It was rainy all weekend when Molly came to visit. On Sunday I took her out on the porch where I introduced her to the rain. It was so very cool to see her scanning everything around her and taking it all in; the sound of the gentle rain, the smells, the splash of the raindrops as they hit the ground… we even stepped out and felt the wetness of the rain. With the inspiration of Danae, I even made up a little rain song for her.
While we sat there I explained it all to her. I told her that she wouldn’t remember our time together, but I would. I got Danae to take this picture (and now I have a blog post) to make sure I won’t forget. I began wondering what difference it really does make. I feel certain that Mollypops time matters. I am just sure that sitting quietly watching the rain and singing a little song makes a positive impact in her life, but how specifically? It isn’t as if this is the kind of thing one can do an experiment to determine. I can’t love up on her in one life and neglect her in another life and then compare the results. It makes me wonder… Does this kind of time help a 5 month old shape her values in life. Will she like the rain because of our Mollypops rain time? Did she actually did learn some things about the world from our time? There are so many things that I know, but I don’t know how I know them. Where did I learn them? How old was I? Is this how one receives that kind of learning?
Although I can’t be sure how it specifically matters to Molly, I can tell you that our time together impacts me in a deeply. While we were together on the porch, I felt a warmth and a real sense of purpose. I am feeling it now as I remember. I have a sense that it really matters. I dearly love being the grandpa.
Twenty three years and a few months ago, Jeanie and I got a surprise. We thought we were going to be a family of five, but Jeanie got sick… morning sick! I remember how overwhelming it felt to know that I was going to be responsible for not three, but four children. At that time we had three little girls ages 4, 2 and 1. Life was pretty much overwhelming all the time. It’s strange how clearly I remember feeling afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle raising 4 children. I was really scared! But I handled it the way I handled everything. Quietly. I decided that my family needed me to be the leader and I I could and would be the dad of four children and with God’s help, we’d be ok. (This is going to sound cheesy, but it is true). When I resigned myself that we were going to be a family of six, I felt the Lord speak to my heart. He told me that this child would be very special to me.
On May 26th, 1986, Leah Kathryn entered our life. From the beginning she was different from her sisters. While her sisters loved all the girlie toys and dressing up as princesses, Katie loved playing with cars, putting on big boots and helping me in the yard. When she was a little older, she helped me with my instrument repair business. She would take the instruments apart and clean them so I could do the repairs on them. She was a great help to me. I don’t know how much of her differences were built in to her DNA and how much was due to her determination to be her own person. Whichever it was, Kat is a copy of no one. She is her own person.
If I had only one word to describe her, I would say that Kat is tenacious. I’ve heard it said that there are three kinds of people in this world… Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what just happened. Kat makes things happen. She sees things that others miss. She understands how things work and that frequently frustrates her because things frequently don’t work very well. As Kat helps to fix things that bother her, the world becomes a better place for us all.
The more I get to know Kat, the more I see a wonderful, compassionate woman who cares so much about others. Kat is a great listener. Her friends and family know they can trust her with their secrets and she helps us work through things more than she knows. What a gifted and beautiful person! When God spoke to my heart that this little girl would be special to me, I didn’t have any idea just how special she would be. After 23 years of her special presence, I can truly say to her, “Kat, I love you dearly. I am so glad I get to be your dad.” Happy Birthday!
Fifty one years ago today a beautiful, young and very pregnant woman gave birth to a baby boy. She and her husband (the boy’s father) loved the boy and cared for him like good parents do. They gave him food and shelter and love. They made sure that he was brought up in a Christian home. Every Sunday they took him to church. In fact, the boy cannot ever remember just sleeping in on a Sunday.
He grew up big and strong and one day he left and started a life of his own. Eventually, the boy had children of his own and in the process of caring for his own children, he began to understand some of the difficulties that come with being a parent. Now that his children are all on their own, the boy has a depth of thankfulness that he could never have experienced as a youngster. There’s just no way to explain those kinds of things to a little guy. He doesn’t have the years of experience. He only has what experience he has lived. As much as the parents want him to learn from their experience, there are so very many limitations on that kind of understanding. The boy learns best from his own experience… the hard way!
Now, the boy is a grandparent and more thankful than ever! As he looks back from his 51 year old perspective, he wants to say, thank you to his parents. Thanks for giving him life. Thanks for taking care of him, loving him and doing your best to shape him into the person God made him to be. He knows that he has let you down many times. He remembers hurting you. He wishes he could redo so many things from the past. Alas, he understands better than ever how this show only has one performance with no rehearsals.
Despite all his regrets, the boy is happy. He is glad to be alive and glad to be who he is. Sure, there are many things he would like to change, but when he is honest, he realizes that there is no one else in the entire world that he would rather be. I think that’s pretty cool.
Twenty six years ago today, a young lady named Melody joined our family. She was the second of what would eventually be our four daughters. When she and her sisters were little girls, I created a folder for each of them in the filing cabinet. Sometimes, like tonight, I pull them out in order to remember. Melody’s is the thickest folder because of the way she has always lived out loud. She frequently wrote what she was feeling on notes and gave them to us. Most of the ones to Jeanie or me were “I love you” notes… sometimes they expressed her displeasure at the way we were running things. Regardless, I will treasure these forever.
The more I get to know her, the more I see a beautiful person with unique and incredible gifts and talents. She has persevered through undergrad and is now working her way through Medical school. Yes, medical school! Melody is going to be a doctor! And I am sure she will be a great doctor! Her artistic creativity, her ability to communicate and to understand difficult scientific topics combined with her tenacity, value for authentic integrity and compassion will take her far.
I love you, Melody. I am so glad I get to be your dad. Happy Birthday!
Erin–Thanks for asking for a slideshow. It was way easy to do and works well. Hope the rest of you can handle all the photos of Molly. I’m trying to take it slow… no really, I am!
These are photos that Jeanie took while she was down helping Danae with Molly.
… and these were photos from Molly and Danae’s visit to Charlotte last weekend. Danae was playing in the SC Collegiate Honor Band concert on Saturday and they stayed overnight. The music was so good! They did an excellent job and it was real ear-candy for me. You can hear a recording of the music here.
TED Talks is one of the coolest sites I have ever stumbled upon. Lots of wonderful, intelligent talks about a world of different subjects. I watched one this week by Erin McKean this week that is really fun and has inspired me (shared below). She’s a lexicographer (compiles dictionaries). She has a lot of fun basically making the point that this is our language and words that communicate are good words. I recognized myself in her description of people who ask, “Is that a word?” As if we have some governing authority who determines what are words and what are not.
Words emerge in our language all the time i.e. google. “I think I will google lexicographer.” makes perfect sense to us, but what would we have thought even just 10 years ago. When and how did it become a “real word”?
I’m going to try to stop asking if something is a real word and start trying to influence language by introducing some really good new words. And the first entry will be mollypops.
mollypops adjective – Containing both Molly and her maternal grandfather (aka Pops).
example: Did you see the precious mollypops photo on jimazing.com?
A good friend said to me yesterday, “I hope at the end of 2009, you will say that this was one of the best years of your life.'” What a terrific thought! It reminds me that, although I cannot control everything that happens to me, I potentially have more input into how my life plays out than anyone else.
My prayer for 2009 is that I grow into the person that I was meant to be and that I be an influence for positive change as grow in loving God and loving others as myself. For you, I hope that each of you look back in a year and say to yourself, “What an awesome year 2009 was… I think it was the best one yet!”
Collage and News
In 2000, I started a tradition of creating a collage of photos from the year and a newsletter then posting them on the internet. It was my special way of getting out of sending Christmas Cards. Now it has become a “must do”. Click these links to view the 2008 collage and 2008 news. To see past years, click the Family News menu above.
I hope to write some reflections on 2008 in the coming days even though it’s all out of order that way. I can write them later, but Happy New Year has to be done today and it is almost gone!
Little Molly sleeping in the cradle. Seeing her brings back so many memories for me. I made this cradle with the help of a couple of good friends. I had bought the plans with the intention to make it for Danae, but couldn’t seem to find the time. Sorry Danae 🙁 By the time Melody came along it was done and ready for her.
I wanted to make it from poplar wood and asked my friend Mike Flannigan where I might find some that wouldn’t bee too expensive. Money was extremely tight back then. He said that he had a poplar log that was ready to mill. He took it to the mill to have it cut up and let me have my pick of the lumber. He only charged me what it cost him to have it milled. As you can see, it was beautiful wood with only a few knots or flaws.
It was called a “Noah’s Ark” cradle and included plans for converting it to a toy box. The toy box phase included a lid that looked like the top of the ark and rollers to push around like a ship on the sea. I never got around to finishing that part of it. In fact, as I got into the building of phase 1 of the cradle, I quickly realized that I needed help. My good friend, Jim Kassner volunteered to help me. I don’t know how many evenings and weekends we invested in the basement together (mine and his), but they are very pleasant memories. The end pieces were especially challenging. They are extremely thick and the wood was hard so it took a lot of sanding to shape the the curve properly. We used Jim’s joiner to trim the boards for the sides so they would fit together as one wide plank. I worked in the music repair shop at the time and used our paint spray booth to put on the finish.
I imagine that most people who look at her in the cradle see a beautiful baby and an interesting cradle. I see that and so much more… floods of wonderful memories of good friends, of having not nearly enough money to live on and of God’s provision in spite of us. Many children have slept in the cradle… their names are all written on the bottom. Now my grandchild is sleeping in it. How cool is that?! Add Molly Nicole to the cradle roster. May you have just as rich memories as mine when you are 50 and writing to your grandchild.
I would like to introduce you to the latest Anderson girl. World, meet Molly Nicole Ogren… Molly meet the world! Molly arrived late this morning while I was travelling to Charleston. I have been here for a couple of hours and she has been in the nursery that whole time… so I am axious to actually meet her myself. Click here to see a slide show of photos that Jeanie took early on.
While driving down, I was thinking about my last post and how I want to be one who influences the world to be a better place for my daughters. Now I have one more daughter to consider… a GRAND daughter. As I was pondering the influence I will have on her, I began to think of the influence she will have on me. When I was a youngster, the order of things was like this: the adults influenced the kids and the kids were influenced. It was very much a one way street. As an adult, I have a much broader perspective. I see influence between the generations as a two way street. My daughters and sons-in-law influence me greatly… and I am glad. They have gifts, strengths, talents, experiences and perspectives that I do not have. My life is much richer as I welcome their influence.
Little Molly is already influencing me. All the way from Charlotte to Charleston, I felt as if I were being pulled by an unseen force… the grandpa magnet. Molly, I can hardly wait to hold you.
Isabelle Allende opened her talk with an old Jewish saying; “What is truer than truth?” “Stories,” she answered, and began to tell some stories that stirred up a blog entry… Listening to her stories, I found myself stirred in a way that she probably didn’t intend, but then again, she doesn’t know my story. Isn’t that the power of a story? Each of us hears the same story, but we hear it from our own perspective. Stories don’t lead us all to the same thoughts or the same behavior. They have the power to stir fires of passion that already exist.
Isabelle’s told stories about women throughout the world who are making a difference, or sadly, who cannot make a difference. The 18 minute video is at the end and I hope you will give her a listen. Her stories fanned the flames of a passion that I didn’t even realize was smouldering in my heart. She told three stories of women making a difference and women who have no voice whatsoever. She told stories of women who were (and are) raped and beaten for no reason at all. Shoking and saddening! She mentioned Wangari Maathai, whose story I heard on Speaking of Faith a few weeks ago… about how she made a difference in Kenya teaching the village women to plant trees which led to changing the livelihoods and even the very climate of her home. Inspiring! But that is not what stirred in me.
I am the proud father of four wonderful daughters (who are very much grown up despite the implications of this photo). Without ever really articulating it to myself or to them, I always wanted my daughters to be strong, independent women. I wanted them to be able to think for themselves and to have the power to follow their passions. I recognized that they were all beautiful and smart, but they were each so unique. They have gifts, strengths and abilities that no one else on the face of the planet has. I knew my life was better because they were in it. Now that I see who they are and who they are becoming, I realize that the whole world is a better place because they are in it!
My daughters have a voice! I want a world where their voice is heard… free of preconceived notions about what women can (or should) do. I have every confidence that they can overcome these obstacles, but it is unnecessary friction. The friction limits what they can accomplish with so much energy wasted just making heat. Let’s make the world a better place for my daughters (and all daughters) to succeed. We need them more than we know.