Happy Birthday Ronnie, I miss you!


Six months ago today my brother passed away.  Tomorrow, July 12, he would have turned 60.  I still have a hard time accepting that he is gone.  Something happens or I hear or see something and my first thought is I have to tell Ron.  But Ron is not here to tell.  It still seems not real to me.  In February we had a memorial service for him.  I was able to speak which surprised me.  Here is what I said with a shaky voice and holding back the tears.

Ron is my little brother by eight years and my only sibling. Not only was Ron my brother, he was also my friend.  I remember the day he was born.  I was so excited to have a little brother and someone to play with.  I don’t think at 8 years old, I realized how long it would be before he could actually play with me.  My mother let me help her bathe him and feed him.  I remember all his milestones, his first smile, the first time he sat up on his own, his first tooth, when he started crawl, walk, and talk.   Although, I sometimes regretted that he learned to talk.  Then later his first day of school, graduation, driver’s license and first job.  I wanted him to be able to play games with me.  So I started teaching him board games at a very young age.  Every Christmas we would get a new game and we continued this tradition as adults.  Every Christmas, I would try to find a new game for us to play.  Our favorite was 20 questions and Ron won most of the time.  He seemed to have a mind for trivia.  He had a great sense of humor and kept his sense of humor almost to end.  In the hospital the nurse was asking him questions and typing his answers into the computer.  He had to go to washroom and while he was in there the nurse said to him I can still ask you questions from here.  So she continued to ask him and he answered.  Then he said to the nurse, “This is the first time I’ve played 20 questions from the bathroom.”  The nurse cracked up.  

Ron and I often reminisced about our family.  We were a close knit family.  Every night the four of us always had dinner together.  My father was a history buff and talked a lot about history, politics, and current events at dinner table.  Both Ron and knew our history and that was thanks to my father.   Our mother and father stayed married to each other until my father passed away in 1984 and my mother followed in 1987.  We lived a few blocks from my grandparents and their home was our second home.  Our holidays were filled with family dinners where there would be 10 – 14 people at the dinner table.  In the summer there would be family picnics in our back yard as well as other places. 

We didn’t have many family vacations, but in 1967, my mother, Ron, and I drove to California.  My dad stayed home because he had to work.  It was quite an adventure for us.  We were two women alone on the road with a 12 year old in a 1962 Rambler.  The road was not expressway like today, but a two lane highway most of the way and sometimes very desolate.  We worried what we would do if the car broke down.  In Utah they were doing road repair and there was about 20 miles of a gravel road.  All of sudden we heard a knocking noise and we wondered out loud what it was and then it went away.  Just as we started to relax that it was gone, it would start again.  This went on for several more times before my mother caught Ron putting his arm out the window and knocking on the roof of the car.  We talked about our trip for years afterwards and my father would say that he didn’t go but he knew every detail as if he had been there. 

 In 1969, I started taking Ron to Cub games.  We would go a couple times a month.  After the game we would stand outside Wrigley Field and wait for the players to come out.  I would take pictures and Ron would get their autographs.  We even made a trip to St. Louis to watch the Cubs play Cardinals and stayed at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel where the Cubs stayed.  Ron would get their autographs in the lobby.  I remember there was a crowd around Ernie Banks and he was signing autographs.  Just as it was about to be Ron’s turn, Ernie said, “No more.”  Ron said, “Please Mr. Banks won’t you sign one more?”  And Ernie signed his autograph for Ron. 

Ron and I had our share of arguments and we would get mad at one another, but it never lasted. Ron and I didn’t need to call each other every day and we didn’t say I love you very often, but we knew it. I knew he was there for me and he knew I was there for him.  We were never any further than a phone call away.  He was a devoted Uncle to my sons, and a great brother.  When Ron was Ill he became my hero because of the way he handled his diagnoses.  He put up a good fight! When he passed he looked so peaceful.  Now he is with my mom and dad, and all our other relatives and friends that have passed.  His passing has left a big void in my life.  I will miss him on holidays and all the days in between.  I miss hearing his voice, and seeing his face.  I miss knowing he was just a phone call away, I miss his humor, I miss him beating me at 20 questions. I read this quote somewhere and I don’t know who wrote it or where it is from but it fit Ron and me.  “Sisters and brothers are the truest, purest forms of love, family and friendship, knowing when to hold you and when to challenge you, but always being a part of you.”

I miss you Ron and I’ll miss seeing you tomorrow on your birthday and celebrating with cake and presents.  I miss you so much RIP!


Happy Birthday, MOM

Mom Dorothy Kaiser

Today, my mother would be 91 years old if she was still with us.  My mother has been gone 28 years, and I miss her as much today as I did when she passed away 28 years ago.  She never made it to 63.   She was far too young to die.  She like my father and brother was a smoker, and I believe that contributed to her death.  I heard and read that we baby boomers were misled with shows like Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best because no one had ideal families like the ones portrayed in these shows.  I believe that mine came close.  No, my mother did not clean house dressed-up like June Cleaver.  She was a stay-at-home mother most of my growing up years.  When I was in high school she got a part-time job.  It was so part-time that it didn’t interfere with her raising us.

She kept a clean, neat home and was there when we got home from school.  She cooked three meals a day for us and as a family she made sure all four of us ate our dinner together.  She washed clothes and hung them out to dry.  Then she ironed them.  In my early years we did not have two cars and my dad took the car to work, so she walked to the grocery store.  She would pull me in the wagon and then I would have to walk back because the groceries were in the wagon.  We lived in Villa Park, Illinois and when we really wanted to do shopping for clothes or other things we would take the bus to Elmhurst or Oak Park.  I have memories of those home permanents that she gave me, and how I hated that!  She was involved in the PTA, Brownies, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts.  She was a room mother for my class several times.  Do they still have room mothers?  I always felt (even as teenager) I could talk with my mother.  She was always there for me.

After I was married and had children she was their only babysitter.  Sometimes they would stay with her, just because they wanted to stay at Grandma’s house, not because they had too.  Not only was she a great mother, but also a great grandmother.  I think she would love to know her great-grandchildren, and I know she would be proud of her Grandchildren and Great-grandchildren, and I hope she would be proud of me.

She started the ancestor hunt with me back in 1979 before the Internet when we had to do things by mail, and make trips to libraries, and archives.  I sometimes wonder what she would think about how it’s done today, and what she would think of my genealogy work.  I wish she was here to share all the ancestors I have found and the stories about their lives.  She was not only my mother, but my best friend and confidant too.  I’ll always remember good times and fun we had together.  Miss you Mom.  RIP

Copyright © 2015 Gail Grunst