Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Baby Leif on the Back of my Bicycle

There are so many memories for which we have no photos. While I was riding my bike yesterday, I remembered how, during the 1975-76 school year when Leif was still a baby, I went back to school to try (again) to get my master's degree, this time in Family and Children Development. I hadn't finished my first try, back at the University of Kansas, because when Peter graduated from Law School and went into the army, I went with him, and we were sent to Germany for four years. By the time I came back to the USA, I would have had to retake or validate all my credits, and my interests had changed. The army assured us that we weren't going to move, so I decided to go back to school and try again.

It was't easy going to grad school with a six year-old and a baby, but I was determined. We also had a transportation issue. We only had one car, and Peter needed it to get to work at Fort Riley, so he put a yellow plastic child seat on the back of my blue Schwinn bicycle, and away Leif and I went. It was about 8 blocks from our house to the Child Development Center, the lab school for early childhood studies students at KSU. I was lucky to get a space there for Leif. He loved it! His first experience with a preschool learning environment was while I was in class during that school year.

I have no photos of us on the bike, and no photos of the Child Development Center except for a few B&W photos of Leif, Peter Anthony and Peter Walter at their playground one late afternoon in May 1976, which is when this one of Leif by the sandbox was taken. He looks so tiny! He was little, though always big for his age.

I didn't finish that master's degree either. Despite the army's assurance we wouldn't move for another year, we were transferred to the JAG School in Charlottesville, Virginia that summer.

I don't think I'd have the courage to put a baby on the back of a bike and ride through those streets in Manhattan, Kansas now. They are too crowded and there's too much traffic. I guess I would have had to walk him in a stroller.

At that time, it was fun, and Leif loved it. I think it must have been his first experience of going somewhere on wheels with the wind in his hair. He loved that all his life.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

How Could It Be Eight Years?

How could it possibly be eight years since Leif died? Today it is that long since he died. Tomorrow it will be eight years since we found him. It seems like just yesterday he was sitting at our kitchen table talking, having dinner with us on Easter Sunday. It seems like just yesterday he was texting me about saving a turtle that was crossing the road, one about as big as a dinner plate. It seems like just yesterday I was listening for his booming car stereo as he drove up to our house in his silver Mazda RX8.

Still, when I see a silver RX8 my heart skips a beat, like it wonders whether he is there. Still, when I see someone on a motorcycle, riding fast, I think of him, and feel protective of the rider.

I still miss him, every day of my life. I still think of him when I use things he got for us or left behind. I still wonder what to do with some of his things.

I still miss his laugh and his sense of humor. I still miss his hugs. I always will.

Where have eight years gone? It seems like just yesterday.


This photo was taken in February 1981 at Kodomo no Kuni, a park near Camp Zama, Japan, shortly after Leif's sixth birthday, when he was still an eager young boy full of energy, enjoying the outdoor climbing possibilities.

Friday, April 1, 2016

He Could Play The Guitar Solo from "Sweet Child O' Mine"

We were at the pool the other day and another song Leif loved was playing, "Sweet Child O' Mine," by Guns N' Roses. He loved Slash's soaring guitar solo and worked hard to learn to play it. How I wish I had a video of him playing it, and also the "Star Spangled Banner" and other songs.

It struck me that there was something "Bach-like" about the "Sweet Child O' Mine" guitar riffs, and that made me smile, because my mother hates Bach but Leif loved his organ fugues and "stole" my CD of Bach's organ works. (I did eventually get it back.)

I no longer have any of Leif's guitars. I finally parted with them, as I wrote on this blog. His brother has the one in this photo, the one he designed and made himself in high school in Puerto Rico. It was a good instrument and very distinctive.

I hope the people who bought his Floyd Rose and bass guitars enjoy them as much as he did. His first guitar is still with his nephew, I think, though I doubt he will learn to play it.

It's amazing how music affects our memories, how many memories are tied to music. Leif loved music and had a huge collection of CDs. Since his death I have been asking family members who visit to go through them and take whatever interests them, but I still have quite a large number of them no one has chosen.

Leif liked strong stimuli, whether driving fast (or any other speeding vehicle), heavily spiced or very "hot" food, or loud driving music. Much, thought not all, of his music collection fit that description, but among it were surprising departures.

Since Leif has departed from my life, I know far less about the current music world. He kept me at least minimally educated about part of the music scene.

This photo was taken April 1991 in his room at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. It's been posted on the blog before, but I have so few photos of him with his guitars I have to re-use it.