A Tribute to
Mom and Dad
These were the words that I read (mostly verbatim) at the Celebration of Life on June 24, 2006 for Mom and Dad:
Thank you for coming to join in this celebration of life for Mom and Dad. After my short "remembrance" to them, Pastor Ott will follow me. And keeping with good farming and Germanic tradition, there are refreshments before you make the long journey back home. Those refreshments will be served at the picnic shelter on the other side of the church. Feel welcome to join us there.
These are some thoughts and remembrances of Mom and Dad. Before I relate my memories, first here is some history.
Mom and Dad were born in this farming community within a few miles of the village of Morrison. Mom was born May 31, 1918. Dad was born July 15, 1915. Their education was complete at the eighth grade. Their education included vocational training in farming from milking cows and harvesting crops. No doubt, Mom had additional training in gardening, canning produce for winter eating and cooking for the inevitable large crews that appeared during the harvest seasons each year.
In the mid 1930's Dad became a day laborer for Mom's father -- Grandpa Reinie. That is where my parents' relationship grew and on January 31, 1937 they were married in the Morrison Lutheran church. In 1938, Grandpa Reinie, Mom's dad, was experiencing angina pains which the doctor said might be the precursor to a heart attack. With the advice of his doctor Grandpa Reinie and Grandma Jo retired to a home in the village of Morrison while Dad and Mom took over the farm. Later Mom and Dad bought that farm and Dad continued to expand his farming operations. Purchasing more land over the years and expanding milking capacity, there were over 70 milk cows when I went away to college. My brother Dennis had gone into the Air Force at the same time. With the reduced labor, Dad sold all the milking stock. They continued farming with cash crops, raising beef and veal. When they retired from farming, they had been farming for forty years.
Their retirement home was built on land that was part of the farm. They continued to live there until they were unable to maintain it any longer. It was at that time that they moved to Green Bay where they spent their remaining years before being confined to nursing homes.
For their life long residence in the community of Morrison, they were Earl and Irene Treichel. They were active in their community including the Morrison Lutheran Church, the Morrison Volunteer Fire Department, the Lion's Club and others. Over those years, they also held several officer positions within those groups.
To me they were Mom and Dad. They had a long life together with many the celebrations of many wedding anniversaries. When Mom died in 2002, they had been married for 65 years. Since Dad's death early this year, I have been reminiscing about my childhood to prepare these remarks.
At the time I was raising my own children -- TJ and Vanita -- through those difficult pre adult years, there were many times I recalled my life as a child and teenager. As any parent, Mom and Dad faced challenges to raise responsible children to become responsible adults. I am not one to judge the result. Whatever the result, it is a credit to them for their kindness and patience and their continued love through out their lives.
For training to become responsible adults, darning socks was one of those tasks that we learned very early. We were instructed how to place the sock over the egg shaped sphere or a burned out light bulb. Once the sock was over the bulb, the hole was quite visible. The object was to close the hole with threads which were woven across the hole until the light bulb was no longer visible. Of course, once they were mended, you had to wear those socks whatever the result. My hiking socks were the only thing I have mended as a result of that childhood training.
Responsibility included ironing clothes. As young children, the iron board could be adjusted to meet our short stature and we could iron clothes. All of them -- including the sheets, the dish towels and everything else and finally -- the underwear. Needless to say, few of us do any of those tasks these days.
In fact I know that Mom no longer did those tasks in her later years once wrinkle free fabrics became available. I don't know about darning socks.
A memory of fishing… Dad frequently talked about going fishing. Taking a day off from farming meant leaving all those tasks behind. Going fishing was the only way to get away from that list of expanding tasks around the farm. On this particular day of fishing, we dug up some worms, loaded the car with the fishing gear and a pail from the milk house that would contain the caught fish. We journeyed to the Green Bay shore, rented a boat and paddled into the Bay to catch fish. It was more fishing than catching that day as we returned to shore with a single fish. It was barely long enough to reach from side to side of the bottom of that pail. More than likely, the farm cats dined on fish that evening.
The art of picking stones... Most of this audience can relate to this next area of farm experiences training. Every child raised on the farm has picked stones. Lots of them. To be a farmer in the Morrison area, training in the picking of stones was an important lesson. In fact, farmers of these plots of land had been picking stones each year ever since this land was cleared over one hundred years ago. Each year there was a new crop of stones. Sometimes we left stones just to make sure we had some to pick the following year. This had to be one of the more boring jobs since there was no real feeling of completion.
Farming for me personally…. Most farmers would want their children to take over the family farm and carry on the farming tradition. No doubt that was a hope of Dad's. However, Mom and Dad always said there had to be an easier way to make a living. So when it came time for me to make decisions about my future, the typical advice was, "You don't want to be a farmer." The suggestion was to get a college degree and be an accountant or an engineer. I have occasionally wondered why the possible profession wasn't lawyer or doctor. At any rate, the advice allowed me to be something other than a farmer. There were moments when I struggled with college course work. Those were times when the easier path looked like farming -- in spite of my asthma and allergy problems. Fortunately, those lapses were overlooked. Mom and Dad described the opportunities and what the future may hold. In the end, the life choices were mine.
Their sense of humor... Another memory is that Mom and Dad maintained their humor to their last days.
When I retired, I spent about two years with a pony tail. While in De Pere on my month long summer visits, I had several occasions to visit Mom at the Bornemann Nursing home. Cousin Jo Ann would also Mom. On one of Jo Ann's visits, Jo Ann had asked Mom whether Lloyd had come to visit. Mom responded, "You mean that guy with the pony tail." I like to think it was humor rather than a criticism of my pony tail.
Dad's humor remained intact as well. In Dad's last years at the Rennes Nursing Home, he wore an ankle bracelet that would lock the front doors to keep him from wandering away. During my summer visits, I frequently would visit Dad. I would bring a can of beer for Dad to enjoy at the outdoor gazebo. Because of the locking doors, I would precede Dad through the doors to keep them from locking. And as Dad passed through those doors, the alarms would always start and the receptionist would reset the alarm. After our chat at the gazebo and Dad had finished his beer, once again I led Dad through the doors to reenter. Of course the door alarms were going off as the receptionist came to the door to reset the alarm. I was walking slowly down the hall way when I realized that Dad was not behind me. I stopped and looked back to see Dad watching the receptionist as she reset the alarm. I waited as he caught up with me. I asked if he had gotten the numbers. He responded that he may have gotten those numbers, but he certainly would not be able to remember them.
I am the sum of my 65 years and experiences of my life. Even though I may have discarded some things to embrace others, the ignored items have still influenced my life. My thanks go to Mom and Dad for being a large part of my life to make me who I am today. Perhaps my current nomadic existence may not have been one of those considered opportunities in my life. However, it is a credit to them for allowing me to be who I am.
To Mom and Dad… Thank you for being loving parents.
And since I am thanking people, special thanks to my Greenslade cousins -- especially Jo Ann -- for their kindness, and their caring for and watching for Mom and Dad in their last years. Thank you so very much.
Below is a photo collage of some points in their lives. Clockwise beginning on the top left:
Wedding day January 31, 1937
40th wedding anniversary family photo
50th wedding anniversary
Church directory photo circa 1995
Morrison township Centennial produced this happy photo
50th wedding anniversary family photo
Photo dating circa 1948
Church directory photo circa 1985