Leif's nieces and nephew found him irresistible. They would climb all over him, touch his beard, play with him, act silly, make cell phone videos together, play chess together, and generally horse around. He was good with the kids, gentle and tolerant, and amused, my gentle giant. I wondered how he felt about being with them, whether he wished he had children of his own to go home to, though he never really voiced that sentiment.
I wonder, now, whether they will really remember him. I know they will remember that he lived, that they had an uncle that died, but they were so young when he left them that I imagine they will only remember him from photos or stories we tell.
I have a lot of photos of him with them, but I don't post photos of them online. This one is an exception because it was taken six and a half years ago and their faces aren't shown. That night in July 2004, all three of them were climbing all over him and having a great time. He was pretending to roar and flex his muscles like some kind of giant and they loved it. I loved watching it. That was a happy evening with all of us together, and Leif seemed relaxed and happy. It's a good memory.
The photo was taken in our old stone house in Manhattan, Kansas. Now neither Leif nor the house is still on this earth.