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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Unsettled Epilogue C: The Dominos Doubled

Throughout these Unsettle chapters I have referred to the first four kids in my childhood home as dominos and “stair-steps." It was true of nearly every family we knew during the “Baby Boom” that followed WWII. Lot’s of kids in big families born about a year or two apart. In our case, four children were born in the four years between March, 1952, and  April, 1956. That is the six of us at a Bell Christmas party in East Detroit, 1961. Kathy, Paul, and Dave were in consecutive grades, which later meant there were years when our family was represented in all three grade levels (7,8,9) of junior high school and high school (10,11,12)—and even a year and a half when they were all at the same college together. It often worked that way for baby-boomers.

This Unsettled story began in 1968 for two important reasons. I was in sixth grade, twelve years old, the last of my family to darken the doors of Huron Park Elementary School in Roseville, when a special blessing came to our home. In May of that year, my little brother Jimmy was born. Five months later, in the fall, we bought the property as told in Chapter One. This picture was taken about two years after that, the year before Kathy left for college.

Back in Chapters 26 and 27, I told of our families struggle with adjusting to Kathy’s departure for college—heightened by the fact that it meant all of us would be gone in the next four years. Toward the end of Unsettled, Kathy was married in the summer of 1975, our last summer in Roseville before the move to the basement of the house. That's me leaning on our front porch. Note the un-mowed lawn and Ford in background. Kathy's wedding started another domino effect with the oldest four children, by June of 1980, all four of us were happily married.

That's Kathy and me at Paul's wedding. By the second Christmas in the house (Yes, we were still in the basement), Paul introduced us to his girlfriend, whom he had met at the nursing home before taking the job at Ford. (She was an employee not a resident.) Her name was (is) Dee, and from the start it seemed like she was “the one” for Paul. They were married in February of 1977, and are still happily married with three girls (and their first granddaughter on the way). You may recall that Paul was very upset that we had decorated the tree without him back in Chapter 46. Well, Paul remains a Christmas decorating enthusiast and hangs 40,000 lights on and around his house each year. (Back in 2004, I wrote a true story about the time he accidentally froze his butt to the roof while hanging lights on a dormer.)

Then in 1978, my brother Dave, who had graduated from college and moved to eastern Pennsylvania to work for Aetna Insurance. It was not a random placement, he was engaged to marry his college sweetheart who lived there. In January, I was his best man. He later went back to school to get his teaching degree and he has been a teacher ever since. (In 1996, Dave in his family moved back to Michigan. In fact, they lived in the basement apartment of the ol’ homestead until they were able to move into the place they now call home.) Here are some lines Dave once wrote about his first year of marriage:

"I was single in Altoona, Pennsylvania for the first year. It was not cozy coming home to a cold small trailer at night. There was no mom to say, “how was your day”. Or, “Hi, honey, dad will be home about five. We’ll eat then”. As the saying goes, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. At night I would lie in bed wondering if my independence was worth it. Sleep was always a comfort in that, no matter what, tomorrow always brought a new day. In January, I married Jayne my college sweetheart. This was one of the best things that ever happened to me. God was gracious to give me this woman. It certainly changed my life for the better. She transformed the trailer into a home as only she could. It was nice. Coming home to her was and still is the highlight of my day. In her, God had given me my best friend and partner. I had heard sermons on the Bible's standard for the virtuous woman. In truth, I had never really paid too much attention to them. After all, the sermon was about women. It was only after I came to know and understand my wife that I realized just how gracious God was to me. Jayne is the physical embodiment of the “virtuous woman” described in Proverbs 31. She was so subtle in her approach that I didn’t realize how much I was growing to love her. She had filled the empty unexpected gap that had come along and that was fine. As I reflect back on the way God’s plan unfolded I am truly amazed. I had been given one of the greatest gifts of my life [push play arrow at that link], and I hadn’t even realized it. I was too naïve to know and understand that God was in control. God had brought me to the trailer in the woods to bring me closer to my new friend. It was a wonderful plan. My focus had shifted from my “mom and dad” mode to my soul mate and that was as it should be."

My brother Dave is a school teacher, but in much the same way that I operated a video business in the 1980s and 90s, he began one as well. When I moved to Michigan in 2000, I never got back in the business. (Except for thaose Thailand documentaries I made in 2007 and a few other promotional tor personal things I've put together.) Dave has continued to hone his skills, and the high definition equipment that is now within the budget of small business operators is remarkable. In his above paragraphs, he mentioned that Jayne made their first house feel like home. He sent me the following video over the weekend. It's just some experimental footage he shot using one of his newer cameras, but it does give you an idea of what he meant.

Epilogue D is coming this weekend. It will pick up in the summer of 1978 and summarize to the fourth domino that doubled when Julie and I were married in 1980. [By the way, I had to add some steps to the comment process due to high amounts of daily spam in the archives.]


Blogger J_G said...

These are the same years I was growing up Tom and I remember the look of all the clothes, cars, houses and people of that time. It seems so far away now but I try and grasp a little of it now and then by visiting some of the places I used to go even though all the people I knew are all gone. I'll try and keep up with your story, it is very interesting to me.

19/2/10 5:26 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

It's great to hear from you again. Thanks for stopping by.

I do the same thing. In fact, a few years back, when my Mom was in the hospital, I went back to that house where I'm leaning on the porch. Our neighbors to the east (toward my back in the picture) are still there. They have lived in the same little brick ranch for over fifty years. Her name was Kay, and she was a dear friend to my mom and one of the rasons Mom dreaded aboutmoving out to the house in the woods. Other than Kay and Orlie, no one we know is in the old neighborhood.

19/2/10 7:02 AM  
Blogger Donnetta Lee said...

Hi there, Grandpa! I am just now getting home from Florida. We put our house there up for sale. I am so glad. Cross your fingers that it sells soon! Happy day! You are a Grandpa! Congratulations!! I have to look up the pics--and also go back and read this post. Just trying to touch base so you would know I am thinking of you. Best. D

19/2/10 9:02 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Donnetta Lee,
Thanks for the congrats. It's been great. We babysat for a couple hours this afternoon. We don't mind at all. Nora, our granddaughter, was visited by her father's grandmother this weekend. Great Grandma is from Florida. Hope your place sells. We were in Destin, FL last May and there were a surprising number of beachfront houses available.

21/2/10 9:11 PM  

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