad in his mid-70’s. Alzheimer’s disease must have already been working on Dad when this was taken, but no one could tell yet. We like to think it was because of his ever ebullient spirit. He and one of our ministers who had labored in Ecuador for many years stopped on a several mile hike at over 10,000 feet of altitude to eat some oranges that grow there ubiquitously. He did not talk at all about how onerous it must have been–it is hard to breath at 10,000 feet when you live close to sea level, especially when you are over 70 and on an uphill hike. Rather, he reveled in the amazing amount of juice in the oranges and the beauty of the scenery. That was so typical of him. He was not there because he wanted an adventure although he reveled in that, too. He was there to take a friend who could not have made the trip on his own to see his twin brother, one of our ministers who works in the Philippines and was on a trip to preach in South America.
There funeral for Milo and Sarah Chapman is on January 16 at 10:30 AM at the Milwaukie High School Auditorium. Here are the details:
MLK Day, Monday, January 16, 2017
Milwaukie High School Auditorium, Milwaukie, Oregon
Potluck to follow on location
No graveside service
We would be grateful to any who would be willing to share a story or picture with us about/of Milo and/or Sarah. If you would, please send it in any format you would like via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It can be just part of the email, a photograph, a PDF, Word document or anything you would like. Our plan is to put them all into folders people can read at the funeral with blank pages where people might like to add additional stories or pictures. After the funeral, we plan to accumulate the new material into a final version, then send it out to whomever might like a copy via email.
Just a brief note to let everyone know that Grandpa Milo died peacefully tonight. The funeral is currently scheduled for both he and Grandma Sarah on January 16 in the Milwaukie, Oregon. I will post the exact timing and location here as soon as I have it.
It was nice to have Christian back in the house for a few days doing his guitar exercises. He says this is not music–just exercises, but we like to listen to it anyway. Click here to see another one we captured.
We missed Kelly dearly during her first Christmas ever away from family. It is all good, though. The Hormans were very kind to invite her to spend the holiday with them in beautiful Leavenworth, Washington. It looks like she cross-country skied and did something with horses. That is the best we can tell that went on because we saw some pictures on Instagram. She was obviously having to good a time to communicate much so we are grateful for that.
As for us, we felt pretty adventurous for choosing something other than our go-to (turkey) for Christmas dinner. Lorena cooked up prime rib with lots of fixin’s an then added (from scratch) Lemon Creme Puffs for dessert. We are never going back. I cannot believe how good it came out and I have to admit that prime rib left-over sandwiches are at least equal to turkey left-over sandwiches. The only thing we did wrong was not make enough.
The very best part of this holiday season is that Christian came in for a few day so we would not be alone. That would have been more than we could handle. Lorena and I were ecstatic to have him here. He is working on the next phase of his dissertation work, playing his guitar (one of the strings was broken so we had to wait a day and a half until a store was open so we could buy some new ones), eating good food and discussing life with us. This is the thing for which we live. He got a new Fuji camera and has been taking pictures, all of which are shown here. The one at the bottom of this post if of Christian stringing his guitar with Kiwi the remaining twin cat sister giving very pointed advice.
Today, we were able to take Christian to The One True Taco Shop here in Lewisville. He concurred that the tacos were great. That was the only possible right response to eating there.