Sunday, January 25, 2009

Leif's 27th Birthday - Manhattan, Kansas - January 28, 2002 - Age 27

After his three and a half years in the army, during which we didn't see Leif for his birthdays, he came back to Kansas in May 2001, medically retired from the army due to the asthma he had developed, and went back to finish college at Kansas State University. His first brithday back with us was January 28, 2002, his 27th birthday, which we celebrated in the dining room of our old stone house on Moro Street.

I made Leif's favorite birthday foods, tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet with Japanese barbecue sauce called tonkatsu sauce) and peach fritters with foamy sauce, a rather odd and multicultural combination we all loved. Leif could eat a "ton" of those things. I remember one of his birthdays in Puerto Rico, maybe his 17th, when he ate so many fritters that he got kind of giddy. I teased him that I never saw anyone get "drunk" on peach fritters before.

In this photo, you can see him blowing out a candle perched in a big bowl of fritters. They are a family favorite we don't have often, partly because they are a lot of work to make, and messy, since they are deep fried, and partly because they are a great way to gain a lot of weight. I doubt there are many people in the world who have a pile of fritters with a candle instead of a birthday cake, but that's what he wanted. Leif was unconventional in many ways. I'm sad that I'll never make those things for him ever again.

At the time of this photo, Leif was still moody and not happy, but he was beginning to climb out of the severe depression he was suffering when he returned from Fort Drum eight months earlier. He had a successful semester at KSU under his belt and things were looking up.

Happy Birthday, Leif!

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