A Tribute to Grandpa Miller

On October 5, Eric’s grandpa passed away due to failing health.
Today is the first anniversary Grandma will spend alone in 61 years.

In the days before his funeral, I asked his children and grandchildren for their memories and compiled them into a tribute to him.  

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A Tribute to the Father of the Millers

A Husband, a Father, a Grandpa, Great-Grandpa, a Brother, and Uncle was he.
He answered to Emanuel, Manuel, Dad, Dawdy, Candy Dawdy,
Grandpa, Candy Grandpa, Great-Grandpa and Crist Joe Ale‘s Manuel.

A farmer by trade for years of his life, corn, hay, his fields and the price of beans.
Dairy and milking, silage and cows, his boys kept him company while he worked.
A daughter or two, by his side in the barn, laughing and singing with the cows.
With a son on the tractor, another in the barn, one working the hay,
and a few out back in the woods, he managed and called and directed them all.
Out through the window, his wife called his name and he gathered the boys for a meal.
Around the old kitchen table, they clambered and fought for good food,
stories of the day, laughter, and chatter all part of the meal.
After they had eaten he would pick up his Bible, in a voice filled with care,
he read from the Word, directing the hearts of his young.
A good game of softball in the soft evening light,
out by the flower garden spot, completed the day.

His children grew up and blessed him with grandchildren aplenty running ‘round.
They came down to the farm for visits, some food, and a story while he sat in his chair.
He would pull out pink candy from a pocket or two, and sneak it to little hands waiting.
Always the same kind, soon the candy was renamed after him,
affectionately known as “Dawdy Candy” which in turn named him, Candy-Dawdy.
On auction day, he would pick up excited grandchildren and take them along to the Mt. Hope sale barn. There was always time for a stop for lunch
at Mrs. Yoder’s or Boyd & Wurthmann in hopes of meeting a friend or relative.
He set the grandchildren to work, driving through fields and picking up rocks,
plenty of help for his hands. When milking time came, they followed along,
sipping milk from the bulk tank and shoveling feed for the cows.
The highlight of his week was a trip to the ball field on Monday nights.
He loved to watch his sons and grandsons swing for the fence.
When the grandchildren grew up, he enjoyed their visits anew.
Reminiscing of old was a favorite of his, those stories that he told and retold.

The day finally came that the cows had to go, other odd jobs took their place.
He would climb in his car and putter on down to host at Miller’s Essenplatz.
He visited with and seated all the people, while he chuckled and nodded replies.
When they smiled and waved on their way out the door, he would turn and reply
in his signature Dutch-accented call, “Thank-You-ah!
After everyone was gone and things quieted down, off to the back he would sneak
for his late night bowl of ice-cream, much to his wife’s dismay.

As life slowed him down, the cold Ohio winters drove him down to sunny Pinecraft.
It was months of vacation, lots of friends, a chat and a meal,
a run to the park in hopes of a friendly face to visit with.
Genealogy was his love and he knew people from far and wide,
he also knew exactly how everyone was related and to whom.
If he happened to come across a new face or two, get ready for the questions to fly.
“Now who did you say was your Dad? And your Mom’s maiden name was what?”
Before any time passed, he had them figured out and most likely they were related
to him, or at least to someone he knew.
Grandma would make donuts and coffee on cool southern mornings
and all the people would come. He chatted and reminisced, told old stories anew,
but all the while kept an eye on those donuts
and knew exactly how many were consumed and by whom.
Out for a meal in the evening with family, was something he loved to do.
His Florida favorite was Mi Tierra with fish on his platter, eyes staring back at him.
Spring would roll around and soon the North beckoned,
family and friends and his farm ground awaited him there.

Camping in the fall was a love of his with his family gathered ‘round.
He loved to sit and watch all the action, and then sternly call some command.
A crowd was usually gathered around his boys,
listening to them rehearse the old stories while everyone laughed.
He would smile and chuckle and try to add his own thoughts.
When the telling got tall with the stories of his, when all the things he had said
grew larger and funnier with time, he would silently laugh and say, “Help mich, Clarie!”
Little help she was while she giggled and shook, loving every memory she heard.
When late night fires blazed hot, guitars would start strumming
and the people would gather around singing songs of old he so loved.
In a voice all quivering with tears, he would hold up his hand and try to speak
the things that were deep in his heart.

As time moved on, age took its toll, his back stooped, bent by years of labor.
His hands were worn by the toil of the land, his eyesight slowly fading,
and his feet in a shuffle as he walked, life was coming to a close.
Yet, he had a heart full of love and a smile on his face for his wife, family, and friends.
Though his mind not as sharp the last years, that first love he had, still remained.
Holding his well-worn Bible near, with a tear-filled voice he stood often in church,
thanking his Jesus for all He had done.

While we miss him here, we rejoice with joy that He walks on streets of pure gold.
He is singing his songs and praising His Savior, perfectly healed today.
He leaves behind a legacy, a heritage, not soon forgotten, rich in love, family, and Jesus.

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This was last year at their anniversary celebration,
a few more have been added since.

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Painting Bird Houses

Now for the next edition of Christmas vacation.

As part of the grand-children’s Christmas gifts,
Grandpa built bird houses for them
and Grandma organized an afternoon of painting.
We all went out to Grandpa’s garage and what fun they had!

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First order of business was to put a coat of gray paint on.
This didn’t go too badly. We were prepared for the worst and were pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it went. 🙂
It was a grand thing I tell you, splashing around in that paint.

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Some had little brushes and some had big ones.
It was a good thing these guys had smaller ones,
they dipped often and went pretty heavy with the paint.

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Of course there were others that tried to go heavy with the paint
on things that shouldn’t be painted.
I was kind and didn’t return the favor.
(Mainly because I didn’t want my entire face painted)

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Aleigha wasn’t making very much progress and Mr Fast Lance was done already so he volunteered to help her.

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This one is related to her Uncle in more ways then one.

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Grandma and Grandpa did a bunch of supervising.

After they all had a coat of gray paint,
we let them dry for an hour and then came back to add some color.

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Some painted pretty birds and flowers.

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And others just tried to cover up every hole on their box.

We’re just hoping birds aren’t scared of color.

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This was the most precious thing.
She was painting away and she says,
“See that yellow.That’s Jesus on the cross!”

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After they were all done and were ready to take a picture,
we discovered Madison had already left to take a shower.
So here are the happy painters, minus Madison.

Now don’t you all wish you had grandparents
who built you bird houses to paint? 🙂

Thank you Grandpa and Grandma for your hard work and patience with this gang. These kids will remember this for a long time. We love you.

A Family Weekend…

…and what a weekend it was.
Full of all things fun.
Laughing. Talking. Arguing.
A little crying by the babies.
Kids games. Kids yelling.
Lots of eating.
Did I mention talking?

As it goes in a family
there are siblings that have the same personalities,
and some so very opposite.
In our family, we 4 siblings are split, 2 and 2.
Get us all in public and 2 enjoy it,
visiting with people all night.
The other 2, enjoy themselves
but are a lot more reserved.
(I know you are all dieing to know which one I am. ha)

Now cram us all into a house for a long weekend,
along with the parents, our spouses
and our endless line up of kids,
we all talk, we’re all loud,
and we all have a jolly good time.
Almost makes me cry thinking about our fun together.
Ever feel like that about your family?
You love them so much it almost hurts!

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Tim’s and Mom came on Wed night already.
We wanted to make sure the weekend was long enough.
Mother promptly got started entertaining the grandkids.

Fam wkend (2)The little pirate who couldn’t play the game with the others
played his own game.

Fam wkend (3)We had one tree in the back yard that was dead and had the potential to hit the house if it fell. Thursday afternoon Eric and Tim gave it a bit of help falling in the right direction while the kids watched.

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Thanks to our overly zealous dog, nothing is safe outside.
The little lawn chair Madison is oversizing,
got his attention in a not so good way.

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I love to see her all bundled up, not that she loves it or anything.
Right now she is anti camera so looking passed me
was completely intentional.

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We worked and worked that afternoon to take this guy’s 3 year old pictures
with not a smile in sight! Now look at this, a few hours later.

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Dead tree be gone, warm us with your heat!

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Tys and Amanda and company of boys arrived Thursday evening.
Grandma read to the twins while we finished up the food.
They technically aren’t twins since he’s 6 months younger
but he’s a bit taller and probably a bit heavier then she is.

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We sent the kids to the basement to play since almost all the toys are down there. That didn’t stop them from dragging things up stairs to be with us and to make sure we could see their fights and settle them!

If you are counting, we are up to 7 adults and 9 kids here so far
with more coming the next day.

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In the middle of all of this,
Mr D had a birthday!
This year the girls decorated their own cake
and he was bound and determined to decorate his own too.
We traded in a cake for cupcakes and had a little
decorating party on Friday afternoon!
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Use your imagination for how this went.
We may have swept up as many sprinkles as actually stuck on the cupcakes.
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When they were done,
I suddenly had no desire for cupcakes.
Thankfully, there was a nice cake hidden that no one was going to spit upon when blowing out candles. That’s called 2 birds with 1 stone.

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This is a Christmas card winner because the small son is smiling.

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By Friday night we added 3 more adults and 3 more children to the mixture and we were nearly bursting at the seams but having a good time.
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Time for cake and ice cream for a birthday boy!
We haven’t been in this parenting game for 11 years for nothing.
I knew that 1 candle for 1 boy was not going to go over well,
so we pulled out candles and passed out cupcakes
and everyone had a jolly good time blowing out flames!
Lest you think the birthday boy was cheated,
notice that he has 3 cupcakes with candles in each.
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He looked forward to this for the longest time.
It’s not often you have a birthday on a weekend when all the cousins are here to help you celebrate all weekend long.

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opening gifts… wham. bam. and we’re done.
There was help from all sides.
The pieces flew and in no time it was all over!
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He was quite pleased with his loot.
I told him I’m saving our gift for his actual birthday (Sunday).
He was rather concerned that there would be no gift from us because
he knows that Mom did not go to Walmart without him anytime
and he knows there was no gift in the cart when he was along. 🙂
The miracle of the internet and plain brown boxes from UPS.

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Sat morning was more food and chaos.
The chaos was mainly organized
but how well can you keep the noise level down
and the kids all in line with that many people?
Plus it was colder then cold that weekend and the boys couldn’t go out.
Grandpa did usher them out for a bit
and made them run a few laps on the porch to get some energy released.
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Grandpa would lean back and squeeze her and she would squeal so he would sit up. If he didn’t lean back soon enough, she would reach up and pull him back again.

Saturday afternoon we left all the big kids with a very capable babysitter and went to the wedding. We felt a bit bad for her since we only took 3 babies but she claims all was well!

Now one thing you would think we all would have learned, growing up together and all,  is that you don’t pick on Tys, because whatever you do comes back 150%.
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I missed that life lesson I guess, because when an opportunity presented itself, I took it. I do claim this one as a victory because he did not accomplish what he set out to do to me!

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Sunday lunch brought more candle puffing since it was the actual birthday.
Little one loved it too.

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You can’t tell me you don’t eat all the frosting off the cupcake first.
We know you do in secret.
Now what I do in secret is scrape all the frosting off into a pile,
and then eat the cupcake and leave the frosting.
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The promised gift that he had been waiting and waiting for.
Unwrapping was much like a paper shredder,
hands reaching in from all sides
and in less then 2.5 seconds it was over.
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He thinks he has the world by the tail….
And all the mom can think of when she sees Lego’s
is stepping on them in the middle of the night.

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These 2 just go ’round and ’round.
Relentless arguing and teasing.

And when lunch was over, came the sad part.
They all packed up and went home.
Following a few tears, the kids dumped the Legos
and the Mother passed out in her bed.

What a weekend it was!

Good memories make for good dreams of the next time together.

The Cabin

I’ve been thinking about childhood memories the last month.
There is something about them that just draws you in,
makes you smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Times you now treasure
that were just a common occurrence back then.

Some of the best memories I have is of times spent at the cabin.

Cabin Photo Op

Across the road and up the barn lane,
around the buildings,
down a dirt road, bouncing over the ruts.
Over the creek, up another hill,
across a field, over a hill,
and there it sat.

Nestled in the trees was the cabin
and at the bottom of the hill lay the pond.

The rough cabin was built many years ago
by my Dad and his brothers.
Just one room with bunks for sleeping
and a table beside the pop bellied stove.
Outside there was a wrap around porch,
a big fire pit and a row of swings.
We rarely spent time inside,
all the activity revolved around the outside.

Erica Tris

Summer afternoons the phone would ring,
it would be an Uncle or one of the Aunts,
“Want to go to the cabin for supper?”
“Sure!”
And that’s all it took to create an evening party.

In my young mind it was easy.
We got a phone call,
threw some things in the back of the truck,
and away we went.
Knowing what I know now, with my Mother mind,
it was probably a lot of work,
but they made it happen.

Cabin Girls

Everyone just brought what they had.
Hotdogs, chips, cookies or cake,
and a stop at the grocery for buns.
Often they would whip up a freezer of homemade ice cream,
which was eaten year around by this gang.
For special occasions we would
grill BBQ chicken and bring the works for supper.

Uncle Ern lived next to us and he was always the first one there.
The fire was smoking by the time
Grandpa, Grandma and Sharon came.
The rest of us dribbled in as soon as
the guys were done with the chores.

Cabin Boat

Before the vehicle would stop,
barefooted kids were jumping out
and running for the pond.
Sometimes we swam,
other times we fished or just waded in the water.
If the boat was in working order,
every kid needed a ride.
A walk around the pond
sometime during the night was a must.

Cabin Sharon

The adults relaxed on their lawn chairs and swings,
catching up on news while roasting the hot dogs.

When the food was ready,
Grandpa gave a yell and we all came running.
We gathered in a circle and he began his usual prayer.
“Our kind, gracious, heavenly Father,
we thank thee for thy great love and mercy.
Thank you for this food, do bless it,
and help us to use it for thy honor and glory.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
The kids peeked at each other and grinned
because the prayer never failed to be the same.
We all knew it by heart,
usually mouthing the words along with him.

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We clambered for our food around the picnic table,
talking and laughing.
Often we headed down to the water to sit on the dock
and swing our wet feet while we ate,
occasionally feeding the fish our food.

When the sun started dropping,
we meandered back to the fire
listening to adults talk and roasting marshmallows.
When the sky grew dark and mosquitoes started biting,
it was time to go home.
No one stayed late because farmers don’t sleep in.
There were turkeys, cows and fields of corn waiting in the morning.

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We didn’t have a storybook life,
this was just an evening of relaxing
and enjoying the company of family after a hard day of work.
And enjoy it, we did!

Grandma

Sweeter memories are not found, but that of childhood.