Family Reunion at the Funeral Home

I was at a funeral a few weeks ago, and I was talking to family members I haven’t seen in ages.  Of course everyone was saying things like, “We only get together at funerals.  We should do better, but I’ve been so busy.”

It’s a common sentiment in our day and time, but it got me thinking.  Are we really that busy?  The answer is “no.”

When someone dies, we always find time to be there for their funeral.  Why can’t we do that when they are alive?

Black Forrest Family Trip Disaster

Mom, Aaron , and I went to the Black Forrest in 1987.  It was just a family day trip, so we were riding on a tour bus.

This was our last day in Germany.  The next day we would board a plane and move back to America.  Mom was looking forward to this trip, since she probably would not get another chance to see the Black Forrest.

For some reason, my brother was an absolute tyrant that day.  He was rude, obnoxious, bratty, and defiant.  In all fairness to Aaron, he did not normally behave this way.  He was usually a good kid, but that day he was on a roll.

It started as soon as we boarded the bus.  Aaron decided to block the aisle and tried to charge people a toll fee to pass by him.  Mom was rather embarrassed, but the worst was yet to come.

We were walking around and admiring all the sites, then Aaron started crying about being thirsty.  He was winning and about ready to have a full on tantrum.  Mom stopped at one of the shops and bought us each a can of soda.

Aaron took the soda and stuffed them in his jacket.  He refused to give me one of the cans and said he was “holding them for ransom.”  I started yelling at Aaron and we were on the verge of a throwing punches, when Mom stepped in to put a stop to the whole thing.  She snatched the soda cans away from Aaron and give him a good scolding.

Later in the day, we stopped at a shop that made baskets.  In front of the store was a giant picnic basket for sale.  It was so huge, Aaron could have crawled inside of it.

Aaron wanted Mom to buy the giant basket, but she refused.  That set Aaron off again.  He started yelling and screaming about the basket.  Mom had reached her limit.  She got in Aaron’s face and yelled, “I’ve had with you!  I am changing my name.  It’s not Mom or Rita anymore and I am leaving you here.”

Mom spun around and started walking away from Aaron.  I was standing there in shock and wondering if she would come back for me.

Aaron tried calling out to her, but she didn’t respond.  Aaron bellowed out, “Hey lady with the brown coat and the grey streak in your hair!”

Mom’s face was about to turn scarlet red.  She was so angry, I expected to see smoke coming from her ears and nostrils.  She grabbed ahold of Aaron and started walking away with him, without saying a word.

In spite of everything that happened that day, Mom still loved her son.  The next day, Aaron was on the plane with us, instead of being left in the Black Forrest to be raised by wild animals.

 

Death of a Sibling

The death of my brother (Aaron Thaler) was devastating.

I was a few weeks shy of 3 years old when Aaron was born, so he was a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

My father was in the Army and we grew up overseas.  I didn’t really get to know my extended family until I was a teenager and I never had the same friend for more than a couple of years.

That made my relationship with Aaron even more special.  He was that one person I was able to play with and fight with, all throughout my childhood years.  He was my only consistent friend.

We had our ups and downs together.  Many battles were fought and a lot of blood was spilt.  However, no grudges were held.  After a few days, we would laugh about the last fight as if it was all a game.

Aaron died suddenly and I spent the first month in a state of shock.  Eventually the reality hit me and I went into a deep state of depression.

It’s been five years since Aaron passed, but I will always miss my brother.

1932248_700402463345820_1227138259_n

Anthropomorphized my Dogs

I got to wondering what my dogs would be like as people.  This is what I came up with.

Ben is a Great Pyrenees and the laziest dog I have ever seen.  I think Ben would be a mid-level office worker that spends all his free time watching T.V.

19665563_1643727309013326_7633998450436105438_n

Blue is an Australian Cattle Dog.  He would make a wonderful drill sergeant, because he loves barking out orders and telling everyone where they should be going.

thumbnail-2

Joey is a Labrador/Pyrenees mix.  He is hyperactive, stubborn, and goofy.  I can picture Joey as an excellent high school P.E. teacher.

joey-book-company

Norton is a terrier mix.  He may be the smallest dog in our family, but his brothers never mess with him.  He has a big attitude.  I think Norton would be a successful politician.

19657201_1643727169013340_2808261298052810869_n

Buddy is a Rottweiler/Beagle mix.  He is all about fairness.  In fact, if Buddy sees one of his brothers being mean to another brother he will jump into action and defend the one being wronged.  That’s why I think Buddy would be a social worker.

20840758_1689883254397731_5193031410710066678_n

Mom Lied About My Birthday

In 1979, we moved from Mannheim, Germany, to Columbus, Georgia.  The cutoff date for starting school was different in Georgia.  According to the school rules, I was not old enough to start first grade and had to repeat kindergarten.

Mom disagreed with that policy, so she decided to lie about my age.  She told the administrators she didn’t have all the documents they requested, due to the move and would bring them later.  Since the school was located near a military base, this was a reasonable story and not uncommon.

Several months went by and I was sitting in class.  The teacher asked, “Who knows their birthday?”

My hand shot up in the air and I said, “September 10, 1973.”

My teacher said I was wrong, but I was adamant about it.  An argument ensued and I refused to even acknowledge the possibility that I was wrong.

The teacher had a talk with Mom when she came to pick me up that day.  Mom played it off by saying her birthday is in September and I was probably just confused.  She told the teacher I was born August 10, 1973.

We get home and Mom sits down with me for a talk.  She explained the situation.  I was confused, but agreed to keep my birthday a secret.

In 1980, we moved back to Germany and my age was never again a problem.

hqdefault.jpg

 

I Remember That Feeling

IMG_8104.JPG

I was talking to Gwen and she expressed concerns about what life will be like after college.  Will she be able to find a job and make enough money to become self-sufficient?

I told her, “Of course you will.”  Then I went on my merry way.

A few days later, I got to thinking about that conversation and how I dismissed her concerns.  I remember having those same fears at her age.  It seems like a distant memory now, but at the time it was real and stressful.

I realized I owe Gwen an apology for not paying attention to what she was saying.  Instead of dismissing her concerns, I should have told Gwen I understand what she is feeling and it is normal.  I should have been more empathetic and reassuring.  I should have reminded her that I am here to help in anyway I can.