A Life's Love Story

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Upon asking my grandfather what the most interesting event in his lifetime was, he answered me by stating, “Well, nothing very earth shaking happened in my life.” In my opinion, I think his life was nothing but earth shaking. He has traveled to France, Germany, the Netherlands, England, South Korea, Hong Kong, Brazil, Italy, India, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Nicaragua a few times, and many more places in the United States, and around the world. None of these are what he chose to talk about though; he chose to talk about my grandmother, and her influence she had on his life.



In 1934 when my grandpa was seven years old and in second grade, on the first day of school the teacher assigned seats to the first and second grades; the two grades were grouped together. My grandpa noticed one girl in the first grade who was sick and out of class, and about two weeks later when she was standing by the door, she didn’t know where she was assigned to sit, so my grandpa went over and said, “I bet I know where you’re supposed to go.”
All throughout grade school, my grandpa’s schoolboy crush grew and grew; he thought that this girl was to good for him, and that she wouldn’t even spare a glance at him, so he remained quiet, and he didn’t want anyone to know about his crush, so he told everyone that he was going to be a priest. When the local priest heard about this he encouraged my grandfather to attend the seminary in Milwaukee, thinking of an excuse to not have to go, he told the priest that his family didn’t have enough money to send him there, which was actually true. The priest was determined for my grandpa to be a priest so much that he offered to fund his schooling at the seminary. So my grandpa agreed and went off to high school and college at the seminary in Milwaukee. As the schooling got more serious and starting to ready the students for priesthood, the teaching priests asked my grandfather to go home, because they didn’t feel that he was really cut out to be a priest. So to his unsure relief, my grandpa headed home to seek another college. The next Sunday that he was home, he went to church, as was custom for him, and who did he see there, but the same little girl now grown older; she was home sick from college (another coincidence). His love was still strong, but before he could make a move, she was back at college for three years. Not sure exactly what to do now, my grandpa decided to enlist in the army, where he was sent to South Korea to be a dentist to the fighting soldiers. When he came back to the United States to the sleepy town of Campbellsport, he found that little girl grown yet older. After weeks of approaching the telephone, picking up the receiver, half dialing the number, and quickly hanging up in a nervous flourish, my grandpa finally got up the courage to call the girl at her house. My grandpa asked the girl to play tennis because he knew her sister was a good player, and to his surprise, she agreed to play with him. After that they started to go steady; on a typical date, they went out into the country and just went for a walk or hiked while having a good conversation. On one of these hikes, about two years into their courtship, my grandpa was debating over and over in his head how to ask her to marry him. Finally figuring a way around his nervousness, he asked her what she would say if he asked her to marry him. She said, “Well, I would say yes.” Upon hearing these words my grandpa recalls almost falling over in pure joy. My grandma proceeded, “Do you remember when I was in first grade and you were in second grade, and you showed me where I was supposed to go?” Of course my grandpa did, and she went on to say, “Well that day I went home and said to my mother that I had met the nicest boy in school and that someday he was the boy that I would marry, and you know, I really liked you when we were in grade school, but I always thought you were to good for me.”
My grandpa didn’t have very much money for the wedding and to start supporting a wife, so he waited a while, and at one point my grandma said that if they didn’t get married that she was going to start seeing other boys. Not wanting this, my grandpa started to really plan their wedding and future life together. Not able to afford diamonds or anything expensive at all, their wedding bands were plain and golden. On the simple wedding bands was inscribed a quote of Latin that stated, “Our times are in your hands,” this was meaningful, because they had gotten married and spent most of their remaining money and agreed to let God take care of them and their kids to come. And kids come, they did. Paul, Mary, Peter, Barbara, John, Jane, Luke, and Ruth. My grandpa then went to college to become a dentist and received his doctorate in dentistry and started practice in Sheboygan Falls. My uncle Dr. Paul Weber in is still running the business.
At the age of three my grandmother started playing piano and taking private lessons. By the time she was of age 17, her upright piano just wouldn’t quite suite her needs, so her parents bought her a Steinway Grand Piano for her 18th birthday. She has played in church as accompanist, at the statewide music festival for students in high school, played as a soloist for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and taught private lessons to boys and girls of all ages, including my two sisters and my grandfather himself. In her mid-forties she purchased her second Steinway Grand Piano in order to give lessons better and to be able to do very intricate duets. She is the reason I am so involved in the music program here at South and out in the community. I actually was unable to take piano, but I now play clarinet, and have a large desire to learn piano, so I have started to teach myself on our modest upright Baldwin piano.

In the year 2000 my grandmother, Tess, was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, or otherwise known as ‘pre-leukemia’. The treatment choices are limited; chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, or a type of strong medication. All of which have heavy side effects and aren’t definite and may not work. With the options open, my grandmother choose not to take any treatment and allow the disease to take its course on her. She spent the remaining year quietly, mostly at home with my grandfather. When the MDS took a large toll on her putting her in bed, she forbid any grandchildren from seeing her in her weakened state. At one point she told my grandpa to come over and she said, “Do you remember when you were in second grade and I was in first grade and you showed me where my place was?” My grandpa answered yes, yes of course he remembered. She continued, “Well, when you die, I’ll be there at heaven’s gate to show you where your place is.” About two weeks later she passed away without any life support, in her own bed with her husband and family of eight children by her side.

During my grandparents near fifty years of marriage they always talked about getting to know the grandkids better, but they never got around to their plan of taking them to Milwaukee, Chicago, or up north. So after my grandma passed away in 2001, my grandpa promised to himself that he would carry out their plan in her memory. So in 2003, he started the first trip to France and surrounding countries. Each year from then on in the summer, another group of two or three of the fourteen cousins were grouped up and boarded a plane at Chicago O’Hare International airport for different locations around the world with our grandpa. In my opinion, this was the most memorable event in my life.


Today, at age 81 my grandpa wakes up every morning at around 4:30 am, and goes swimming for about a half mile at the Sheboygan Falls High School Pool. He has learned numerous languages including Spanish and French, is a member of Hospice Advantage (being company to people who are in the process of dieing and have little or no family), in past years helped out as an RCIA sponsor (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), acquired deaconship, and is currently teaching a confirmation class. On top of this he is doing yearly mission trips to Nicaragua, providing his dental skills in teaching individuals in dentistry, along with supplying thousands of toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and other office materials. He, in addition to all of this, is teaching himself piano (of course on my grandma’s Steinways), and most of all, being one of the best grandfathers and biggest inspirations in my life and in the world. He of course attributes all that he does for others to my grandmother and her kindness that touched him and everyone she met.





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