Friday, October 24, 2008

Things I Learned While Driving My Dad to the Doctor

In July my Dad, Ernie Margheim, fell as he was going to a doctor appointment and broke his left leg in two places. Since that accident, I've been helping Dad quite a lot, since his mobility is limited and strenuous. Although my days are physically tiring with the extra hours of work and activity, they've also provided me with precious opportunities to visit with my Dad one-on-one. I've sat with him as he's eaten his meals, I've introduced him to Facebook, and I've driven him to countless doctor appointments. Earlier this week, as we arrived in Pueblo, Colorado at a medical clinic, Dad commented "Isn't it amazing that we never run out of things to talk about!" When you're a genealogist and have time alone with your Dad, who's very willing to share stories from his 87 year lifetime, there's never a shortage of conversation!

This morning I was mentally listing the little tidbits of information he's shared with me just this week. Things like:

1. My great-grandfather, George Koleber was a very nice and gentle man, and would always stop to straighten a picture that was hanging crooked on the wall.

2. My grandfather, John Margheim, was always called "Lute", a nickname for his middle name Ludwig, as he was growing up. It wasn't until he was married that he became known as John. I never knew that!

3. I was showing Dad some acreage my son has purchased that will be his home site in the future. It's at the very edge of a rural housing development. Dad said "Your mom would call that "Plum and Nearly". I queried "Plum and Nearly?" "Ruby would say that was "Plum out of town and nearly in the country". Was that just HER expression, or was that a common expression in the 1940s?

4. My great, great, grandfather George Daniel Dietz had a small lake on his home property and Dad said he had the opportunity as a small child of 6 or 7 to sit on the bank and watch Daniel fish---with a homemade 3-pronged spear that he made. How lucky am I to listen to my own father tell about fishing with his great-grandfather, a man who was born in 1852!

5. In an effort to keep my Dad's vehicle in good running condition, and since Dad hasn't driven since his accident on July 29th, my husband started his car this week and drove it around town. As he approached the car in Dad's garage, a small brown leather case caught his eye. Naturally drawn to such "treasures, my husband opened it and found that it protected a grade-school reader with the name "Alfred Margheim" written inside. My Dad's brother Alfred died in 1933 at age 9. I gently laid the book in a bookcase with other books my dad has saved that belonged to his beloved little brother. Dad explained that he had a friend make that case during World War II and Dad sewed it together with the leather binding. It was used to carry his Bible during the war. Now it protects Alfred's reader. What a treasure!

6. Dad told me of the "emergency" baptism of my uncle Leonard Margheim and his twin sister Laverna Margheim due to a critical illness Leonard was suffering. He obviously recovered, having celebrated his 79th birthday last Saturday.

Thanks to the technology now readily available to us, I was also able to teach Dad something in return for all the "treasured tidbits" he's taught me this week. His mother, Amalia Koleber, her two older brothers Daniel and George, and their parents, George and Katie Koleber, immigrated to America from Russia in July, 1904. I introduced Dad to the Ellis Island web site and showed him the ship's manifest listing their names, as well as a photo of the ship they traveled on.

Dad and I have used our time together wisely these last three months and are enriching each other's life in countless ways. I'm grateful for these hours and days we have together. I'm grateful that, at age 87, Dad has a brilliant and very clear mind, an excellent memory and a great desire to leave these treasures with me!

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