Thursday, June 25, 2009

Random Thoughts in a Long Post

Two weeks ago today my dad passed away. The days after have flown by and the days have crawled by. June 10 seems a lifetime ago, it seems like yesterday. Cliche after cliche passes through my mind, some of them now with a ring of truth. The passing of a parent, whether sudden or prolonged, is just a strange feeling. Walking into the house and realizing that dad won't come walking through the door, or that I won't hear his snores as he naps, his window shaking sneezes, or his really bad jokes is an indescribable feeling, a hole that will get smaller with time, but won't go away.

Dad was always about having family fun. While we had the usual obligations to take care of for an occasion like this, we also planned some time to honor dad in ways that spoke of his love of family and fun. We had several meals together and time to just sit around with some beer and wine, when we all shared stories once more - some old and well told, some new - and remembered the bad jokes that were dad's favorites. We had a gathering of about 40 people at the Rockford Thunder game after his funeral and watched the Thunder beat the Pride, with Catherine throwing a great game.

Often I was wishing I had my camera out, but then again, when I am taking pics I am really detached from the event. So the memories and visuals will suffice - the best among them being 1) my nephew in his Marine dress blues walking the casket into and out of church 2) the honor guard folding the flag in the courtyard of church while Brian stood at attention and the bugler stood away from us playing Taps 3) the crowd of family and friends who gathered to pay their respects to my dad both at the wake and the funeral and finally 4) my dad on his final tractor ride. Explanation to follow.

Growing up in a greenhouse, my dad's first and probably favorite vehicle was a tractor. Whether it was dumping loads of dirt, mowing the lawn, clearing snow, or teaching the grandkids how to drive one, I have hundreds of visual images of my dad on a tractor. Since Dad was cremated after the funeral service, we had to take his ashes to the cememtary Monday following his Thursday funeral service. My grandparents and other family members are also there, so we obtained a map to find my grandparents and pay our respects to them. Mom and dad's plot is only 2 rows away and we found it easily.

Shortly after I left his ashes in the cemetary office, while we were at grandparents' graves, a worker came driving towards us on a small tractor, Dad's urn sitting next to him on the seat. All of us had a chuckle about it, commenting on how dad would have laughed at the sight. After making sure we were OK if he proceeded with the burial of the ashes while we were there, he interred them, offering me the opportunity to put the first shovelful of dirt in. As I did so, I told dad one last bad knock knock joke that he told me often. Mom, Aunt Linda, Michelle, Melissa and I all had a little laugh and then found a nice little brew pub where we once more toasted Dad, his life, and his love of family.

The only thing we forgot during all of this were big blue or red hanky/bandanas and stanky cigars.

Goodbye Daddy!

(Link to Memorial Site in the Links list - lots of great photos)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

John Joseph Kellen July 14 1930 to June 11 2009

*Korean War Vet, USMC
*owner of Kellen Country greenhouses and florist
*teller of really bad jokes, war stories and Chicago politics stories
*father to Laura, Sharon, Vince, Neil, Susan, and Michelle
*grandfather to Catherine, Heather, Craig, Brian, Chris, Emily, Beth, Claire, JR, and Melissa
*husband to Barbara
*brother-in-law to Linda
*son of Jacob and Helen Kellen
*brother to Mary (RIP), Jake (RIP), Joe, and Rita
*3rd generation Luxie!
*Harley guy

Daddy - I hope you are kicking back with a Heineken or a Southern Comfort Old-fashioned and a good cigar and that you have found a whole new group to swap stories with. Tell grandma and grandpa hey! We all love you and miss you already.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Still At School

Well, sort of! Many teachers are changing classrooms for next year, so I am still going up cleaning and packing. The new room I am going to was not cleared out before the teacher left, so I have been working on cleaning it out, while my room still looks like a Cat 5 tornado hit it! :-) I hope to be able to get all of that cleared up this morning and start moving my stuff in.

I really wanted to use the move as an excuse to go through my things and throw stuff away, but having to spend time cleaning out the new room has pretty much forced me into throwing things in boxes in my room. Much of what was left in her room I either threw away without really sorting through it, or just shoving it into one of the cabinets in her new room. But the room was also a mess - rodent droppings and dried pee puddles in the cabinets and on the counters and stuff the kids did. We are getting new countertops in our rooms this summer, so we can not put stuff in the lower cabinets until they are done. So it is boxing day today! I guess I will try to go up early in August and sort through stuff.

After that - getting things at home in shape. Then Michelle and I leave for Chicago at the end of the week. Time to get things rolling!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Another One Gone

Chapter 27 is now done and closed! Another year, another group of kids.

I got kind of attached to this group, this year, even some of my challenges. Eh, who am I fooling. I get attached to them every year. But I do have a soft spot for the 3 years I taught that held my babies, too. It is fun to teach your kids friends. They don't quite know what to make of you, the teacher, since they know you as the mom. And then there are the ones who discover halfway through the year - ohh, your _____'s mom??? Always makes me laugh a little.

So, tomorrow is an inservice day. I have to clean my room out, and move my stuff. I also have to clean out the room I am moving into, since that teacher is not here and there is quite a mess. Ah well. I am excited to rest up and begin planning for next year. I have not felt like that in quite a while. Nice to feel that again. The only burning question now is should I paint my new classroom the same blue the other one was (dark regatta blue) or an olive or khaki green???

Good night, and to the ones I won't see tomorrow - Good morning starshines! The Earth says "Hello!"