Monday, December 7, 2009

Leif in Pacific Grove, California - July 1980 - Age 5

In his 33 years, Leif traveled many places as an army brat and many he saw only once, but a place he visited more times was the Monterey-Pacific Grove area of California during the years his Oma (paternal grandmother, Ellen Garretson) lived there. These photos were taken on one of those trips, in July 1980 when he was five years old and Peter Anthony was eleven.

The boys liked to go walk on the beach and play in the sand. There wasn't much for them to do at Oma's house except watch television, so we tried to get out of the house and go places together. Oma liked the beach, too, especially at sunset. We also took a lot of walks along the seashore path where there was no beach, only rocks, like these at Lovers Point. That was a great place for the boys (and Peter W.) to climb around like mountain goats.

Sometimes we went to visit Ellen at Christmas time and then we would drive or walk around looking at all the Christmas lights. There were some beautiful and elaborate displays we all enjoyed.

We visited Ellen before we moved to Japan, which was when these photos were taken. We were on our way, moving from Germany to Japan, and wouldn't see her again until we lived in Hawaii and she came to visit us about four years later. We weren't back in Pacific Grove with Leif until the summer of 1985, but we visited her every year at least once, sometimes twice, between 1986-1990 and then 1992-1997 when we moved her to the 710 N. 9th Street house in Manhattan, Kansas. Leif knew his Oma much better than Peter Anthony did, because Peter didn't see her on the trips we took after he left for the Air Force Academy. He did see her when he came to visit us in Kansas with his family after 1997.

Leif was a good traveler, adapted easily, or at least it seemed so, and enjoyed seeing new places and things. Looking back, though, I think he felt in some sense cut off from the world except for his dad and me, because we were the constants, always with him, and everything else kept changing. Because of our moves, he had to leave friends behind and those connections were broken. I wonder if it made it hard for him to make friends and commit himself to friendships because of the sense of loss when leaving them.

The sweater Leif is wearing in the photo where he's climbing on the rocks is the one that Peter W's Aunt Käthe made for him.

Oma died in Kansas in September 2002.

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