Friday, January 30, 2009

All the Ways We Helped Each Other - Leif & Peter & me

One of the reasons that my relationship with Leif was so close was because we needed and helped each other, and it was clear to both of us that we respected each other and enjoyed the intellectual exchanges and challenging conversations.

Leif didn't ask for help, but he often needed it, whether it was financial, bureaucratic, emotional, or legal advice. Peter W. helped him replace the transmission in his used RX7. We assisted him financially several times, sometimes because he spent unwisely, sometimes because he was a relatively poor student or soldier. I spent many hours helping him by writing letters for his signature, dealing with legal issues on his behalf, tutoring him in math, Spanish or German, and other occasional things like folding laundry or helping him clean his apartment.

But this was not one-sided. Leif helped us, too, sometimes willingly, sometimes out of necessity (on our part), and sometimes, reluctantly, but he did it. Some of the things he did were to help Peter W. construct fences at our houses in Manhattan, Kansas, work on fixing up both houses (painting, sanding floors and the like), mowing the lawn (from Puerto Rico to Florida), helping Peter W. work on our cars, like changing the shocks in the Honda and Maxima wagon. He was very, very strong, and could help us do things we couldn't manage ourselves. He was a whizz with electronics, too, and helped set things up for us, and he helped my mother with her computer several times.

When we decided to move to Florida, Leif was a truly integral part of the move. Without his strength and problem-solving skills, it would have been a lot harder. It was a complicated move. First, we moved Leif and Peter W. to the house in Florida. Meanwhile, I was still in Kansas trying to reduce the load of accumulated possessions for us, my mother, and even Leif. Because we were selling the 804 Moro Street old stone house first, and Leif was moving out of the 710 N. 9th Street house the plan was to move me into that one. In preparation, we had to decide what was being moved to Florida immediately, what I would need to live with on 9th Street, and what we needed to sell.

Initially, Peter W. thought we should move the German "Schrank" (wall cabinet) to the 9th Street house and move it to Florida later on when we made the final move and sold that house. Therefore, we had to take it all apart and would have move it over there ourselves. This was no easy feat. It was over 11 feet long and over 6 feet tall, and it didn't come apart in sections. The long boards were over 11 feet long, and all of it was heavy! Leif was very good at figuring out how to take things apart and put them back together. It seemed to come instinctively to him. Peter W. and I couldn't have taken it apart without him, and certainly couldn't have out it back together or moved it back against the wall.

As it turned out, after we had it all disassembled, which you can see Leif doing in this photo taken August 8, 2004, he pointed out that it would be smarter to move it directly to Florida and not have to carry it over to the 9th Street house and assemble it, then take it apart again in a year to move to Florida. That's what we did, but because we had taken it apart ourselves, the movers would not put it back together in Florida. It's a good thing we had Leif to help us!

He was strong as an ox and was agile enough to climb ladders safely, and that helped with packing other things, but most of all it helped when we got to the Florida house and we not only needed him to put the Schrank together, but put paintings, tapestries and a Japanese wedding kimono high on the cathedral ceiling walls of the new house.

He helped Peter W. find the buried sprinkler system in the yard, which had become totally covered with sand, grass and weeds before we bought the place, in a rather unorthodox manner . . . by stabbing into the ground with one of his swords.

When Peter was back in Kansas periodically helping me get more things ready to move, or we were traveling, Leif kept our lawn mowed.

When I got a new computer monitor, he set it up for me.

Wherever I look in our house, I see things that Leif either put up, installed, or gave us.

He lived here in this house with Peter W. for a year after the two of them moved here before he moved to an apartment in Tampa, a time when they gave each other both help and companionship.

After he moved out, we had frequent contact and saw each other at last once a month.

I think that is unusual for most grown children to have that much contact with their parents unless they live in the same town, and we were fortunate to have it.

Leif knew we worried about him but I hope he also knew how much we loved and appreciated him, and now, how much we miss him.

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