Saturday, August 15, 2009

Our new housemate!

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Meet my dad, Norman Bridge Keller, Jr. As of next week, he'll be living in our home taking residence in Elise's old bedroom. Wow. Three generations in one household; a dream my father has had for probably most of his life. As you can clearly see from the title of this blog, Rayford's Crossing is a "Photo Journal" and that it has been; not a place for me to "wax poetic" about anything that comes to mind. Why would anyone be interested in that? Well, when it comes to my dad, I take exception. This may be one of the only areas I choose to expound with my words.

My dad was 41 years old when I was born in Danville, New Jersey in 1963. The youngest of 4 girls, I was the "surprise." God bless him, his maturity was my fortune as his patience won out time and time again throughout my childhood. His care to take time to explain the details of anything and everything to me was endless. His gifting as an engineer paved the way for a lifetime of explanations that satisfied my unending curiosity. For example, my absolutely paralyzing fear of thunderstorms was driven away by his detailed explanation of what a thunderstorm actually is. He pulled out the encyclopedia and walked me through the process from beginning to end. Once the mystery was solved, the fear was gone. He gently guided me through the painful years of 4th and 5th grade when I was mercilessly teased by boys by simply telling me, "Boys will be boys." Enough said. He was once a boy. He understands them. He loves me. That's all I needed to know.

In 1972, his engineering company "temporarily" moved us from Los Angeles, California to Silver Spring, Maryland to work on the METRO subway system. "We'll be moving to 'Mary Land' for maybe one or two years. Won't that be fun?"

Thirty-seven years later, I am still here. I (we) never moved back West, although my sisters did. Somehow the East Coast suited me better. I need the change of seasons. Endless desert sunshine just isn't for me. And after all, it was here I met my husband, and my future!

Perhaps the most influential chapter in my father's life for me were the years following my mother's massive stroke in 1991 which left her completely paralyzed on the left side of her body. For nine and a half years Dad cared for her with the attention to detail that no hospital or nursing home could ever have even attempted to give. In the midst of this trial, he kept the mood of their home light-hearted and cheerful. She was bound to a wheelchair for all of those years, but he didn't allow that to hinder his playful repartee. He would often loudly serenade her by singing "Some Enchanted Evening" while he brought her downstairs on the stairlift. She would blush and turn her head aside every single time. What a memory that is for me.

Several months ago he and I met to share a lunch at a Greek restaurant close-by. He told me then that he didn't want to live alone anymore and that he'd "like to move into my house."
Oh? OK.

And so he we are. We've come full circle. We'll make precious memories with the grandchildren that will last a lifetime. By his own admission, my dad's memory is not so good. We'll repeat ourselves over and over again and so will he. And we'll all be the better for it because we're family and we're together under one roof.

OK, perhaps we'll all need to be reminded of that once or twice in the days to come. :) But I look forward to it. I don't know that my rendition of "Some Enchanted Evening" will be nearly as polished as his though.....

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(You can read more about how my mom and dad met here.)

8 comments:

Kelley Murphy said...

Oh Mom, that is the coolest thing ever. How priceless your memories with him at home will be!

Laura said...

You have to remember to give a tissue alert.
Now, I need to go get one.
Beautiful.

LeAnne said...

What a precious testimony of your father. I cannot wait to meet him.

Judy said...

Jean, what a blessing you have received both in the past and now. May your time together be rich and beautiful. Your girls will be affected by the way they see you interact with your own parent---something that will influence their relationship with you---when you are old and gray.
Thank you for the lovely testimony to a father. <><

TK said...

More pictures please! He has a delight kind Face!

Anonymous said...

Having had an engineer as a dad, who was also in his forties & fifties when I was growing up, I can empathise. Something special about older dads - time maybe?
----
Tola

Mary B. said...

Beautiful testimony. May God give you grace to love and care for your dad in the days ahead.

cindy leach said...

What a wonderful tribute, cannot wait to meet your dad.